Carolina Grande is at one of my favorite vacation destinations: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have loved Myrtle Beach since I began coming here on family vacations with my grandparents and sister in the 1970s. Over the years Myrtle Beach has grown and changed, but the key elements that make it such an amazing beach town remain.
I looked forward to the drive down Interstate 95 today to go back to my favorite vacation town.
Day One Arrival
As you pull into Myrtle Beach you are instantly aware that this is a well-established resort town. Unlike many locations on the East Coast, there are a number of approaches to the beachfront area. This is helpful since the main road or strip here will get very busy with traffic during the summertime.
I also enjoy nearby areas like Atlantic Beach, and even farther up north the Outer Banks of North Carolina but those locations have limited roadways into the beach towns. Most have bridges that you must pass in order to make it to the beach area. That is not the case with Myrtle Beach and in the busiest summer months it is very smart to alter your approach to the main strip to avoid much of the traffic to your resort.
On this trip that meant taking the Robert M. Grissom Parkway to 29th Ave North to the strip. Doing that little trick likely saved me 30 minutes of bumper-to-bumper beach traffic. My days of wanting to slowly cruise the strip even in my convertible are pretty much gone. I would rather get to my resort to check in and check things out from my balcony.
The Grande is almost right on the beach. It sits on the second row of resorts but luckily has a view from many of the rooms because the building in front is much smaller. A true tower, the views here are fine, and the location is even better. You have a very quick walk to the beach from the resort, and a killer location in the heart of Myrtle Beach.
By heart I mean the beating heart of the activity and fun of the beach front area. When you stay at this resort you also gain preferred access to the amenities of The Carolinian Beach Resort with all the access but a lower price, that is a win-win.
I checked in a little ahead of time, which was awesome. I like getting settled with bags and things put away before hitting the strip for some food or other fun.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- Iron/Ironing Board
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Hot Tub
- Outdoor Heated Pool
A great spot for dinner or breakfast is right nearby and that is Magnolias on 26th. Now I am as close to a regular as an out of towner can be. I have been here about 20 times, and most of those visits have been for breakfast. I wanted something close I could walk to after my driving today. Between the heavy summer traffic, limited parking, and being in the car for hours, the very short distance walk was much more appealing than going out and finding a new stop for dinner.
Here the buffet is the thing to get for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. I also find when traveling solo that buffets work great when it is just you eating solo. It speeds up the entire dinning experience, and lets you focus on the meal. When you are dinning with friends or family, a wait for your food is no big deal. But try a 30-minute wait when it is just you looking at your phone for entertainment. That will drive you nuts. So, buffets work well because they are fast. Sit down, order your drink, tell the waitress you will have the buffet and you are off to the races.
Tonight the BBQ was great as well as the side dishes. I am not a huge fried chicken guy, but I do love chicken fried steak and that was on the buffet tonight, so I was a happy camper. Fried okra, collards, mac-n-cheese, jamb ilia. You name it, they had it on the buffet. Those items and a sweet tea, then banana pudding for desert and I was a happy man.
When walking back to the resort I went down to the beach and walked off some of that dinner before checking out the rest of the resort and the access at The Carolinian Beach Resort for their pools and fun as well. One woman stood getting out of the pool as I walked around, and I almost walked right into a hot tub. I caught myself just in time. I think I heard the music from the pool scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in my head too.
Sometimes you just see someone and they make you want to be a better person. You know, the kind that would have a prayer getting to know them. Wowza. Just wow.
Well after that I headed back to my room for a cold shower or 3. Then hit the hay early because I wanted to be up for the sunrise in the morning on the beach. Maybe even see what the view for the sunrise is like from my balcony too.
Video by GO GlobeHopper
Day Two at Carolina Grande ™
I woke just in time to catch all of the glory of the sunrise from my very own resort balcony. It was great. Though I think tomorrow I will still try and get down to the beach for the full experience.
I do not do this often on trips but I was headed back to Magnolias today because I wanted a breakfast buffet and theirs is still likely the best at the beach. I often like to mix things up on a trip and try new spots. I can do that for lunch or dinner later today, however.
Another thing is when you have been somewhere as many times as I have been blessed to come to Myrtle Beach over the years you have a large list of favorite spots you want to visit again yourself. With that in mind I think I visit fewer new restaurants here than almost anywhere else I might travel.
Breakfast was amazing. The only thing they did not have today was a made for you omelet. But everything else was on point and tasted great.
