The great thing about the Carolinas is that it could be 74 degrees during the first week of December. That’s what it has been this week. I’m not joking. It is a little high for this time of year, but December is still a relatively mild month, and, as a result, many people flock to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for some of the best holiday shopping, golfing, and, of course, seafood you can find on the East coast.
South Carolina’s Grand Strand contains over fifty miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean from Little River to Georgetown. The beaches are wide and beautiful, and there is a little something for everyone to do. It’s not a sleepy, lazy coastal-type of town at all.
Holiday Shopping in Myrtle Beach
There is no question that you could shop for days in the Myrtle Beach area and still not visit every store. Not even close. It’s a shop-a-holic’s dream! From boutiques to designer outlets, you are guaranteed to fill your shopping bags. I frequent North Myrtle Beach every year because my mom has a beach house rental there called “Surf Chalet”, and I promise you that I never head back to Raleigh without hitting a few stores.
The area has two designer-filled Tanger Outlet Malls, the traditional Coastal Grand Mall with over 100 stores, and the upscale, urban Market Common, which houses stores like Barnes and Noble, Anthropologie, and chic boutiques. But that’s not all. No, that’s just the tip of Santa’s sleigh!
Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach and Boardwalk at the Beach in Myrtle Beach are also two great outdoor venues that offer shopping, dining, and nightly entertainment. Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, also offers the low-country charm of the historic Hammock Shops.
Located in a park-like setting with 20 specialty shops, a must-see is the Christmas Mouse, which is housed in a 2,700-square-foot former tobacco barn built in 1900. With thousands of ornaments, collectibles, and accessories, patrons can move from room to room exploring decorated trees, walls and doorways. There are two other Christmas Mouse locations in the Myrtle Beach area, too, but the Pawley’s Island location is a landmark and is registered by the State Historic Preservation Society.
And if you want to want to shop until bedtime, then consider staying at the Suites of the Market Common and shop until you drop into bed. You’re going to think that this is a Christmas miracle, but they have off-season specials for under $100 per night, and they can even score you some golf packages, too.
Golfing and Spa Pampering
Most husbands let their wives off at the shops or the spa and head straight to the golf course. With more than 100 golf courses in the area, as well as mild temperatures in December, the Grand Strand is a golfer’s paradise.
Spa lovers and golf lovers in the same family may be happy at Marriott Grande Dunes. This AAA Four-Diamond award-winning hotel sits right on the ocean, has access to one of the world’s best golf courses, and features the Hibiscus Spa. And do I have a Christmas present for you. In the peak season, it’s hard to find rooms at this hotel for less than $375 a night, but Marriott is offering some great winter specials, and some rates are under $150 the week of Christmas. I know what you are thinking. That’s right. Santa CAN find you anywhere.
Seafood with a Side of Ocean
The dining scene on the Grand Strand just gets better and better over time. The days of the NOT-SO-GOOD “ALL YOU CAN EAT” buffets are over, and the emphasis is now on fresh, local, ingredients. I really think I could take a culinary tour of the Grand Strand and be perfectly happy.
On my family’s last Myrtle Beach visit, we discovered a new gem in Barefoot Landing called the Flying Fish Public Market and Grill while vacationing at my mom’s beach rental. This open, fish-market-type restaurant almost made me think I was dining in Seattle at Pike Place Market. The food was delicious, and I’ll definitely be back. Throughout the years, I’ve eaten in several restaurants owned by the Myrtle Beach-based TBonz Restaurant Group, and their strength is consistency in a family-friendly environment. I feel very comfortable taking children of all ages to their restaurants. Their other Grand Strand restaurants are located in Barefoot Landing and Broadway at the Beach.
Designer and restaurateur Tommy Bahama chose Market Common in Myrtle Beach to locate one of his 13 restaurants that bear his name. It’s the best in fine dining, and the Coconut Cloud Martini with Tommy Bahama White Sand, Stoli Vanil, Cruzan Coconut, and Cream of Coconut sounds like the perfect drink to have while waiting for Santa.
It really is a wonderful life on the Grand Strand! Who knows? I may even decide to ring in my holiday birthday there this year.
Photos: Mandie McClure, Leigh Powell Hines, Market Common, Marriott Grande Dunes Resort, Grande Dunes Golf Resort, Christmas Mouse.
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