This story appeared earlier today on Postmedia/Sun Media websites….
MYRTLE BEACH –. The golf is tremendous. The beach practically runs from Georgia to North Carolina. And the clanging pinball arcades are legendary.
I love all those things about Myrtle Beach. But I also enjoy the quiet side of this seaside city; the placid waterways lined with brilliant white egrets and the fine shops and restaurants. Here’s a look at the adult side of this popular getaway spot for Canadians for all kinds of travellers.
THE WINE LOVER
I don’t know that I’ve had as much fun wine-tasting as I did at La Belle Amie Vineyards. Within seconds of my walking in the women behind the bar in the tasting room/gift shop were hootin’ and hollerin’ about the names of actors and actresses in different movies and evaluating the looks of a visiting travel writer. La Belle Amie grows a few of the grapes for their own wine but most of what they make is from grapes brought in from out of state. They blend their own style of wines under the “Twisted Sisters” label and give them colourful names like “You’re So Naughty” or “Heavenly Body.” The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were good and they make a nice Merlot. There’s a gorgeous patio out back alongside a grove of trees. They often have barbeques ($5 for a burger) and live music. If you don’t have fun here, you need your attitude meter checked by a certified expert.
THE FINICKY FOODIE
Hook and Barrel is a sleek restaurant on the north side of town. They knocked down some pine trees to make way for the building but have used the wood for the furniture, decorations and even for serving trays. I had Maine oysters the size of a hockey glove and a perfectly-cooked trigger fish with jicama mango salsa. The scallops and bone-in filet also were excellent. Down in the fun Murrells Inlet area, Wicked Tuna serves up lovely fish tacos in an indoor setting or on a patio overlooking the bay and marina. There’s also a fine, enormous patio at RipTydz, where I had a fabulous grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and onion straws at a table overlooking the beach and Pier 14. For a more sophisticated meal, try Travinia for Italian food in the Market Common shopping area.
THE NATURE LOVER
I had a wonderful kayak ride a few years ago with the folks at Black River Outdoors, exploring quiet riverways west of town. This time I took a fun stand-up paddleboard tour around Murrells Inlet with the folks at Crazy Sister Marina. Tour guide Ashley Clark pointed out double-breasted cormorants (“they’re my favourite bird because I like saying ‘double-breasted cormorants’”), tiny crabs scuttling in the water and snowy white egrets patrolling for a late lunch. You also can rent kayaks or wave runners. Not far away is Huntington Beach State Park, where you’ll find lovely marshes, towering trees dripping with Spanish Moss and plenty of easy ground for cyclists. Pawleys Island has a magnificent, quiet beach.
THE SPA SEEKER
There’s a nice spa at the Kingston Plantation complex in north Myrtle Beach called Spa 33. I had a full massage that included a vigorous but not too rough treatment around my kneecaps, fingers, toes and hands. They also have manicures, pedicures and other types of treatments. The relaxation room had a tropical plantation feel, with comfy, relaxing recliners and citrus water and tea. There’s also an outdoor patio and a great steam room to soothe the muscles you wore out on your paddleboard trip. http://www.kingstonplantation.com/spa-and-fitness/spa33/
The Tanger Outlet centres are great for mass appeal. For something a little more boutique in style, Market Common features a pedestrian-friendly layout and lovely shops. Coastal Urge offers everything from Patagonia knapsacks to pretty straw hats for ladies and jackets for what passes for winter in these parts. Southern Living has elegant scarves and cover-ups, housewares, wild print purses made in South Carolina, and much more. The Hammock Shops in nearby Pawleys Island features brick walkways, thick groves of tropical trees and shrubs and sophisticated shops.
THE ARTSY TYPE
I’ve enjoyed the small but powerful Myrtle Beach Art Museum on several visits. This past time I found everything from colourful paper art suspended from the ceiling to powerful folk art, beachy watercolours, Group of Seven-style landscapes and even Egyptian pieces from 1,400 B.C. I also spotted a wonderfully complex, large piece of art with random eyes and symbols placed here and there and a saying in the upper corner that read “The mean things are in here with the rest of us.” There’s a nice gift shop and a sunny sitting area with tea and cookies you buy on the honour system. And you’re just steps from the beach if someone in the family would rather build sandcastles than check out the museum.
JUST THE FACTS
SLEEPING The Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort at Kingston Plantation has lovely rooms and a great swimming pool with a bar. It’s right on the beach and close to fine shops and restaurants. MORE INFORMATION http://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Air Canada Vacations is offering savings of up to $1,400 per couple on select Trafalgar trips. Travellers must book and pay by Jan. 11, 2018. The offer is valid for economy class travel completed by Dec. 31, 2018.