By Merle Rosenstein

Myrtle Beach, one of the fastest growing vacation destinations in the United States, attracts an average of 15 million visitors each year. With up to four weekly roundtrip flights from Toronto via Porter Airlines between February 16 and May 21, and connecting markets – Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Windsor -it’s easier than ever for Canadians to soak up some sun this season.

Play All Day

By day water hounds can catch a wave along 100 kilometres of prime shoreline, jump on a jet ski or kick back in a kayak. Kids have their pick of water parks: Family Kingdom with its three serpentine water flumes, wooden roller coaster and the largest Ferris wheel in South Carolina; Myrtle Waves Water Park, the largest in South Carolina, with 30 slides; and the 24-slide Wild Water and Wheels Theme Park.
Ripleys Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach brings the ocean indoors; Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum maintains 12 themed galleries with over 500 weird and wacky exhibits; Ripley’s Haunted Adventure uses special effects to frighten even the most diehard ghostbuster; and kids keep busy at WonderWorks with 100 hands-on activities and at the kingdom of MagiQuest where they can battle goblin kings and red dragons.
NASCAR Speed Park’s seven tracks send drivers soaring around hairpin turns at top speed and for a complete change of pace, Barefoot Landing has the largest reptile zoo in the world and TIGERS Preservation Station.

Broadway At The BeachMyrtle Beach CVB

Night Moves

For night owls, there are loads of live music venues such as:
• The Carolina Opry with a variety of music and dance acts performed by professional artists.
• The Celebration Music Theatre, home to the legendary tribute artist show SUPERSTARZ! Live!.
• Pirates Voyage, featuring new music by Dolly Parton and Mark Brymer that captures the spirit of pirates who landed on the shores of Myrtle Beach.
• Legends in Concert with live performers singing, dancing and imitating real stars.
• The Bowery, playing live music every night from March to October. From 1973 to 1980 the house band was Alabama and the group still drops by from time to time.
• The House of Blues, featuring the music of the rural south, including the blues, rhythm and blues, gospel and jazz.

Tying The Knot

Myrtle Beach’s romantic seascapes, ocean-side venues, affordable accommodations and honeymoon havens attract couples looking to tie the knot. To obtain a marriage license, an application must be on file for 24 hours before a licence is issued and no blood test is required. Couples can choose historical venues such as Brookgreen Gardens, displaying art and sculptures in a natural setting; Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach originally the summer home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington; or Litchfield Plantation, a former rice plantation on Pawleys Island. For oceanfront weddings, hotels and venues are excellent choices.

What’s New

• The third annual Coastal Uncorked festival takes place April 22 to 29.
• The Pat Boone Family Theatre opens this winter and Pat Boone, a crooner from the 1950s and 1960s will perform and book acts such as magicians, comedians, pop artists and gospel groups.
• The Grande Shores Oceanfront Resort will see a renovation and updating of hotel rooms and common areas, oceanfront pool decks and resurfacing of the Lazy River to be completed by February 2012.
• Springmaid Beach Resort will have new weddings packages and a weddings specialist to assist weddings planners, couples and their parties. The Resort is now dog-friendly with an affordable rate, designated rooms, and a fenced doggie run.

For Myrtle Beach Winter Deals and Packages go to www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/WinterDeals/default.html
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