Family Travel 2011

Megan Sexton



Going to Atalaya? Check out Garden City Beach for family fun

Posted 9/17/2010 1:04:00 PM

Looking for a slice of old-timey beach honky tonk? The corner of Atlantic Avenue and Waccamaw Drive in Garden City will take you back.
While much of Garden City Beach is now home to high-rise condos and new resorts, the corner where Atlantic Avenue hits the oceanfront hasn‘t changed in decades.

Here‘s a look at a few places to check out:

It’s hard to go to Garden City and not stop at Sam’s Corner for a chili-covered, foot-long hot dog. The only real “bargain” on the menu is the 5-cent coffee, but the tradition, atmosphere -- and the chili dogs -- bring families back every year. The open corner restaurant across the street from the ocean at Atlantic Avenue has a long counter of seats and booths in the back. It draws folks right off the beach in bathing suits, looking for a cold drink and hot food off the grill. (There are two other locations of Sam’s on U.S. 17 -- one in Litchfield Beach and another on the north end of Myrtle Beach.)

A foot-long with chili, mustard and onions is $3.95. French fries are $1.50 and onion rings are $1.75. It’s also open for breakfast, where you can get an order of eggs with bacon, ham or sausage, grits and toast for $4.95.

Next door you’ll find the Garden City Pavilion Arcade, an open-air arcade featuring old-fashioned skeeball and new video games. The arcade‘s décor looks as if it hasn‘t changed in decades, with light blue walls and red and white trim, and pictures of cartoon characters like Fred and Wilma Flintstone. There are “fun mirrors” sharing space with Dance Dance Revolution; a Shoot-Out Saloon next to Guitar Hero. Don’t miss the ‘Take Your Own Photos’ booth, which offers four poses for $3. And, like any arcade, the kids win tickets and get to claim prizes when it’s time to go. (Parachute men, bow and arrow sets, candy, bouncy balls and pirate eye patches are perennial favorites.) The arcade closes in January and February.

After games and hotdogs, it’s got to be time for ice cream. The YumYum Shop, at 111 Atlantic Ave., offers some of the best ice cream around -- and unusual flavors. My kids went for the cotton candy ice cream on our last trip; the cookies and cream is pretty tasty, too.

Now it’s time for a walk on the pier. Just across the street, next to the Kingfisher Inn, you’ll find the Pier at Garden City. It’s a family-oriented spot with food and games -- not to mention a chance to drop a fishing line into the Atlantic.