Bill Pfeiffer and his family are like a lot of Cincinnatians: They’re always up for a road trip to Myrtle Beach.
“We’ve probably gone almost every year for 20, 22 years. We’re going again this year,” says Pfeiffer, a longtime resident of Milford. He and his wife Diann have always enjoyed taking their kids on the 11-hour road trip from Cincinnati to this South Carolina oceanfront community.
“It was a kind of great family place when the kids were growing. It was reasonably priced getting a place on the beach,” Pfeiffer notes. “We’ve stayed at A Place at the Beach condos, which might have had 90 Cincinnatians (on each visit).”
Myrtle Beach—the 13th fastest growing metropolitan area in America—is located at the heart of the “Grand Strand,” which boasts some 60 miles of prime Atlantic Ocean beachfront. The area is blessed with mildly warm temperatures on land almost year-round, but ocean water that’s generally 20 degrees warmer than in North Carolina and Virginia. In fact, the average temperature of the water can often match that found on the Florida coastline.
ALL ABOUT FUN
The attractions abound here, and it’s not all about sandy beaches. “Myrtle Beach has so many places, it’s hard to name just one,” observes Pfeiffer. “They have a ton of attractions, restaurants and a great entertainment area.”
You can start with Brookgreen Gardens—located between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island—which was the country’s first public sculpture garden. The 50-acre garden displays more than 900 pieces spanning three centuries of American sculpture.
Family Kingdom amusement park is known for its legendary Swamp Fox wooden rollercoaster and the state’s largest Ferris wheel. Wild Attractions & Wild Water Wheels showcases cliff dives, serpentine side-winders, twin twisters and other water rides.
The NASCAR Speedpark boasts seven thrill ride tracks, two NASCAR themed golf courses and the state-of-the-art Speedome Arcade.
The city is home to three Ripley’s attractions: Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, Ripley’s Haunted Attractions and Ripley’s Aquarium (housing some of the world’s most bizarre and deadly aquatic life).
For sports fans in your family, “The Ripken Experience” is a youth baseball complex, named after Cal Ripken, that hosts national tournaments.
The golf greens here—some 100 courses in all—have been created by some of the world’s best players: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman among them.
And the beaches are here to lure you. From pier fishing to charter fishing and boating, kayaking, swimming, surfing, parasailing, scuba diving, sand castle building, sand Frisbee and volleyball, and wind-surfing as just some of the outdoor activities and sports available on and off the shores of the city. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just lying on the beach and working on your tan.
Famed for its fresh seafood (especially flounder, grouper and tuna) and shellfish (especially steamed oysters, clams, shrimp, crab legs and rock lobster), Myrtle Beach is also known for its Lowcountry Boil—a combination of shrimp, sausage and corn. There’s also the traditional Calabash—or Murrells Inlet-style—preparation of seafood, with tender morsels that are broiled or grilled, then deep-fried in light batter.
Dining spots include Fat Tuesday, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Broadway Louie’s Grill, Hard Rock Café, Key West Grill, the Crab House, Landry’s Seafood, Crocodile Rocks, NASCAR Sports Grille, Planet Hollywood, Shucker’s Raw Bar, Tripp’s Restaurant and more.
FOR THE HISTORY BUFF
The city has a long history, beginning with those first tourists, a party of Spaniards from Hispaniola, who landed in the region back in 1526 to establish the first European settlement in America.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, vacationers discovered the beautiful beaches and camped out in rustic shacks and tents. Few residents would build permanent homes here until the 1920s and ’30s.
Myrtle Beach incorporated as a town in 1938 and finally became a city in 1957.
A final piece of trivia: The city’s name comes from the wax myrtle, a shrub found in abundance in the area.