mb 1Photos: Visit Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, continues to rank as one of the fastest-growing family and vacation destinations in the nation, attracting more than 16.1 million visitors annually.

Last year, the destination welcomed new non-stop air service and additional attractions for visitors. Given the accessibility and multitude of attractions for families, the Myrtle Beach area received several new accolades including being recognized as the most popular travel destination of 2014 by TripAdvisor, one of the top 10 best beaches for families by Family Vacation Critic and the best golf destination by USA Today.

A wave of growth continues in 2015 with the long-awaited opening of a large indoor sports centre adjacent to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, new kid-friendly attractions and multiple new hotel developments for the first time in more than five years. The following is the latest compilation of new tourism developments and happenings in the region.

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Airline, Airport and Technology
Myrtle Beach International Airport Improvements
With the completion of the new $300 million passenger terminal in early 2013, the Myrtle Beach International Airport continues to make improvements and renovations to the facility costing an additional $20 million. The former airport terminal concourse has started to undergo a renovation that will service as a fully functional airline and passenger handling area opening up two additional gates in late 2015. The renovation will be complete with amenities, circulation space and improving the outside façade to blend-in with the look of the new terminal. In addition to these improvements, additional parking spaces will be available and the runway will be resurfaced. The target date for the project completion is December 31, 2015. For more information, visit www.flymyrtlebeach.com.

Porter and WestJet Resume Seasonal Service
Canada-based carriers Porter Airlines and WestJet Airlines are resuming seasonal non-stop air service to Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) in 2015. Porter's service from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ) to MYR on runs until May 18. WestJet's service from Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) to MYR runs until October 22. For complete flight schedules and additional information, visit www.flyporter.com and www.WestJet.com.

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Attractions, Museums, Amenities
Dinosaurs: The Exhibition
A new dinosaur attraction is open at the Broadway at the Beach complex. This interactive educational experience will feature 25 animatronic dinosaurs, some life size, and they will move and roar exciting visitors of all ages. The exhibition will feature programs, such as “Dig a Dino” where kids can find real Dinosaur fossils, a Dino Movie Room and a T-Rex Fun House. This will be the only place in the world where visitors can sit on top of a life-sized T-Rex or Triceratops and ride their way through a ‘Jurassic Park’ of adventure. The attraction will be located between Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Ripley’s Aquarium. Tickets are $14.95 for adults and $9.95 for kids. For more information, visit www.dinosaursmb.com.

Myrtle Beach Sports Center
After much anticipation, the Myrtle Beach area will soon have a 100,000-square-foot indoor sports facility that will help expand sports tourism. The $12.4 million facility will open in March 2015 adjacent to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The complex will include eight basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, a café and retail area, and large multi-screen video wall. The MBSC will have 2,000 seats and will be configurable for numerous indoor sports. For more information, please visit www.myrtlebeachsportscenter.com.

North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center
The North Myrtle Beach Bowling Center on Highway 17 is recently under new ownership and a major renovation is underway with a new urban look and feel. The newly renamed 710 Myrtle Beach promises an updated floor plan to accommodate new entertainment offerings, a modernized menu featuring gourmet burgers, sandwiches and sharable appetizers, local draft and bottled craft beer and – of course – state of the art bowling. A reopening is planned for April 2015. For more details, visit their Twitter page @710MyrtleBeach.

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Croissants Bistro & Bakery Cookbook
The first cookbook ever to be published by a restaurant in Myrtle Beach is planned to be published by Gibbs/Smith Publishing in spring 2015. Titled “Bonjour Y’all: Heidi’s Fusion Cooking on the South Carolina Coast” the cookbook is authored by Heidi Vukov, owner of Croissants Bistro and Bakery in Myrtle Beach. The recipes are modeled after the restaurant’s unique fusion of traditional Lowcountry cuisine with French cooking. For more information, visit www.croissants.net.

Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach Expansion & New Restaurant
As part of Horry Georgetown Technical College, The Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach is planning a major expansion of its program. A brand new 30,000-square-foot building is planned within the Market Common district of Myrtle Beach on the corner of Pampas Drive and Crabtree Lane. This $15 million centre will include a 100-seat restaurant with a local focus, bringing in seasonal products from local farms and fisherman, also adding an international flair. Construction is planned to begin in March 2015 to be completed by summer 2016. For more information, visit http://www.hgtc.edu/academics/academic_programs/Culinary_Arts.html.

Duplin Winery of North Carolina
Duplin Winery of North Carolina, the largest winery in the South, has begun construction on a unique 15,000-square-foot wine tasting station in North Myrtle Beach. This is their first location outside of North Carolina. The facility will accommodate more than 200 guests for guided wine tastings, making it the largest wine tasting facility in the Myrtle Beach area. The location will also include more than 5,000-square-feet of retail space featuring Duplin wines, specialty drinks, foods and merchandise. Located adjacent to Barefoot Landing and Alligator Adventure on Highway 17, it is expected to open for business in spring 2015. For more information, visit www.duplinwinery.com.

Mr. Fish Seafood Market Moves, New Offerings
Mr. Fish Seafood Market will be moving closer to the Mr. Fish restaurant at 6307 North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. The new space, which is three times larger than the former location, will allow for additional offerings such as cooking demonstrations, wine and beer tastings and expanded product offerings including a grab and go concept. Guests will also be able to watch fish cutters working in the cutting room. For more information, visit http://mrfish.com/seafood-market.

Nacho Hippo
Nacho Hippo is one of local Divine Dining Groups newest restaurants along the Myrtle Beach area. A third location is planned to open in 2015 at 850 North Beach Blvd. in North Myrtle Beach and will be approximately 4,745-square-feet. The restaurant specializes in unique nacho combinations, quesadillas, burritos and fresh squeezed margaritas open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night. For more information, visit www.nachohippo.com.

Tupelo Honey Café Comes to Myrtle Beach
Tupelo Honey Café, an Asheville, North Carolina based restaurant serving “made-from-scratch” southern food, will open a new location at the popular Market Common shopping district in early 2015. The 8,000-square-foot eatery will have 270 seats and a full bar complete with outdoor seating in additional to onsite mixologists creating custom cocktails. The restaurant focuses on its made-from-scratch, farm-fresh dishes and works with area farms to find the freshest ingredients. They also will have a unique selection of craft and local beers. For more information, visit https://tupelohoneycafe.com.

Thunder and Light: New Show at Calvin Gilmore Theatre
All That!, the nationally renowned clogging group formally on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, has added a new exclusive show to The Carolina Opry’s live entertainment options. Directed by Jeffrey Gilmore, the show will include exclusive, original choreography by All That!, interviews and background on the group, and the same multi-colored 5-laser show that toured with Pink Floyd and Madonna. The live production previewed in September 2014 and will begin regular shows on January 17, 2015. For more information, visit www.thecarolinaopry.com/myrtle-beach-shows/thunderandlight.

New Performing Art Series at Calvin Gilmore Theatre
The Calvin Gilmore Theatre is planning a new performing arts series that will evolve into eight or 10 performances by visiting artists available as a series pass or for the individual performance. To kick off the series, the theatre welcomes Garrison Keiller for ‘An Evening with Garrison Keillor.’ The show by the renowned writer, actor and radio personality will include hilarious anecdotes about growing up in the American Midwest, the people of Lake Wobegon and late-life fatherhood. Additional artists as part of the series are yet to be announced. 2015 also marks the 30th anniversary of The Carolina Opry Christmas Special. Plans will be announced later in the year of special offerings surrounding the anniversary. For more information, visit www.thecarolinaopry.com.

