Locals and visitors agree, fall can be the perfect season to enjoy the Grand Strand.
Sure, the leaf peepers will take their treks to the mountains for a taste of fall splendor and be duly rewarded, but those of us still hugging the South Carolina coastline know a thing or two about enjoying the change of the seasons without a five-hour drive. As a reminder of just how great October and November can be along the Grand Strand, here are a few ways you can take advantage of the cooler weather, lighter crowds and opportunities for fun and relaxation this fall, right here at home.
Which Way to the Beach?
By now the summer crowds have thinned, and the once packed Grand Strand beaches are far more inviting, especially mid-week. Remember the summertime temps that reached well into the 90s with high humidity as an added bonus? Even the vast Atlantic Ocean can’t do much for your outdoor comfort level in the hottest part of the summer. But now, on those fleeting, glorious fall days with more moderate temps, plenty of sunshine and low dew point readings, the beach can be the perfect place to unwind.
While the public beaches offer easy access all along the entire 60-miles of the Grand Strand, the beaches requiring paid admissions at our two state parks (Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach in Murrells Inlet) offer an even more serene option for ideal beach-going days. Again, shoot for mid-week, as the weekends can still be quite busy. Additionally, these parks offer fishing, hiking, camping and picnicking opportunities that public city beaches can’t match. www.southcarolinaparks.com
Flora, Fauna and Fun
Most locals and many visitors are already well aware that Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet is a year-round delight. Though December’s Nights of a Thousand Candles and the Garden’s spring blooms are spectacular, the summer can be too sticky for some folks. The fall season, however, is a wonderful time for many to stroll through the sculpture gardens, visit the Zoo and take advantage of the regular educational and entertainment programs offered. Students, both casual and advanced, may learn through specially offered programs about the history and ecology of the region, along with the arts, all of which work together to help make Brookgreen Gardens the rare gem that it is.
Here are a few special Brookgreen Gardens events scheduled this fall, further enticing members and visitors to check back in.
October 2-3: Harvest Home Weekend
October 30: Fall Family celebration.
October 30-31: Haints, Haunts and a Gothic Goodnight, which will include horror stories and a southern supper (advance ticket required).
November 6: The perennial and popular Brew at the Zoo (21 and older) celebrates craft beer with live music and a few food trucks.
November 26-28: A special V.I.P Preview of the Nights of a 1000 Candles is offered to advance ticket holders. All are reason enough to visit, which is just what people have been doing since Brookgreen Gardens first opened in 1932.
Catch an Outdoor Show
Most of the Grand Strand’s municipalities, from North Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, offer regular outdoor live music concerts and even drive-in style family-friendly movies. The city and chamber websites are a great source to check dates and help you make plans to catch your favorite bands and plan other fall events.
La Belle Amie Vineyard in North Myrtle Beach is now open with limited hours and an online, all-advanced sale ticket option for its weekly shows, each Wednesday and Saturday only. Multiple bands and plenty of food vendors make this a popular option for those wishing to take advantage of the park-like setting, wine tastings, and live music.
Fall (especially October) is festival time. That means the Loris Bogoff, the Little River ShrimpFest, Oktoberfest at Market Common, Georgetown Wooden Boat Show, and The Jeep Jam, among many others.
Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Arts (Oct. 7 – 21)
Celebrating 30 years, this outstanding festival, held at various locations around Pawleys Island, features food, art, wine and top names in entertainment, this year including: The Miracles, The Atlanta Rhythm Section and tributes to The Eagles and Chicago, among others. pawleysmusic.com
Oktoberfest at Market Common (Oct. 8-9)
Oompah bands, rock ‘n’ roll bands, German and craft beers, dozens of food trucks, 60+ vendors, hayrides, inflatables and games for the kids all along the lakefront in the Market Common. nspromos.com
The Little River ShrimpFest (Oct. 9-10)
Along the historic riverfront in the north strand town of Little River, this annual festival is all about food and music. Food vendors create a wide variety of shrimp dishes, though there’s plenty for non-seafood lovers as well. A center stage features rotating bands throughout the festival on both days. littlerivershrimpfest.org
Loris Bogoff (Oct. 16)
Chicken bog, a Southern staple, comes to life at this annual event where teams compete to make the best version of this dish. Visitors can order the hearty fare by the bowl. Pageants, live music, games and more have made this annual fall festival a Horry County favorite. lorischamber.com
The 32nd Annual Georgetown Wooden Boat Show (Oct. 16-17)
This show features exhibits with more than 100 classic wooden boats, boatbuilding demonstrations, and a corrugated boat race, plus live music, food vendors and lots of outdoor family fun. Presented by the City on Front Street in the Historic District on the riverfront. woodenboatshow.com
Jeep Jam Myrtle Beach (Oct. 29-31)
For Jeep owners, families and anyone wanting to witness rally-style competition as Jeeps vie for prizes and bragging rights by navigating manmade mountains, mud pits and more. The event will also feature music, food trucks and vendors among many others at 2501 N. Kings Highway. mbjeepjam.com
Whether navigating the ocean waves on a surfboard, paddling the backwaters of Horry County aboard a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board, zooming across our waterways on a rented jet ski or pontoon boat, or enjoying a deep-sea fishing charter, October and November can provide perfect cooler-weather opportunities to get salty.
Virtually every major boat landing and marina from North to South, oceanfront and riverfront, has rental options. Try Myrtle Beach Watersports and Freedom Boat Club for serious boat renting memberships, and most every marina for fishing charters, rentals, and ocean cruises. Here are just a few places to start planning:
Who’s Ready for Some Football?
Through the end of the regular season, the nationally ranked Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers football team have home games at Brooks Stadium in Conway against Umass (Sept. 25), Ulm (Oct. 2) Troy (Oct. 28), Georgia State (Nov. 13), Texas State (Nov. 20), and further down the road, CCU hosts the invitational Myrtle Beach Bowl (Dec. 20). Tickets may be hard to come by, but not impossible to get your hands on. Even if you can’t score a ticket, you’re welcome to tailgate.
We’ve only managed to scratch the surface of the many places and events worth considering as cooler weather prevails. We hope we’ve given you some inspiration to get out and enjoy the change of seasons, Grand Strand style, for yourself.