Our Take on the Grand Strand
Ok, this time it was about the beach. We’ve mentioned several times in the past couple of weeks that the beach had not dictated our travel plans. Well, this time it did. When we were looking for our next stop after visiting Charleston it was too tempting not to go a couple of hours up Route 17 and stay on the beach in Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach, a city and vacation resort on South Carolina’s Atlantic coast, is the hub of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile string of beaches. We also decided to jump in with both feet and stay in a campground directly on the beach, Ocean Lakes Campground. Read our review of Ocean Lakes here.
As moving days go, this one was pretty smooth. We departed Oak Plantation Campground around 10:30 AM for a smooth and uneventful drive north on Route 17. Our drive was only 105 miles, which is about half of the mileage we normally try to cover on a travel day, but I wasn’t complaining. We arrived at the grand entrance to Ocean Lakes Family Campground shortly after 1:00 PM and checked in. We quickly got to our site and set up our home for the next four nights. We spent the rest of the day exploring this REALLY big resort on our bikes, stopping to take a peak at the beach. For the bike riders in us, this is a great campground. There are miles and miles of paved roads to cruise around and explore. To make it even more interesting, Ocean Lakes had more lots with homes on them than it did RV sites. The day ended with a quiet evening at home.
The weather doesn’t always cooperate with your plans, so we have learned to remain flexible. Today was one of those days. We awoke to the sound of rain on Charlie’s roof, which is quite loud if you’ve never been in an RV during a rain storm. So our morning was slow to develop which carried on to the rest of the day. The weather did clear in the afternoon and we were able to get outside for a nice walk and bike ride around the campground. This place is really unique and really big. So a little outdoor activity intertwined with catching up some blog posts made for a relaxing day.
Ok, time to get out of the campground and explore a little. So we’ll say right up front that we were not approaching Myrtle Beach like we had approached Charleston, Savannah and St. Augustine. Myrtle Beach is the hub of the Grand Strand which is known for its celebrity-designed golf courses. Along its beachfront boardwalk are arcades, souvenir stands and restaurants, as well as the old-fashioned Family Kingdom amusement park and the SkyWheel, one of the country’s tallest Ferris wheels.
Betsy’s standard search for “free” or “cheap” things to do revealed a Food Truck Festival being held at Burroughs and Chapin Pavilion Place along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. After fighting through some Saturday traffic we found a spot in a nearby parking garage and headed towards the food trucks. Now Betsy and I love the concept of a good food truck, partly because it reminds us of our days at farmers markets, but mostly because we enjoy good, fresh food. The downside to food trucks for me is the difficulty in finding gluten free friendly food. Because of this struggle, our visit to the Food Truck Festival became a pleasant walk around the park mixed in with a little people watching. Our observation was the festival was well attended and the trucks appeared to be serving some tasty food. The lines were long and some of the trucks appeared to already be running out of items less than half way through the festival. The combination of beautiful weather and people itching for spring weather to arrive for good seemed to contribute to the good crowd.
We then set out to get some steps in on the Boardwalk and the streets of Myrtle Beach. The area is apatchwork of hotels, condos, retail stores, restaurants and bars. All of this walking and the smells from the food trucks earlier had me looking for a place to get a bite to eat. As always, Betsy had done her homework in advance and had already scouted a couple of gluten free friendly places for my consideration. We decided on ART Burger.Sushi.Bar for our dining pleasure. ART combines sushi, gourmet burgers, and a liquid nitrogen bar at an oceanfront location for your enjoyment. Now if you know us at all the liquid nitrogen bar sounds cool but is not our cup of tea. (So to speak!) Now our interest would have been piqued if they had mentioned liquid nitrogen coffee! The kicker was a mention of gluten free burger rolls which closed the deal for me. Our burgers were fresh, tasty and presented well. A good choice!
After leaving the boardwalk area we jumped in the car and headed for Broadway at the Beach, a sprawling outdoor entertainment center with restaurants, shopping, live shows & family attractions. Betsy had visited here with her family as a youngster and I may or may not have been here before. My memories are foggy sometimes! We viewed the complex as a great canvas to walk around and explore. Although we did pop into the Crocs store and were intrigued by the jet boats doing spins in the lake in the middle of the complex. All in all a relaxing day with some good food and plenty of walking with a friend.
Several people had suggested we visit the MarshWalk at Murrells Inlet during our stay. Shortly after breakfast we drove down to the Murrells Inlet area and began exploring. The MarshWalk, located in the heart of the historic fishing village of Murrells Inlet is a ½ mile wooden boardwalk along a natural saltwater estuary. The MarshWalk proudly boasts the most spectacular waterfront dining along the Grand Strand, set against one of nature’s most beautiful stage shows. So there wasn’t much activity a little after noon on a Sunday, but that is kind of when Betsy and I enjoy visiting these types of places. If you remember this was about the same timeframe we visited South Beach! The views were nice and the boardwalk provided a scenic walking path. We always enjoy that combination, so Murrells Inlet was a success to us.
We then took the scenic route back to the campground by going out to Garden City and Surfside Beaches and driving along the coast. Being Sunday, we even popped into an Open House when we saw a sign in Garden City Beach. A beautiful home, second row from the ocean, a pool, room for Charlie and views of the ocean. $750,000, no we are not buying a house, but definitely a beautiful spot! Our day ended with the more mundane, laundry at the campground. But nothing makes laundry more pleasant than sitting on the beach and reading in between moving the clothes around. It was quite breezy and cooler than we would have liked, but the beach nonetheless. We are thankful and ready to continue the move north tomorrow.