In case you don't have beach access out your back door, we recommend spreading your towel at Myrtle Beach State Park, just 15 minutes south of the craziness. You'll have to pay a fee ($4 adults, $1.50 ages 6-15), but the more peaceful experience and restroom facilities make it worth every cent. Rent an umbrella and chairs ($20 per day) if you must, but we suggest bringing your own.
Ditch the Sand
You want serenity? Take a three-hour tour to a deserted island. Myrtle Beach's family-friendly allure grows from its flashy attractions and the guarantee that, rain or shine, your vacation will never suffer boredom. More than 100 shops and 20 restaurants fill the giant, redbrick-paved village known as Broadway at the Beach. Tease the fire-breathing dragon outside the Dragon's Lair Fantasy Golf (pictured), and aah at the fireworks show over the lagoon on Tuesday nights after Memorial Day. Par is the least of your worries at Capt. Hook's Adventure Golf, where the smoking skull, pirates, and journey through never-never land are more than enough to keep you occupied.
If you want to hit the real links, you're in luck. The Grand Strand's high seasons for golf are spring and fall, and rates drop during summer months. Amid the sea of tee time booking agencies, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday ( www.golfholiday.com) and Myrtle Beach National (www.mbn.com) consistently win our allegiance.