Monday, May 18, 2015

South Carolina's Grand Strand

Is there anything nicer than spending a relaxing weekend at the beach? Especially when the national forecast shows most of the country had a rainy weekend. The drive from Greenville to the Low Country was gorgeous - there's about 100 miles of beaches, barrier islands and swampland along South Carolina's "Grand Strand." We explored four different areas and have a whole list of things for next time!

Myrtle Beach & North Myrtle Beach

We left Greenville about 7:15 a.m. on Saturday morning and had checked into our hotel and were enjoying a picnic on North Myrtle Beach by 11:45 a.m. It was awesome!

We parked around 40th Avenue between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. This is looking towards Myrtle Beach - you can faintly see the SkyWheel in the photo that's along the boardwalk. 

The houses along the beach were beautiful. This one has an infinity pool and waterfall. The sand dunes were very natural and the beach was much wider than what we are used to in the Gulf. There were also a lot more seashells that made walking a little difficult!

We walked a long way in both directions and took note of the wildlife - this jelly fish looks different than the ones I'm used to seeing in the Gulf. He was a little easier to spot!

In February and March there are so many Canadians that drive down, the town hangs Canadian flags and banners everywhere. We saw quite a few on restaurant flag poles. And many Canadian car tags. 

Saturday evening we walked around "downtown" Myrtle Beach. This weekend happened to be between the white bikers weekend and the black bikers weekend. There were all types of people here! And in this section it was obvious why South Carolinians call Myrtle Beach the "Redneck Riviera." It made for great people watching and tattoo spotting!

The SkyWheel was a highlight and offered great views of the area.  

Looking south towards Garden City. 

Looking north towards North Myrtle Beach (hometown of Vanna White!). 

The Gay Dolphin opened in 1946 and is one of the landmarks on the boardwalk and offers every type of t-shirt, tacky beach items, cute beach items and other memorabilia you can possibly imagine. Also, the Ripley's Believe It or Not is supposed to be endless, incomprehensible, and amazing - we are saving it for a future trip!

Apparently in Myrtle Beach the name of the game in restaurants is all-you-can-eat buffets and pancake houses. They are everywhere. Many people told us that the best of the best was the Original Benjamin's Calabash Seafood and Nautical Museum on King's Highway. Besides offering 170 items on the buffet, there is the actual model of the Queen Elizabeth that was shown to the real Queen Elizabeth before the ship was built in her honor. Ryan ate twice his body weight in King Crab legs. 

We ended the night with a walk on the beach - we had to digest a lot of food!

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach State Park is in Murrells Inlet and has three miles on undeveloped beach. We saw people walking dogs and riding bikes. It was paradise!

Also in the park is Atalaya, the winter home of Anna Hyatt and Archer Huntington. She was a renowned 20th century sculptor and he was a poet and scholar of Hispanic culture. His design for Atalya came from the Moor architecture in Spain. 

They did not include any guest rooms or social rooms at Atalya - it was a place for them to get away from their busy social lives in New York and Connecticut. They let the Army use it during WWII and upon their deaths, gifted it to the state. Very Downton Abbey-sih and I'm sure even Lady Mary would be impressed with this place!


Driving into the park, you pass over the Causeway. Here we saw three alligators!

See the two gators? There were people kayaking in the marsh. Brave souls - don't think I could do that knowing I'd be passing alligators! 

Pawley Island

Pawley Island has the charm and remote feeling of Fort Morgan in Alabama, but there's a Fresh Market two blocks from the beach. And many cute shops and restaurants that we'll have to explore on our next trip. There were no big condo buildings - just little beach houses and a few hotels along Highway 17. It really was the best of both worlds.

The tiny town hall and police station. 

Even the public beach access was picturesque. 



We had a great time and can't wait to go back!

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