Travel Diary: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
My typical family vacation destinations include big cities or tropical beaches, so Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is not a destination I'd initially imagine for our group. However, we had all gotten time off at the same time last minute (and we had just come back from an international trip to Haiti a few days before) and were unable to plan a complicated trip with such late notice. So, we decided to explore the east coast. South Carolina was perfect, as it was far enough to feel like a real trip, but close enough to have an enjoyable road trip with minimal planning. So we packed the car and were off. Here are some highlights of the five day trip:
The drive was actually rather pleasant and simple, pretty much taking the highway straight down for about 10-12 hours. We divided the driving in shifts so it went by pretty quickly. We stopped periodically for food, stretch breaks and coffee, and got to better know the landscapes of the states we passed. I'd suggest looking up authentic, smaller businesses en route to explore, rather than stopping at chain restaurants to eat. We discovered a low-fuss Mexican restaurant in North Carolina that was very good, and on the drive home we stopped at a small nut factory/country store in Virginia that had every variety you could think of (plus everything was all natural. We stocked up on peanuts and almond butter for the next month).
Where we Stayed
We stayed at the Anderson Ocean Club and Spa, a resort right on the shoreline. The building is a rich golden-yellow with Spanish-influenced windows and landscaping, one of the most distinct buildings on the shoreline. As soon as you exit the lobby, you're at the beach. The shoreline was right under our patios and we watched the sunrise and sunset almost everyday. Our room was a suite, so basically a two-bedroom apartment with a fully-functional kitchen and spacious living room. It seems like many of the rooms had also undergone a recent renovation, with modern amenities like dark-wood flooring and granite countertops, so our room looked totally different than the more old-fashioned photos seen online. We were able to grocery shop, make breakfast, and brew coffee in our hotel every morning. The fitness facilities were also good, though we didn't even use the pool because it tended to get overcrowded, and there was really no point because of our proximity to the beach. Overall, the hotel fit our needs and the views were a plus.
Other places to stay at Myrtle Beach:
Of course, this is what we came for. Our hotel was so close to the beach we would take multiple walks on the sand per day. The beach is extremely clean and the water was nice and warm. It was actually a great swimming experience as well, there were waves but with a manageable tide that made for a really good swim. This may vary by time of year. There is a boardwalk area a few miles south of where we were staying, with rides and a modern ferris wheel that looks like a tiny London Eye. Near that area, there are also the classic shore shops typical of most East-coast boardwalk towns, with eye-sore neon T-shirts and kitschy souvenirs. We also chose one morning to drive out to North Myrtle Beach, where the beaches are quieter and less touristy. North Myrtle Beach is the place to go for more relaxing beach going and scenic views.
Myrtle Beach is far from a shopping destination, but there are a few places where one can take a leisurely stroll among clothing shops and boutiques.
Market Common- Newly built shopping and dining lifestyle center, resembling a tiny town square. Cute clothing/jewelry boutiques alongside established labels (Anthropologie, Sunglass Hut). There is also a large park and a small community of homes surrounding a small lake that look like cotton candy southern homes, quite charming. A lot of construction is still underway, so I would guess more homes and businesses will continue to pop up as time passes.
Tanger Outlets- Typical outdoor shopping mall outlet structure. Mostly casual and mid-range stores (Kate Spade, Polo Ralph Lauren) but good place for athleisure deals (Adidas, Under Armour).
We ate a lot of seafood. I had a nice culinary experience my week in Myrtle beach, and tried to stick to local seafood and restaurant specials. A list of restaurants I'd recommend:
Sea Captain's House- traditional seafood restaurant with cottage vibes
Aspen Grille- upscale traditional Southern cuisine
Hook And Barrel- sustainable local seafood with coastal vibes
Soho Bar and Grill- trendy asian fusion bar and seafood
Riptydz- lively bar and grill with great beach views
Croissants Bistro & Bakery- great place for espresso and quality desserts
Overall, I experienced a nice, relaxing few days in Myrtle Beach. This wasn’t a culture-soaked, historical landmark-filled journey, but the beach was beautiful, the food was great, and I enjoyed my time here.
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