Driving in a strange town can be scary, especially in a bustling tourist destination like Myrtle Beach. Not only are you unfamiliar with the roads, but neither are many of the drivers around you. Factor in the gawkers behind the wheel who are rubber-necking to catch a glimpse of all the wacky attractions and you've got a recipe for disaster, or at least for spending your vacation behind the wheel. It's best to follow these driving tips for getting around the Strand:
Do the Math: Getting around Myrtle Beach is easy if you use some basic math skills. The city is laid out in blocks so that almost all the roads that run east and west are in numeric order. First Avenue is the dividing line between north and south, so that the streets that surround it are Second Avenue North and Second Avenue South. The numbers go on in both directions, serving as key clues for newcomers trying to find their way. The major thoroughfares that run north and south – Ocean Boulevard, Kings Highway (aka Highway 17 Business) and Highway 17 Bypass – are numbered based on the intersecting streets. For instance, The Breakers is located at 2006 North Ocean Boulevard and you want to go to dinner at the Sea Captain's House on 3002 North Ocean Boulevard. Simply go 10 blocks north and you are there.
Meet Bob and Joe: Two of the most useful and least known thoroughfares in Myrtle Beach are also named after two of its most popular residents. Robert Grissom Parkway (aka “The Bob”) and Mr. Joe White Avenue (aka “The Joe”) are nice routes to access key areas of the city. The Bob, named after Myrtle Beach's late longtime mayor, runs from Harrelson Boulevard at the Myrtle Beach Airport to all the major numbered avenues with access to Highway 31 (more on that later), crossing Highway 501 and Broadway at the Beach along the way. The Joe, named for the beloved and late shoeshine man at Woody's Barber Shop, is an expanded version of 10th Avenue North, running from Ocean Boulevard and the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk to The Bob and Highway 17 Bypass.
Know Your “CBs”: The Grand Strand has added two major non-stop routes in recent years to allow for rapid, interstate-style travel, both with the initials C.B. Highway 31, locally known as the “Carolina Bays” Parkway, runs from Highway 9 in Little River to Highway 544 in Socastee, with a southern extension to Highway 707 in Murrells Inlet in the works. This limited-access highway parallels the Intracoastal Waterway to the west and has exits for Highway 501, Grissom Parkway, Highway 22, which is better known as the “Conway Bypass.” This highway runs from Highway 17 Business near Restaurant Row to Highway 501 in Conway. If you need to go from north to south or east to west in a hurry, be sure to use the CBs.
Beat the Clock: Timing is everything when it comes to beating the Myrtle Beach traffic. Unlike most cities that have the regular 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. work rush, Myrtle Beach operates on a different time schedule. During the summer months, “going out” traffic, as in going out to dinner, going out to a show, or going out to the shopping mall, creates at the heaviest traffic around 6 or 7 p.m., usually around the major attractions like Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing. Try going out to dinner early for happy hour or early bird specials, or wait until later after the crowds die down.
Traffic Tricks: The occasional summer traffic jam in Myrtle Beach is exasperated by the fact that many of the drivers aren't familiar with alternate routes. Instead of sitting in traffic on Kings Highway, simply go one block north or south to through streets like Oak, Chester or Yaupon and make some serious time and ground. The same trick is possible in North Myrtle Beach on Hill Street, and to the south in Surfside Beach on the Frontage Roads.