Enjoy the Games and Fun at the New North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex

It was early June, the beginning of a promisingly beautiful summer. I drove the car carefully on Robert Edge Parkway in North Myrtle Beach, with Queen's “We Will Rock You” playing on the radio when my boys in the back seats asked me to crank it up louder. We were all shouting from the top of our lungs "we will, we will rock you" when the electronic board popped up on the left-hand side of the crossroad, pointing us to take a left at the traffic light to get to the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, the destination of our trip.

I turned left, drove half a mile on the Champions Boulevard and turned left on Citizens Circle, the primary inner loop road leading us directly into the heart of the sports complex. We were all left speechless, as the song faded out on the radio and the view opened in front of our eyes. ...

Citizens Circle and Champions Blvd - North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex

Stretching inland, off Hwy 31, the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex expands over 145 acres of city-owned land, a wonderful combination of sports fields, natural habitat, and recreational space. Just a few miles from the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and its white-sand beaches, the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex is the perfect place for pro and amateur athletes, coaches and fans, featuring over 100 events year round. The fields oftentimes accommodate amateur events, but the park is nothing short of being a pro sports complex!

The smartly-designed complex offers six ball fields, eight regulation soccer/lacrosse fields, eight batting tunnels, seven covered picnic shelters, three playgrounds, three miles of walking trails, concession stands, picnic shelters  and restrooms, a 10-acre meadow, a 25-acre lake for water-related activities, and a 2,000-seat amphitheater. Click here to get driving directions from Google Maps.

 - North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex

Concession stands - North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex

softball game - North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex
Softball practice at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex
The Amphitheater
Playground at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex

The park also has been designed with two dog parks – one for large dogs and one for small dogs, providing fitness, relaxation, and socializing opportunities for both people and dogs. I took my wife for a walk around the beautiful lakeside to stretch our legs while our two kids excitedly rode their bikes on the 3-mile bike trail.

Dogs park - North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex
Dog Park

nature trail - North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex
Nature trail at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex

Little have I thought of having a chance to experience the sensation of flying and weightlessness while in the sports complex! Jetpack Adventures made it possible though, with its ground-breaking new system that shatters the limitations of every flying machine before it. The flight begun as the 200-horse power marine engine pumped water up a 33-foot hose at over 1,000 gallons per minute. The water was then directed through two nozzles on a jetlev I held on my back, helping me fly up in the air. Aiming the nozzles created smooth, stable turns. The safety elements incorporated in the jetpack kept me in optimal flying position. The whole pack was surprisingly quiet and easy to use. After experiencing the jetlev, the ultimate block-buster toy at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, my summers will never be the same!

Jetpack Adventures North Myrtle Beach
Jetpack Adventures North Myrtle Beach

To hold your sporting event at North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports complex, contact Matt Gibbons CPRP, Superintendent of Sports Tourism / Athletics for the City of North Myrtle Beach at (843) 280-5574. Book your stay now at Thomas Beach Vacation oceanfront condos or beach homes in North Myrtle Beach so you can be near the new park and sports complex.

Enjoy the Summer Thrill and Cotton Candy at the O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach

It was 1976. For the first time in my life, I stepped slowly beyond the brightly colored gates of a small town amusement park, a scared little boy holding my dad's hand as tightly as I could. I felt like I was entering a new world, strange yet fascinating--with squeaky merry-go-rounds, wooden roller coasters, vintage bumper cars, cotton candy, and hot dogs. It was long before giant theme parks, computer-controlled thrill rides, and non-fat mayonnaise. I loved breathing in the air filled with the aroma of grilled onions and delicious smoked barbecue; watching everything from the tall shoulders of my father.

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 7 - Thomas Beach Vacations

Fast forward to 2014. The O.D. Pavilion, like a true time machine, has recreated many of the former amazing rides in the heart of North Myrtle Beach at Ocean Boulevard. It’s all there—at the same location so many families have already learned to associate with cotton candy and family fun. What gets people to this amusement park on hot summer days? It may be the wind rushing by on cool spinning rides or the trusty hydraulics that make those great coasters go -- or maybe it's the people themselves.

