The City of Myrtle Beach is a residential community and vacation destination at the heart of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile stretch of natural beauty on South Carolina’s northeastern coast. Our 30,000 permanent residents and millions of visitors enjoy the wide beaches, the warm weather and an incredible range of entertainment, nightlife, golf, shopping, dining and live theatre.
Discover stunning sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean, fun days at the beach, lush natural wonders, and grand new adventures. Savor our warm Southern hospitality, fresh coastal cuisine, and our unique flavor of fun. Cherish these moments together.
Long after the summer has ended and fall has begun, you can still take in warm temperatures, feel the sunshine on your face, hear the ocean waves, feel the sand beneath your toes and escape. When you are ready to escape to the beach, the Myrtle Beach area is ready to welcome you.
The Myrtle Beach area and the Grand Strand have a storybook history. Indeed, dozens of books have been written about long-lost Indian tribes, colorful pirates, and roaming ghosts. But for the most part, these stories have been shared orally – told and retold over hundreds of years, generation after generation. Not surprisingly, the stories change over time, as different storytellers add their own embellishments. As a result, there are many different versions of the same tale. However, this hasn’t diminished the importance of these tales to our local culture, or the enjoyment of hearing, reading, or re-telling them.
Early History. The area’s first inhabitants were the Waccamaw and Winyah Indians, who named the region Chicora, meaning “the land.” Kings Highway – a major thoroughfare through the Myrtle Beach area – began as an Indian trail long before Europeans settled along the Grand Strand. Later, this trail became the route from the northern states to Charleston and Savannah. These first inhabitants are the subject of the oldest and perhaps most elusive stories. While much has been written about Native Americans, documented facts about local tribes in the Myrtle Beach area are scarce. Physical evidence of their existence and way of life has been more forthcoming, however, as arrowheads, pottery, and other artifacts continue to turn up.
Spanish Settlement. Early attempts by European explorers to settle the Grand Strand were disastrous. Spaniard Lucas Vasques de Allyon founded the first colony in North America here in 1526, but the settlement was ravaged by disease, and the inhabitants perished within a year.
English Settlement & Colonial History. A new chapter in the area’s history and lore was introduced after English colonists settled in the area. Suddenly, goods and supplies needed to be imported and exported across the ocean. By the 1700s, scores of pirates had taken to the high seas to intercept cargo vessels and make off with the goods. The South Carolina coastal waters were especially productive for pirates – and the coves and inlets along the Grand Strand provided great hiding places for these marauders. Pirates who became local legends include Edward Teach, called Blackbeard because of his coal-black beard, and Drunken Jack, who was left behind on an island with a huge stash of stolen rum – and was rumored to have died with a smile on his face. Meanwhile, English colonists formed Prince George Parish and laid out plans for Georgetown, the state’s third oldest city, in 1730. Surrounded by rivers and marshlands, Georgetown became the center of America’s colonial rice empire.
Initial Development. Until the 1900s, the beaches of Horry County were virtually uninhabited due to the county’s geographical inaccessibility and poor economy. Near the turn of the century, the Burroughs & Collins Company – a timber / turpentine firm with extensive beachfront holdings – began developing the Myrtle Beach area as a resort. In 1901, the company built the beach’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn. At that time, oceanfront lots sold for $25, and buyers received an extra lot if they built a house valued at $500 or more. Previously known as Long Bay, Withers, or Withers Big Swamp, the fledgling beach community was simply called “New Town” – until the Horry Herald sponsored a contest to officially name the area. Mrs. F.E. Burroughs – wife of the founder of Burroughs & Collins – won with the name “Myrtle Beach,” which she chose for the many wax myrtle trees growing wild along the shore.
