The unofficial kickoff of summer arrives with the Memorial Day weekend, and that means many folks will be making their annual trips to South Carolina beaches in the weeks and months ahead.
The seaside towns from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head offer an escape from Columbia’s famously hot summers with their ocean breezes.
Many enjoy dining in familiar restaurants, walking along well-known sites and chillin’ at favorite spots. And the nearby beaches offer that intimate comfort.
But there are new things to experience along the South Carolina coast as well, new restaurants and attractions that will infuse your familiar and comfortable vacation with renewed energy.
Here is a sampling of some of the new things along South Carolina’s coast – some now open, some opening in coming days.
Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand
Myrtle Beach has been one of America’s favorite beaches for generations, and a traditional family destination. The Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau likes to point out its No. 2 rank of “Best Beach in America” by the Travel Channel and one of “America’s Favorite Beach Towns” by Travel + Leisure.
“A flurry of recent tourism growth, combined with the area’s special blend of Southern hospitality and distinct affordability, makes it no wonder Myrtle Beach was included in Expedia Viewfinder’s ‘17 Places You Must Visit in 2017’,” the bureau touts. The website www.visitmyrtlebeach.com offers information for Myrtle Beach.
Here are some new things at the Grand Strand:
BROADWAY AT THE BEACH WAREHOUSE DISTRICT AND FACELIFT
The popular entertainment complex in Myrtle Beach is undergoing major changes as it enters its 21st year. The former Celebrity Square district is being transformed into a historic-looking warehouse district.
A new attraction at Broadway at the Beach’s Pavilion Park West is a 118-foot-tall Ferris Wheel featuring 24 open-air gondolas, LED lighting and a fabulous view of Broadway at the Beach and the surrounding area. The Ferris Wheel is open daily at 1 p.m. weather permitting.
Among new restaurants:
Dave and Busters. The 40,000-square-foot venue is known for its chef-crafted menu, innovative cocktails, games and ultimate sports viewing.
American Tap House opened this past fall with more than 40 craft beers on tap. The American gastro pub is inside a rustic and open dining space and has regular live entertainment.
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen is scheduled to open in June at the former site of Carlos and Charlie’s. It will be two stories with family style dining options. The project comes after the recent opening of a Paula Deen store, also at Broadway at the Beach.
Wahlburgers at Broadway at the Beach opened its first South Carolina eatery in December. Founded by celebrity brothers Mark, Paul and Donnie Wahlberg, the eatery is a fast-casual concept, specializing in burgers with made-from-scratch ingredients.
Broadway at the Beach, www.broadwayatthebeach.com
RIPLEY’S AQUARIUM NEW EXPERIENCE
Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach now has the only indoor glass bottom boat adventure in North America. Guests have the opportunity to step into a 16-foot-long boat, with only three inches of glass separating them from the sharp-toothed predators of the Dangerous Reef tank.
Ripley’s Aquarium, www.ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach/experiences/glass-bottom-boat-adventure.
SHARK WAKE PARK
This is South Carolina’s first continuous wakeboarding park, using a high-tech pulley system to pull riders instead of a boat. The pulley picks up ropes from the starting dock and pulls riders in a circle around the lake. There are ramps and rails on the sides of the lake to try tricks. Beginners are welcome; visitors need to be at least 10 years old to ride. Fun fact: The park was opened by Greg Norman Jr., the son of golf legend, Greg Norman.
The Naomi and Stanley Bleifield Gallery at Brookgreen Gardens opened in January. Located near the Mary Alice and Bennett Brown Sculpture Court, the gallery is open daily and showcases the work of historic and contemporary sculptors whose subjects are taken from the natural world.
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, www.brookgreen.org
SOUTHERN LIVING STORE AT THE MARKET COMMON
The country’s first Southern Living store is open in the Market Common district in Myrtle Beach. The 5,000-square-foot shop features a “Celebrate the South” retail theme, including products in fashion, food, home, decoration, garden and travel. The shop also offers food tasting events and recipe tips.
Southern Living store, Myrtle Beach, http://www.marketcommonmb.com/listing/southern-living
RIPTYDZ OCEANFRONT GRILLE & ROOFTOP BAR
RipTydz is a hip new oceanfront bar and grill set to open this summer at 12th Avenue North along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. The restaurant, beach bar and night club will offer stunning ocean views, with a rooftop experience. The 17,000-square-foot building will have 500 seats serving fresh local cuisine, including seafood and steaks.
