NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Continuing our Beaches on the Cheap series, we’re hitting the road again, this time to North Myrtle Beach. The challenge? To keep at $150 dollar budget, for an overnight stay, three meals and a unique activity, for two people! In Wrightsville Beach, we barely squeaked by.
To the locals and folks who return to North Myrtle and the area known as the “Grand Strand” (the area, according to the Chamber of Commerce, from Georgetown to the North Carolina border) year after year, all agree: the town couldn’t be further from a real-life Jersey Shore or Myrtle Manor.
“It’s not quite the neon image some beach towns have,” says Marc Jordan, president and CEO of the chamber of commerce.
“Not a lot of change here. Crowd and patrons stay the same, they come back year after year.” says another local, who we met playing guitar on the beach.
North Myrtle is just under 200 miles from Charlotte. Depending on which route you take, North Myrtle is about a three-hour-45-minute drive. When you enter town you’ll even find the welcome sign reads “Home of Vanna White”.
But behind the façade of all the mini gold, the sky high condos and hotels, we find, of all things, a vineyard. Nestled on 37 acres, just two miles from the ocean, La Belle Amie is this area’s version of Napa.
“It’s a family-oriented business and we serve generation after generation. It was a tobacco farm originally.” says Vicki, the vineyard’s owner.
On the immaculately-groomed grounds, visitors can enjoy music festivals almost every month of the year. But inside the tasting room is where the party begins.
“I need to taste someone’s Sugar Daddy! Mmmmmm wonderful!” exclaims a woman who’s enjoying a glass of wine.
For $5, visitors can enjoy six generous pours plus snacks in the vineyard’s tasting room. Come on a Wednesday and the wine tasting is just $2.50!
To soak up all the vino, we take a stroll along Main Street in search of some good eats and came across Duffy’s Seafood Shack-- family-owned and operated for decades. Judging by what Katee Spence says, who’s running the show tonight, it’s a place where beach attire is more than welcome.
“We’re laid back; throw peanut shells on the ground. Blues playing…it’s a good time.”
While the shrimp po boy is pretty famous, we opt for 35-cent shrimp, 60-cent oysters, 60-cent clams, and discount crab legs during happy hour. With tax and tip, our bill comes to just over 20 bucks!
So full, we can barely move, but it’s time to check out our digs for the night: the Shorehaven II condo. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom, full kitchen unit costs just $85 including any fees.
The best part is this condo is about a one-minute walk across the street to the beach where we played football on the sand, and soak in the sights with the locals.
The next morning, we take the advice of an unexpected travel expert. He’s a young man, who is vacationing with his brother and family.
“If you eat a lot in the morning, it’ll last you the rest of the day,” he says.
Upon this recommendation, we visit Hoskin’s. A diner-type restaurant that’s famous for their breakfast and sky high coconut pie that’s been around North Myrtle since the 40s.
Tina Yates is the current owner.
“My grandparents started the restaurant in 1949. We serve generation after generation.”
We quickly realize a full breakfast can cost less than 5 bucks!
Believe it or not, even after this hearty breakfast of pancakes (which cost just $3.50 a stack) and other goodies, we’re not only under our $150 budget, we’re under $120!
Not a bad way to spend the weekend.
North Myrtle Beach Chamber: http://www.northmyrtlebeachchamber.com/main/visitors-guide/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=visitors%2Bguide&utm_campaign=visitors%2Bguide%2BPPC&gclid=CJfTpLqvlrcCFRSVMgodx3AAwg
La Belle Amie Vineyard: 1120 St. Joseph Road, Little River, SC 29566 www.LaBelleAmie.com
Hoskin’s Restaurant: 405 Main Street, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582 https://plus.google.com/108522281648347609098/about?gl=us&hl=en
Shorehaven II: http://www.northmyrtlebeachtravel.com/shore-haven-ii
Duffy Street Seafood Shack: 202 Main Street, North Myrtle Beach, SC 843-281-9840 www.duffyst.com