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 2 - Thomas Beach Vacations

The time I have spent with my entire family at O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park always has been astounding. We all appreciate silly thrills, cheery laughs and good times. There may be no better place to watch the blue ocean and the city landscape than from the Ferris wheel moving at snail pace. My girls are always attracted to the spinning cups and the flying dragon carousel for which the ride never lasts long enough. The boys love getting butterflies in their stomachs in the Kamikaze ride. The double-arm Ranger is a little too much for me, I admit. I prefer the rush of the roller coaster ride.

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 3 - Thomas Beach Vacations

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 4 - Thomas Beach Vacations

The food always tastes so much better after experiencing the exhilaration of spinning forward and backward, turning upside down and down side up. When it comes to food in the amusement park, there is one established rule: There are no rules! The amusement park is a magic land where calories and fibers fade out of existence and taste is the king. I love seeing my kids wondering around with ice-cream dripping off their fingers and traces of cotton candy around their mouths while my sweetheart and I enjoy our hot dogs amongst the screams and laughter.

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 5 - Thomas Beach Vacations

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 6 - Thomas Beach Vacations

Bring the whole family to the O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach and let the children live the special moments that we experienced as youngsters. They will be on top of the world, but, actually simply atop the Ferris wheel. It may be just a small beach town to grown-ups, but to children, it is the whole universe! Fun, great food, games and rides, who could ask for more?

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 1 - Thomas Beach Vacations

O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach 8 - Thomas Beach Vacations

Have a wonderful beach vacation, choose one of our oceanfront vacation rentals from a large selection here and enjoy the O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach.

Experience Underwater Adventures at Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach

One place you cannot miss while on vacation on the Grand Strand is Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. Once you enter, you will start an unforgettable adventure into the world of sharks, eels, colorful fish and poisonous predators. Let your children be amazed at the rare opportunity to touch sharks and stingrays.

Ripley's Aquarium Myrtle Beach

If you want to impress your family, offer them an utterly captivating experience by taking the moving 340-foot long glidepath through the huge acrylic tunnel. You will feel like Cousteau diving off Calypso into the clear waters of the world's oceans, meeting face to face with snappers, tarpons, grunts, squirrelfish, sawfish, and large sharks. I will never forget the expression on my son's face when he first traveled through the tunnel. Two huge sharks came across from both sides, meeting right above his head. He was fascinated, showing no signs of fear. Then, he turned and told me with excitement in his voice: "Did you see that? He winked at me!” I will never be sure as to whether that shark was winking at my son.  It was a life-time memory triggered by a spark of imagination, and I wasn't going to spoil that!

glidepath through the huge acrylic tunnel

If you want to take photos, make sure you disable your on-camera flash–it’s rarely flattering and will likely kill the ambiance, hit a surface, and, depending on which exhibit you’re in, create a reflection in your photo. It is hard to take decent pictures with a mobile device, but not impossible. Play with silhouettes, explore different angles, and compose your shot with people beside or under large sea creatures to provide a sense of scale.

Aquarium silhouette

There is more to the Ripley's Aquarium than just fish. With thousands of creatures of hundreds of species, the aquarium creates an environment that allows you to truly experience life “under the sea.” Every Wednesday in the summer, children can stay the night at the Aquarium. They will enjoy plenty of music, dancing, karaoke, scavenger hunts, pizza and more to keep the fun going. When time to retire for the evening, the children set up camp in the tunnel and “Sleep with the Sharks.” You don't have many chances in life to drift off to sleep counting sharks instead of sheep.

Colorful fish at Ripley's Aquarium

In 2011, Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach presented some of the most magical creatures in the world - the mermaids! Visitors were mesmerized by the five-foot-long, blue, green and aquamarine mermaids with flowing blond hair doing rhythmic flips, somersaults and underwater dances. Here is a short video of the dazzling show.

If you already feel excited and anxious after reading this blog post, and you can hardly wait to experience the marvels of the underwater world, take a virtual tour of the aquarium and explore the Rio Amazon, Rainbow Rock, Systems Controls, Dangerous Reef, Living Gallery, Ray Bay, and Friendship Flats. For a perfect beach vacation, choose one of our oceanfront vacation rentals from our large selection here and enjoy the Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach.