RipTydz Oceanfront Grille & Rooftop Bar, Myrtle Beach, www.riptydz.com
Part of the appeal of Charleston is all of its old stuff. But vibrant, trendy restaurants also make Charleston one of the top vacations spots for Palmetto state residents as well as out-of-state tourists.
Here are a few new restaurants you’ll find in Charleston this summer:
Chubby Fish, a boutique seafood restaurant, highlights daily catches from local fishermen. The space features an eight-seat chef’s counter, 48-seat dining room, and a vast craft beer selection. The seafood-heavy menu has dishes such as chicken fried yellowtail collars, softshell crab rice bowls and smoked scallop crudo.
252 Coming St., http://www.facebook.com/ChubbyFishCHS/
FATTY’S BEER WORKS
This brewery and tasting room features high quality craft beers, including 20 beers on tap, with a focus on sours and German style brews. Beers served on tap will include First Shot IPA and Musket Mule among others.
1436 Meeting St., www.fattysbeerworks.com
Pier 101, on the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier in Folly Beach, offers great ocean views. The restaurant features a seafood-inspired menu, an outdoor deck and bar, along with weekly live music.
101 East Arctic Ave. at Folly Beach, www.pier101folly.com
Along with the new restaurants, Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission has a new attraction for skaters.
SK8 CHARLESTON SKATE PARK
This skate park overlooking the Ashley River features a 200-foot-long snake run, an 11.5-foot deep pro bowl, seven-foot deep intermediate bowl and a 315-foot long street course. In addition, guests can enjoy live music, concessions, giveaways and skateboarding demonstrations.
North Morrison area, 1549 Oceanic St., http://www.ccprc.com/1725/SK8-Charleston-Skate-Park
CHARLESTON AQUARIUM SEA TURTLE HOSPITAL
There’s a lot to love at the S.C. Aquarium – and now, there’s even more. The Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery Center opens this month, with facilities to care for sick and injured sea turtles, along with a classroom and theater for the public to track how turtles in the center are recovering.
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, www.scaquarium.org
Hilton Head Island has been the buzz of the “best of” beach lists of late, said Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.
“Hilton Head Island has undergone a renaissance without compromising what everyone has loved about this seaside island for so many years: a relaxing, upscale beachside resort community,” Clark said. “Every single oceanfront resort property has been recently renovated and over the past few years.”
The Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce has developed a mobile app designed specifically for guests once they arrive on the island. The HHI Compass App will suggest activities available, restaurants and tours. Among things it might suggest:
AERIAL ADVENTURE AND ZIPLINE HILTON HEAD
One of a handful of ZipLines in the state, this attraction has added an Aerial Adventure to its line-up. It’s a concept that’s been popular in Europe for many years, akin to an obstacle course in the sky. Fly high above the trees and get a birds-eye view of beautiful Broad Creek.
OCEAN OAK RESORT
Hilton Head’s newest hotel, Ocean Oak Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations, features 125 two-bedroom suites on the oceanfront, with amenities like a zero entry pool. It’s about a mile away from Coligny Beach Park.
41 South Forest Beach Drive, Hilton Head Island, www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/south-carolina/ocean-oak-resort-by-hilton-grand-vacations-HHHGVGV/index.html
SKULL CREEK DOCKSIDE
Skull Creek Dockside, situated beside its sister restaurant Skull Creek Boathouse, is set to open this summer. It will feature a playground, stage and outdoor bar – perfect for the whole family to enjoy while overlooking the beautiful Skull Creek marina.
2 Hudson Road, Hilton Head Island, www.facebook.com/docksidehhi/
Hunting Island State Park
Those planning stop at the popular Hunting Island State Park over the Memorial Day weekend will have to wait a week.
But for this park, we’re willing to wait.
The park had been scheduled to open the Friday before Memorial Day, the first time visitors would be welcomed there since Hurricane Matthew in October. But damage done by this week’s severe storms made that impossible, according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
This week’s flooding delayed the park’s scheduled reopening until Friday, June 2. That does not include the campground area, which is still expected to reopen mid-June, according to the department.
However, the reopening was slated to include a large portion of the beloved park – including North and South beach, the freshwater lagoon and many of the nature trails. Friends of Hunting Island Park plan to build picnic tables, paint the lighthouse fence and clear trails soon.
2555 Sea Island Parkway, Hunting Island; http://southcarolinaparks.com/huntingisland/introduction.aspx
Contributing: The Island Packet