I must admit, when my best friend Vicky told me that she and her girls were starting to warm to the idea of moving south, I absolutely jumped for joy! We have had discussions about it in the past, but I could tell her heart was simply not totally into the idea. And now, here we are just a short time later and she is on the verge of moving to Myrtle Beach!
Vicky and I have known each other since our early twenties (no, you don’t need to know how old we are now…just assume 29). And although there was a period of time where we lost touch, we have always been very, very close. Back then we used to do ALL KINDS of travelling together, albeit mostly in the northeast. Seems like we were ALWAYS in the red Toyota pickup that I used to own back then out looking for adventure (you have to ask Vicky sometime about the Northern Lights we saw from the back of said pickup….was one of the coolest things I have seen to this day!).
One place we used to frequent from time to time was Cape Cod. I could tell you some stories, but perhaps we will save that for another time and place….hehe. Anyhow…we did love going there and Vicky even moved there for a period of time some years ago. We both enjoyed time at the beach there, the cozy environment, the atmosphere…it was fun! But the one thing I remember about the beaches is the rocks walking into the surf and how chilly the water was.
About 15 years ago, my family and I made the same decision that Vicky and hers have now…to pull up stakes and leave New York and its nasty winters behind. When we were discussing just where to go, Myrtle Beach was definitely one of the places we circled, but having never been there or having much information on it, we simply assumed it was too expensive being that it was right on the ocean and was a major tourist destination. So we journeyed on to North Carolina for a time instead.
Another friend of mine asked me to help them move back in ’98 to a town south of Myrtle Beach called Pawleys Island. I agreed and went down there for a weekend to help out. After moving, we went over to a beach that was nearby, and witnessed one of the most amazing sunsets I had ever seen.
In talking with my friend that I helped move, she had shared with me that she had done a good bit of research on the area and was very pleasantly surprised at how the cost of living was actually less than it was back in the Albany area of NY where we were both from. Gas was about 40 cents less per gallon, property taxes were a fraction of what they were up north, and well…no snow (duh). In fact, my friend had just purchased a house in a golf course community just off of a gorgeous fairway for less than the smaller house they had left back in NY (I love to play golf, so I was just a bit jealous on that one, I have to admit!).
I made the decision to move one more time and in hindsight, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have two daughters who are now 12 and 16 and have spent their entire lives here. They have loved every minute of it, as it is one of the best areas to raise a family in my opinion, especially at the south end of the area where I live. You are minutes from anything you may want to do, and yet away from the central part of town that gets bustling so in the summer.
And wow, is there sooooooooooo much to do!!! (Disclaimer: Here comes the official arm-twisting part in case Vicky is having ANY second thoughts). First and foremost, of course, are the most amazing beaches I have ever seen. Gorgeous, soft sand. Water warm as bath water for most of the year. The girls LOVE to get our their boogie-boards and hit the waves. They always have.
There is a park in the Murrells Inlet area called Huntington Beach state park that is perhaps the nicest beach in the area. Besides having a great beach there are a couple of other neat attractions located there, as well. First, as you drive in, there is a bit of a sanctuary there where you always find alligators sunning themselves and just hanging around. There is a bridge where you can stand and observe them in their natural habitat. Once you are in and parked, there is an old castle called Atalaya where a famous artist lived and created that you can walk around and tour.
Vicky LOVES art, as those who know her are aware, and she will fall in love with Brookgreen Gardens. Brookgreen Gardens is a garden museum that is actually a National Landmark, that features amazing sculptures and other art featured in a stunningly beautiful garden setting. The entrance to the place alone is amazing (my youngest daughter used to call it “the two horseys fighting” when she was younger. Those of you who have been there will get that.)
Besides the ocean, there are many parks in the area that the girls have always loved to frequent. There is a water park in Surfside Beach in particular that they have been going to for years! They have soooooo many great slides, one of the best lazy rivers you will ever go on (that is MY favorite!), and a huge wave pool. Great way to spend a summer afternoon!
One of the biggest attractions in the area is called Broadway at the Beach. You simply cannot do everything that is there in just one day! It is part outlet stores, part restaurants, part night-life, and part attractions. One of the ones my girls have always enjoyed is Ripley’s Aquarium. There you can view all kinds of sea life, pet sting rays, and go through the coolest under water tunnel you will ever see! You are literally just a couple feet away from sharks swimming over head…something you have to say you have done at least once in your life! It’s really cool!
Recently, they just built an attraction called Wonderworks, or as everyone seems to call it, the “Upside Down House.” From the street, it looks soooooo cool…it is literally built to look like a huge house that was flung and landed upside down! It features an amazing array of different scientific did-you-knows and exhibits that are fun, different kids rides (including a virtual roller coaster which my girls LOVE!!), laser tag, etc. Def a fun day for the kids and parents, alike!
All in all, I guess what I love most about the Myrtle Beach area though is just the lifestyle. I always loved it up north during the summer and fall, and here you still get your change of seasons. You don’t have the mountains (although there are some just a few hours away that are spectacular in the fall!) but you do still get fall foliage. But the best part is that it is not followed immediately by 4 months of frigid hell…..lol. There is a laid-back quality to the area, even when the summer tourists are in town. A friendly quality that is often foreign to those that live in the northeastern parts of the country. People say “Hi” to you in the parking lot. The pace is just one that allows you to relax and enjoy your day.
I am not going to give away all the secrets that Myrtle Beach has to offer, I want Vicky and her girls to have many surprises in store for them when they get here. But I know they will love it here and it is the right time for them to make the move.
And best of all, for me, I look so forward to being able to see my best friend on a regular basis once again and see what new adventures lie ahead for us (of course, this time, we will have 7 girls sharing them with us!)