You might know that Myrtle Beach has a gorgeous, long, white sand beach, warm water you can swim in all day, and more seafood buffets than you know what to do with. And to be honest, that's probably enough for any beach lover.
But there's more to Myrtle Beach than that famous, fun, gorgeous stretch of coast. Here's what you might not know about the Grand Strand:
1. The term "Grand Strand" comes from an old definition of "strand" meaning the area of land that borders a body of water. With an incredible 60 miles of uninterrupted beach, the Myrtle Beach area is certainly grand. Myrtle Beach lies right in the middle of this famously spectacular crescent of beach that runs from Georgetown County almost to the N.C. state line.
2. The name Myrtle Beach comes from the thousands of wax myrtle trees that used to line the beach, not the showy crape myrtles that many think of.
3. The Shag, a swing dance wildly popular in the 1950s and 60s, originated in North Myrtle Beach. The beloved 1989 sleeper cult-classic movie "Shag" was set in Myrtle Beach and was filmed there. You can still find a beach music band and people happy to teach you the shag's basic steps most nights somewhere on the Grand Strand. The National Shag Dance Championship competition also is held there every year.
4. The illustrious magazine Sports Illustrated was founded in Myrtle Beach, at Pine Lakes Country Club in 1954 by Henry Luce. A placard celebrating the magazine's start can still be found there.
5. It's hard to imagine when you stand on the beach and see high rise hotels stretching in either direction as far as you can see, but the oceanfront was essentially empty before 1901, when the Seaside Inn, the very first hotel in the area, was built.
6. Also in 1901, a plot of oceanfront land cost $25. And, you could get another plot of land for free if you built a house on the first plot. Cursing your ancestors for not buying? Yeah, me too.
7. The very first state park in South Carolina was Myrtle Beach State Park, and it still remains one of the most gorgeous state parks in the U.S. today.
8. Myrtle Beach is the mini golf capital of the world. With more mini golf courses per square mile than anywhere else, as well as being the home of the U.S. Pro Mini Golf Association's Masters' Tournament, Myrtle Beach earns the title. The courses are whimsical and fanciful and just plain fun, with crazy themes and outlandish holes. Make sure you take in at least a couple of games at some of the amazing mini golf courses in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach.
9. Myrtle Beach also claims to be "The Golf Capital of the World." The area has more than 100 golf courses, and there's bound to be one that fits every golfer's taste.
10. One of the biggest cats in the world lives in Myrtle Beach. The liger, a tiger and lion hybrid cat, lives at T.I.G.E.R.S., the Institute for Greatly Endangered Species. See some of their amazing cats on display at Preservation Station, their exhibit at Barefoot Landing, or spend the entire day at the incredible daylong Myrtle Beach Safari tour. On the tour, you'll visit their amazing facility to meet an incredible array of big cats, apes, and even Bubbles the elephant, as well as the liger.