Further Development & Expansion. In the 1920s, a group of businessmen began building an upscale resort called Arcady, at the north end of the community. Arcady featured the present Pine Lakes International Country Club — home of the Strand’s first golf club and birthplace of the magazine Sports Illustrated — as well as the legendary Ocean Forest Hotel. Several major developments took place along the Grand Strand during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1936 the Intracoastal Waterway was opened to pleasure boats and commercial shipping. During the 1940s, an Air Force base was established and used for training and coastal patrols during World War II. The base was closed in 1993. The Myrtle Beach Pavilion was built in 1949, and the historic band organ and carousel were installed in 1954. Myrtle Beach was incorporated in 1938 and became a city in 1957.
Hurricane Hazel & Reconstruction. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel demolished buildings and trees along the Grand Strand, clearing the way for new hotels and homes. During the rebuilding phase of the 1960s, a golf boom began, with new courses being built each year. The number of golf courses along the Grand Strand now totals around 115.
Modern History & Development. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center, which houses the official South Carolina Hall of Fame, opened in 1970. During the 1970s, new construction in the area topped $75 million, and the permanent population tripled. In the 1970s and 1980s, construction of attractions, homes, retail shops and other amenities increased steadily, paving the way for another boom in the early 1990s. The Grand Strand currently attracts over 14 million visitors and thousands of new residents to the area, each year. The Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area was listed as the ninth-fastest growing area in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released in March 2011. The area has grown 37 percent over the past decade.
Ghost Stories. Of all the tales told over time, the ones most dear to Myrtle Beach natives are ghost stories. The most enduring folklore figures are of Alice Flagg, ghost of the Hermitage, and the Gray Man. According to legend, Alice Belin Flagg (1833-1849) roams beside the waters of Murrells Inlet … searching for a ring she received from a young man her family did not approve of. As she lay in bed ill with a fever, her brother discovered the ring on a ribbon around her neck, became enraged, and flung it into the inlet – and it is said that she still combs the creekside in pursuit of the lost treasure. The story of the Gray Man also involves a tragic love story – as a soldier returns home to marry his sweetheart. Riding on horseback, he has an accident and is killed. His spirit, however, lives on, and he is able to warn his lover of an approaching hurricane and save her life. Since that time, many people have reported seeing the Gray Man before a hurricane and heeded his ghostly warning to seek safety.
Today, Myrtle Beach is a well known destination for vacationers from around the country, Canada and abroad. The city’s 900 staff members are dedicated to being “First in Service,” and we are ready to provide assistance and answer your questions at any time. Again, welcome to the City of Myrtle Beach! We hope you find this site enjoyable and useful.
Ranked as the second fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country (per 2018 census estimates), Myrtle Beach is one of the major centers of tourism in South Carolina and the United States because of the city’s warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches, attracting an estimated 14 million visitors each year. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,109, and in 2019 the estimated population was 34,695. The Myrtle Beach metropolitan area had an estimated population in 2019 of 480,891.
Each March since 1951 during Ontario‘s spring break, Myrtle Beach has hosted Canadian-American Days, also known as Can-Am Days. Tens of thousands of tourists flock to the area for a week’s worth of special events. Myrtle Beach is also home to Coastal Uncorked, a food and wine festival held in the late spring annually. The city hosts Sun Fun Festivalearly each June.Later in June, Myrtle Beach is a popular destination for recently graduated high school seniors for Senior Week.
Priceline.com ranked Myrtle Beach among its top 20 destinations for its Fourth of July celebrations in 2010.
Myrtle Beach International Airport serves the city and surrounding area. With regular flights to and from destinations such as Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, New York and Washington, the airport is well connected for both domestic and international tourists. It also serves as a seasonal gateway to and from the likes of Chicago, Dallas and Toronto.
Myrtle Beach Bike Week, also called “Harley Bike Week”, is a week-long motorcycle rally first held in 1940, the same year Kings Highway was paved. The event has attracted as many as 200,000 visitors to the city every May. Black Bike Week, founded in 1980, takes place the weekend around Memorial Day Weekend and is the largest African American motorcycle rally in the US and attracts as many as 400,000 visitors. The event was created in response to a history of discrimination against African-American visitors and riders to Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand Area.
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