Bob Bestler

‘What you think about Myrtle Beach is wrong,’ travel writer says

A month before the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers showed the world one of the wonders of Myrtle Beach -- that we have the best college baseball team in the nation -- readers of the Chicago Tribune were learning about many other Grand Strand wonders.

In a story headlined “Myrtle Beach is bound to surprise you,” travel writer Alan Solomon extolled the surprising (to his readers) things he learned on a Myrtle Beach vacation -- mainly that it has much more than well-manicured golf courses and miles of beaches.

“I'm guessing,” he wrote, “that what you think about Myrtle Beach is wrong.

“The consensus image is tacky. Lowbrow. Not a luxury destination.” I suppose he could have added Redneck Riviera, as too many others have.

No, he wrote, Myrtle Beach is a great place to visit.

Among the wonders he found was the 187-foot SkyWheel, a boardwalk that brought to mind Atlantic City “only more compact.”

Solomon spoke to Andy Milovich, the president and general manager of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans -- just incidentally a farm team of Solomon's hometown Chicago Cubs -- and learned of Milovich's own love of his new hometown.

“There's high-end resorts and restaurants and great shopping,” Milovich said. “And there's affordable options for families on budgets.”

A Chamber of Commerce brochure could not have said it better.

After mentioning the 102 golf courses, many of them designed by the biggest names in the business, Solomon concluded:

“Any community with that many elite places to abuse $50-a-dozen Titleists is going to have elite places for duffers -- and now you are beginning to get the picture, aren't you?”

Solomon was most impressed by a couple of worldly wonders not widely known outside our fair community: Brookgreen Gardens and the 2,500-acre Huntington Beach State Park.

At Huntington Beach, he found what my wife and I have found during several RV trips to Huntington: a beach, hiking trails, fishing and a marsh “easily accessible via boardwalks and populated by egrets, herons, and, on this particular morning, three pink roseate spoonbills.”

Park ranger Mike Wallace added: “On the boardwalk at low tide you can see fiddler crabs by the thousands.”

People live here, too, he reminded readers, “a growing number of them ex-Northerners who seasonally like the weather and the relatively low-priced housing, and who quickly develop a taste for she crab soup and shrimp and grits and excellent barbecue.”

Solomon couldn't leave Myrtle Beach without a trip to a Pelicans baseball game. Again, he boasted of good seats “for the price of a beer at big league parks.”

If only he had waited a month, he could have mentioned a certain baseball team that in the past two weeks has captured the imagination of underdogs everywhere.

Too bad, Alan. Why not come back next year and watch the reigning national champions in action?

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