The Grand Strand, the South Carolina beach towns and barrier islands that stretch from Little River to Georgetown, attracts over 14.6 million visitors each year - mostly families, including a growing number of gay couples and their kids. At the center is Myrtle Beach, full of amusement parks, aquariums, and other child-friendly attractions. For golf fans there are 120 courses within a short drive.
For gays without kids, Myrtle Beach might not be an ideal destination, but there are several bars and clubs with a friendly, laid-back vibe, near the intersection of Main Street and Kings Highway. Myrtle Beach Pride shut down in 2011, but the annual Charleston Pride festivities take place about two hours drive south, in late September, with a parade and festival. Columbia SC also has summer events: South Carolina Black Pride is a mid-August annual community expo; and the Hot South Carolina Pride Festival takes place in mid-October. CLAWS has social events for those into Levi/Leather. Bear Hunt is an annual Carolina Bears weekend get-together in Myrtle Beach each April.
Myrtle Beach International Airport a former military base, is 5 miles southwest of the city. It’s best known as the former hub for Hooters Air. Delta, JetBlue, United and Southwest airlines offer scheduled flights to and from over 20 US cities. Taxis are the best way to get downtown.
A car is handycar to get around, but there is public transportation at $1.50 per trip. Coast RTA buses serve the Coastal Carolina towns of Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Conway, Loris, and Aynor on 15 routes. A day pass is $5; for three days it's $10. A 10-ride pass is $13.50. Their Entertainment Shuttle operates free of charge each summer through Labor Day, 11am - 11pm daily every 30 minutes along Ocean Boulevard from 9th Ave N to 29th Ave N. Destinations include the Convention Center at Oak St, Pelicans Stadium and Broadway at the Beach.
Media & resources
Gay Myrtle Beach has a facebook page with local gay listings. Gay clubs open and close quite frequently here, some lasting just a season or less, so look around and check ahead as guides aren't always up to date.
QNotes covers regional gay news, arts and entertainment for North and South Carolina cities, from their base in Charlotte.
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Broadway at the Beach (1325 Celebrity Circle), general public complex of shops, clubs, dining, live music and dance shows; also amusement park.
Pirates Voyage, Fun Feast & Adventure (8907 N Kings Hwy), Grand Strand dinner and theater club, meat or vegetarian options; pirates battle aboard ships in indoor lagoon.
Pulse Ultra Club (2701 S Kings Hwy), mixed gay dance club, nightly shot boys, go-go dancers/ all-male review strippers, karaoke, game nights, drag emcees and shows. Moved from old Main Street location.
St George (503 8th Ave N), gay locals' bar, quieter music, sociable crowd, karaoke, game nights, weekly drag shows, full menu all-hours kitchen.
The Carolina Opry at Calvin Gilmore Theater (8901 N Kings Hwy), Grand Strand concert venue, live country and pop music, dance, comedy, laser light shows.
CLOSED: Rainbow House (815 N Kings Hwy); RuMors at Kono (1901 N Kings Hwy); Sneakers (819 Main St).