Driving directions for Myrtle Beach roadways might seem kind of crazy at first, but once you know how it all works, it starts to make sense.
First off, take a long look at a map. That sweeping coastline from Georgetown to Little River is
known as the Grand Strand. Beyond Little
River the coast takes a decided easterly swing, almost doubling back on itself
at Bald Head Island. This area of the Atlantic Ocean from Frying Pan Shoals to
Pawleys Island was called Long Bay by the explorers and those who settled here,
and you’ll still see it listed that way on some maps.
This curve of the coastline makes driving directions rather
confusing. Although you are traveling north from Georgetown to Little River,
you are also traveling east and heading out into the Atlantic. In fact, if you
stand on any of the Brunswick Island beaches and look out over the ocean, you
are facing south. If you could see that far, you’d see the Bahamas directly
across from you. On these beaches you can see both sunrise and sunset over the Atlantic.
Zoom in and out and move the map around to find driving directions in Myrtle Beach.
Traditionally, Myrtle Beach has always been a “drive-to” destination. That is, more people come here by car than by airplane, although we do have an excellent, modern airport. More on that later.
So, where do people come from? All over! One the right is a chart of where most people who move here or come here as visitors are coming from. By the way, if you are moving to Myrtle Beach from another state, you have 45 days to register your car and get your auto tags at the DMV.
The major routes into Myrtle Beach are U. S. Highway 17 and U. S. Highway 501. The closest interstates are I-95 and I-74, parts of which are still under interstate conversion north of Whiteville, North Carolina. However, the road does go all the way to highway 701 which you can take through Tabor City and Loris to Conway or pick up Veterans Highway to go to North Myrtle Beach.
I-40 also comes into the area at Wilmington. Sections of the
I-140 bypass are under construction over the Cape Fear River which soon will
speed travelers around the Port City, but you will want to keep this lovely
historical town in mind for a future stopover or a daytrip.
By the way, if you’re in the mood for a really long road trip, start driving I-40 at Wilmington and head west for about 2550 miles. You’ll end up in Barstow, California, having traveled parts of the legendary Route 66 along the way.
But right now you’re here at the beach, so how do you find your
way around? First off, understand that north and south take on completely
different meanings here, and east and west aren’t necessarily what you think
U. S. Highway 17, or highway 17, is the main route through
the Grand Strand and is considered to run north and south. Actually, it runs
northeast and southwest, so if you find yourself driving south into the setting
sun, that’s why. If you’re coming here from either Wilmington or Charleston,
you’ll be traveling on highway 17.
Between the Georgetown/Horry County line and Grand Dunes
Resort just north of 82nd Avenue North, highway 17 splits and
becomes 17 Bypass and Business 17. Business 17 is also called Kings Highway for
the ancient Kings Road that once connected the Carolinas to the colonies in the
north. Kings Highway travels through downtown Myrtle Beach before reconnecting
with the Bypass just north of Grand Strand Medical Center and remains Kings
Highway until it reaches North Myrtle Beach.
Traveling parallel to Kings Highway and hugging the coast is
the storied Myrtle Beach drive, Ocean Boulevard, or just “the Boulevard” for
short. The mid-20th Century saw Ocean Boulevard as the place to cruise
on a Friday and Saturday night, and you’ll find it still is today.
17 Bypass is the major commercial and retail hub where you’ll
find tons of restaurants and retail shopping like Coastal Grand Mall, Broadway
at the Beach, and lots of shopping plazas. It is also one of the busiest roads
on the Grand Strand, it and highway 501, so expect traffic congestion when you
drive these roads.
U. S. Highway 501 is also considered to run north and south,
but it actually runs northwest and southeast. It crosses 17 Bypass and ends at
Kings Highway in downtown Myrtle Beach. Recently a third lane was added to highway
501 in the area of Carolina Forest near the Tanger Outlet. This has helped the
traffic flow somewhat, but 501 is generally congested most times of the day,
particularly at Carolina Forest Boulevard. Finding alternate routes like highway
544 to Conway, or taking Veterans Highway (Highway 22) around Conway if you’re
headed north is usually a good idea.
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South Carolina Highway 31, also known as Carolina Bays
Parkway, is a six-lane limited access highway that began construction around the
year 2000. It is currently completing Phase III from highway 544 to highway 707
that includes a major bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway. It is considered
a north south highway, but actually travels northeast and southwest from Little
River to where it makes a southerly turn at highway 544. Both highway 17 and
highway 31 travel pretty much parallel to the coast.
South Carolina Highway 22, also called Veterans Highway, starts at the Tanger Outlet on highway 17 and travels nearly parallel to and northeast of highway 501 before curving west to end at highway 501 north of Conway. If you are traveling out of the area you can use this route to get you past all the 501 congestion closer in to the beach.
U. S. Highway 378 goes due west from Conway to I-95. It is a designated hurricane evacuation route that has been undergoing widening to four lanes for for-ever, but when it’s finished, it will be wonderful.
South Carolina Highway 544 starts at the beach running parallel to highway 501 before making a sharp curve north just after Carolina Bays Parkway. It continues north until it ends at highway 501 north of Coastal Carolina University.
South Carolina 90 runs east/west from Conway to Little River
and is a two-lane country road that is experiencing the same growth as the rest
of the region. For now, it’s an alternative to congestion on some of the other
highways if you’re traveling north and coming from the west.
South Carolina Highway 707 runs parallel to highway 17 and
serves as an alternate route for that busy roadway. Highway 707 will be the
southern connector for Carolina Bays Parkway traffic when it is completed. Construction
of that intersection is running about six months behind as of this writing, but
the projected completion date from the state DOT is Fall 2017. Construction
south of the interchange will continue with the widening of highway 707 that
has had delays because of the October 2015 flooding, but completion is
projected for 2018.
Although there are more roadways, with what seems constant road
construction, reconstruction and road closures, Myrtle Beach driving directions are much easier
today because of GPS. In the old days we had to have a map in the car to find
our way around, now just open your phone. If you feel like you’re going the
wrong way because you’re supposed to be going north and the rising sun is in
your eyes, you may not be wrong, but the GPS can help with driving directions
and possible delays.
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