In Gaston county back in the day, all the mills would close the week of the 4th of July, and the week of Christmas. It was pretty much a ghost town around here the week of the 4th, because everyone had gone to Myrtle Beach. And even today, it seems like from July through August, it gets so hot around here that if you’re not actually at the beach, you are probably wishing you were. Here are 6 beaches for you to consider:
1. Myrtle Beach, S.C., 3 hours 32 minutes. Room prices $55-$339 per night.
Myrtle Beach is located in the center of the “Grand Strand” (Strand means beach in German). The Grand Strand is a 60 mile arc of uninterrupted beach that starts at Little River and goes to Winyah Bay. Folks love Myrtle Beach for the following reasons (some folks hate it for the same reasons): lots and lots of people, restaurants, attractions, golf, amusement rides and water parks, families, shopping, entertainment, and more people. Myrtle Beach is famous for Harley Bike Week, held in May, and Black Bike Week, held around Memorial Day. Beware- Don’t pack your thong, thongs have been illegal in Myrtle Beach since the 1990’s. If you are looking for a beach with lots to do- especially for families with kids-Myrtle Beach is your place.
2. Folly Beach, S.C., 3 Hours 26 minutes. Rates $61-$497 per night.
Folly Beach is a popular destination for water-sports including surfing, kayaking, and boating. There are even several boat tours available for those who wish to explore the picturesque area.
Folly Beach is home to numerous surf spots, the most popular being the Washout, 10th Street and the Folly Beach Pier. Despite its usually calm conditions, Folly Beach has gained prominence as one of the more popular surf spots along the East Coast. Folly Beach is an eclectic beach community with surf shops, restaurants, gift shops, offices, and bars along Center Street; the main road and gateway to the community.
Endangered North Atlantic right whales , the state animal of South Carolina and and Georgia migrate along the coast during spring and summer.
Must-see sights include the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier that features a vibrant local scene and the Morris Island Lighthouse. One of the most popular activities among locals here at Folly Beach is definitely fishing, the whole area is perfect for river fishing, deep-sea fishing, and pier fishing.
3. Wilmington, N.C. 3 Hours 32 minutes. Rates $63-$427 per night.
Actually there are four beaches in the Wilmington area: Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina and Kure Beach- all are a within a 30 minute or less drive from downtown Wilmington. Wilmington is home to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the USS North Carolina. the Cape Fear Museum, and Riverwalk- a 1.75 mile walk along the river front, voted “Best American Riverfront” by USA Today readers. Due to being captured by the Union early in the civil war, many antebellum houses and buildings still survive. More historic and cultured, less touristy than the Grand Strand.
4. Outer Banks, N.C. 6 hours, 18 minutes. $53 to $395 per night.
The Outer Banks include Corolla, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Cape Hatteras, and Ocracoke. The Outer Banks are a string of barrier islands and spits that cover almost the entire North Carolina coast. They are known for their wide expanses of open beachfront, and Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers’ first powered flight took place. For lighthouse lovers, there are five lighthouses in the North Carolina Outer Banks: Currituck Beach Lighthouse, located in Corolla; Roanoake Marshes Lighthouse, located in Mante; Bodie Island Lighthouse, located south of Nags Head; Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, located in Buxton; and Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, located in Ocracoke.
The open-sea beaches, state parks and shipwreck diving sites make the Outer Banks a popular vacation destination. Wild horse tours, lighthouse tours, the North Carolina Aquarium on Ocracoke Island, surfing and paddle board lessons are only a part of the activities offered.
5. Destin Florida, 8 hours, 49 minutes. Rates $128 to $629, homes and condos that sleep 8-12 can be over $1000 per night.
So at over 8 hours driving time, Destin is one of the farthest drives. BUT- is in the Florida panhandle, so if you like the Gulf side better than the Atlantic, Destin might be for you. If it fits your schedule, Allegiant Air flies to Destin on Thursdays and Sundays stating at $52. In the center of Florida’s Emerald Coast, with wide white beaches, sparkling clear emerald green water, plenty of restaurant and shopping options, Destin is a popular vacation destination. Try Rick’s Crab Trap in nearby Fort Walton Beach for some great drinks and a delicious shrimp po boy.
6. Panama City, 8 hours, 21 minutes.Rates $109-$369 per night and up.
Many hotels are sold out right now. Also in Florida’s Emerald Coast, Panama City is known as a Spring Break destination, and the location of the TV show Floribama Shore. Lots to do here: snorkel off of a catamaran, swim with the dolphins, go sailing or deep sea fishing, or take a helicopter tour. If you love shopping, be sure to check out Pier Park. Got kids? There are three water parks to choose from. Spring Break is over, but it’s still a lot of fun!