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The Grand Strand, SC

In DepthShowers are welcome on The Grand Strand’s award-winning golf courses only when accolades rain down. The sport’s greatest players and architects have helped make Myrtle Beach and surrounds one of the nation’s top golfing resorts, where there's plenty of things to see. Esteemed course designer Robert Trent Jones Sr. created The Dunes and Waterway Hills. Arnold Palmer laid out King’s North at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club, while Jack Nicklaus transformed the former rice fields of Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island into one of the Lowcountry’s most beautiful upscale membership courses. And with a signature course at Barefoot Resort and a local restaurant at Barefoot Landing, Greg Norman may have scored a double eagle.

Promoters brag that The Grand Strand has more golf courses per-capita than any destination in the world. Development as a golfing destination began as early as the 1920s with Pine Lakes Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, today a stronghold of traditional golf with its classic fairways, antebellum clubhouse and kilt-wearing attendants. Course designer Robert White hailed from St. Andrews, Scotland, and served as the first president of the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA).

Even miniature golf is big here with plenty of places to go. Would you believe there are at least 50 places to putt, each with an eye-catching theme and things to do with kids? If you break for putting greens, look for life-size dinosaurs, towering volcanoes and pirate ship replicas conspicuously placed along the major thoroughfares. You can’t miss them.

Fun Things to See

Music capital. Branson East. Grandiose nicknames capture the scope of The Strand’s entertainment scene, and particularly its connections to the music industry. Alabama, one of country music’s all-time-great bands, got its start playing in the 1970s at The Bowrey, a honkey tonk country bar still open today and recently ranked in the top 10 of honkey tonk bars in the country. Shagging became an East Coast dance craze and thing for couples to do in the 1950s, while at the same time introducing a regional music genre later coined beach music. As superstars, Alabama wrote “Dancin’, Shaggin’on the Boulevard,” a tribute to their early years here. The group also established Alabama Theatre, one of The Strand’s premiere performance venues, in North Myrtle Beach.

If longevity is a measure of success in the entertainment business, one of Myrtle Beach’s most popular performance venues bears witness. The Carolina Opry, ongoing in The Calvin Gilmore Theater since 1986, is The Strand’s granddaddy of variety shows and a fun thing to do with friends. Conceived by Missouri-born singer, entrepreneur and Grand Ole Opry performer Calvin Gilmore, the revue combines dance and comedy with gamut-running music styles.

Dolly’s double and Elvis, Rod, Garth, Elton, Britney, Cher and other celebrity impersonators light up the Legends in Concert stage in Myrtle Beach, while the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach regularly brings in the real deal—headliners of rock, jazz and blues. With live entertainment as a menu staple, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, is right at home in this coastal resort.

Where to Go in the Grand Strand

Of course, the beach remains the superstar of The Grand Strand. With 60 miles of coastline for a theater, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Not on the wide, cottage-dappled shores of the northern strand; nor in the shadows of high-rise hotels and condos in Myrtle Beach proper; nor beside grassy inlets, fishing villages and cooling maritime forests on the less-populated southern strand. Visitors staying at off-beach lodgings will really appreciate the plethora of public parking lots all along Ocean Boulevard.

A beach just isn’t worth its salt air if it doesn’t have a boardwalk, souvenir shops, swimwear boutiques, arcades, neon signs, open-air bars and at least one hot dog dive that's where to eat. Suffice it to say that Myrtle Beach’s worthiness is secure—for now—in the historic district of Ocean Boulevard between 9th and 21st avenues. Noticeably absent from the familiar beachscape is the old Pavilion Amusement Park, at one time the epicenter of adventurous things to do. To the dismay of many, it was dismantled after the 2006 season dubbed “The Last Ride.” Nevertheless, those with fond memories of Myrtle Beach’s most popular landmark can still pick up farewell-season T-shirts, postcards and other memorabilia, or better yet, visit a scaled-down version of Pavilion Park in the southeast corner of Broadway at the Beach.

Wherever you stay or play on The Grand Strand will be within minutes of one of eight fishing piers. Some of the most popular destinations are the 2nd Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach’s historic district; The Pier at Garden City, with rental fishing equipment and an arcade for kids; and Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach, the only one with a raised observation deck.

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The Grand Strand, SC

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Best Western Ocean Sands Beach Resort

1525 S Ocean Blvd. North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

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Hampton Inn by Hilton Murrells Inlet

512 Courtfield Dr. Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

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Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel

2101 N Oak St. Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

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Courtyard by Marriott Myrtle Beach-Barefoot Landing

1000 Commons Blvd. Myrtle Beach, SC 29572

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