Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand Beaches
The broad, flat beaches along the Grand Strand are a patchwork of colorful coastal scenes—from the high-energy section of Myrtle Beach backed by a wall of hotel high-rises to the laid-back leisure of Pawleys Island, accessible only by two causeway bridges that cross the salt marsh.
The family-oriented Grand Strand is world renowned as one of the Eastern Seaboard's megavacation centers. The main attraction, of course: 60 miles of white sand, stretching from the North Carolina border south to Georgetown, with Myrtle Beach as the hub. From North Myrtle Beach all the way down to Pawleys Island, the Grand Strand's silky beaches invite you to take your shoes off and relax. Low-tide, packed sand makes way for early-bird joggers, bikers, and dog walkers next to the crashing waves. If you're lucky, you'll see dolphins, which often come in close in the early morning or just before sunset.
Myrtle Beach is heaven for golfers. The award-winning Barefoot Resort offers four courses and vistas along the intracoastal waterway on the north end. The renowned, private Dunes Club course features breathtaking ocean views, and the Jack Nicklaus–designed Pawleys Plantation on the south end will have you putting among the pluff mud at low tide in the marshes.
It's no secret Myrtle Beach is a big hit with families. The international praise it has received as a family destination put it on the summer vacation map, so if you're seeking peace and quiet, this isn't the place for you. What you will find here is a buzz of activity, from music spilling out of beachfront tiki bars to an overflow of excitement from the stretch of boardwalk shops and cafés between the piers at 14th and 2nd Avenues North. For sunseekers who prefer more peace, Myrtle Beach's residential section between 38th and 48th Avenues North, which is short on beach access parking (and thus people), is the best bet. Myrtle Beach State Park, just south of Springmaid Pier, is another peaceful spot with picnic areas, wooded nature trails, a children’s activity center, playgrounds, and a fishing pier.
North Myrtle Beach
North Myrtle Beach is less crowded and steeped in history. You'll find a hodgepodge of smaller hotels, high-rises, and beach cottages along the coastline. North Myrtle's population increases in spring and fall when two national shag dance gatherings take over the streets. The old shag dance clubs, as well as oodles of cute restaurants, still thrive along North Myrtle's Main Street. You may even see a few shaggers shuffling the dance steps on the sand, like they first did more than 50 years ago.
Surfside Beach and Garden City Beach
Surfside Beach is a small, southern suburb of Myrtle Beach, touted as a family beach that has a tight community of locals, parks, and a pier flanked by a block of seafood restaurants for visitors. Garden City Beach is south of Surfside off the Atlantic Avenue causeway, which ends at the Garden City Pier, boasting a fun arcade, fishing, and a one-of-a-kind bar that hosts live bands on summer nights. Garden City not only features beaches ocean-side but also has a popular secluded beach inlet-side, called the Point, accessible by boat.
Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island
When you go to the South Strand's Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island, it's time to relax, slow down, and breathe in the fragrance of the saltwater marshes. Pawleys Island was once a summer retreat for wealthy rice plantation owners who lived inland and remains perfect for quiet relaxation. Kissing the northern cusp of Litchfield is Huntington Beach State Park, a coastal haven for hikers, bird-watchers, or history buffs.
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