Myrtle Beach: Golf, Beaches, Boardwalks and Seafood Buffets
On of the country’ s great beachside resorts, Myrtle Beach has something for everyone-no matter the season.
Think of the great Atlantic Ocean beach towns of years past — and today — and three instantly spring to mind. Atlantic City. Myrtle Beach. Daytona Beach. Not necessarily in that order. Sure, there are countless others, Misquamicut, RI; Coney Island, NY; Ocean City, MD; and Virginia Beach, VA to name a few, but they just don’t have the size or sizzle of the Big Three.
Myrtle Beach, SC, and its surrounding towns and islands are the real deal. It has a 60-mile long stretch of soft, sandy beaches, perfect for sunbathing, dipping a toe in the water or jumping over waves. The water stays warm well into the fall. Locals love telling stories of Canadian visitors who can’t believe that they can still swim in the ocean this far north of the equator in October.
No matter what type of vacation you may want, Myrtle Beach has it. The whole Myrtle Beach experience must be savored. We tried to do it in two days and realized very quickly we had bitten off more than we could chew. We stayed at the new DoubleTree Resort, which was still in the process of transforming from the Springmaid Beach Resort. Located at the end of the town, with a state park adjacent to it, the resort was quiet, remote and truly permitted a relaxing break.
The hotel sits on 27 acres on the south end of an Ocean Boulevard and boasts outdoor pools, heated indoor pools and two lazy rivers. It also has a fishing pier that is free to guests (non guests pay a nominal fee) and telescopes for star gazing, which we loved. It is very close to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) but occasionally seeing (and hearing) the big jets overhead are a minor inconvenience in comparison to the beauty of this resort.
Travelgirl tip: The airport is easy to navigate and makes access to the beach extremely easy. Wherever you’re staying, ask about shuttle service. If you rent a car, you can go from baggage claim to beach blanket in less than an hour, easy!
While we coveted the quiet side of the beach, the northern end is where we found the pulsating beat of nightclubs, radios blasting as cars cruise up and down Ocean Boulevard, parents corralling happy kids, and the bells and whistles of various carnival rides. In other words, this is where the action is!
The 1.2 mile oceanfront boardwalk has everything you would expect, plus a few surprises. We decided to take a nighttime whirl on the SkyWheel, a 187-foot-tall, glass-enclosed controlled gondola ride that offers breathtaking views of the scene below and the moon above. Neon lights add to the fun at night, and during the day you can see for miles down the beach. Perhaps the biggest challenge at Myrtle Beach is making decisions. Take miniature golf, for instance. Miniature golf is a wholesome activity for all ages with colorful fake rocks, pagan temples, dinosaurs and pirates leading to each hole. But which one to choose? It’s tough because there are more than 50 courses clustered around a 20-mile stretch from Myrtle Beach to North Myrtle Beach.
While Myrtle Beach dubs itself the “miniature golf capital of the world,” travelgirls who want big-girl golf will also be pleased with the options. The area has some of the most challenging and aesthetically beautiful courses on the East Coast, including ones created by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Tom Fazio, Gary Player, Peter Dye and Greg Norman. If you are looking for a golf vacation, you have come to the right spot.
In terms of restaurant choices, again it’s whatever suits your fancy — and wallet. Calabash Seafood is an old school staple with several locations throughout the area. Many have been owned and operated by the same families for generations. Sometimes it’s a little kitschy but it’s always satisfying. Meals along the coast usually come with fresh seafood and an amazing ocean view; ask your concierge for advice or do your research ahead of time at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com. If a great Southern-style breakfast is what you seek, pancake houses and 24-hour breakfast joints are everywhere, just take your pick.
While there is a lot to see and do in the area — and some of it is very high energy fun — we want to acknowledge and applaud the fact that Myrtle Beach is perfect for those who have a family member with autism. The Myrtle Beach International Airport has a “quiet room” where an autistic person can depress from a flight or prepare to board. In addition, the Surfside Beach community declared itself the first autism-friendly travel destination in 2016. The $3.2 million Savannah’s Playground features all ADA-approved playground equipment that is perfect for a safe and harmonious play experience. And those concerned about the safety of their autistic child can go to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce — in conjunction with the Horry County Police Department — and get Project Lifesaver GPS tracking bands.
Bottom line: Myrtle Beach offers a custom designed vacation for each person: quiet, contemplative and back-to-nature or high energy and go-go-go, or all of the above! It’s a three, maybe four, season destination with accommodation options to match all needs and budgets. Myrtle Beach is a Travelgirl favorite because no matter what kind of vacation you want, it delivers — and then some.