You see the same Christmas card photos every year: The family standing by the fireplace, the kids sitting on Santa's lap, the dog and cat sleeping under the Christmas tree. Those are all classics, but why not add some spice (or at least some sand) to your family Christmas pictures this year by posing at scenic locations along the Grand Strand. Here are five of our favorite places to send guests so they can go home with a beautiful family Christmas card photo to go along with their wonderful holiday vacation memories:
Beach: Obviously, the beach is the natural choice of backdrops for most families vacationing in Myrtle Beach, and guests at Paradise don't have to walk very far to snap a scenic shot on the shoreline. Our oceanfront patio deck with easy beach access makes it convenient for everyone and saves time that can be better spent splashing around in the indoor pool or relaxing in the hot tub. Perhaps the best reason to go this route is the flexibility to wait until the time is right. The wind, tides, waves and sky can all play a role. You don't want your hair and Santa hats to blow off, and clear skies around sunset offer the ideal lighting. Have the family dress up nice a bit early for dinner and ask a friendly employee at Paradise to click off a few keepers.
Brookgreen Gardens: This 9,000-acre botanical sculpture garden is the oldest and largest on the East Coast and offers an endless number of breathtaking backdrops for family photos. Awe-inspiring statues and ancient live oak trees provide picture-perfect scenery that will make everyone on your greeting card mailing list wish they were here. Daytime offers the best lighting but the “Nights of a Thousand Candles” event provides the rare opportunity to visit the gardens at night. Pose with more than 5,000 candles hanging from trees, floating in fountains and lining the trails that lead to one photo op after another. Look for a friendly stranger with a high-tech camera and see if they will take and text a quick pic.
Intracoastal Waterway: The often-overlooked body of water in Myrtle Beach offers a nice alternative to the standard ocean backdrop. Our side of the manmade river faces west, providing perfect sunset photos with boats in the background. Several local marinas offer scenic views of yachts on the docks, and two old-timey swing bridges – one in Little River and another in Socastee – are picturesque locales.
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk: This 1.3-mile oceanfront walkway leads to an unlimited number of photo possibilities. The Holidays on the Boardwalk event is ongoing throughout the month of December, so you can pose by the big Christmas tree or some other decorated scenes in the downtown district. Plyler Park provides a nice open area where you can get the ocean in the background while posing on the wooden rail, and Second Avenue Pier is a popular spot both at the end of the walkway and below the pier with the pilings as the backdrop. If you’re downtown after dark, the glowing Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is a neat spot whether you pose in front of it, or while riding it. The special glass enclosures are reflection-proof, and private gondolas are available so you can fit the whole family in one gondola.
Myrtle Beach State Park: Yes, you can get the popular beach and pier pictures here as well, but this 350-acre park also offers some amazing nature scenes for family photos. Nature trails cut through the maritime forest with observation decks and beautiful trees that give it its name – the Sculpted Oak Nature Trail, and wooden picnic shelters above the dune lines are great for black-and-white photos. Horseback riding is allowed in the offseason so a shot of horses on the beach is an option. Ask a park ranger or fellow guest to take a couple of shots for you.
No matter where you decide to shoot your family Christmas card photos, be sure to picture yourself back at the Paradise Resort in Myrtle Beach for a picture-perfect holiday getaway.