When most people think of Myrtle Beach, summer springs to mind, and for good reason. Myrtle Beach is known as the Sun Fun Capital for all its summertime activities, like amusement park rides, water park slides, surfing the waves and relaxing on the beach. But if you've only visited Myrtle Beach during the summer months, you are only getting part of the big picture. The Grand Strand, the 60-mile stretch of coast that surrounds Myrtle Beach, is a year-round destination with lots going on in the “offseason.” Many of the 14 million annual visitors to the area do so in the spring, fall and winter. The truth is Myrtle Beach used to be a summer-only destination. Locals joked that they rolled up the sidewalks on Labor Day and rolled them back on Memorial Day weekend. But the area's development, including more than 100 golf courses, 1,700 restaurants and countless shops and entertainment venues, have made Myrtle Beach an anytime destination. One of the great things about Myrtle Beach is that the town makes a transformation every three months. The arrival of spring sees the town blooming with excitement as spring-break taking families, snowbound Northerners and eager golfers arrive. It climaxes in the summer with family vacations and groups invading the Strand. Fall ushers in milder weather and crowds before the winter provides some much-needed down time. All four are great times to visit Myrtle Beach, but each has its own distinct feel. Here's a look at each season and what you can expect when you visit Myrtle Beach: * Winter: This has become the fastest growing time of year on the Grand Strand as many vacationers have discovered the savings and benefits of visiting in the winter months. Smaller crowds mean lower room rates and discounts on various attractions, dining and shopping. In fact, many are making Myrtle Beach there Christmas shopping getaway, turning the unenjoyable task of shopping into a mini-vacation to take advantage of local deals and the variety of stores. Resort like The Breakers feature indoor, heated pools and hot tubs so guests can get some play time in even when it's cold outside. But Myrtle Beach's mild climate provides some 70-degree days in the dead of winter so it's possible to get in some beach time too. If you love the beach but hate crowds, this is the perfect time of year for you visit. * Spring: As the flowers begin to bloom and sunshine creeps its way back onto the Strand, so do the crowds, many of whom have been stuck in snow all winter and need a place to thaw out. Myrtle Beach provides the perfect respite. Although cooler temperatures can continue into April, especially on the beachfront, the weather is plenty warm enough for golf, hiking and other outdoor activities. Parties also start to break out as the Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After the Masters Pro-Am comes to Barefoot Landing, as does the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Easter egg hunts, fishing tournaments, mini-marathons and 5K races are among the many festivities set for spring. * Summer: As the temperatures rise, so does the action in Myrtle Beach. The hot summer days see visitors flock to the beach for relief and fun in the sand, surf and sun. The downtown district offers free concerts and fireworks shows at the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk's Plyler Park, where locals and visitors gather to soak up the fun after the sun goes down. Popular spots such as Broadway at the Beach, Barefoot Landing and Market Common also host fireworks shows and outdoor movies, among other activities. But the highlight of the day comes at the end, relaxing on your private oceanfront balcony at the Breakers and enjoying the cool summer breeze. * Fall: Autumn is the best time of year in Myrtle Beach. Starting in September, the big crowds dwindle down and the humidity disappears while the ocean temperature remains at a comfortable level for swimming, surfing, parasailing and more. Fall is also the peak time for festivals on the Strand, including the Irish Italian Fest in North Myrtle Beach, the Little River Shrimp & Jazz Festival, Oktoberfest in downtown Myrtle Beach and the Beach Boogie & BBQ, just to name a few. This is also the best time of year for fishing, shrimping and crabbing, so you can catch it yourself or enjoy it fresher than ever at local restaurants. The fall festivities slowly fade away into winter, and the year-round fun in Myrtle Beach starts all over again. (Posted: 12/16/14)
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