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5 free things to do in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

by BRUCE SMITH Associated Press on June 09, 2013 3:00 AM

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Myrtle Beach, this year celebrating the 75th anniversary of its incorporation, is the heart of South Carolina’s $16.5 billion tourism industry. Myrtle Beach is in the center of a 60-mile reach of beaches that attracts more than 14 million visitors a year to dozens of golf courses, hundreds of restaurants and tens of thousands of hotel, motel and other rental units. There’s shopping at hundreds of stores and nine live entertainment theaters with almost 12,000 seats. But there’s a lot to do for free. Here are five suggestions:

FREE CONCERTS, KIDS STUFF

Summer means a lot of free entertainment. In Plyler Park, just off the boardwalk, the Hot Summer Nights series of free concerts and other events runs this year to Aug. 31. On Mondays there are free kids’ carnivals, with concerts from reggae to rock and country to Dixieland other nights of the week. Every Wednesday there are fireworks over the ocean. Across town, at the Broadway at the Beach entertainment complex, there are free fireworks every Tuesday and most Fridays during the summer. North Myrtle Beach holds four free concerts on Friday evenings during the season in McLean Park while there are other concerts by the lake at Myrtle Beach’s Grand Park. As part of the Myrtle Beach birthday celebration, an oceanfront air show is set for June 28 through 30.

THE BEACH

This is the reason people come to Myrtle Beach. In South Carolina, the beaches are public and there are regular beach access points. Some areas have lifeguards and some have umbrellas and chairs for rent, but all you really need is a beach blanket and a cool drink. There’s a beach for most every taste. Pawleys Island, to the south, is considered one of the oldest beach resorts on the East Coast with homes dating to the 1700s. The quiet beach is lined with weathered bungalows and proudly calls itself “arrogantly shabby.” In Myrtle Beach, the shore is lined with high-rise hotels and condominiums and it’s just a short walk to grab a burger along busy Ocean Boulevard. If you bring a pet, check local regulations for hours when dogs can be on the beach.

CONWAY AND THE RIVERWALK

Conway, located 15 miles inland from Myrtle Beach, is the old tobacco town dating to the early 1700s that millions simply drive past rushing to the shore. But you may want to slow down and stop. The historic district includes almost three dozen National Register of Historic Places sites. The city’s scenic River Walk connects to the business district and runs along the gently flowing Waccamaw River, a great place to cool off on a sultry South Carolina afternoon. Conway, on the first Thursday of the month from June through November, hosts Alive After Five events as varied as a community gospel sing and a classic car show to an ice cream social.

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