DISCOVERING THE SECRETS OF MYRTLE BEACH

Myrtle Beach CVB pushes 75 Secrets campaign and our contributor Jovana Arnaut strives to experience destination’s top attractions.

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This year marks the 75th anniversary of Myrtle Beach. To celebrate, the Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau released a 75 Secrets campaign that includes little-known facts about popular attractions in the destination.

The initiative, designed to rejuvenate tourism in Myrtle Beach, covers the area popularly known as the Grand Strand which stretches from Little River to Pawley’s Island and is comprised of 12 distinct cities along the South Carolina coast.

So, the goal of my Myrtle Beach visit was to uncover all of its 75 Secrets in three days.

Anderson Ocean ClubThe first was the Anderson Ocean Club, a property owned by Oceana Resorts. Technically, it’s not on the CVB’s 75 Secrets list but it needs to be mentioned.

Located on North Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach’s downtown core, I was privileged enough to stay in Anderson Ocean Club’s penthouse # 6. Overlooking the ocean, the room was fully equipped with a kitchen, washer and dryer, living room, master bedroom and a Jacuzzi bathtub.

Stan Rydelek, director of marketing, Oceana Resorts, said that the Anderson Ocean Club would tie well into the CVB’s 75 Secrets list because it is the gem of the Myrtle Beach hotel industry.

“We have the standards and amenities of the big name hotels but we also include the charm and service found in boutique hotels,” he said.

Perhaps one of the most mentionable amenities at the hotel is the Awakening Spa which offers massages, skin care and facials, and body and detox treatments. I tried the one-hour full body massage and let me just say that I felt relaxed for several days.

About one mile away from the Anderson Ocean Club is Myrtle Beach’s famous Boardwalk that includes countless attractions, shops and restaurants.

The most visible attraction is the SkyWheel which offers visitors a ten minute gondola ride and incredible views of the city and Atlantic Ocean. I had the opportunity to ride inside the SkyWheel’s VIP gondola which includes a glass floor, leather seats and an extra 10 minutes to enjoy the view.

Skywheel's Myrtle Beach view.
SkyWheel’s view of Myrtle Beach.

Steps away from the SkyWheel is the Bowery, the famous country bar where the band Alabama got its big break.

I loved the décor and atmosphere inside of the Bowery: the walls and ceiling were covered with dollar bills and quotes such as “Success is a matter of luck…ask any man who fails.” The venue also features live music – Lee Travis and the Bounty Hunters were playing during my visit.

For my second day in the city, I decided to eat my way around Myrtle Beach.

First, I stopped by Coccadotts Cake Shop and ordered a Salted Caramel cupcake with a chocolate seashell on top – my mouth is actually watering right now as I think about it.

Coccadotts Cake Shop

The desserts at Coccadotts are so good that they landed the cake shop several television appearances on shows such as The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and Good Morning America.

From here, I drove over to Hoskin’s – Vanna White’s favourite restaurant – for some more delicious food. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and a pasta salad along with a sweet tea – it was here that I fell in love with sweet tea and have been ordering the drink at every restaurant ever since.

After stuffing myself at Hoskin’s, I headed over to Fat Harold’s for a shag lesson. I really enjoyed watching the instructors dance but sadly, I have no rhythm. No matter how hard I tried to mimic the moves it was no use…all I did was trip over my feet.

So, I stuck to what I knew best – eating – and continued the feeding frenzy well into my third day at Myrtle Beach.

I ended up at Rivertown Bistro for lunch and indulged in their sweet potato chips and southern-style meatloaf. In all honesty, I think I gained 10 pounds during my stay in Myrtle Beach but it was worth every bite.

The next stop on my itinerary was Conway Glass Blowing. Here, I got to witness a professional glass artist make a light fixture from 2,150 degree molten glass. I also got to see the replica ornament that was hung on the Travel & Tourism Christmas tree inside the West Wing lobby of the White House!

I really enjoyed experiencing the highlighted attractions and restaurants in Myrtle Beach, but I must admit that my favourite ‘secret’ was Brookgreen Gardens, America’s largest sculpture garden that features statues, a butterfly sanctuary, a zoo and hanging oak trees. The gardens are also drenched in history: in 1791, George Washington actually spent the night at the plantation as a guest of its owner, Dr. Henry Collin Flagg.

My last night in Myrtle Beach was spent inside the destination’s best live entertainment venue: The Carolina Opry Theatre. Here, I watched Good Vibrations!, a show that includes music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The performances were incredible and the dancers made me want to step up my shag game.

Although I was fairly confident that I would be able to uncover all of Myrtle Beach’s 75 Secrets, I was actually only able to uncover 11 of them. But, that just means that I have to go back for another visit.