After breakfast, I went to the beach. I already had my bathing suit on, along with my chosen Hawaiian shirt of the day. All I really had to deal with was setting my shoes and socks somewhere while I walked in the wet sand and got in the water to get wet some over the next few hours.
I think I walked a good 10 miles on the beach, stopping every once in a while to sit down in the sand or go back in the water waste high. I am at a weight class now where I do not really take my shirt off. So all I had to do was remember where I parked my shoes and hope they were their when I got back. In general, it is not a good ideal to leave your personal items on any resort beach. However, I had the little cash on me and my room key in my top pocket of my shirt. I left my wallet in my room in a secure travel bag that you can lock to your bed or something else in the room. I could have put it in my car but they make those bags almost theft proof these days since they are secured with a chain and lock, and a cut resistant. Sometimes I will use those above, even the safe in the room if the resort has those. Just because they are so good these days.
When traveling anywhere, even a beach town as nice as Myrtle Beach, remember to take care of your personal property. Some thieves make their living for the year during the summer months. You do not have to be paranoid, but being prepared and thoughtful just makes sense.
The brand of bag I use is called LOCTOTE you can find it online very easy. They are a little pricy for a small bag but that is because of the locking and safety features. There are a ton of brands out now because people who travel like the idea. Essentially these are just anti-theft bags you can attach to almost anything, and keep things safer.
Word to the wise just never leave your stuff on the beach with your clothing or towels unattended and go into the water. Or do not leave your car unlocked with anything visible inside the car.
After hours of fun on the beach, I was happy to see no one wanted my shoes. I do not wear expensive trendy shoes ever so it would have had to have been someone likely confusing my shoes for theirs or hoping for a wallet left in them for them to have walked anyway.
Time for a late lunch or an early dinner. Yes, I did spend that long on the beach and walking and playing in the ocean. I headed back to my room to shower and change. Then I got some shorts, shirt, and socks, and headed back out. I was almost walked out for the day but I knew just a few blocks over there was a joint I wanted to eat at. With good food at the end of the walk, I knew I could make it.
I headed for Big Mikes Soul Food I have eaten here several times over the last few years and enjoyed each trip. It is what most would call a whole in the wall kind of spot. But it certainly has some savory items on the menu. The name says soul food but to me it seems more Louisiana style eats and treats than what I would consider soul food.
If you get the dinner Big Mike Special you can choose from a giant list of meats, and then choose 3 sides and get cornbread as well. Meat Choices: Fried Chicken, Grilled Chicken Breast, Fried Pork chops, Grilled Pork Chop, Chop Sirloin, Fried Fish, Grilled Fish, Fried Livers, Fried Gizzards, BBQ Ribs (Monday & Saturday), Turkey Wings (Monday & Tuesday), Meat Loaf (Tuesday), Bake Chicken (Wednesday & Thursday), Chicken Bog (Friday & Saturday). Then the sides are Side Choices: Rice & Gravy, Mash Potatoes & Gravy, Collard Greens, Cabbage, Green Beans, Bake Mac & Cheese, Field Peas, Corn, Candied Yams, Fried Okra, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw.
It makes for a very filling meal, and good eats after playing on the beach and in the water all day. I like the veggies so much here that I order extra. Now my sister picks on me because I often call any side a veggie which we all know is wrong but it is me being optimistic about my choices (LOL). Tonight, Mike’s Yams, Okra, Collards, and Mash Potatoes and Gravy hit the spot with my Pork Chop.
I am not a livers or gizzards guy. But if you like them make sure you get them at Big Mikes, he does them right.
I am all walked out for the day after dinner. Even though it is just blocks back I gave up and got an Uber back. With a full belly, I was ready for a nap.
The villas at the resort have all the amenities you could want.
I used the shower and then ice in a Pina Colada drink to cool off and relax before my nap. This year seemed to be the year of Pina Coladas more non, and alcoholic versions of this classic beverage seemed to have come on the market in 2019. My drink was a non-alcoholic version but I powered it up with some rum I had a pint of squirreled away for this trip. I just wanted the option for a drink in the room without having to step out to a bar. Sometimes it is nice just to be able to relax in your room.
After my nap (about a 3-hour rest) I woke around 8PM and headed out towards the amusement park on the strip. It is called Family Kingdom Fun and it lives up to its name. The park is a mix of rides, water park fun, and beach front carnival style eats and treats. For me my fun started with some of the old standard kinds of amusement park rides. My own little trip down memory lane (my favorite road for sure).