Safety Tips for Beachgoers

If you're reading this blog post you're probably ready to pack your swim suit, flip-flops, a beach chair, sunscreen and a good magazine and head for the beach. Nothing is better than a great family vacation at the beach, where you can set the daily worries aside, get some sand between your toes and work on your tan to become the envy of the team when you get back at the office.

While enjoying blissful hours on the beach, you should still pay attention to a few important things related to the safety and well being of yourself and your family.

Kids in the water

Swimming safety tips

  • Swimming in the ocean takes different skills that swimming in the pool, so before you get your feet wet, it’s best to learn how to swim in the surf.
  • Swim only at a lifeguard-protected beach, within the designated swimming area. Follow all instructions and orders from lifeguards.
  • While you’re enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Make sure you swim sober and that you never swim alone.
  • Never venture too far. Even if you’re confident in your swimming skills, make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.

Lifeguard flag warning system

The United States Lifesaving Association, in conjunction with the International Lifesaving Federation, has developed a flag warning system that has been adopted by all coastal communities to notify vacationers of potential water hazards. Understanding and heeding these colored flags keeps you safe in the water and helps you enjoy your vacation at the beach.
  • Green flag - the treat of danger is low and you are safe to swim. Exercise caution in the ocean, though, and always keep an eye on children.
  • Yellow flag - lifeguard on duty. The ocean conditions are rough but not life threatening. Exercise extreme caution due to the potentially high surf or dangerous currents and undertows. If you're not a strong swimmer you may want to wear a life jacket while venturing out. Some beaches have a permanent yellow flag because of rocks, a sudden drop-off or a high population of bait fish that attracts predators.
  • Red Flag - no swimming allowed. The surf is high, there are dangerous currents, or both. A red flag also means there might be other hazardous things in the water so don't make assumptions and check with the lifeguard.
  • Blue or purple flag - raised when potentially dangerous ocean animals like sharks, jellyfish, and other dangerous marine life have been spotted. Exercise extreme cautions and look out for dangerous marine life if the water is not closed for swimming.
Lifeguard in action

Generic beach safety tips

  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers use approved flotation devices while in the water. Ask before you purchase such devices from the local stores near the beach. Chances are the merchandise in the stores is safe but it never hurts to double-check.
  • Don’t dive headfirst. Check for depth and obstructions before diving, and go in feet first the first time.
  • Keep alert for local weather conditions. Patches of dark clouds moving fast across the sky are common in the summer. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles from where it's raining. As soon as you hear thunder, leave the beach and take shelter in an enclosed vehicle or building. Stay off the beach for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
  • Wear water shoes to protect your feet from sand burn, glass or other sharp objects.

Sun protection tips

  • Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Don't forget to reapply sunscreen often. Reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or toweling off.
  • Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  • Protect the eyes against the UV radiation  by wearing sunglasses. 
  • Wearing a hat. Wide  brim hat provides the best sun protection possible.
Sun Protection

Surfing safety tips

Following these tips will get you ready for some awesome times on the water:
  • Surf with a buddy. You never know when something may happen. A surfing buddy can also help you with your technique.
  • Don't fight the current and signal for help if you get in trouble. Always aid to fellow surfers or swimmers if they encounter troubles in the water.
  • Get certified in CPR and Basic First Aid. These skills might save a life.
  • Leash your surfboard. This will allow you to keep it from becoming a hazard to other surfers.
  • Follow the local rules regarding surf zones, surfing near jetties and piers, etc. Check with the lifeguard for details before you enter the water.
  • Never surf in conditions above your ability level. If you are uncomfortable your increase the risk of injury.

Rip currents safety tips

Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:
  • If you get caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can't swim to the shore, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore. 
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
  • If you feel you can’t make it to the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving and calling for help.
  • If someone is in trouble in the water, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1.Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler, inflatable ball and yell instructions on how to escape the current.

Rip tide educational video:

Follow the golden rule while at the beach: "always ask a lifeguard about ocean water conditions before heading for the waves." With a few safety precautions you and your family will be able to enjoy your vacation and build wonderful lifetime memories. We invite you to give North Myrtle Beach a try. Choose the perfect oceanfront vacation home from our large selection here, enjoy the white sands and the waves and most of all, have a safe wonderful summer at the beach!

