Myrtle Beach: The Grand Strand
Standing at the center of the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach (pop. 32,000) is one of the largest and most popular beach resorts in the country, attracting some 13 million visitors every year. It’s a huge place, with mile after mile of motels, Wal-Marts, and fast-food franchises lining all the main roads. Long famous for its golf courses (and for having the world’s biggest collection of miniature golf courses), in recent years Myrtle Beach has swapped roller coasters and beachfront fun for shopping and merchandising. Its landmark Pavilion amusement park was demolished in 2006, to make room for yet another mall.
Myrtle Beach Practicalities
If you don’t mind keeping your tongue wedged firmly in your cheek, the Myrtle Beach area can be fun, and it’s definitely a mecca for fans of ersatz “themed” restaurants: Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, and Margaritaville all vie for attention in the massive Broadway-at-the-Beach complex on Kings Highway, north of US-501. Owned by the same company that tore down the Pavilion, this is the biggest attraction in Myrtle Beach, but despite the name, Broadway-at-the-Beach is over a mile from the ocean.
If you want a more genuine taste of Myrtle Beach, some of the best places to eat are in Murrells Inlet. One very nice “old-time” Myrtle Beach restaurant, the Sea Captain’s House (3002 N. Ocean Blvd., 843/448-8082), has survived the developers’ blitz and is still serving three delicious meals a day, just as it has since 1954. The seafood is great, and just about every table has an ocean view.