Myrtle Beach's moment

South Carolina coastal town looking for summer of recovery

May 30, 2010|By Marissa Miller, The Baltimore Sun

Since vacationers left last summer, Myrtle Beach, S.C., has had a little work done.

The South Carolina coastal town has added restaurants, more activities and a new 1.2-mile boardwalk set to open in June.

It's all in an effort to boost tourism to the area, which like many travel destinations has struggled during the recent economic downturn. In the past three years, the Grand Strand saw the loss of a landmark amusement pavilion, the closing of the much-publicized Hard Rock Park and vacancy rates that had hoteliers nearly giving away rooms.

But tourism officials say the setbacks have reinvigorated the region and led to a burst of new ideas and projects, including the $6 million boardwalk in the center of downtown.

The boardwalk, which runs from the 14th Avenue Pier to the Second Avenue Pier, will appeal to those who enjoy strolling the boards, walking down the beach, and checking out attractions, said Kimberly Miles, public relations manager for Myrtle Beach. The southernmost end will feature an oceanfront park.

Miles said that while the boardwalk had its official opening on May 15, it won't be 100 percent complete for a few weeks. "It's 95 percent done now," she said.

Still, some of the region's featured attractions are beginning this weekend, when Memorial Day events include American astronaut Buzz Aldrin and "American Idol's" Jordin Sparks.

"There's always something new," Miles said. "There's always something for everybody to do."

Hotels

Lodging in Myrtle Beach ranges from hotel rooms and suites to condominium rentals, with the majority of them vacation rentals. Check out visitmyrtlebeach.com/save for deals and discounts before booking accommodations.

Live Oak Tower at Springmaid Beach Resort, 3200 South Ocean Blvd., 866-764-8501; springmaidbeach.com. Remodeled in 2009, the Live Oak Tower features new high-definition, flat-screen televisions, a lazy river, upgraded bathroom amenities and close proximity to Springmaid Pier. Rates: $119.50-$489.70 per night. Discounts available.

Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, 8121 Amalfi Place, 866-437-4113; marinainnatgrandedunes.com. Choose from studios or one-, two-, three-, or four-bedroom suites. Guests can take advantage of the in's private beach, bicycle rentals, golf courses and daily activities. Rates: $109-$600 per night.

North Beach Plantation, 407 30th Ave. North, 800-615-3598; northbeachrentals.com. The condominiums at The Towers at North Beach Plantation provide luxury and water fun — one tower is surrounded by a 2.5-acre water park. Cottages are also available. Rates vary, ranging from $2,500 to $5,540 weekly; minimum stay is 7 nights.

Royale Palms Condominiums by Hilton, 10000 Beach Club Drive, 843-449-5000; kingstonshores.com. Guests in the one-bedroom guestrooms or two- and three-bedroom condominiums have access not only to Royale Palms' poolside cabanas, but also to amenities at sister property Kingston Plantation. Rates: $150-$640 per night.

Restaurants

The Myrtle Beach area hosts the Coastal Uncorked Food and Wine Festival in May, but that's not the only time visitors can sample the area's coastal cuisine.

Blue Crab Raw Bar, 11 N. Seaside Drive, Myrtle Beach, 843-232-9796. The new restaurant will feature oysters on the half shell, calamari, salads, burgers and fried seafood. Until the downtown restaurant opens, visitors can check out the Blue Crab's first location at Pawleys Island, which opened in March. Entrees: $9.95-$17.95

Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro, 4269 Luck Ave., Little River, 843-249-2601. Enjoy "Low Country French cuisine," including crab cakes, pasta and escargot, prepared in a Victorian home-turned-restaurant that dates to 1910. Entrees: $6-$44

High Hammock, 10880 Ocean Highway No. 21, Pawleys Island, 843-979-0300; highhammock.com. Maverick Southern Kitchens, the same group that owns High Cotton in downtown Charleston, opened this restaurant a little more than a year ago. The restaurant serves Low Country and Southern cuisine. Entrees: $17-$30

Ocean Forest Bistro, 5523 N. Ocean Blvd., Ocean Forest Plaza 7th Floor, Myrtle Beach, 843-692-5207; oceanforestbistro.com. The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and hand-cut beef filets, all for wallet-friendly prices. Entrees: $10.95-$26.95.

Fun

Myrtle Beach, the self-proclaimed miniature-golf capital of the world, offers many family-friendly activities. Go to visitmyrtlebeach.com for more ideas.

Brookgreen Gardens, 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, 800-849-1931; brookgreen.org. This National Historic Landmark houses the world's largest collection of figurative sculptures by American artists in an outdoor setting, along with a garden and zoo.

Family Kingdom Amusement Park, 300 South Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, 843-626-3447; family-kingdom.com. Family Kingdom, the only seaside amusement park in Myrtle Beach, features a Ferris wheel and oceanfront water park. And it doesn't charge admission: visitors pay only for rides. Pay per ride or buy a wristband for $23.50.

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