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We haven’t visited much of South Carolina yet, only Charleston. Our first thought of Myrtle Beach is the beach, but Jim, “The Travel Organizer,” recently went to Myrtle Beach with his wife for their 35th anniversary. He shows us there is way more to Myrtle Beach than just the beach. Here are his practical tips.
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This destination report covers some of the highlights of the shoulder season (October 16-22, 2017) visit my wife and I took to Myrtle Beach, SC, to celebrate our 35th anniversary. I could only skim the surface in the space allotted.
We stayed at the Sheraton Broadway Plantation Resort (an SPG property) using an exchanged week from the timeshare we inherited from my wife’s father, so our incremental cost was minimal. Our unit was a 500 square foot, one bedroom, one bathroom villa with full kitchen, complimentary Internet access (which was acceptably fast) and patio overlooking one of the resort’s lakes. The same unit can be booked at Starwood Hotels for just a little over $100/night so our experience (during shoulder season) should be fairly easy to replicate. Additionally, lodging in Myrtle Beach is fairly reasonable once the summer hordes have departed. It is not difficult, for example, to book a 700+ square foot oceanfront king at the highly rated Ocean 22 for less than $150/night.
The Sheraton Broadway Plantation Resort was nearly ideally located. We could (and did!) walk to Broadway at the Beach. Murrell’s Inlet was less than a half-hour’s drive south and the farthest we drove to a restaurant (more on it below) was less than a half hour drive north. Walking to the beach would also have taken about thirty minutes…but, as you will learn, we weren’t there for the beach in October, anyway!
Dining options in and around Myrtle Beach range from food trucks to one of the better restaurants I’ve experienced so de gustibus non disputandum (“in matters of taste, there can be no dispute”). So my objective was to find reasonably good food, preferably with a view of the ocean at a fair price (also something each reader will define differently). In the end, we felt like we were very successful and can recommend the following dining experiences:
SeaBlue Restaurant and Wine Bar is located in an otherwise nondescript strip mall on the inland side of Highway 17, going north, in North Myrtle Beach. One should be advised that SeaBlue is pricey but never has the adage, “You get what you pay for,” been more true! My wife had a deconstructed lobster thermidor that was nothing short of heavenly and I ordered a filet mignon, cooked to perfection, with a mushroom and black truffle risotto. It may be a bit of a splurge but it is a splurge you’ll not soon forget! (Note: I “cashed in” 10,000 OpenTable points to take $100.00 off our bill and I earned 1,000 of those points back by making our reservation through OpenTable.)
This turned out to be one of the best “deals” of our trip and a very memorable experience because of our server, George, who, it turns out, has been delighting diners for almost 20 years! Again, we made our reservation through OpenTable to earn 1,000 points (worth $10) and used a Restaurant.com certificate to take $25.00 off the cost of our meal. We had a table with an unobstructed view of a glorious sunset and, after dinner, George brought out a complimentary and completely decadent dessert of strawberry cheesecake layer cake and a dense flour-less chocolate torte.
As with restaurants, Myrtle Beach offers activities for almost any interest, budget and fitness level. Yes, it probably has more outlandish miniature golf courses than you’re used to seeing but we didn’t go to one of them (“not that that’s a bad thing”). Our objective here was to find high value experiences probably overlooked by many visitors. Again, we felt pretty successful in this endeavor and can recommend the following:
Most visitors who get to Myrtle Beach by car drive through the town of Conway, SC…but few visit and this is a mistake. Conway has two interesting attractions: The Horry County Museum and Riverwalk. Both are free.
Horry County Museum
The centerpiece (literally!) is an aquarium that was featured on the Animal Planet TV show “Tanked.” It is a tall cylindrical tank inside a larger, shorter oval tank around which a spiral staircase leads visitors to the second floor. We happened to be there a day of aquarium enthusiasts visited so we got to listen in to the Museum’s director tell the story of the tank’s design, construction and installation – very interesting! Check the Museum’s events calendar before planning your visit; interesting and free lectures, films and exhibits are offered.
For a peaceful walk along the black water – so named because the tannins from the vegetation in and around it make the water appear black — Waccamaw River, it’s hard to beat Conway’s Riverwalk. If you plan your visit to coincide with Brookgreen Garden’s “Night of a Thousand Candles,” you may be able to catch Conway’s Christmas Boat Parade, which is best viewed from its Riverwalk.
We had been here many years ago but, oh, how Brookgreen Gardens has changed – for the better! We purchased a Groupon, which cut our admission cost almost in half, and were delighted to learn that our ticket allowed us unlimited return visits for a week! Brookgreen is part arboretum, part sculpture gallery, part wildlife preserve and part living history museum; it is almost impossible to see everything in one day. By all means, take one of the docent-led tours (they’re free with admission) and, if you can visit on a Wednesday, attend a free lecture on the Gulla Geechee culture whose ancestors were brought to the plantations, which comprise the present Gardens to work the rice fields. And if you can, plan your visit to include the Garden’s “Night of a Thousand Candles” — words can’t describe it!
Additional money-saving tips
By all means, take advantage of the many coupons, discounts and “hacks” that can reduce the amount you spend and, perhaps, lead you to places you otherwise might not have visited. Here are some of our favorites:
- Sign up for preferred member discounts at Barefoot Landing
- Request your “Monster Coupon Book”
- Take advantage of the “buy one entrée, get a free appetizer” deals at Tupelo Honey (in the Market Common) and Senor Frog’s (at Broadway at the Beach) by splitting both with your travel partner
- Use the Restaurant.com gift certificate for Kaminsky’s New York Deli (great sandwiches) and Second Cup Coffee Company (breakfast sandwiches)
About the Author:
I organize things; it’s what I do! I enjoy the natural adrenaline high of travel as much as the next person but I also try to limit the likelihood that the surprises I experience along the way will be unpleasant ones. To this end, I spend more hours than most preparing for each trip. Fortunately for me, I enjoy the anticipation of travel as much as the experience of it. The focus of my trip reports will be to help those who read them to enjoy high value experiences — maximizing enjoyment while minimizing cost. I’ve been a minister, nonprofit agency executive, professor and consultant; my “job” in retirement is planning our next trip. If you would like additional information and/or recommendations, please feel free to contact “The Travel Organizer” via email.
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