North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - A New Location to Me

by WordChazer

The Carolinas may well be known to many as the first stop for hurricanes roaring in from the Atlantic. But the southern end of the coastline is also a popular tourist destination.

While researching places to go on holiday on the East Coast of the USA that were not in Florida, New York or Washington, I stumbled across the Grand Strand area of South Carolina, specifically North Myrtle Beach. I like to visit places which are relatively unknown to Brits, but which may well be popular destinations for the natives, and the Carolinas coast fits this description perfectly. The area has long been a popular Spring Break location for the students, and many 'snowbirds' - older and retired people - from further north take holiday homes here for the winter as the subtropical climate is preferable to the snow cover found in the likes of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. It sounded intriguing, so I decided to investigate more.

Title photo is by Tonalscape (Michael Barkowski) on flickr.

Why Vacation in North Myrtle Beach?

My first impression was that there's quite a bit going on in North Myrtle Beach. There's always a round of golf on the go somewhere, beach events, nature reserve visits, shopping (yes, there are outlet malls nearby!), a varied restaurant choice and festivals all the way through the spring, summer and early autumn.

With its great climate, wide sandy beach and proximity to over 80 golf clubs and several outlet malls, North Myrtle Beach is pretty much paradise if your idea of a break, like mine, involves copious amounts of sun, sea, sand and either shopping or walking. It’s a relative newcomer to the world of beach resorts, as it was formed in 1968 from the municipalities of Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive, Crescent Beach and Windy Hill. It’s only half the age of Las Vegas and a real novice up against the likes of locations in California, Hawaii and Florida. But it is the largest resort on the Atlantic-facing Grand Strand with water parks and beach or sea-based activities as well as those golf courses mentioned earlier.

Average winter temperatures in North Myrtle Beach are around 60*F, or 15*C for those reading in Europe. That’s rather pleasant, especially as it’s only an average of 46*C or 8*C in Northern Europe, and below zero further north at this time of the year.

To help you get the best from your stay, there is the North Myrtle Beach Ultimate Discount Card, which offers savings on food and drink, club, theater and golf club entry, bike rentals, area tours, museums, water park tickets and more. There are over 300 discounts available and one card is valid for the whole year. This useful card can be ordered through the website and payment is via PayPal. What could be simpler?

Now, let's take a closer look at some of these highlights.

Outdoor Lifestyle to the Max

With weather like this, you'd be mad to stay indoors!

Golf is an obsession in North Myrtle Beach. There are over 80 golf courses and links nearby and stay-and-play deals from around $60 a night for a party of four. I'm not quite up to championship standard so if we do vacation here, I'm going to suggest we head for Highway 17 and try the crazy golf scene. There are many mini golf companies in that area offering a wide choice of courses on many themes and they look like a barrel of laughs. They're also family friendly for those travelling with youngsters.

The beach, of course, is a great draw. It's wide, sandy, and you can surf those waves at some times of the year. It's ideal for running, walking, beach volleyball, petanque and frisbee.

Or you can just settle down and watch the world and its seabirds float on by. That sounds like the ideal chill pill to me, so as long as the sand stays out of my laptop, you know where to find me.

There are also several recreation parks and centres in North Myrtle Beach, with tennis courts, ball fields, running trails and outdoor grills for self catering. The nature reserves and nearby State Park offer chances to see the local wetland wildlife up close, as well as to learn more about the natural history of the area.

North Myrtle Beach is Festival Crazy

March to October, take your pick and party on

In tandem with this emphasis on the outdoor lifestyle, North Myrtle Beach hosts several high-profile festivals every year. It sounds like a good idea to base a vacation around one of these and enjoy a weekend of celebration as well as all the other attractions the area has to offer.

In March, the town wears the green for St Patrick's Day. There is a parade in the morning, followed by a festival in the afternoon. The parade is the biggest on the Strand, with marching bands, over 100 floats and entertainers. It starts at 9am, lasting two hours and seguing neatly into the Festival which is centered around the end of the parade route and goes on until 4pm. Stalls at the Festival include local food and drink providers plus arts and crafts vendors. There is live music from two stages and the chance to buy a souvenir T-shirt to bring back happy memories on damp and dark winter mornings back home.

Two months later, in May, Mayfest on Main welcomes summer with a bang. This one runs from 10am to 6pm, so you can enjoy the warmer temperatures and longer days. Just like St Patrick's Day, there are stalls galore, bands all over the place, street entertainers and food on offer constantly. One thing's for sure, you will never starve in North Myrtle Beach.

The festival season comes to a close in September with the Irish Italian International Festival. Now this one sounds like great fun, given that it brings together the legendary Irish party spirit and amazing Italian cooking. There is even a restaurant competition to allow North Myrtle Beach's finest chefs to prove who is the very best at their craft. There are usually around 20,000 visitors to this shindig, and most of them seem to be intent on dancing and eating, from what I read, so comfortable shoes will be packed if we pick this time to visit.

Restaurants, Food and Eating in North Myrtle Beach

Stock up on those calories before enjoying this energetic location

As a bit of a galloping gourmet I was pleased to read that there is a vast array of eateries in North Myrtle Beach. Yes, as you would expect from the coastal location, there is seafood, but also steakhouses, grills and vegetarian options adding to the choice.

