South Carolina's Grand Strand sizzles with excitement in summer. If you like your fun supersized and love to watch the great ocean of humanity, then Myrtle Beach is for you.
Find Your Spot on Friday
Your first priority should be to get where you're going to stay, and then plop those lounge chairs on some sand. Lodging can be cheaper if you're not surfside, but there's a lot to be said for being able to walk out of your room and onto the beach, especially on a traffic-snarled summer weekend.
One of the best beachside stays is Kingston Plantation--A Hilton and Embassy Suites Resort with a planned-community feel. It isn't cheap--a one-bedroom in one of their three oceanfront condo towers can set you back $219-$279; 1-800-876-0010. Less expensive but plainer beachfront stays include the Long Bay Resort. Efficiencies are $79-$141; 1-800-593-1519.
In town, there's a Hampton Inn on the shores of the manmade lake at Broadway at the Beach, one of the most popular shopping spots in the area. Rooms are $149; 1-888-916-2001.
The mind-boggling number of places to stay is outdone only by the number of restaurants. If you're near Broadway at the Beach, go for a burger ($7.59-$8.50) at the Hard Rock Cafe.
Restaurant Row along U.S. 17 on the north end of Myrtle Beach is the preferred place to dine. For sheer shock value, drop anchor at The Original Benjamin's Calabash Seafood. The 170-item seafood buffet ($23.95) features about every ocean-dwelling critter you've ever craved, as well as the usual salad, soup, and coleslaw; (843) 449-0821.
For most visitors, it just wouldn't be Myrtle Beach without going to The Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park. Sure, there are more high-tech rides at other theme parks, but there are two things about The Pavilion that will never be outdated: location and exhilaration. Plus, you won't want to get much more exciting than their 55-m.p.h., 110-foot-high Hurricane roller coaster.