Five Things You Wouldn't Associate With Myrtle Beach

Sand, salt, seafood, golfing, amusement parks, endless sunny day s- all things you typically associate with the Sun Fun Capital, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

However, Myrtle Beach also offers a rich cultural side in opposition to its tourist-driven identity. Music, dancing, art, history and wildlife all make up a diverse subset of distinctive attributes that make up the Grand Strand.

Shagging, the shag, or rather the 'Carolina Shag', is a six-count, eight-step pattern two partner dance performed to beach music. It is believed to have originated in the Myrtle Beach area in the 1940's and was named South Carolina's official state dance in 1984.

While the name, the shag, conjures up other risqué moves, the dance is similar to swing dancing and is still popular around the Grand Strand today. Visitors and residents alike can be found packing Fat Harold's Beach Club on the weekends, or attending one of the numerous festivals or competitions held in the area each year.

Country Music
While beach music is popular here at the beach, so is country music. You can trace the origins of the famous country group Alabama back to The Bowery, an iconic country bar still located in downtown Myrtle Beach.

Today, a variety of bars and restaurants often feature country acts as live music, and the area is also home to two country music theaters: Calvin Gilmore's The Carolina Opry and the Alabama Theatre.

This year will also mark the second year for the Carolina Country Music Festival in downtown Myrtle Beach. Festival attendees revel in four days of music by some of the hottest names in country music, including Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Big & Rich, and Florida Georgia Line to name a few.

Fine Art
Glass, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography - just a few of the fine art mediums created by local and renowned artists that can be found at several area museums and galleries in the Grand Strand.

Curious for some culture? Peruse the galleries at the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, get inspired by sculptures on display at Brookgreen Gardens, or check out the variety of mediums on display at Art & Soul, An Artisan Gallery or Collector's Café and Gallery.

If you're looking to dig into the area's deep history, take the day to discover and head to Georgetown County to explore the diverse collection of historical sites and plantations.

Walk the halls of Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park, the former home of Anna and Archer Huntington, peruse The Rice Museum in downtown Georgetown to learn about the significance the area played in rice production, or take a tour of one of the numerous plantation homes scattered throughout Georgetown County.

Myrtle Beach and its surrounding areas offer plenty of opportunities to surround yourself with wildlife. A day at the beach alone will offer viewings of dolphins, pelicans, and egrets. But if you like to get up close with nature, the Grand Strand is home to a variety of zoos and aquariums.

For an up close view of alligators of all sizes, stop by Alligator Adventure in North Myrtle Beach. Catch a feeding or explore one of the various reptile exhibits on display.

If you prefer aquatic friends, stop in at Ripley's Aquarium at Broadway at the Beach for an up-close shark encounter, or for a more furry adventure, head to the Waccatee Zoological Farm in Socastee, or the zoo at Brookgreen Gardens.

Rebecca S. Robertson is a freelance writer and co-owner of Design & Word in Myrtle Beach, SC. Along with a love of writing, she adores reading, traveling, cooking, and shopping.

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