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Updated: 4:09 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 | Posted: 4:09 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010

Myrtle Beach



Myrtle Beach is the hub of the Grand Strand, what locals refer to as "the 60 miles of uninterrupted coastline" that stretches from Little River, near the North Carolina border, south to Georgetown. Spaniard Lucas Vasques de Allyon founded the first colony in North America here in 1526, but the settlement was ravaged by disease, and the inhabitants perished within a year. English colonists settled in the area in the 1700s, especially at the port of Georgetown, about 50 minutes south of modern Myrtle Beach. With goods coming in and out, the South Carolina coastal waters were especially productive for pirates, and the inlets along the Grand Strand provided great hiding places.

Until the 1900s, the beaches of Horry County were virtually uninhabited. In 1901, the timber/turpentine company with extensive beachfront holdings built the first hotel, the Seaside Inn. The beach community was "New Town" until a newspaper-sponsored contest, and Myrtle Beach was born. In the 1920s, an upscale resort called Arcady was built. It featured the present Pine Lakes International Country Club -- the first golf club -- and the legendary Ocean Forest Hotel. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel demolished buildings and trees along the Grand Strand, clearing the way for new hotels and homes. During the rebuilding phase of the 1960s, the golf boom began.

Why you should go

The Myrtle Beach area offers a great beach or golf experience and encompasses bustling Myrtle Beach and more laid-back residential areas such as Garden City or Litchfield Beach. It is an affordable, family-friendly destination with more than 1,700 full service restaurants, eight live entertainment theaters, several family-friendly attractions, endless shopping, history and culture for any age along 12 distinct communities.

Main attractions

* Golf: There are about 100 golf courses -- and nearly 50 miniature courses -- along the Grand Strand. The golf courses were designed by legendary architects such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones and Greg Norman, all with an eye toward protecting the natural habitat and wildlife indigenous to the area. http://www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/GOLF/ or www.golfholiday.com

* Downtown Myrtle Beach Boardwalk: The new Boardwalk is part of the city's efforts to revamp old downtown Myrtle Beach. The mile-long Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade is between the 14th Avenue North Pier and the Second Avenue North Pier, and it extends to First Avenue. Construction was completed in May 2010. www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/boardwalk

* Broadway at the Beach: With singing gondoliers, themed restaurants and more than two dozen new shops, Broadway at the Beach joins the best of shopping and entertainment in the heart of Myrtle Beach. Surrounding a 23-acre lake, its more than 100 boutiques offer apparel for everyone, shoes, sporting goods, toys, artwork, jewelry, gifts, housewares and one-of-a-kind items. Visitors can choose from 20 restaurants, 10 nightclubs and three on-site hotels. Broadway’s fun family attractions include IMAX Discovery Theater, MagiQuest, Ripley’s Aquarium, Pavilion Nostalgia Park and a 16-screen movie theater. www.broadwayatthebeach.com

* Brookgreen Gardens: In 1931, Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington founded Brookgreen Gardens, a non-profit garden museum, to preserve the native flora and fauna and display objects of art within that natural setting. Brookgreen Gardens contains the most significant collection of figurative sculpture in an outdoor setting by American artists in the world. www.brookgreen.org

How to get there

It's about a six-hour drive to cover the 364 miles from downtown Atlanta, or fly into Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Links of interest

* www.visitmyrtlebeach.com

* Chamber of Commerce: http://www.myrtlebeachareachamber.com/

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