The sun was beginning to set as my daughter skipped from the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier, carrying her pink Barbie fishing pole like a pro, even though today had only been her first time dropping a line in the Atlantic.
She had been successful, catching several fish—even a snapper fish. Little did she know she was about to learn the number one lesson of fishing—how to respond to the age-old question: “How big was it?”
As we walked toward the parking lot, we crossed paths with a friendly fellow headed out for some evening fishing. Excited, my daughter rushed up to show off her bounty.
“I just caught a fish!” She beamed.
The old fisherman squared his shoulders and focused on her face. “How big was it?” He asked.
She held up her hands about a foot apart. He frowned.
“No,” he said, and gently pulled her hands apart, as wide as her arms could reach. “The answer is always, ‘This big.’”
“This big” is how I always think of the fun our family has in North Myrtle Beach. Our family vacations to North Myrtle Beach are filled with adventure, and each year we discover something new to put our “this big” arms around.
When we come to the beach, our numbers often change by the day. Sometimes it’s just the three of us. And then my mom, who lives nearby, will join us for a day or two of fun in the sun. Brothers and their families, cousins and friends pop in and out. That’s the beauty of renting a beach home for the week.
The North Myrtle Beach area is filled with a variety of rental homes, resorts, spacious condos and familiar hotels to choose from, and the choices vary as much as the families. An oceanfront with pool? Check. Sleeps 16? Check. Two-bedroom condo? Check. Plus, there’s everything in between, too.
There’s an underappreciated pleasure in waking up to a full house. Moments such as stepping out onto the porch and catching the sunrise over the waves as everyone else sleeps, or enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee with a cousin you don’t get to see often are treasured. Or out-of-the-ordinary times such not worrying to set an alarm and letting the kids sleep as long as they want.
When everyone finally wakes up comes the inevitable question: “What are we going to do today?” My answer is always, “Have fun at the beach.”
This year, the new piece of big fun\ is at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex. And trust me, you won’t want to miss it. The complex, which is host to many sports tournaments, concerts and community events, is now home to two extreme experiences—Shark Wake Park and Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure.
If you’ve never heard of cable wakeboarding, be a hero and introduce it to your kids at Shark Wake Park. It’s the newest trend in riding the water, where an elaborate system of cables pulls you on a wakeboard across the lake. It’s great for beginners, so don’t worry if you don’t know how. Do it anyway.
Go Ape has zip lines, swings and lots of obstacles, all high above the ground in the treetops. There’s one version for adults and older kids and a junior version for the younger set. It’s so fun and exhilarating.
You also can learn how to ride a Segway or you can go walking or biking around more than two miles of trails. From high energy to easy cruisin’, this is a spot everyone will want to be.
Going Down Entertainment Lane
One of the reasons generations of people keep coming back to North Myrtle Beach is to shuffle, glide and twist across the open-air dance floor at the OD Pavilion Amusement Park. Our daughter loves the nearby arcade and amusement park rides, complete with Skee-Ball, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel and swings. It reminds me of the beach when I was growing up, and that’s the beauty of it. Memories are made for all of us, no matter how old we are.
Exploring Barefoot Landing—the sprawling shopping and entertainment complex built around a 23-acre lake on the inlets and waterways—is a tradition for us. It’s best to have a morning beach day and head there for lunch and to explore the shops. You’ll be ready to let the kids go to Alligator Adventure—one of the largest reptile zoos in the world.
We always love seeing Utan, the 18-foot-long crocodile who is the largest on exhibit in the US, and Bob, a popular female alligator who was born at the park 20 years ago and, as her name suggests, doesn’t have a tail.
Barefoot Landing also is home to the Alabama Theatre’s ONE the Show, a musical variety show for families. Kids often get in free, so check for specials. The other spot for music here is the House of Blues, one of the best venues on the Grand Strand to see live music. We don’t miss an opportunity to catch a great band, many of which are “all-age” appropriate.
The 5 O’clock Circle
Every good day at the beach ends in a 5 o’clock circle. That’s when, after spending the day swimming and playing in the ocean or having fun around North Myrtle Beach, your day comes to a close back on the beach as your chairs drift toward each other. Instead of staying in a line, they’re now in a circle. It’s a natural reflex but also a reminder of why you’re there in the first place.
We always end every beach day this way. Enjoying family. Enjoying the beach. It’s fun. It’s this big!