After time at the park, I went to Friendly’s before it closed and got a Reece’s Pieces Sunday again for old times sake before they closed. Those giant Sundays were a regular for my birthdays for about 4 years in my early preteen years. It was a great childlike ending to a wonderful day.
Day Three Enjoying Myrtle Beach
Waking in time to make it down to the beach for Sunrise I was tired from not being able to get to sleep fast in part because of my nap yesterday and the sugar from that massive Sunday.
Sunrise was early, oh so early today, it almost hurt. But the sunrises at Myrtle Beach are worth getting up for. Once I enjoyed the sunrise, I likely would return to nap some more anyway. But I had to see the perfect sunrise this AM. Today was just perfect weather for watching the Sun’s birth to the day.
A Myrtle Beach Sunrise like this one is something that makes you want to move to the area. The idea of waking each day to this stir’s parts of you that you almost have forgotten. For some like me that love nature, it is almost a spiritual moment. That whole man’s insignificance in the face of nature kind of thing. This was a particularly wonderful sunrise. The kind of sunrise that a vampire might hold a sacred memory of as a last experience before they were turned. Just that perfect change of colors, and birth of the day as the Sun seems to rise out of the ocean and into the bright blue sky.
The sunrises here are as nice or nicer than the sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico. A perfect beach view that is not blocked by anything in your view. Complemented by the sound of rolling waves. Today even had a slight breeze from the South that cooled the early AM heat. Today the temperature would reach almost 90 degrees but the morning was already at 76 degrees, so the win coming off the ocean was refreshing.
I was so struck by the sunrise that I was energized and headed for breakfast instead of back to bed. Today I chose to go to my namesake Harry’s Pancakes. It occurred to me that I had never had Hawaiian pancakes before, despite enjoying all the ingredients. So that is just what I ordered. It was an amazing start to the day.
With those pancakes and then hot chocolate I was a true happy camper. After breakfast I went to do a round of minigolf. I had spent weeks playing through several summers at a local Putt Putt and feel in love with mini-golf, a passion that will likely be with me until my time is up or my health makes it impossible to enjoy.
Today I had tickets for the Pelicans, the local minor league baseball team here in Myrtle Beach. Today was against the Columbia Fireflies, which is the other minor league team in South Carolina, so this I guess is the rivalry locally anyway. June game times are at 7:05PM so I had the day still ahead of me to go visit as many fun beach spots as I could fit into the day.
I had not yet been to Broadway at the beach, on this trip. Which is about 350 acres of shops, restaurants, and venues. All together in one site that you could go from one thing to the next seeing and taking in it all without having to get back in the car and moving on. This is also the general area of the Pelicans park too. So, if I could keep myself entertained, I would not even need to move the car again before the game.
After a few hours of shopping and playing around, I was hungry again and ready for a late afternoon lunch. I had enjoyed Paula Dean’s restaurant on my last trip to Branson MO, so that is where I headed for lunch. I chose the Savana option for a large meal that included 3 main dishes and 4 sides. They serve everything here family style which is just crazy to do when it is just you but hey the food is great so I was all in.
I chose meatloaf, pork chops, and chicken and dumplings. Then for my side’s yams, collards, black eyed peas, and mac and cheese. Afterwards you also get your choice of desert. I saved room since I knew how good they are and had the cobbler, because today it was a peach cobbler.
Wow, what a great meal. There is just no way to replace good southern cooking. You know, real ingredients, and lots of butter.
I then piddled around Broadway here some more and even shopped for some beach gifts for the family. Later I would head to the ballpark and watch the game. The park here reminds me of the Norfolk Tides park back home. It has a great layout and feeling to it.
The day hay started to cool already at 7PM so with a breeze the 80+ temp was not overbearing. If you like baseball, this is truly a great place to catch a game. My seats for the game were in section 105 before the dugout for the Pelicans and with a great view down the first base line.
This was a great end to a short trip to the beach. Later I would head back to the resort tonight and hit the pool at the resort for a sneaky nighttime dip (don’t tell on me).
Tomorrow I would be transferring to another Myrtle Beach location Horizons at 77th to read more about my trip here.
If you are going to Myrtle Beach consider Carolina Grande for its location and overall value. Just make sure you book through TZort.