(And a few you may).
Thanks to years of extensive promotional efforts from this area, most adults east of the Mississippi have heard of the Grand Strand. They know it is a coastal beach vacation area of South Carolina. However, many of them erroneously think that the Grand Strand and Myrtle Beach are one in the same. But —
If you are one of those folk who think they are the same, be forewarned. If, during your next visit here, you see fit to verbalize that observation to a loyal resident of Little River or North Myrtle Beach, or Murrells Inlet or Georgetown, or any of the other adjoining beach cities and communities, you may spark a friendly retort, or at the very least some raised eyebrows.
…although Myrtle Beach is rightfully considered the strand’s epicenter. So, Myrtle Beach is Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand is — well — you get it.
Many smaller towns and communities along that route would, like Myrtle Beach, prosper and grow because of the strand union.
North Myrtle Beach, Crescent Beach, Windy Hill, Briarcliffe Acres, Surfside Beach, Garden City, Wachesaw, Murrells Inlet,
All thanks to the contributions of families and businesses who have for decades combined their personal and financial resources to nurture and maintain this popular family vacation destination now known internationally as the strand.
Today many long-time strand residents will argue that the Grand Strand should continue to be defined by its original 1950’s borders.
The original northern border was defined by the North Carolina line just above Little River and extended down 60 miles of US coastal highway 17 to its southern border at Georgetown.
Both Ocean Isle and Calabash, NC have gained notoriety in recent decades, in part because of their close proximity to the strand’s historic northern border, but even more so because of their tourism hospitality.
These days a segment of business owners and residents there may take offense to you omitting them from the Grand Strand umbrella. And they both have a valid point (or two).
If you foolishly omitted them from the strand umbrella they would quickly explain to you the err of your omission.
They are both very popular resort destinations in their own right, they will say. And, after they explain to you their contributions to the growth in popularity of the area, they’ll probably display their hospitable nature by buying you a beer and thanking you for coming to visit.
The Grand Strand is situated mostly in Georgetown and Horry Counties (and Brunswick County NC some will say). No one seems to have a problem pronouncing Georgetown or Brunswick but many often butcher the pronunciation of Horry.
“What kind of name is Horry,” you may ask?
Well, Horry County was named for Revolutionary hero, Brigadier General Peter Horry. That is pronounced “Oh-Ree” not, ‘Whore-ee”… (fist fight to follow). The ‘h’ is silent — you know — like the ‘p’ in pneumonia.
Where did Myrtle Beach get its name?
There is one common, yet very believable misconception about how the City of Myrtle Beach actually got its name– the beauty queen. Let’s dispel it now. No, it was not named after a 1900’s beauty queen who resembled Vanna White. Anyway, Vanna White is from North Myrtle Beach.
No, the name Myrtle Beach was chosen after a contest.
Well, there was, but it just had not been officially named yet. 1959 was when the phrase Grand Strand was coined by Myrtle Beach newspapers, undoubtedly invented to promote tourism to Myrtle Beach and the immediate surrounding areas as a ‘grand’ place to visit.
History has proven that decision was a grand move indeed. Today several of the cities and communities have gained individual notoriety rivaling that of their big sister, Myrtle.
And vacationers flock here year round to enjoy them — 14 million or so people visit here every year.
Of course the main attraction is the 60 miles of oceanfront beach itself. Wide and expansive, the South Carolina shore is renowned for its soft, sandy expanses, calm waters, and breathtaking sunrises. .. a reprieve to visitors from the day-to-day routine back home.
Many beach-goers start their day early as shell-hunters, walkers, and joggers patrolling the shallows. As the morning wears on, families, umbrellas and lifeguard stands begin to set up shop. It isn’t long before the sand buckets, sand castles and cornhole players make their daily debuts.
Before they know it, it is lunchtime. Somehow, fried chicken and potato salad just taste better when you’re sitting on a sandy beach surrounded by family.
And so goes a day on the beach on the Grand Strand. But lazing in the sun as the surf washes over our feet is only part of the reason millions of people come from all over the world to vacation here.
From hurtling through a massive water slide tunnel to leisurely viewing the Myrtle Beach boardwalk from atop its giant ocean-front Sky Wheel, the variety of choices boggle one’s mind.
