MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - You love to golf. Your wife and children love to swim and have fun at the beach.
Maybe she loves to golf and you love the beach.
No matter. The question is this: Where can you go on vacation to make everybody happy?
Try Myrtle Beach, S.C. otherwise knows as the "Grand Strand."
About 700 miles to the south and east, Myrtle Beach supplies miles of beaches and endless golf courses.
Sand. Sun. Sensational.
The Grand Strand has it all malls, outlets, boutiques, bargain warehouses and specialty shops. A shopper's dream begins with miles of boardwalk stores, hundreds of specialty shops, plenty of factory outlet stores and numerous restaurants. In addition, flea markets, beachwear and souvenir stores, art galleries, furniture and interior design stores and hundreds of unique shops are sure to satisfy any shopper's appetite.
North Ocean Boulevard is the heart of downtown Myrtle Beach. Hotels. Restaurants. Shops plenty of shops. You want a T-shirt? How about five for $10? Not to mention hats, blankets, shorts, flip-flops and much, much more.
At night the younger people take over the street. It's a modern-day American Graffiti, or Main Street Norwalk in the '70s. Cruisin ... all night long. When you get to one end, you turn around and go the other way.
Rooms are very reasonable. We spent spring break in Myrtle Beach and the room was about $60 a night. It promised a view of the ocean and with a little effort you could see some water. Summer rates, of course, are higher.
Norwalk veterinarian Dr. Jim Lonz is an avid golfer and he said it doesn't get much better than Myrtle Beach.
"I think there are about 60 courses within the vicinity of a 10-mile radius," Lonz said. "We didn't make it down this year, but we have gone the last four or five years ... a group of about 20 of us.
"We play anywhere from 27 to 36 holes a day. That's from sun up to sun down."
To a golf junkie, that's like dying and going to heaven.
"I think the population of Myrtle Beach is something like 20,000, then it swells to about 150,000 during the golfing season," Lonz said. "And the prices are pretty reasonable."
For those who don't like to golf, the area has much more to offer.
Myrtle Beach was incorporated as a town in 1938 and became a city in 1957. Its name comes from the wax myrtle, a shrub that grows abundantly in the area. The city's 25,000 permanent residents welcome millions of visitors throughout the year.
History records that the first tourists here were a party of Spaniards from Hispaniola, who landed about 50 miles north of present-day Myrtle Beach in 1526 and eventually established the first European settlement in the U.S. about 30 miles to the south. That settlement, San Miguel de Cauldape, was abandoned the following year, though, and the group returned to Hispaniola.
In the next three centuries, the region's population grew, but slowly. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, people began to "vacation" here, though it was quite rustic. Houses and camps were sparse, and there were only few permanent residents at the turn of the century. But, drawn by the ocean, sand and trees, people began to call Myrtle Beach "home" as the 1900s progressed.
Today, Myrtle Beach is a well known destination for vacationers from around the world. According to the 2000 Census, the city is at the heart of the 13th fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States.