Having recently returned from Myrtle Beach, I thought this would be a good place to start with my travel adventures. Brenda and I lived there for 4 years and got to know the area from a local’s perspective. We thoroughly enjoyed our time and go back often to catch up with friends and enjoy the weather. What most people don’t realize is that the Grand Strand is more than Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood houses and Hooter’s. It is more than wall-to-wall people crowded along the beach during the summer. It is more than over 100 golf courses to frustrate you. It actually has culture.
The Grand Strand runs from the North Carolina border to Georgetown, over 60 miles of beach (with no cars). On the map you would find it listed as Long Bay. And, there is a local symphony who has taken the moniker Long Bay Symphony. So, you can have the beach music shag and a symphony. Have to admit, my focus would be on the shag.
So, what do you do if you want to get away from the maddening crowd? My recommendation would be to first head to Brookgreen Gardens (http://www.brookgreen.org/.) Brookgreen Gardens is a world renowned sculpture garden. According to their website;
“Brookgreen Gardens is one of the few institutions in the United States to earn accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as being designated a National Historic Landmark and being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”
At Brookgreen you can while away countless hours strolling through the sculpture, flowers, and trees. It is truly a magical place. During the spring azaleas and daffodils bloom in profusion; during the summer the grounds are alive with a multitude of flowers, and at Christmas the live oak trees are lit at night creating a magical display. But it does not stop there. There are boat rides through the low country, a zoo featuring low country animals you may not be able see anywhere else. To quote Brookgreen again:
“All of the native animals in the Lowcountry Zoo were either bred and raised in captivity or have sustained a major disability due to injury. In either case, these animals could not survive in the wild.”
So you have toured Brookgreen and now you want some beach time – but you don’t want to put up with the crowds. So what to do? Head to Myrtle Beach or Huntington Beach State Parks. There you can put up your umbrella, read a book, soak up some sun – and not have to fight for a space on the beach. There is a fee – but if you want peace and quiet, it is well worth it.
At night you may want to eat, and there are over 1700 eating establishments. But…how to choose. For my tastes, as you may know, I am not fond of fried, buffets, or chains. So, here are some hints. Pawleys Island has a good number of really good places; Bistro 217, Chive Blossom, but the best would be Perrone’s Market (http://www.perronesmarket.com/.) Right now it has the #1 rating by Trip Advisor. And I would agree – By the way Clair, it is at least 4 stars. They have food for every taste, even tapas that would be at home anywhere except perhaps Spain.
If you head up north, Collector’s Cafe (http://www.collectorscafeandgallery.com/) is not to be missed. It is an institution having been in business for over 21 years. And if you so desire, you can pick up a piece of art while you dine.
And then, if you want basic oysters and shrimp, go to Bimini’s Cafe (http://www.biminisoysterbar.com/). But be prepared to wait if you don’t get there early. Enjoy!