I am aware that this is a blog about road trips. However, I am a writer, and the few times I actually ride in planes, a story about the trip ends up on HeidiTown, even if I wasn’t planning an article. It just happens. After all, I am the Mayor everywhere, and this trip was no exception.
When my friend Sharon texted me and asked if I wanted to go with her to a conference in Myrtle Beach, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. For one thing, she was speaking three times at this conference, including giving the keynote. I am adding a speaking component to HeidiTown Consulting, so this would be educational.
Plus, I love the ocean, seafood, ocean-side hotels, beaches, ocean-side pools, seafood, sunrises over the sea, and seafood. I like seafood! I was going.
I did, as it turns out, eat a lot of seafood. In fact, I ate all the shrimp in Myrtle Beach. Shrimp salad with a bunch of croutons at Embassy Suites’ restaurant Coastal. Shrimp pizza at Black Drum Brewery, shrimp and grits at Flamingo’s Grill, and fried Cajun shrimp at Chesapeake House.
But let’s go back to the cab ride from the airport to the oceanfront Embassy Suites which was the site of the conference and our home for three nights.
I talked a lot to our cabbie, Bill. As Sharon sat quietly, I pestered Bill with Myrtle Beach questions as we passed palm trees and other vaguely tropical-looking foliage. I learned a lot about Myrtle Beach, leading to my number one tip when traveling to a new place: Ask your cab or Uber/Lyft driver a lot of questions. Bill and I mostly talked about restaurants, which is how we ended up at the Chesapeake House.
I had four different drivers in Myrtle Beach (plus the shuttle driver at the hotel), and each was a wealth of delightful Myrtle Beach tidbits. Especially Gregory, the best Uber driver I’ve ever had. I hope you get to ride with Gregory in Myrtle Beach.
Our hotel, Embassy Suites by Hilton, is a resort and conference property. If they aren’t hosting families who come in droves during the summer to the beach and terrific pool complete with a waterpark, they are hosting business people in their conference area.
I believe every hotel room here has a view, and I couldn’t stop taking photos with my phone. There was a good view from the bedroom and the living room and an excellent one from the large patio connecting the two. My prolific patio photography and excited exclamations no doubt amused Sharon, who has traveled to this destination several times.
We had one sunrise that just got better and better, and I just kept taking photo after photo, fearing I’d miss getting the perfect shot. Turns out, they were all pretty fantastic. While this West Coast-born girl still prefers sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, I can truthfully say that the sunrises of the Atlantic Ocean are incredible, and I have many photos to prove it, but I swear I won’t post all of them here.
By the way, Sharon spent her days at the conference, so I was left to my own devices.
One morning, I hiked down the beach towards the pier, searching for a breakfast joint. We got a buffet breakfast during our stay at Embassy Suites, but I wanted a little adventure.
I walked through the surf, passing adorable sandpipers that didn’t seem concerned with the presence of humans, an egret pecking around in the surf, fishermen, fisherwomen, and fisher families, beach walkers, and beach runners, and people meditating in the lotus position on the sand (not kidding).
Popping into one beachfront property, past the outdoor bar and pool, my phone indicated there was a breakfast restaurant somewhere in this building. I think this was a hotel or condo building, but the restaurant alluded me for ten minutes as I careened down hallways that hadn’t been renovated since 1982.
Myrtle Beach offers a gamut of properties from chic to ramshackle. When I finally found the restaurant, it was a buffet, so I left. Why would I pay for a breakfast buffet when I could get a free one back down the beach at Embassy Suites?
A quick aside about buffets—I am not a fan of the buffet. I do not have visions of dirty sneeze shields or other issues with cleanliness. If I am paying for restaurant service, I want table service. My husband, Ryan, thinks I’m a little stuck up, but it is just pure laziness.
Unfortunately, like most tourist destinations, Myrtle Beach is full of buffets. I understand the ease of buffet dining for large families looking to make everyone in the group happy. However, I still don’t like them.
Back to my beach walk. South Carolina is humid, and I have never sweated as much as I did on that walk. Maybe once, in Mexico. Thankfully, a breeze occasionally blew in with the waves. When I made it to the Embassy Suites, I felt like a crab that had just jumped out of a stew pot.
The pool at the Embassy Suites at Myrtle Beach is a bit posh. It’s resort-style, and I’ve only seen pools like it in Mexico, Las Vegas, and the Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado.
Most of my time at the pool was spent making friends with strangers. I met a mom and adult daughter from Pittsburg whom I sent to Flamingo’s Grill for dinner. I’m always the Mayor of HeidiTown!
I met another mother and adult daughter from North Carolina. They knew the area well, as they had been many times. After we chatted, they invited me to lunch without knowing my name. There’s friendly and then there is southern-friendly, and the two things aren’t the same. Turns out, I’m kind of a fan of southern-friendly.
I didn’t take them up on lunch because I wanted to explore Barefoot Landing. Truthfully, I’d discovered that the closest brewery via Uber was Crooked Hammock at Barefoot Landing.
Barefoot Landing is one of those destination places with lots of shopping, bars, and restaurants. This one also has a carousel but it wasn’t running on the day I was there.
Not being big on shopping, I walked around, taking photos and popping in a couple of stores, one wine store, because it was a wine store. I stopped for lunch at Flying Fish Public Market & Grill. They give you a mahi dip here like Mexican restaurants in Colorado give out chips and salsa. It’s delicious.
The most southern thing you’ll see today is this photo of my lunch of fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese. They were fine, but the dip was heavenly.
I did learn a few things on my outing. First of all, you’d never see this sign in Colorado. I didn’t realize there were alligators in South Carolina, but apparently, that sign is not a joke.
Here, I am watching for alligators.
I stopped in at Tortuga Island before getting an Uber back to Embassy Suites. This is where I quickly learned that while fun at 25, at 46 bar swings can be dangerous, so I switched to a regular seat while I kept an eye out for alligators.
Here’s what to know if you visit Myrtle Beach for a week.
1. Seafood is plentiful. Eat it. If you don’t like seafood, I am sorry.
2. Buffets of all types are everywhere. This may please some of you, namely my husband.
3. Go to Flamingo’s Grill. They served us the best shrimp and grits I have ever eaten. It has ruined me for all other shrimp and grits. Thank you to the lifelong Myrtle Beach resident who works at the Embassy Suites hotel store who told me about this restaurant. It’s a local favorite that’s been around since 1986, and those are my favorite kind of places.
3. I’ve heard the pool at Embassy Suites (which has an entire water park) can be full of screaming kids during the summer. If you have kids that is probably just fine, but if you’d like to avoid this situation, go in September, after kiddos are back in school. I was informed by an Uber driver that locals don’t go to the beach until mid-September when most tourists are gone.
4. Leave me any questions you may have because, after spending three nights in Myrtle Beach, I think I am an expert. I’m not an expert, of course, but I’ll do my best to answer it or I’ll make something up.
By the way, I did learn a thing or two about public speaking on this trip with Sharon, and maybe most important of all is to wear comfortable socks.
I can’t thank Sharon enough for taking me with her on this Myrtle Beach trip. She speaks all over the country and travels frequently. She may never take me again (OMG that girl can’t stop talking to strangers) or never want to go on another trip without me. The verdict is still out.