Life and Religion
|Life is a beach|
|5 Carolina beaches to visit in 2014|
|Published Monday, April 28, 2014|
Winter is gone and the weather is heating up. It’s time to start planning for family road trips, summer vacations and weekend getaways to the beach.
Whether you plan to travel after Memorial Day when the official summer travel season begins or want to take advantage of the last few weeks of spring when the weather is nice but the beaches are less crowded, here’s a guide to some of the best and most popular beaches in the Carolinas:
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Every year, The Grand Strand ranks as one of the most popular destinations in the Carolinas. The 60-mile stretch of sandy beaches from Little River to Pawley’s Island is chocked full of attractions and family fun.
Much of any beach’s allure lies in its scenic beauty. This year, see Myrtle Beach in an unconventional way. Get an adrenaline rush with The Slingshot Ride. It operates as a backwards bungee, catapulting you high into the air so you can check out the view from 180 feet above land. Or, for about $20, you can see the view by helicopter.
Feeling less adventurous? No worries. Take a stroll along the beach’s newly revitalized oceanfront boardwalk and promenade, where – if you dare – you can revel in breathtaking views of the coastline from inside the iconic Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a 200-foot high observation wheel with 42 temperature controlled glass gondolas.
Stop by Broadway at the Beach, a 350-acre outdoor entertainment and shopping complex surrounding a manmade lake. Here, you will find everything from casual to fine dining, live entertainment, shopping, play areas, cigar bars and an exciting nightlife. There’s even an exhibit, “Encounters: UFO Experience,” exploring the history of UFOs. After viewing the evidence, will you believe?
With so much to do, there’s never a dull moment in Myrtle Beach. So it’s no wonder that it’s one of the fastest growing family and vacation destinations in the nation, with more than 15 million visitors flocking here each year.
As South Carolina’s oldest and second-largest city, Charleston is known for its world-class hospitality and unique culture, which blends traditional Southern, English, French and West African elements. Explore the area’s rich history, natural beauty and distinct architecture.
Charleston boasts a thriving epicurean scene with more James Beard Award-nominated chefs than any other U.S. city outside of New York. Whether you dine at an upscale or down home eatery, you will find the “farm-to-table” movement in full swing in this coastal town.
Spend a leisurely afternoon taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Historic downtown area with its charming gardens, well-preserved architecture and tree lined cobblestone streets.
A trip to Charleston would not be complete without a little retail therapy along King Street. Recently named one of the country’s top 10 best shopping streets by US News & World Report. Shop for one-of-a-kind finds in the many local boutiques or get your fashion fix with designer labels from Louis Vuitton to Gucci and everything in between.
Be sure to save time for a visit the famous Charleston City Market, where you’ll find a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind wares from local artists and fresh cuisine.
Carolina Beach, N.C.
Who says you have to cross state lines to enjoy some quality time at the beach?
North Carolina boasts of some the area’s best beaches. Among them is Carolina Beach, where old time beach charm meets modern, family-friendly fun.
Take a journey back in time with a stroll along the oceanfront Carolina Beach Boardwalk – home to a nostalgic arcade, ice cream stands, souvenir shops and seaside amusements. Many of which do not open until May. However, if you plan a trip sooner, the pastries at the nationally renowned Britt’s Donuts are well worth the visit.
Cast your line from the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier and try your luck at catching the big one. But there is no need to fret if you don’t walk away with the catch of the day. There are an abundance of local restaurants where you can feast on crab, fish and other delicacies from the sea.
Locals and tourists alike cannot get enough of cuisine from Deck House. With items like the Black and Bleu Grouper and the Almond Encrusted Salmon on the menu, it’s easy to see why they can’t stay away.
If you are not a big fan of seafood, note that Deck House offers a good selection of choice cut steaks as well. This casual yet romantic hot spot is located in an old church house. So be sure to say your grace before digging in.
Kure Beach, N.C.
Just minutes away from Carolina Beach, Kure Beach is a family-friendly seaside retreat and ideal location to take a break from hectic work schedules, deadlines and school projects.
Take a leisurely drive through the area, and check out the brightly colored homes on your way to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Here, you will meet Luna, a rare albino alligator. She is one of only 50 known to be alive.
Featuring a 235,000-gallon saltwater tank filled with sharks and exotic fish and a 20,000-square foot conservatory, the state aquarium is a great destination for families. It’s affordable, and kids will get a kick out of venturing through the Megalodon Shark exhibit and seeing the stingrays, seahorses, and sea turtles.
The aquarium also features an all-new Butterfly Bungalow, scenic gardens, a birding deck, play area and interactive fossil hunt. Daily activities include divers, feedings and touch-pool talks.
Other attractions include the North Carolina Military History Museum, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, North Carolina Underwater Archeology Center, Zeke’s Island and Ocean Front Park.
Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
Take it easy while relaxing on the sandy white shores of Wrightsville Beach. Known for its many waterways and channels from the sound to the sea, Wrightsville is one of few Carolina Beaches that can actually boast of blue water.
With its abundance of outdoor activities, this seaside town is an ideal destination for fitness enthusiasts and those seeking adventure. Enjoy watersports of all kind – from surfing to diving or paddle boarding and pretty much do anything else one can do on the water. Bike The Loop fitness trail; explore wildlife on nearby Masonboro Island or fish from Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.
Here, the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. The town comes alive with beachside taverns, neighborhood grills and swanky restaurant lounges. Spend an evening at the historic Oceanic Restaurant, which now offers live music and outdoor seaside dining on its newly renovated Crystal Pier.
Wrightsville is also an ideal location for couples, book a romantic stay at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort and enjoy a memorable two- or three-night stay in a beautiful waterfront room.
Romance package options include a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries or cheese and wine upon arrival, a four-course prix fixe dinner for two, breakfast each morning and late checkout.
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