We spent last week in Myrtle Beach, SC for a family vacation. It was the whole crew: me and Jane and all the kids and grandkids. It was a splendid time. Jane and I were there from Sunday to Sunday, the Feipels and Ricci and Isaac were there from Sunday to Thursday. We stayed at the Bay View Resort on the south end of the boardwalk. It rained almost every day, but there was also plenty of sunshine.
We flew on Allegiant Airlines straight from Fort Wayne to Myrtle Beach. We live about 5 miles from the FW airport, and our hotel was 3.5 miles from the MB airport. We left Sunday at 1:30 pm. Flight time was 1 hr. 25 minutes. The kids left MB on Thursday at 3:30 pm and we left Sunday at 3:30 pm. Flight time coming home was 1 hr. 17 minutes. Both flights were pretty good for us. There was a little turbulence coming home, but nothing serious. The nice thing about most smaller airports is the takeoffs and landings are fairly gradual and smooth.
On the way down Drew, Carrie, Anna and Bennett were in three seats (Bennett was a 'lap-child') on one side of row 15, and Jane and I were in the two seats on the other side. Isaac and Ricci were behind us. Bennett was asleep to start but woke up and was fairly happy and playful for the ride. Anna fell asleep as soon as we took off. She woke up shortly before landing and cried that her ears hurt. She took a drink and that seemed to take care of it. On the way home both kids slept the entire way other than Bennett waking up about 15 minutes before landing. Anna was asleep when they took off and they had to wake her up when they landed. I'd say the kids flew excellent. Jane and I sat in the same seats coming home. It was nice because we were well in front of the wings. I think it is much smoother in front of the wings than in the back of the plane.
One odd thing: when we landed in Myrtle Beach something happened and we couldn't exit the normal door of the plane. They ended up having to open the rear of the plane and we all had to exit the stairs right out the back of the plane. I didn't even know you could do that.
I like the Fort Wayne airport. It is small and they have a nice setup for restrooms and snack items in the boarding areas. We arrived a little late to the airport and there was only one person working both the Allegiant desk and the airline beside it. So there was a huge line of people. We barely made it through. All three of our checked bags (ours, Feipels, and Isaacs) were overweight, but at that point we just paid the extra instead of trying to shuffle. Ours and Isaac's were 48.5 lbs. and Drew Carrie's was something like 42 lbs. Allegiant charges extra for anything over 40. Coming home we shuffled items and everyone was under weight. Ours was 39.5.
The Myrtle Beach airport is fairly newly redone and it is nice, but they don't have much in the way of snacks or anything right near the boarding areas. It seemed quite a distance from where we boarded even to the restrooms. When the kids left we took them to the MB airport in the rental car. We had to make two trips. First I took Jane, Carrie, Ricci and Bennett; then I went back to the hotel and got Drew, Isaac and Anna. I returned the car after that trip and Jane and I just took a taxi back to the hotel. Then when Jane and I left Sunday we took a taxi back to the airport. I think it was like $12 each time, plus a $3 tip. We arrived for departure in plenty of time because we had to check out of our hotel at 11 am. So we checked out, left our bags in the hotel office and got lunch, then called the taxi and arrived at the airport around 12:30 pm. Fortunately we had books so we just sat and read while we waited for our flight.
As I said, we stayed at the Bay View Resort on Ocean Blvd. It was a little further south than the other place we've stayed, but it was still on the boardwalk (actually it was on the cement part of it, not the wooden part). It was a nice location - there was a grocery store (Cash Grocery) and restaurants right there. We had a great corner condo when all of us were there (rooms 1003 A&B). One part of it had a nice fully stocked kitchen with dishwasher, stove, plates and things, and a washer/dryer; as well as a living room area with a couch, 2 overstuffed chairs, and a big dining room table. There was one big bedroom with a king bed and it's own full bathroom. The other bedroom had 2 double beds and the full bathroom off the kitchen. Then there was a third, separate room, with 2 double beds and a sink and mini fridge, as well as a full bathroom. Jane and I stayed in the king bed room - which was all glass on the ocean side for a really nice view of the Atlantic. The living room was also all glass and you could get out onto the balcony from either our room or the living room. The Feipel's stayed in the bedroom off the kitchen - which had a little balcony that didn't face the ocean, but you could see it. Isaac and Ricci stayed in the separate room that had its own entrance. It also had a little balcony on the side. It was a really nice room and it was nice having the kitchen to eat in.
The hotel had the usual pool and lazy river under it, and it was a good place to stay. The only downfall is the elevators. It took FOREVER to get an elevator sometimes. I think it had 19 floors, and 3 elevators. I don't know what the problem was, but it was nothing to have to wait 20 minutes for an elevator. Almost everyone complained about it. I would stay there again if they fixed that, but if not... I don't know. For parking they have a parking garage a block over. You needed a room key to open the gate, so it was nice and secure.
