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The Grand Strand, SC

The Grand Strand in 3 DaysThree days is barely enough time to get to know any major destination. But AAA travel editors suggest these activities to make the most of your time in The Grand Strand.

Day 1: Morning Fuel up on flapjacks. Pancake houses are almost as plentiful as golf courses on The Grand Strand, but try Donald's Pancake House on North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach if you're looking for where to eat.

All beaches are not created equal. With a fishing pier, maritime forest, nature center, picnic shelters and restrooms, Myrtle Beach State Park is an option for anyone willing to pay a nominal per diem admission. However, families with teens might prefer the availability of water sports, arcades, shops, attractions and food places near the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach's historic district.

Day 1: Afternoon Shake the sand out of your shoes and head over to Broadway at the Beach for an afternoon of one-stop shopping and dining. Not your typical mall, this village-like promenade surrounding a huge, man-made lake is the place to go to stroll outdoors, feed seagulls and buy beachwear, Birkenstock shoes and Brighton accessories.

For lunch duck into a familiar pizza, steak or seafood eatery or nearby restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Amusements include Charles Bach Wonders Theatre and Ripley's Aquarium .

Day 1: Evening Plan on an early dinner at Thoroughbreds Chophouse & Seafood Grille , an upscale equestrian-themed restaurant in Myrtle Beach, before taking in a live variety show. You can't go wrong with The Carolina Opry, The Strand's longest running show, at The Calvin Gilmore Theater . If you've seen it, choose “One—The New Show,” at Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach . Both shows have won numerous tourism industry awards.

Cap off the night with a little dancing at a beach club. Shag dancing is especially popular in the Ocean Drive district of North Myrtle Beach, where it originated in the 1940s and later enjoyed a revival after being named the state dance. Slip on a pair leather-sole loafers and show off your shuffle at Fat Harold's Beach Club , or join the gallery of spectators wishing they had the smooth moves characteristic of this retro dance style.

Day 2: MorningDiscover the South Strand. In Murrells Inlet meander among hundreds of American sculptural works framed by lush plantings in Brookgreen Gardens . A series of garden rooms serves as an outdoor museum for a collection of statuary amassed by sculptress Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband. A trip through this wonderland of bronzes and botanicals can take up to 3 hours. If there's time before lunch, stop at nearby Huntington Beach State Park and tour Atalaya , the Huntington's winter home.

Day 2: AfternoonMurrells Inlet is the seafood capital of The Grand Strand, so you don't want to leave the area without sampling such local favorites as she crab soup, grouper sandwiches and a tray of salty raw oysters at one of these fish houses: Drunken Jack's Restaurant & Lounge and Russell's Seafood Grill & Raw Bar .

After lunch, head south to Pawleys Island. Said to be one of the first East Coast summer resorts, this tiny residential island features several beach cottages built by rice planters in the early 1800s; a driving tour brochure is available. Return to the mainland for a stroll through Hammock Shops Village . Shaded by tall pine trees, this village houses boutiques linked by winding pedestrian paths with plenty of bench seating, making for a relaxed shopping experience.

Day 2: EveningAfter exploring Pawleys Island and the Hammock Shops, you'll probably be ready to grab a bite. There are dinner options sprinkled along US 17. For an upscale experience with a variety of creative entrées ranging from Lowcountry to Pacific Rim, visit the cozy and intimate Frank's Restaurant & Bar. Rustic Table , another nearby eatery, presents upscale Southern cuisine in a fun yet family-friendly atmosphere.

Day 3: MorningEven if you don't play real golf, what's not to like about the miniature version? Nearly 50 putting parks attest to the popularity of this pastime in South Carolina's golfing capital.

Day 3: AfternoonSpend the afternoon sightseeing in North Myrtle Beach . Experience the Intracoastal Waterway's sights and sounds with a riverboat tour or dolphin cruise.

Day 3: EveningSpend your last evening at Celebrity Square, Broadway at the Beach's eclectic nightlife district. Stick around until the retro, rock or hip-hop music starts at Froggy Bottomz , and later sing along with dueling pianists at Crocodile Rocks . But if you find these aren't your style, just step outside and look around—there are plenty more clubs to choose from.

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The Grand Strand, SC

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