It’s no secret that we Canadians love our beach holidays, and there are plenty of destinations south of the border to choose from when we go in search of sun and surf: Mexico, the Caribbean, and Florida, just to name a few. In most cases though, taking a sun holiday means a long journey, and long journeys are almost always more expensive than shorter ones. But what if there was an alternative destination with sunny, beautiful beaches, excellent attractions and dining, all at a fraction of the travel time?
There is. It’s Myrtle Beach.
Located in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach is 500km closer to Toronto than Orlando, which translates to around ten hours less time in the car, and that translates into ten hours more time on the beach! If you prefer to travel by air, it’s a short-haul flight from Toronto to Myrtle Beach International Airport on WestJet or Spirit Airlines (departing from Niagara Falls, NY), and seasonally via Porter Airlines.
Once you arrive, you’ll be thrilled with the warm subtropical climate that averages 2800 hours of sunshine per year, and a beach season that runs from April until late October. Myrtle Beach is technically an artificial island surrounded by water on all sides, which means more shoreline and therefore, more beaches. In fact, the city of Myrtle Beach itself is situated on a 60-mile long continuous stretch of beach called the Grand Strand. The warm waters of the Atlantic on the shores of Myrtle Beach are ideally suited to swimming, watersports, or fishing from one of the iconic piers along the coast.
While the beach is the main draw (it is named Myrtle Beach after all), there is plenty to do off the sand as well. When you’re ready to venture away from the waves a bit, start by strolling along the 1.2 mile-long Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade, along which you’ll find a seemingly endless array of hotels, parks, restaurants and shops. While you’re exploring the shoreline, don’t miss the SkyWheel, a187-foot tall observation wheel that operates year round. The SkyWheel is like a space-age ferris wheel (think London’s Eye), with 42 glass-enclosed, temperature controlled gondolas and stunning views of the Atlantic. If you’re ready for a little bit more adventure, check out one of the many amusement parks and water parks in the area. Ranging from thrill rides to go karting and mini golf, some are even located right on the beach!
Myrtle Beach has a lot to offer hardcore adventure-seekers as well. Speed-addicts can rent jet skis or try racing a few laps on a real NASCAR speedway, and adrenaline-junkies can test their mettle on several zip lines and ropes courses. For a more down-to-earth experience, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take in a few rounds of golf at one of Myrtle Beach’s beautiful and challenging golf courses. Tee off at one of the nearly 100 courses in the area, many designed by prestigious architects like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Some of the courses are built on former plantations and boast fascinating stories along with stunning landscapes. Best of all, kids play free at most Myrtle Beach area golf courses!
Long days in the sea air will really work up an appetite, so it’s a good thing that Myrtle Beach has so many excellent dining options to choose from. For the foodie, fresh-caught seafood or fish is a must, and the local restaurants along the Grand Strand don’t disappoint. Choose from North Carolina-style Calabash cuisine, with its traditional lightly-breaded, fried seafood meals or the traditional low-country cuisine, featuring a wealth of seafood caught fresh-daily, local Carolina Gold rice and of course the southern staple: grits. In addition to the locally inspired fresh-to-table options, Myrtle Beach has restaurants ranging from award-winning fine dining establishments to traditional American fare at classic burger joints and pizzerias (and everything in between).
When all is said and done, it’s hard to see why anyone would pass by Myrtle Beach at all, isn’t it?
By Jen Maier
Jen is someone who never does anything halfway. You can find her obsessively active on social media, traveling and exploring as much as she can while also operating as manager, consultant and chauffeur to kids and managing her thriving digital/social consulting practice.