Stretching 60 miles along the South Carolina coast, the Myrtle Beach area encompasses many communities – 12, to be precise – and each with their own identity, and unique qualities and attractions. Though different, each community operates with Southern Hospitality in mind, welcoming visitors in to explore and appreciate what each has to offer.
Families first began vacationing in the city formerly called New Town more than a century ago, making their way from inland locales by horse and buggy, and then ferrying over the Waccamaw River to reach the undeveloped coast. Oceanfront development began in the early 1900s. Today, the Myrtle Beach area boasts hundreds of hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail stores and other hospitality businesses. The city also plays host to major events like March’s Myrtle Beach Marathon and the holiday season Beach Ball Classic.
Affectionately called the “Little Golden Town,” Aynor is located in western Horry County. The town got its start in the early 1900s as a terminal for a railroad from Conway. Each September, the town hosts the Aynor Harvest Hoe-Down Festival with crafts, food booths, music, dancing and more.
Tree-lined streets, historic homes and churches, a revitalized business district, and the wondrous Conway Riverwalk are what make the Horry County seat such a charming town. Conway has much to offer visitors as well, including walking tours, riverboat cruises, antique shops, restaurants and cafes, the Horry County Museum, art galleries and numerous historic landmarks along the centuries-old oak trees lining the streets. In late June, the city also puts on its annual Conway Riverfest, a weekend filled with food, music, fishing, golf and fireworks.
Little River was a popular harbor for pirates in the 1700s and Civil War blockade-runners in the 1800s. Today, its most popular event is the Blue Crab Festival, held each May. Arts and crafts, entertainment, and educational exhibits are featured alongside booths offering different culinary takes on the festival’s namesake – crab cakes, steamed crabs and other blue crab creations. In October, another tasty morsel from under the sea is given the spotlight in the Little River ShrimpFest, a weekend of music, fun and, yes, all the shrimp you can handle.
Located 35 miles northwest of Myrtle Beach, Loris’ claim-to-fame is its annual Loris Bog-Off, a festival and chicken bog cooking contest that draws huge crowds each October. A local specialty, chicken bog is made with chicken, rice, sausage, and assorted seasonings.
Nicknamed The Black Pearl, the Town of Atlantic Beach was formed mostly of Gullah/Geechee people, descendants of slaves who lived for 300 years on the Sea Islands stretching from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida. Today, Atlantic Beach is a revitalized community rich in heritage with several festivals and cultural events – like the Gullah/Geechee Festival -- taking place each year.
Surfside Beach, located on the South Strand, proudly calls itself “the family beach.” Along its lovely beachfront, visitors will find beach houses, hotels, condominiums, and a popular fishing pier.
To the south of Surfside Beach is Garden City Beach. The majority of Garden City’s vacationers stay in beach houses and condominiums. With access to the ocean and inlet, Garden City Beach is a popular area for fishing, crabbing, and other water sports. The community has a fishing pier, marina, amusements, restaurants, and other businesses.
Once the lair of the infamous pirate Blackbeard, Murrells Inlet is known as “the Seafood Capital of South Carolina,” earning its title from the fresh fish, clams, oysters and crabs pulled from the surrounding waters. These fresh catches are prepared at the numerous restaurants nestled along The MarshWalk, a 1,400-foot boardwalk winding through the wetlands and offering stunning vistas and glimpses of wildlife and waterfowl.
Litchfield Beach boasts quaint shops, delightful restaurants, quiet beaches, and an uncommon beauty. Its neighbor to the south, Pawleys Island, prides itself on being the oldest resort in America, once offering a summer respite for plantation owners and their families. Many of their treasured retreats still stand today.
For additional information on the Myrtle Beach Area, visit www.VisitMyrtleBeach.com or call 1.888.Myrtle1.