I’m Going To Carolina in My Mind

It is finally summer in the city and what better thing to do than immediately leave town?  And not to the lazy breezy piney north land, but to somewhere even more hot and humid than fair Toronto?

My friend Jennifer acquired a free hotel stay in Myrtle Beach some months ago during the bleak grey of the Canadian winter and asked if I would like to join her.  Knowing nothing of the place but for the distressing fact that it is pictorially represented by golf courses in any search you do on the region, I agreed.

Myrtle Beach has a number of things to recommend it:

1.  It has a 60 mile long, sugar sanded public beach

2.  It is cooled by ocean breezes that make the heat and humidity remarkably palatable

3.  There is fantastic fresh seafood on the offer

4.  The know all about Key Lime Pie

5.  The Myrtle Beach airport is a scant two hour flight from Toronto

6.  It is but two hours north of Charleston

That last point proved to be the most salient.  Myrtle Beach itself reminded me of what the illegitimate cracker baby of Ft Lauderdale and Niagara Falls might look like.  60 miles of beach hemmed by  60 miles of 1970s poured concrete monoliths and 1950s motor hotels with a strip of souvenir shops and wax museums.  My advice to anyone going to Myrtle Beach is to immediately leave Myrtle Beach.  Immediately south of the area you find Murrell’s Inlet and Pawley Island.  The former is a lovely example of the low country with swamps and shoreline and the latter is a sand dune of the softest sand and beautiful, if completely uninsurable, frame Nantucket like beach homes.   Murrell’s Inlet is also home to a restaurant called “Bliss” which served one of the best meals I have had in ages, including a truly wicked Key Lime Pie.

Further south still is Charleston.  I knew nothing of the place and was actually reluctant to make the drive, but Jennifer pressed and I am glad she did as Charleston is one of the most beautiful US cities I have even seen.  It reminded me of  Boston, only with a drawl.  The city is surrounded by water which keeps the heat to a reasonable level, it is the oldest city in the South so the architecture is gorgeous and easily walkable.  They have had the same incumbent mayor since 1975 who is clearly adored and brings a stability and pride to the area (I will say nothing more on mayors at this juncture).  The food is fantastic, there is a free trolley that tours you around the town and the waterfront is pristine.  I hope to get back there soon.

I don’t golf, and I am sure anyone who does would have an entirely different opinion on MB than I.  Here’s the difference between Myrtle and her southern neighbour:

The waterfront in Myrtle Beach


The Waterfront in Charleston

A typical building in Myrtle Beach

A typical building in Charleston

Myrtle Beach DOES have some fun things to look at, like the view from their ferris wheel

Charleston has some nice views as well

And no matter how you slice it in South Carolina you can find good old Southern hospitality, with a little faith and often pie thrown in for good measure.

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