Looking for something adventurous? Looking for an adrenaline rush? Do you have your mind set on scuba diving, parasailing, deep sea fishing or alligator petting? Riding a zip line? Beating your best-ever time on a go-kart course? Or driving a real NASCAR? The Grand Strand has you covered.
If you dream of dropping a 30-foot putt to win it all, This is the perfect place to chase that dream. You just need to bring the skill (or luck — either one works).
The strand boasts more than 100 first-rate public golf courses that appeal to both professionals and duffers. Spring and fall are peak golf seasons along the strand and it is not uncommon during those times to find condos and resorts booked solid by golfing foursomes from all over the world.
And if you enjoy a round of mini-golf with the kids, you’ll be pleased to know that the strand has the largest collection of mini-golf courses on the planet!
The Grand Strand loves ‘snowbirds’, both the feathered and human types.
A feathered snowbird is tiny cousin of the American sparrow. They weigh in at under an ounce and are less than 6 inches long. In the winter they leave their summer homes in the northern United States and Canada and fly southward to warmer locales along the Sun Belt of the southern United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.
Human snowbirds leave the northern regions each winter for the same reason as their feathered namesake. Grand Strand human snowbirds migrate here from the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, or Canada in the off-season to take advantage of our climate, our special offers, and our southern hospitality. Some stay a few days, others stay a few weeks or even months and some, well, they decide to stay permanently.
Snowbirds (both kinds) love the uncrowded beaches’ firm sand at low tides. It is perfect for cycling (by the humans) and discovering treasures exposed by the surf (by both). And in winter other real feathery birds along the beach are prolific, less timid thanks to the reduction in human activity. Over 300 species of real bird sightings have been recorded at Huntington Beach State Park.
Canadian-American (Can-Am) Days
Canadian-American (Can-Am) days is a major annual event along the strand which offers discounts to participants on everything from lodging to appetizers. Since its origin in the early sixties, this multi-day early spring event has had wide appeal.
Sun Fun Festival
Myrtle Beach’s Sun Fun Festival reappeared in 2016 after a five-year hiatus. It is normally held in early June and has for over sixty years been recognized as the official start of the Myrtle Beach summer season. It is a three-day event held along the Myrtle Beach oceanfront and features a parade and a big line-up of live entertainment.
Other festivals include the Wings Over Myrtle Beach Air Show, The May World Famous Blue Crab Festival in Little River, MayFest On Main in North Myrtle Beach, Carolina Country Music Festival in Myrtle Beach (3 days), Conway Riverfest, Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival in Myrtle Beach (2 days), Little River ShrimpFest, Loris Bog-Off Festival and holiday displays like Night of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens and Festival of Trees at Ripley’s Aquarium.
Miles of shopping indoors and out
There are hundreds of outlet stores here. You can probably find it here somewhere. From chocolate fudge to kites, bikini’s to formal wear. Find that unique flea market item or have yourself a hammock built. Every day is a good day for shopping on the stand.
Seafood to steak or a PB&J
Big breakfast with buttery grits or oyster shooter appetizer. Restaurants along the strand cater to gourmet and casual diners alike. Sushi? Lobster? Fried calamari? Hundreds of restaurants, bars and pubs are available. European flair fast food gospel brunch
Bar & Grills
Rock & Roll to Shag
7 come 11
Sand castle contests
If you are looking for a little gambling action you can get that on a casino ship out of Little River. It is like a mini Las Vegas on the water. It offers Blackjack, Craps, Roulette Let-It-Ride and slot machines.
Catch the big one (or not)
I can remember when I my Dad used to tell my Mom after he and I came home from fishing down at the mill pond that we had caught, “A Pepsi bottle full and a bunch of little ones.” I didn’t care that we had not caught the big one because I had a great time. I remember those trips like they were yesterday.
I’ll bet your kids will have lasting memories about their fishing trips too, especially those trips to the beach where you sat for hours in the sand or on a hard wooden shrimp-smelly pier bench, closely watching the tip of your fishing rod for the slightest bump indicating something below the surface was snooping around your bait.
Who really cares what you catch? It’s all about catching up with your kids before they no longer have time to go fishing with you any longer.
But the strand offers lots of fishing opportunities for novice and pro alike. Off-shore party boats often bring home large catches of Spanish mackerel, bonito tuna and bluefish, sea bass, amberjack and tuna. 7 piers along the strand are available. And of course there is the surf.
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