The oysters are world famous, the Italian cooking is legendary, the bistro scene alive and well. There are German restaurants, pancake houses, buffets, Mexican, pizzas, bagels... Well, I suppose with all the outdoor lifestyle choices on offer, you need to have adequate food to keep up with it all.

Fish fry is popular, Chinese and Mongolian dishes available, and crab plentiful. Now, I'm not a big seafood fan, but some of these dishes sound tempting, to say the least. I'm one of these odd types that doesn't like to eat anything that looks like it did when it was alive, so whole fish and prawns are out, for sure. But if that's your bag, you need to follow me here, because I'm going to give at least some of this variety a try if (when?) we visit.

If you prefer casual beachside cafe style meals, there's a heap of options for you. Fine dining is on offer in some establishments in North Myrtle Beach too, and one website says that in some of these the service is better than in New York. That's saying something.

Myrtle Beach Sunset
Myrtle Beach Sunset
Across the Intracoastal Waterway
Across the Intracoa...
Professor Hacker's Dinosaur Adventure mini golf
Professor Hacker's ...

Places to Stay in and around North Myrtle Beach

From top hotels to self-catering condos, NMB has you covered

As with the range of restaurants, the range of accommodation options in North Myrtle Beach is wide and all encompassing.

From all-inclusive resort stays to self catering apartments and Airbnb rentals, North Myrtle Beach has a place for you. Some of those on the larger holiday package booking sites are mid-way between North Myrtle Beach and the neighboring Myrtle Beach (which by all accounts is more developed and formal than the laid back atmosphere in North Myrtle Beach) but that would give the chance to explore both areas with ease.

There are nearly 3,000 holiday rentals in North Myrtle Beach, many privately owned apartments let out directly by the owners, as well as complexes overseen by specialist management companies.

Many of the hotels are multi-storey high rise buildings, but this does at least guarantee a good view of the area (or the sea if you're lucky). However, with the weather being as good as it can be, you may well find you don't spend that much time indoors in the first place. I know I tend not to in a climate like that, making the most of being in the sun, warmth and fresh air whilst away from my normal routine.

Good Weather, Great Food, Holidays for All

The thing that strikes me about North Myrtle Beach, as with some of the other lesser known places I've visited, is that there is such a variety of interests catered for.

Retirees, families, sports-mad or in search of a relaxing break, you'll find it here. Golf, fishing, walking, running, food, shopping and shows are all offered. If you want a quiet time, you can choose to arrive out of season, take advantage of cheaper hotel room prices or maybe get lucky and find one offering third-night-free stays or something similar.

If, on the other hand, you want to let your hair down and party on, you can show up here during Spring Break or for one of the festivals, where you can guarantee as much partying as you can handle.

Getting here is easy - Myrtle Beach airport is close by and hire cars are available from the airport. Once on the coast, you may not need the car again until you drive back to the airport, depending on your itinerary. It's advisable to research your options before you arrive, just as I am, because otherwise you may find yourself trying to do too much. It's one of those places.

I'm really hoping to make a trip to North Myrtle Beach sometime in the next year or so, because it sounds like the sort of quirky, yet relaxing, place that would make a vacation the kind of totally relaxing break from the norm that it is supposed to be.

Updated: 10/29/2014, WordChazer
 
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MBC on 10/28/2014

Great review of the place. I'm a mountain girl and the beach and golf are not my thing, but I know plenty of people who do enjoy those pursuits. Hope you enjoy it. Let us know.

RuthCox on 08/23/2014

I spent a week in Myrtle Beach, quite a bit of time ago, but thoroughly enjoyed its beauty and atmosphere. I have a sibling who lives there and loves it.

Mira on 04/28/2014

It sounds like you will enjoy yourself there, Paula! Have fun and do share some photos when you come back :-). The name Myrtle Beach sounded familiar but I had no idea where it was exactly, so it was good to read a few things about it.

WordChazer on 04/26/2014

WriterArtist I'm not a beach person as far as sitting there getting a sun tan goes, but I like walking the promenades and the ability to be out in the open air which a beach location often gives.

WordChazer on 04/26/2014

Thanks Emma! It just grabbed me when I started looking at places similar to SoCal but closer, that perhaps NMB would answer at least some of the requirements that my husband and I have for a holiday. Good to hear from the horse's mouth, as it were, that my research may be telling me the truth.

Guest on 04/26/2014

WordChazer, Myrtle Beach does have a glorious reputation as a travel destination. My sister visited Sunset Beach, less than an hour away to the north, on the North Carolina coast, for a conference, and she said that the scenery was beautiful. The North Carolina and South Carolina coastlines are photogenic.
Hopefully you will be rewarded for your interesting, convincing research by way of a vacation.

WriterArtist on 04/20/2014

Beaches are the most welcome vacation destinations. The North Myrtle beach seems to offer a variety of things, it is definitely a lovely vacation spot.

WordChazer on 03/31/2014

Thanks Abby! If nothing else it's been fun researching it so far.

AbbyFitz on 03/30/2014

I've never been to myrtle beach but I hear lots of good stuff about it. I hope you have fun!

WordChazer on 03/30/2014

I hope I will, Ologsinquito. I still have to convince my husband that there are other US locations to visit than Anaheim and New York!


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