Fourth of July - Celebrate Independence Day at the Beach

It may be hot in July, but when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July, there’s no place cooler to be than North Myrtle Beach! Whether you travel with friends or family, spending the Fourth of July in North Myrtle Beach is one of the best ways to celebrate your all-American spirit. Even locals can't think of anything better than relaxing in a beach chair and watching the extraordinary show of lights in the sky.

4th of July on the beach in North Myrtle Beach
4th of July beach festivities in North Myrtle Beach

How did the celebration begin? Let's take a quick journey back in time. In a July 3, 1776 letter to his wife, John Adams declared  that the signing of the Declaration of Independence should be a "great anniversary festival" and "solemnized with pomp and parade, with games, sports, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more." Here we are now in 2014, marking the birth of the nation exactly the way our Founding Fathers envisioned!

Fourth of July Celebration in Centre Square, Philadelphia (1819) - by John Lewis Krimmel

Falling on a Friday this year, the July Fourth celebration is a great way to kick off a holiday weekend, with something going on for just about everyone. Fireworks are always the highlight of the celebration so here is a list of spectacular fireworks shows and places to watch the fireworks in the North Myrtle Beach area:

 North Myrtle Beach
  • Barefoot Landing: The shopping center on a lake will have a gorgeous fireworks exhibit! Fireworks begin at 10:15 p.m. over the lake;
  • Cherry Grove pier: One of North Myrtle Beach’s most famous landmarks, Cherry Grove Pier is home to "the best fishin’ on the Carolina Coast!" The 19th annual fireworks display at the Cherry Grove Pier will rock your senses, with colorful lights and loud bangs. Fireworks begin around 9:30 p.m. 
Historical characters on 4th of July in North Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach
  • Broadway at the Beach: Fireworks start at 10 p.m. over Lake Broadway.
  • The Myrtle Beach Pelicans located at 1251 21st Ave. N. will celebrate Independence Day with post-game firework displays on July 2 and 3.
Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the festivities:
  • Give yourself plenty of time to find parking. This annual event is always packed and parking can be a problem.
  • Be prepared to walk.
  • Grab the blanket and picnic basket and arrive before dusk to get a great spot for viewing the display.
  • Leave your pet at home. The combination of too many people and loud fireworks will make your beloved discontent and afraid. Locking the pet in the car also is not an option.
  • Never leave the grill unattended if you plan a backyard barbecue. Be cautious when lighting the grill and handling food.
  • Do not set off fireworks. Possessing or discharging fireworks is illegal within the city limits of municipalities along the Grand Strand.
  • Keep a phone at hand at all times and a first-aid kit in the car just in case, especially if you have children.
4th of July fireworks on the Cherry Grove Pier in North Myrtle Beach

Spending the Fourth of July at the beach with family and friends is a great opportunity for lifetime memories. Here are a few photo and video recording tips, since we now have the ability to take pictures or record video using the smart phone we carry in our pocket or purse:
How to photograph fireworks
  • Pick a good spot in advance. Find a location before the fireworks show starts so you have a clear view of the sky and you are not too far away.
  • Use a tripod to ensure the camera doesn't move. If a tripod is not available, sit down if possible, for a more steady hand.
  • Frame before you shoot. It’s challenging aiming your camera before the fireworks go off.
  • Don't try to take the shot immediately. On many smart phones, tapping the screen locks in the exposure and focus for the shot. Use one firework for metering, and then take the photo of the next.
  • Don't zoom. The digital zoom in smart phones alters the quality of the image. You are better off taking the picture at the original size and cropping it later.
  • Use the native camera of the smart phone. Third-party apps may do fancy things, but they add lag time and even alter the quality of the picture.
  • Do not use the flash. The fireworks are too far away.
  • Make sure you're not covering the microphone port with your finger if you are filming video.
If you happen to take some great pictures, don't hesitate to upload a few on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ThomasBeachVacations. Make your reservations in time and take a look at our selection of vacation rentals to find the perfect place for your July 4th holiday.

