We recently spent an early-mid November week in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and generally enjoyed it all.
For the sake of read-ability, this Trip Report is divided into three sections:
1. The overall trip and lodging.
3. Attractions and Activities.
This is Part 1 and deals with getting from our home in Maine to Myrtle Beach, our accommodations while we were there, our trip home, and a few general impressions of the area (it was our first visit there).
We took our time getting from Maine to South Carolina, using a "western route" to avoid traffic and congestion in Hartford, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC. We drove about 400 miles a day, with overnights at Hampton Inn's in Middletown, NY and Harrisonburg, VA. Yes, you could do it more quickly, but part of the enjoyment of a trip for us is sleeping a little later than usual and having a leisurely breakfast to start our day. Both hotels are easy to get to from the Interstate, with equally easy access back to the highway the next morning. The Middletown property has a Chili's, TGI Friday's and an Outback Steak House virtually next door. In Harrisonburg, the only sit-down restaurant in the immediate area is a Cracker Barrel. Both hotel stays were fine except for a non-functioning automated-wake-up-call system at the Harrisonburg location.
Our week at the Sheraton Broadway Plantation in Myrtle Beach was nothing short of exceptional. We were there on a timeshare exchange, but they also rent unused units on a night-to-night basis. Our check-in was extremely smooth, taking less than five minutes. Even the timeshare sales "welcome desk", which provided our parking pass and local-area tourist information, took our "no thanks" to their sales-presentation invitation with grace and without the "attitude" we've experienced at timeshares operated by another major hotel chain.
Our unit, a one-bedroom with full kitchen, was very comfortable. The kitchen included a dishwasher and in-sink garbage disposal. It looked out over a serving counter to a dining room table that seated six and the living room area with a full sofa-bed and two comfortable easy chairs. The bedroom included a king-sized bed, nightstands, bureau-television stand, large Jacuzzi tub, and washbasin with a large counter. An adjacent room had a second vanity, and a smaller room off that contained a toilet and walk-in shower. The unit had a total of four closets for hangers and another small closet off the kitchen for the apartment-sized washer and dryer. A balcony with access from both the bedroom and living room had a screened-in porch with a table and seating for three. A printed activities guide included a full page of listings for each day of the week and included offerings for everyone from adults to toddlers. The resort also provided a full page of directions to nearby attractions and basics like local grocery stores....very handy and helpful. The staff on the resort's security gate are efficient, but friendly, and the rest of the staff, from the Front Desk to maintenance, are friendly, guest-oriented and eager to please. Our interactions with all of them, without exception, were pleasant experiences.
While the resort was not an "on the beach" property, we found its location between Business Rt. 17 and the Rt. 17 Bypass very convenient because of the ease of access in both directions. It also was very handy to Broadway at the Beach when we got ready to visit there. Once you get the lay-of-the-land, navigating around Myrtle Beach becomes very easy: the three major north-south routes are Ocean Boulevard, Rt. 17 Business and Rt. 17 Bypass; the east-west streets are numbered sequentially north or south from the center of Myrtle Beach. We quickly became accustomed to the numbering system and the relationship of major destinations to the three major north-south arteries. After a while, it became almost as easy as driving at home.
During our stay, our adventuring took us as far north as the northern edge of North Myrtle Beach and as far south as Pawley's Island, and we still didn't begin to see it all! What surprised us most was the fact that November is considered part of the "off-season" in Myrtle Beach. To those of us from the northern part of the US, South Carolina is one of those destinations people go to in order to avoid the colder, snowier weather of the north. Most of us find the heat and humidity of a South Carolina summer sufficiently unpleasant that we prefer to visit in the cooler months. The lack of crowds during our trip, the ease of parking everywhere we went, the lack of waiting lines in restaurants, and the "Closed for the Season" signs all came as a big, but pleasant, surprise. While we may have missed out on a few peak-season activities, the ease of getting around the rest of the week made up for them as far as we were concerned.
At the end of the week, we retraced our path on the way down: north on I-95 to Richmond, VA, I-64 west to I-81, I-81 north to I-84, I-84 east to I-87 north, I-87 north to I-90, I-90 east to I-495, I-495 north to I-95, and I-95 home to Maine. Our overnight stays on the way home were at Hampton Inns in Staunton, VA and Middletown, NY -- both pleasant and without incident. We'd stay at both properties again -- and probably will.
Up next: Trip Report Parts II and III covering restaurants and attractions/activities during our stay in Myrtle Beach. Stay tuned....