MYRTLE BEACH, SC
Go to the Grand Strand during the Can-Am Days festival in March and it’s apparent that Canadians are so in love with this part of the SC coast that they will drive past many other oceanfront resort areas to reach this one. For many, these yearly pilgrimages have convinced them to spend winters here as well. Who wouldn’t love this family-friendly playground?
Jessica Cutler grew up in a small, North Carolina town, and spent family vacations at Myrtle Beach. As a college student, she lived at the Grand Strand in the summer, performing in one of the live shows. Her husband, Will, loves the water, and enjoys stand-up paddleboarding and kite surfing. Myrtle Beach ticked all the boxes for them both.
“I didn’t choose Myrtle Beach, but it chose me,” she explained, adding that although the population swells during the summer months, it has the heart of a small town – with amenities.
He owns Subway stores, and she owns Envents, a destination management and corporate event planning company. “I grew up on stage and event planning is like creating a theatrical event that will entertain my clients,” she said.
Myrtle Beach has no shortage of ways to entertain, and the restaurants are legendary. One of the Cutler’s favorites is Aspen Grille for a fine dining splurge. And they love heading to nearby Conway to attend a production at the Theatre of the Republic – the small town theater where they first met.
Tom and Marie Plantz are originally from Wisconsin, although his 40-year career in transportation throughout North America took them to metro Atlanta, Georgia where they lived for 11 years.
“When we decided to retire, we looked for options in South Carolina, near the ocean, in a town with great activities,” Tom Plantz explained. “We visited Hilton Head and Charleston, but in the Myrtle Beach area we found Cresswind and were impressed by the community.” They instantly formed a connection with the sales team and everyone who worked there. When they returned a second time, they made the decision to buy, and in November of 2014, they closed on the perfect home for them.
“We enjoy the modern clubhouse and amenity center, the gym, large pool,
the professional-style kitchen, and the welcoming atmosphere,” Mr.
Plantz shared. “We haven’t even been able to take advantage of
everything that’s available. Tennis courts, pickleball, pool, ping pong,
bocci – it’s all here for us to enjoy.” There are groups and clubs
that get together for golf, crafts and games.
And there’s more. “The only things better than the homes are the people,” he said. “We have made such good friends and we go to dinner together. We laugh and explore Myrtle Beach and have a great time.” Both children have visited them and helped discover more attractions to be found. “There are wonderful restaurants, great medical facilities, and an amazing community. It’s all we hoped for and more.”
Others have the same attitude about the Grand Strand – especially golfers. With more than 100 golf courses to choose from, the Grand Strand is a magnet for golfers from everywhere – many of them award-winning beauties.
Trip Advisor recently named the area #1 for top summer destinations, and the editors at FamilyVacationCritic.com chose Myrtle Beach as one of its top 10 best beaches for families. The accolade highlights the great weather and wealth of family friendly activities that make it one of the top family beach destinations in the U.S.
At the north end of the Grand Strand is Little River – a century-old village. Fishing boats still ply the waters, and locals gather to talk about the catch and the weather. Moss-covered oaks hide entrances to new residential communities filled with people who’ve chosen to retire here.
Farther south is North Myrtle Beach, birthplace of the shag, the official South Carolina state dance. You can find places to dance the night away, and several times a year about 20,000 shaggers descend on the town to strut their stuff.
Myrtle Beach is at the center of the Grand Strand. The world-renowned Ripley’s Aquarium draws both visitors and residents with its impressive displays. It’s located at Broadway at the Beach, a mega-complex with shops, nightclubs, restaurants and more.
Even farther south, more small communities line the coast, including the family beaches called Surfside and Garden City. Along the marsh lies the historic village of Murrells Inlet, and Pawleys Island shares its considerable charms with families who’ve vacationed there for generations. Brookgreen Gardens is here, with its marvelous pathways guarded by live oak trees and flanked by gardens and outdoor sculptures. Filled with history and a bit of intrigue, you'll want to visit again and again.
Just a few miles inland, the historic town of Conway provides a cool respite, and, of course, the theatre where Jessica and Will Cutler first met.
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