Summer vacations create memories that last a lifetime, with the good times and resulting stories being retold for years afterwards. Few destinations have provided more fond memories, for more people, than Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The Grand Strand, as the area is affectionately called by locals, attracts more than 17 million visitors from across the globe each year, and the summer of 2016 is poised to be the most exciting yet.
In a destination teeming with attractions, Myrtle Beach’s drawing card remains the 60 miles of pristine Atlantic Ocean beach and water temperatures that stay above 80 degrees during the summer months. So whether you are swimming, skimming or surfing the salty water is warm, but still refreshing.
But what else is there to do? Part of Myrtle Beach’s appeal is the multitude of offerings that await visitors once they step away from the rhythmic sounds of the surf. There isn’t a beach town in America that offers a more diverse trip than the Myrtle Beach area.
The House of Blues grew out of founder Isaac Tigrett’s love for the unique American art form known as the “the Blues.” Weaned on this music during his early childhood in Tennessee, one of Isaac’s goals was to introduce the world to the music of the rural south, including the Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Jazz and Roots-based Rock & Roll.
The House of Blues is dedicated to educating and celebrating the history of Southern Culture and African American artistic contributions to music and art.
In recent years, the most prominent new addition to the tourism landscape has been the 1.2-mile long Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, highlighted by the SkyWheel, a 187-foot Ferris wheel with enclosed air-conditioned gondola cars that provide soaring views of the coast. Even if your feet never leave the ground, the Boardwalk, which reinvigorated the historic beachfront section of town, is a must-visit.
The recently remodeled Springmaid Pier, is a fisherman’s dream. The area’s longest and most accommodating pier is 1,060 feet long, 36 feet wide, with a 110-foot T at the end. Fishermen that aren’t afraid to get up early when the fish are biting, can catch lunch and have it prepared at a local restaurant. Trust us, there isn’t much better than fresh fish. Regardless of what you catch, the view from the end of Springmaid Pier is guaranteed to produce a scrapbook-worthy picture.
The most highly anticipated new attraction in 2016 is Rockin’ Jump Myrtle Beach, the area’s first indoor trampoline park and home to the Ninja Course, a challenge inspired by the hit television show “American Ninja Warrior.” The 23,000-square foot facility, which opened in May, also has a large open jump arena, two trampoline dodge ball courts, Slam Dunk Zone, the X Beam jousting challenge, a Stunt Bag area and Rock Climbing Walls.
For the Little Ones — or Kids at Heart
WonderWorks — is an amusement park for the mind with 50,000 square feet of “edu-tainment.” The attraction combines education and entertainment with more than 100 hands on exhibits that challenge the mind and spark the imagination. This once top-secret laboratory was located in the Bermuda triangle. An experiment gone awry lifted the laboratory carrying it to Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach where it landed upside down.
Pirates Voyage, a live dinner theatre show, puts the swashbuckling excitement of two pirate camps at arm’s length as they battle for lost treasure on full-sized pirate ships in a 15-foot deep indoor lagoon. And, at the NASCAR® Racing Experience you can either drive a real NASCAR racecar or enjoy the speed and excitement as a passenger in a ride-along.
Ripley’s Aquarium, which has been voted the top tourist spot in South Carolina, is a memory-making attraction. Ripley’s is home to an 85,000-square-foot aquarium, and in 2016 will feature the Stingray Experience, allowing people to meet and snorkel with an array of stingrays. Walking through the aquarium as an eight-foot shark swims overhead never gets old.
For Outdoor Enthusiasts and History Buffs
Myrtle Beach State Park allows guests to enjoy an undisturbed maritime forest and the best surf fishing coastal South Carolina has to offer. And, Huntington Beach State Park provides amazing opportunities for some of the best bird-watching in the United States, as well as many ways to experience native wildlife of the area.
Brookgreen Gardens is one of America’s premier botanical and outdoor sculpture gardens, boasting the largest outdoor collection of American sculpture in the world. Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, Brookgreen, a 9,100-acre property, combines art, history and a zoo to deliver a day that is heavy on culture, natural beauty and education.
Hopsewee Plantation was built nearly 40 years prior to the Revolutionary War, and offers a window back in time. The home, which remains a private residence, is built of black cypress, which helps explain why the original structure remains intact.
Sports, Shopping and More
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Class A affiliate the Chicago Cubs, and Broadway at the Beach, a shopping, dining and entertainment mega complex, which is home to Ripley’s Aquarium, are also located in the heart of Myrtle Beach.
Just up the road in North Myrtle Beach, Barefoot Landing is Broadway’s equal. Barefoot Landing is home to House of Blues, the area’s premier concert venue, Alabama Theatre, which provides a nightly show, and a host of outstanding restaurants, highlighted by Greg Norman’s Australian Grille.
Speaking of Greg Norman, golf never goes out of season in Myrtle Beach, as readers of “USA Today” and Golf.com, who voted the area America’s best golf destination, can attest. In the summer time, the Grand Strand is home to golf’s most family-friendly initiative, as nearly 50 of the area’s 100-plus golf courses allow kids to play for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
Haven for Foodies
Medieval Times is an exciting, family-friendly dinner attraction inspired by an 11th century feast and tournament. Guests are served a four-course banquet and cheer for one of six Knights competing in the joust and other tests of skill. Expect almost two hours of jousting, swordsmanship, thrilling hand-to-hand combat, displays of extraordinary horsemanship and falconry as part of an exciting yet touching story set in Medieval Spain.
Croissants Bistro and Bakery, open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, serves fresh, local vegetables and seafood, and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With over 100 dishes on the menu, 250 wines and 700 cakes in the gallery, the reasons people love Croissants are many. The locals recommend that If you are there for lunch, the meatloaf sandwich is a winner.
Classic Italian is a timeless favorite and Rossi’s is a local institution. Serving traditional Italian dishes, USDA Prime beef, al dente pasta, and a creative menu (the fried lobster comes highly recommended), Rossi’s offers a complete dining experience. If the food alone isn’t enough, Rossi’s is also home to “Eighty-Eights,” a piano bar featuring nightly live entertainment.
Sea Captain’s House is one of the area’s best and oldest restaurants, overlooking the pounding surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Not to be outdone, Bandito’s and Second Avenue Pier Restaurant both offer fine dining overlooking the Atlantic, with plenty of fresh seafood and a variety beach-inspired food options for everyone.
In Murrells Inlet, the Seafood Capital of South Carolina, Drunken Jacks headlines the eateries along the ever-popular Marshwalk. At the opposite end of the MarshWalk is The Wicked Tuna, which is every bit the equal of Drunken Jacks, serving sushi and a creative, contemporary menu that has made it one of the Grand Strand’s most popular restaurants. A second Wicked Tuna location is opening oceanfront in central Myrtle Beach this summer.
Enough to entice you for a summer visit? Myrtle Beach and memories that can last a lifetime walk hand-in-hand for many families, and that will certainly be the case in summer of 2016. Come visit and create your special memories!