Remembering Myrtle Beach
It’s not that you have forgotten Myrtle Beach….most of us have hit that South Carolina sand at some point from childhood to parenthood, and just hearing the name conjures up good feelings…. It’s just that you have to do your homework and remind yourself what a truly amazing vacation option it is for us “landlubbers” here in the Bluegrass State. When you have young children ruling your roost, vacation is all about family… and value. Beautiful Myrtle never forgets that.
When we decided to squeeze in one more week of summer vacation before Fayette’s back to school date of 15 August hit us like a ton of bricks, the options flew at us fast and furious. Lyssa and I sat down, crunched our numbers and really did some research. Destin, Florida seems very en vogue right now for the Kentucky crowd, and with good reason… it’s a beautiful place with a lot to offer. Hilton Head, Disney, all inclusive family resorts in the Bahamas and Virginia Beach were all strong contenders too…but in the end, for the money, for the beauty, for the driving proximity to Kentucky and for the sheer, overwhelming volume of fab family fun to be had….I challenge you to do better than Myrtle Beach!
Like all families, we are watching every dollar…especially after the pounding we have all taken financially over the past few years. This summer, we were finally optimistic about venturing out into the money-burning family vacation world again….but with a new post-recession sense of caution……we really wanted to make smart decisions this time around. Myrtle Beach answered all of our vacation hopes and needs….and then some.
We started with a little help in planning this adventure through the Myrtle Beach Chamber / Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CVB was golden in helping us chart our course and their council and resources maximized our time and our budget. I highly recommend you reach out to them before your family truckster even hits the road. It’s what they are there for! Check them out at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.
We really debated flying. There are convenient, time saving direct flights from Louisville to Myrtle Beach and frankly, the thought of 9.5 hours in a car with 2 boys ages 7 and 3….absolutely terrified us! But with airfare being what it was this summer, we really embraced the idea of some quality family time in the car….9.5 hours are doable! An 8am departure from Lexington with multiple stops brought us to Myrtle Beach at an easy 6pm for dinner. Three roundtrip tanks of gas vs. (4) plane tickets wins every time. Sure, we had our fair share of “Are we there yet?” and “I have to go potty” as we pulled away from the Rest Area and back on the interstate. But overall… we laughed, we sang, we planned and plotted. It was time very well spent.
Our resort was a recommendation from Myrtles CVB. They exceeded our wildest expectations. The Island Vista Resort sits right on the beach and it is stunning, to say the least. Every multi-room suite is an ocean front palace and the view as you open the door for the first time literally takes your breath away. We had found our home away from home! An impressive multiple pool complex gave us our daily routine of beach time, ocean time and cooling off with pool time. The Cyprus Room restaurant afforded us old southern hospitality and unsurpassed meal quality. This family run resort is big, but somehow, they always managed to make us feel special and part of their clan. We can’t thank Island Vista enough for making our vacation so memorable and relaxing…and they will do the same for you! It’s the perfect home base for your vacation. Visit them at www.islandvista.com
The beach in front of the resort is wide and not crowded at all, despite full occupancy. It felt like we had our own private stretch every day we were out there. The North Myrtle sand is some of the best walking and playing quality…reminded us of our trip to Maui a few years back. Sand castles, riding the surf and long walks followed….memories for a lifetime made. The kids slept well every night after their daily sun-drenched romps on this pristine beach….the sound of the ocean from our patio helped us rack out as well.
We took in old town Myrtle Beach just a few miles down Ocean Blvd. ….the Boardwalk and Peaches’ Corner, serving it up delicious since 1937. Beside it….The SkyWheel! This was a big hit….we took a night ride and enjoyed the view for miles in every direction. The whole region is just jammed packed full of fabulous restaurants and more entertainment options than you could take on over an entire summer….let alone a week.
We had our choice of over a dozen big theater venues and did Medieval Times. We were instantly transported back to the middle ages of knight jousts, swordfights and impressive horsemanship. They served up a great, hearty dinner too, with no utensils (not used in the 11th century!) We also took in a water park/amusement park center “Wild Water and Wheels”….and spent an evening of shopping, dining and amusement park style riding at Broadway at the Beach….home of Ripley’s Aquarium and about a hundred other attractions! The multiple Tanger Outlet Malls scored a little of our time as well….it was guilt free shopping after all the money we saved by driving down.
I’ve got to brag on the dining line up ….in addition to literally hundreds of local diners, the corporate greats are all representing at Myrtle…Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Buffett’s Margaritaville, Dicks Last Resort, etc.…and dozens and dozens of fun, all you can eat Calabash Seafood eateries. Just overwhelming! Shorts and sandals work everywhere and the kids go everywhere you go. There are zero pretentions for dining, just totally relaxed and nothing but a good time. Even one of their oldest and most elegant beach-front eateries The Sea Captains House….was a treat for the kids.
I really wanted to try out just one of the 100 Golf Courses surrounding Myrtle Beach….I wanted to go parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, zip lining, deep sea fishing, adventure touring…and take a romantic sunset cruise with my beautiful wife…But every time I got close to breaking away for a few hours…there was another sand castle to be built, another pool to jump in and another walk to be taken holding a little hand in mine. When I look at our pictures and think back on one of the very best family vacations we have ever taken…..I did exactly what I wanted to do and spent every moment with the most important little people in the universe. Lyssa and I came home from the Grand Strand with hearts full and minds clear and relaxed.
Next time there is a vacation decision to be made, remember Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…….we sure will! We left way too much undone…. a return trip will happen sooner than later.
…and maybe we’ll bring the grandparents along next time so they can watch the kids and we can finally take that sunset cruise!
Any questions or advice on where to go or what to do….do not hesitate, my friends…. firstname.lastname@example.org
***Final vacation tip: The week before school starts in mid August or late August /early September really is a great time to go. Weather is still wonderful, crowds are way, way down and deals are abundant on lodging and entertainment as they get ready to power down post summer.