Tips For a Successful North Myrtle Beach Vacation With Your Pet

I have always loved the concept of "no ... (fill in the blanks) left behind!" In my case, this is especially true about Fido, my dog. I never go on vacation, no matter how short or long, close or far, without him. Some consider him a pet, I think of him as part of the family, a perception shared by all my kids. Since vacations are special times to enjoy with the family, we make sure he is always around when we enjoy our hard-earned few days of sun basking on the beach.

Happy dog on the beach

Some trips to the beach with Fido around were challenging, to put it mildly. It took us time to learn a few important things about vacationing with a pet. Thomas Beach Vacations rents out many pet-friendly beach vacation homes so I have decided to share my experience with you. You will, hopefully, save a few headaches next time you bring your whisker or paw with you on vacation down to North Myrtle Beach.

The key to having a great summer vacation at the beach with your pet is learning in advance the local ordinances regulating the presence of dogs on the beach. All four beaches in North Myrtle Beach: Windy Hill, Crescent Beach, Ocean Drive, and Cherry Grove, share the same list of rules:
  • Pets are permitted on the beach from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. between May 15 - September 15;
  • Leash law is in effect at all times; maximum leash length is 7 feet;
  • Pet owners must pick up and properly dispose of pet waste.

Dog on the beach 1

The good news is that pet waste disposal bags are offered pretty much everywhere across North Myrtle Beach. While on vacation here, you can enjoy a walk with your dog on the beach during early morning hours or during late evenings. Things are a little bit different in Myrtle Beach, though:
  • Pets are not allowed on the beaches or Ocean Boulevard between 21st Avenue North to 13th Avenue South at any time;
  • Pets also are not allowed to be walked on any public beach in Myrtle Beach between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. from May 1 through Labor Day.
Barefoot Landing is a very popular shopping area in North Myrtle Beach. Many visitors spend hours or even an entire day there and the pets are most welcome on a leash. Several restaurants encourage patrons to dine with their pets in outside seating areas.

Dog on the beach 2

Take a minute to review a few tips that will make the beach vacation more enjoyable for you and for your dog:
  • Have your pet get a check up before you leave on vacation to ensure all vaccinations are up to date and the animal is in good health;
  • Pack a portable water bowl and make sure your pet is well hydrated at all times;
  • Make frequent stops if you travel by car and let your pet get some fresh air and exercise;
  • Bring several familiar toys and treats for your pet. This will keep your pet occupied, and remind him or her of home;
  • Use a beach towel to help your dog rest in the shade to avoid becoming overheated. Even a trimmed fur coat gets hot in the summer sun;
  • If your dog has short hair, it might not be a bad idea to use some sun screen on him or her, too. Pets are prone to sun burn just like humans;
  • Beware of the hot sand. If the sand is too hot for your feet, chances are it’s also hot enough to burn your dog’s paw pads;
  • Make sure your dog is on his leash before you get out of the car. Many drivers are too busy looking for a parking spot to see your dog in time for avoiding an accident. Plus, leash regulations are enforced;
  • Be considerate of other people. Even if your pet is well-behaved, you never know how an animal will react in public. Some people, especially children, are afraid of animals;
  • Be aware of other animals on the beach;
  • Keep a close eye on your dog in case exhaustion begins to set in, either in the water or while running along the sand. Never leave your dog in the water unsupervised;
  • Do not simply bury your dog's waste in the sand. There are trash cans everywhere, even on the beach;
  • Rinse your dog off well before heading back to the car to protect their fur. Avoid ear infections by giving the insides of the ears a quick wipe to remove excess water.

Happy Lab

In case of any warning signs of trouble, call the Animal Hospital of North Myrtle Beach located at 2501 Hwy 17 S, phone: 843-272-8121 or On Point Animal Hospital located at 4012 Highway 17 S, phone 843-663-5300. Here is a list of additional veterinarians in the North Myrtle Beach and Little River areas.

By following these simple tips, you and your pet will enjoy your vacation at the beach and you will build long-lasting, happy memories together. Planning a pet-friendly trip to the beach? Click to see our list of pet-friendly vacation rentals in the North Myrtle Beach area.