OTHER HOTEL OPTIONS
The other two times we were in MB we stayed at the Holiday Inn Pavilion. I would probably prefer that as my first choice. The Bay View would be ok too (other than the elevators). There was a place called The Diplomat right beside us. It looked a little iffy on the front, but it was only 3 stories high. It might be ok. The Holiday Sands (north and south) were to the south of the Bay View and it didn't look too bad from a distance, so it could be an option too. We prefer to stay by the boardwalk. That's where most of the action seems to be, and we don't need a car for anything.
THE RENTAL CAR
We rented a car for when the kids were there. We weren't sure how far we would be from a grocery store, and if we needed to make a quick trip to the emergency room with one of the kids or something. We did use it to go to the K-mart and Piggly Wiggly a few times. Jane and I don't really need one by ourselves though. It was nice getting food to eat for breakfast and lunch in our room.
We rented a VW Passat from Budget. They tried talking us into an upgrade but we didn't budge. It was a nice car and held 4 of us plus a carseat easily. Jane and I brought our car seat. We could only take one child at a time, but we couldn't all fit in the car anyway (it didn't cost anything to check the car seat on the plane - either at check in or at the gate). We were going to put Drew and Isaac on the car as drivers too but it would have cost too much extra, so Jane and I were the only drivers. We didn't get any insurance or anything else. I filled it with gas when we took it back and put 1.4 gallons in it. We didn't use it a lot, but it was nice to have when we had it.
I think we ate breakfast and lunch in our rooms every day, then went out for supper every night. Jane made a really good egg casserole while we had the kitchen. We also had poptarts and oatmeal. For lunch we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, lunch meat, and Isaac and Ricci bought some meat and veggies. For supper the first night we were starved so we just ordered a pizza from Domino's. It was actually pretty darn good. The second night we all went to this little place connected to the Shark Attack miniature golf course called the Hammerhead Grill. The owner was on the boardwalk talking people in. It was ok. Afterwards we played bag toss in the lawn there. The second night Jane and I went to the Oceanfront Bar & Grill (our favorite place), then the kids all went there later while we babysat. Wednesday night we all went back to the Oceanfront. Thursday night Jane and I went to the 8th Ave. Tiki Bar & Grill. There was a band and we sat outside. Otherwise it seemed a little pricey. Friday night we went to the Landshark. The food was okay, but a little pricey, and it was sooooo stinking noisy. We vowed to not go back there. Saturday we went to the place right beside the hotel. I think it is called Sharkey's. They had live music there every night (as did most places), and apparently they had just added on the big deck overlooking the ocean. The owner came and talked to us, and it was a really nice place too. I would go back there. Before we left Sunday we went back to the Oceanfront for lunch. I tried fish tacos for the first time. They were really good.
Most of the time we ate either burgers or fish. I had a couple hamburgers, a poor boy fish sandwich, a turkey burger, a chicken sandwich and the fish tacos. Jane liked the crab cakes at the Oceanfront. I usually drank beer at the restaurants. I didn't care for the taste of the water and I don't really like pop. Usually I either had Yuengling or Landshark on tap. The one place did have $1 PBR and I had one of those.
We definitely like the beach. There is a pretty cute picture of Anna and Drew the first time she went to the beach. She also liked to sit in the sand and play. We went ahead and splurged and rented an umbrella and chairs for the entire week (lifeguard station 31). It is normally $35 a day but for a week it was $145. A lot of people just buy their own because it's cheaper, but it's nice not having to mess with setting them up and taking them down and you don't bring sand with them into your room and stuff. It's just more convenient to rent as far as I'm concerned.
As I said, it rained just about every day, but we were able to get some sun every day too. The exception might have been the last Sunday, when it rained just about the whole time, but we weren't planning to go to the beach anyway. It was also fairly windy most of the time we were there. One afternoon they didn't allow swimming in the ocean due to high wind and waves. Otherwise we enjoyed sitting in our chairs and reading our books, taking an occasional dip in the ocean and riding the waves. Jane did lose her sunglasses when she got taken under one time.
Anna had fun on the beach but seemed to enjoy the pool much more. They had a small 4' pool, a lazy river, and a 1' deep pool. She liked the 1' and 4' pools. Jane took her one day for quite a while, and Drew Carrie took her there too.
Drew and Carrie did go para-sailing one day as well. I was pretty proud of Carrie for facing her fears of water and heights and doing it. They seemed to enjoy it. I'm glad they went.
All in all this was a really good time. We were ready to come home after a week, but we really enjoyed it. It was nice having all the family there, and it was also nice just getting away. I think this was our third time to Myrtle Beach. We like it because we don't have to go anywhere. There are plenty of bars and restaurants and things to do, but mostly we just sit on the beach and read and relax. They also have free entertainment most nights along the boardwalk starting in June (I think). This year we noticed for the first time that they have Christian concerts in the big open space on Sunday nights too. I didn't remember that they ever did anything there before.
I guess I kind of forgot that the reason we splurged and took the whole family was to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary (otherwise we couldn't afford it every year). I'd say it was well worth it. The kids even got us gifts when they left. After we dropped them off at the airport we found a bottle of wine, some cake-sicles from Starbucks, and a letter from each of them to us. The letters were pretty special and would have been more than enough of a gift. A very nice time.
[I have some pics that I may add later]