One fun thing about moving to a new location is discovering surprising and little-known places. After 5 years in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I am still making fantastic finds. This beach town is an upscale vacation destination. It is also favored by retired people and home to many who have decided to live like snowbirds year-round. Given these demographics, local merchants are striking the balance between pleasing vacationers and full-time residents. The following are some of the discoveries I introduce to my guests.
1. Fabulous Finds Resale Shop
Karla Miller opened her upscale consignment store, Fabulous Finds, 5 years ago. The shop is small, but it is packed with treasures. Most impressive is her large collection of designer handbags that look new, or almost new. She says her greatest find was a $6,000 Louis Vuitton handbag that she sold for $3,000. My favorite finds were a large Coach purse ($250) and the evening skirt of my dreams ($95) for my daughter’s wedding. Unfortunately, I had to search through nine retail stores and spend as much for a matching top. After the wedding, the skirt and the new top went back to the shop on consignment.
Her selections are geared to women 50 and older in size as well as style. My greatest recurring clothing need is swimsuits. I participate in aqua exercise classes 4 days a week, so I go through a lot of suits. Thanks to Fabulous Finds, I buy high-quality bathing suits for $20–$30.
After shopping at Fabulous Finds for several years, I approached Karla about putting some of my clothes on consignment. Our arrangement is that whatever she owes me, I spend in her store. I get upscale bathing suits in exchange for those Chicago winter clothes I never wear.
Karla suggests shopping for summer clothes in May and June when she has the largest selection. The address is 1906 Highway 17 South, North Myrtle Beach. The shop does not have a website.
2. Da Vinci Foods
Where Italian Restaurants Buy Their Ingredients
Italian restaurants abound in North Myrtle Beach and surrounding beach towns. And, no, they do not get their ingredients from Italy. Da Vinci Foods supplies local Italian restaurants with the best Italian food I have had since Italy (and Eataly in Chicago and New York City). They are open to the public on Thursday and Friday. It’s cash only and you have to bring your own bag. The outlet is located in an industrial park and has a small, easy-to-miss sign.
Da Vinci Foods is my go-to place when I’m having company and do not want to serve more seafood. Their Italian sausage is nothing less than brilliant. The bread is fresh baked and better than any bakery bread in the region. You can’t go wrong with their fresh pasta sauces and ravioli stuffed with three cheeses or asparagus and truffles. Their lasagne floats off your fork. Thanks to Da Vinci Foods, I can whip up a restaurant meal at half the price. Of course, they have a great selection of Italian cheeses and canned goods that you find in groceries in Italy.
3. Martini Classic Food
A Restaurant That Treats Its Patrons Like Family
Martini Classic Food is a favorite eatery for people who know North Myrtle Beach well. It is family-owned, reasonably priced, and located in a small strip mall facing Highway 17, which is the main thoroughfare. Its unassuming exterior does not beckon tourists the way all-you-can-eat seafood places do. But once inside, it is obvious that Martini is a special dining establishment.
They serve classic surf-and-turf food. The prime rib, slow roasted in house for 18 hours, is a local favorite. Seafood crusted grouper is one of the more delicious seafood offerings. As their name implies, they specialize in martinis. On offer are the usual martinis, but it’s also fun to try the restaurant’s unique spin on the drink, such as the Melt Away: caramel vodka, buttershots, and a caramel-salted rim. They have dessert martinis such as Godiva chocolate, key lime pie, and Snickerz, which is a mixture of Godiva dark chocolate liqueur, Frangelico liqueur, cream, caramel, and more chocolate.
Nightly live entertainment is geared to the over-50 crowd with oldies and light jazz. Martini works hard to get to know its clientele and invites regular diners to a bountiful holiday meal with wine and entertainment. On holiday party day, the restaurant is closed to strangers.
4. McLean Park
A Park Hidden In Plain Sight
Just one block north of Main Street is a park so hidden that not a hint of it is visible from the main shopping street. McLean Park surrounds a lake lively with turtles, ducks, and huge carp, but no alligators. The path around the lake is asphalt so snakes cannot take walkers by surprise. A gazebo with benches juts out into the water and is a pleasant place to read, watch the wildlife, or just soak up nature.
The park is protected from winds that turn the beach into a sandstorm, so it is where I walk my dog when the beach is too wild. Here is where I watch spring arrive. In late February, buds begin to bloom and trees show their first blushes of green. Birds are courting and waterfowl are doing their mating rituals and pairing up as they glide around the lake. Every few days, I notice more signs of spring. When I saw swans copulating on the sunlit water, I was reminded of a classic poem.
McLean Park is not majestic like the Grand Canyon or famous like Gettysburg. It is simply a park where I enjoy nature’s pleasures. To find this park, drive down Main Street toward the ocean. On the right, look for a small, brown sign right past Hoskins Restaurant, which is marked by a huge sign and often a line of people waiting for a table. This brunch restaurant is so popular, I have not been able to try it. Every time I decide to finally experience this famous place, the line is too daunting. It’s been a local favorite since the 1940s, so I believe I will eventually find a table.
I keep a list of suggestions made by long-time residents and I’m looking forward to making more discoveries!