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Carolina Country Music Festival
The first-ever Carolina Country Music Festival (CCMF) is coming to Myrtle Beach on June 5-7, 2015. The inaugural CCMF is an outdoor country music festival that will take place on the boardwalk in downtown Myrtle Beach. The three-day event will host 35 of the industry’s biggest stars, including national recording artists Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Big & Rich and Hunter Hayes. More information and tickets can be purchased at www.CarolinaCountryMusicFest.com.

Buchanan Motels
Virginia based Buchanan Motels will begin construction on a new hotel, yet to be named, in January 2015. The hotel, located on 17th Avenue in Myrtle Beach, is planned to be 23 floors and include 530 units. The hotel will sit across the street from an indoor water park and parking garage. The construction is expected to be complete by 2017.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club
Construction is underway on a new Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare resort at the former location of Beach View Apartments in downtown Myrtle Beach on Ocean Boulevard and 22nd Avenue North. Crystal Blue Investment Group is bringing this new hotel to the beach; the project is estimated to cost $41.5 million. The hotel will be 22 stories with 220 units. The project will be completed by July 2015 and will be the first new lodging establishment to be built in Myrtle Beach since 2009. For more information, visit www.hiltongrandvacations.com.

Homewood Suites Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center
The new Homewood Suites Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center is planned at 1805 S. Ocean Blvd., the first and only Homewood Suites in the 399 chain that is an oceanfront property. The $25 million Homewood hotel is expected to open during the spring 2016. The Homewood will share pools and other amenities with the Hampton Inn Oceanfront next door and will be the one and only, dually branded oceanfront resort hotel for the Hilton in the world. The property will have 100 suites including a mix of two bedroom, one bedroom and studios all with kitchens and private balconies. Homewood is also building a 300-seat conference center, three pools, a fire pit, fitness center, a Pilates-aerobics room for women only, an on-site chapel, and a bistro serving sandwiches and snacks. For more information, visit http://homewoodsuites3.hilton.com.

Springmaid Beach Resort to Become DoubleTree Resort by Hilton
Springmaid Beach Resort located on the south end of Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach was recently sold to a California-based investment partnership and major changes are planned. The resort, which opened in 1948, will continue to operate as the Springmaid Beach Resort and will be managed by Hilton Worldwide until it is fully renovated and repositioned as a DoubleTree Resort by Hilton. The renovation will take approximately a year and a half to complete. The resort underwent a $9 million renovation in 2012 and a $19 million overhaul from 2000 to 2002. The property includes a 500-room hotel, conference center, camping facility and pier. For more information, visit www.springmaidbeach.com.

Coastal North Town Center
The newest shopping center in North Myrtle Beach is continuing to attract new stores and openings. This 360,000-square-foot complex opened flagship stores in 2014 including the area’s first Hobby Lobby and Publix in the area. In addition to stores such as TJ Maxx and Dicks Sporting Goods which are already open, additional stores are planned to open in 2015 including Ulta Beauty, Chipotle, Which Which, Ross Dress for Less, Rack Room Shoes, and PetSmart. The complex will eventually have 10 restaurant options for visitors.

H&M Coming to Coastal Grand Mall
Coastal Grand Mall, the second largest shopping mall in the state, welcomes the Myrtle Beach area’s first H&M clothing store in October 2015. Current retailers will begin store renovations starting in January 2015 with freshened, modern looks while others are moving to new locations. For more information, visit www.coastalgrand.com.

The Shoppes at Magnolia Row
The Shoppes at Magnolia Row, a planned upscale retail/office complex located at 44th Avenue North and Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach, started construction in fall 2014. This 36,000-square-foot project, opening in fall 2015, will include restaurants and retail space on the first floor and office space on the second floor. For more information, visit www.traddcommercial.com.

The Myrtle Beach area, popularly known as the Grand Strand, stretches from Little River to Pawleys Island, comprising 12 distinct cities along the South Carolina coast. Home to 60 miles of sandy beaches, an assortment of entertainment and family attractions, Southern hospitality and world-class golf, the Myrtle Beach area presents the quintessential vacation experience.

For additional information on the Myrtle Beach area, visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.