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Myrtle Beach

One of the top vacation destinations along the East Coast, the Myrtle Beach-Grand Strand area stretches 60 miles from the South Carolina state line at Little River south to Georgetown.

Only 98 miles north of Charleston, the population might easily exceed half a million people on a summer day. The Grand Strand annually hosts as many as 14 million visitors, who also come for shopping, golfing, sightseeing, and live theater. Myrtle Beach has grown into a year-round destination -- the Travel Channel has voted it the "Best Family Beach" -- and South Carolina ranks second only to Florida as a destination.

Named for its abundance of crape myrtle trees, Myrtle Beach is the largest beach resort along the Grand Strand, with the greatest number of attractions, entertainment facilities, and restaurants. The tone is that of a family resort, and many hotels provide programs and diversions for children.

Boating and all the other watersports rank tops among things to do. Fishing is first-rate, whether you cast your line from the surf (permitted all along the beach), a public pier, or a "head boat," charter boats that are available at marinas up and down the Strand.

You can swing a golf club at any of 120 courses. Most motels and hotels offer guest-membership privileges, entitling their guests to packages or reduced greens fees. High season for golf is from February to November. There are also more than 200 public and private tennis courts along the Grand Strand.

Many North European tour groups are coming to the Grand Strand for its un-self-conscious charm and good value. While environmentalists are concerned that the development puts the region's natural beauty at risk -- and longtime promoters fear that Myrtle Beach's family-friendly atmosphere may be threatened -- corporate entrepreneurs continue pouring money into the area's popular attractions.

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