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Myrtle Beach, SC – It’s All Right Here for a Great Family Vacation

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA Skyline
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA city skyline.

Situated centrally along sixty miles of clean, wide, brown sand titled ‘The Grand Strand’, Myrtle Beach is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States and is visited by 14 million people annually.

The first inhabitants of the Carolina coast were the Waccamaw and Winyah tribes who used the name ‘Chicora’, which translates as ‘the land’. An attempt in the 1520’s to establish a settlement by Spaniard Lucas Vasques de Allyon failed quickly due to disease. By the early 1700’s, Englishman Robert Francis Witheres Allston held a 66,000 acre King’s land grant that encompassed today’s Myrtle Beach. 

Pirates began to sail the seas by the 1700’s and those nefarious individuals made use of the various coves and inlets as hiding places along the coastline. English colonists arrived and established nearby Georgetown in 1721 which then became a regional center for rice cultivation. By 1840, the Grand Strand produced nearly half of the country’s rice crop. 

In the early 1900’s, a timber and turpentine company named Burroughs and Collins owned land along the beachfront and laid out a railroad connecting their interests, thus beginning the development to transform the area into a vacation destination. The settlement was simply called ‘New Town’ and the area’s first hotel opened in 1901. A contest ensued to select an official name with the winning suggestion coming from Mrs. F.E. Burroughs- the spouse of the company founder, who chose the name due to the countless wax myrtle trees growing upon the shore.

As development continued, the first golf club was opened in the 20’s and 1936 marked the opening of the Intracoastal Waterway, bringing new traffic to Myrtle Beach. Incorporation did not happen until 1938 and Myrtle Beach wasn’t declared a city until 1957, soon after Hurricane Hazel hit in 1954. Today, there are over 100 golf courses along the Grand Strand, most of them public, and the city has become the heart of a relaxing, playful vacation experience with 215 annual days of sunshine.

Central Myrtle Beach is home to the Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, opened in 2010 and 1.2 miles long, stretching from the 2nd Avenue Pier to Pier 14. A classic family friendly waterside experience, key attractions include the 187 foot tall SkyWheel (one of the country’s tallest Ferris Wheels), Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odd-itorium, an arcade, carnival-esque thrill rides, and a haunted house. There are also the expected assorted eateries, souvenir stands and gift shops, impromptu music performances, and scheduled seasonal events within the Boardwalk and in the nearby area. 

Two miles inland, you’ll find another hub of activity at Broadway on the Beach, a 350 acre outdoor shopping and entertainment complex. Opportunities for fun here include Broadway Grand Prix Go Karts, mini golf, rock wall climbing, ziplining, an escape room, Dino Park with animatronics, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Myrtle Waves Water Park- South Carolina’s largest with 22 slides, Ripley’s Aquarium, tribute band shows at Legends in Concert, and the upside-down ‘amusement park for your mind’, Wonderworks.  A town institution since 1946, the Gay Dolphin, proclaims itself the nations’s largest gift shop and boasts 26,000 square feet and 70,000 items organized into ‘coves’. After your day of fun and activity, combine dining and entertainment at either castle-themed Medieval Times or Pirate’s Voyage dinner theaters.

The north side of Myrtle Beach is quiet, family friendly, and offers a less urban atmosphere. There’s shopping to be found at two locations of Tanger Outlets, more carnival style rides at the O. D. Pavilion Amusement Park, and Barefoot Landing- another hub of shopping, dining, arcades, and rides but also the home of live music at the Alabama Theatre, reptile encounters at Alligator Adventure, and animal education at the T.I.G.E.R.S. Safari Preservation Station. 

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The southern end of town houses the 114 acre Market Common ‘lifestyle center’, built to combine the expected dining and shopping outlets with residences and park space. Just south of downtown, you’ll find the town’s only seaside amusement park, Family Kingdom, which includes Splashes Oceanfront Water Park. Amongst all the development, family oriented attractions, and entertainment venues, you’ll also find Myrtle Beach State Park, a peaceful mile long preserved piece of oceanfront maritime forest. Watersports are plentiful in Myrtle Beach and include fishing (the Grand Strand as eight piers plus there are deep sea fishing charters), pontoon and banana boat rides, jet skis, kayaks and canoes, paddleboarding, windsurfing, parasailing, wakeboarding, tubing, surfing,  sailing, and scuba diving.

The shore of South Carolina between Little River and Georgetown became known as the Grand Strand in 1945, having been named by a local newspaper columnist. Georgetown County 35 miles south developed a plantation culture based on rice cultivation while the isolated economy of Horry County and Myrtle Beach was based around farming and timber. Sometimes compared to a smaller scale version of Charleston, the historic and quaint inland town of Conway is just fifteen miles away along the oak lined Waccamaw River and makes for a refreshing contrast to the busy beach scene. 

Traveling 35 miles south will bring you to Georgetown, the third oldest city in the state and home to the Rice Museum, the South Carolina Maritime Museum, and Hopsewee Plantation. The fishing village of Murrel’s Inlet is about half that distance as you head back to Myrtle Beach. The former lair of Blackbeard the legendary pirate, Murrel’s Inlet is now a haven for outdoorsmen and the seafood capital of South Carolina. A well told local ghost story centers on Murrel’s Inlet, in which Alice Flagg roams the waters of the saltwater estuary searching for a ring received from a suitor not approved of by her family. While she was ill, her brother took the ring from around her neck and cast it into the inlet. Another ghost story is of the Gray Man, a soldier who was killed returning to visit his sweetheart and whose ghost today warns locals of impending hurricanes.

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