Choosing a Vacation Rental... made easy

Tips and Advice for Selecting a Beachfront Vacation Rental

Are you planning to rent a fabulous beachfront home for your family’s summer vacation in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina? Whether you’re choosing a vacation rental in the mountains, lakeside, or by the ocean, it can be an exciting and difficult decision. The demand for oceanfront rental property has skyrocketed in recent years, making the decision even more challenging. When you’re looking for a beachfront or nearby rental home or condo, there are many things to consider before opening your wallet and committing your vacation funds.

Features and Amenities
You’ll find many different rental properties from which to choose, each with a variety of features and amenities. It is important to thoroughly research each potential rental home. Make a list of features that your family considers absolutely necessary for a fun vacation. Depending on your family’s interests, some features to consider include: a fully equipped kitchen, swimming pool, hot tub, lazy river, game room, big screen and/or multiple TVs, DVD players, WIFI, and view.

Photos – Inside & Out
An abundance of photos of your potential vacation home should be available and are essential for making a good decision. When there are very few or even zero photos of a property, it’s like trying to decide while wearing a blindfold. Good photos can help prevent unpleasant surprises upon arrival at the rental home you have selected. After you’ve narrowed your decision, be sure to ask about other important items such as cleaning fees, upfront deposits, pet policies, and any limitations or restrictions that the owner or agent might have.

Location, Location, Location
Another key question to ask… “Exactly where is this rental home in regards to the beach?” Some vacation rental companies will stretch the truth about how far away from the beach their property actually is. Proximity to the beach, restaurants, shopping, and area attractions could be very helpful in deciding on your vacation headquarters. If the owner or agent seems uninterested in answering your questions, it is probably best to look for other vacation rental options. A good, trustworthy property owner or agent will be happy to answer any additional questions that you have.

He Said… She Said
Look for online reviews and comments that can give you an idea of experiences of others with the rental company you’re considering. List the negative and the positive aspects of the vacation rentals you’ve chosen. This will help you decide wisely when it’s time to reserve your dream vacation home.

Vacation Specials
Once you are satisfied with your choice, check for any applicable vacation specials and/or deals. In this economy, there are often specials available to entice potential guests with discounted rates or attractive “perks” such as tickets or coupons for shows, amusements, golf or other activities.

Timing... Now or Later?
“Should I reserve early or wait for a vacation sale?” It all depends on what’s important to you. Keep in mind that the better, more popular vacation rentals are taken the quickest. To make sure you get the home or condo in the right location with all the bedrooms and features you desire, it’s nearly always best to reserve early. If budget is the top priority and you’ll be satisfied with your second or third tier choices, then waiting for a price drop might be right for you.

You’ll find that doing as much research as possible before booking will help you get a beach vacation rental home with all the features that you want, all the space you need, and at a rate you can afford. With proper planning, your vacation rental home will more likely meet or even exceed your expectations!

Whenever you are ready, the best place to start searching for your great beach vacation rental is our website. You’ll find plenty of choices, plenty of photos, and excellent rates. Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacations always makes easy on you and your budget.

Pirate's Voyage... Myrtle Beach's Newest Attraction

It's Buccaneers instead of Belles at Pirates Voyage.

Have you heard the latest? The spirit of the infamous pirate Blackbeard is returning to the Carolina coast! After a successful run of 19 seasons, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede has undergone an amazing $11 Million transformation to become the newest Myrtle Beach attraction - Pirates Voyage. The booming summer vacation season will just be getting underway as this spectacular show changes its theme from plantations and southern belles to pirate's treasure and sword fights. The grand opening is set for June 3rd.

For those who are not too savvy on pirate history, Edward Teach - better known as Blackbeard - was one of the most notorious pirates and he roamed the Carolina coast from 1716 through 1718. A shrewd villian, he avoided the use of force when possible and relied on his fearsome image instead.

Why is he special to South Carolina? In May of 1718, Blackbeard's ships and crews blockaded the port of Charleston, stopping and looting all vessels entering or leaving. He continued the blockade and thievery for nearly a week in Charleston before sailing north to Topsail Island in North Carolina - passing just off the coast of what is now Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand.

The last ship he captured, Queen Anne's Revenge, was a short-lived prize for Mr. Teach as it became grounded on the shoals of Beaufort Inlet. It was a tremendous loss to Blackbeard of both ship and captured goods. Only six months later, his voyages were ended and he and his crew were no more.

The new Pirates Voyage will give you a glimpse into the pirate life and Blackbeard's roaming of the Carolina waters. The venue that was once the stomping grounds of show horses is now a 15-foot deep lagoon where ships will unfurl crimson and sapphire sails as they battle for treasure and booty. You'll have grand seats where you can spy all of the action as you are served a five-course Pirate's Feast with your choice of "Half O' Roasted Clacker" (chicken) or "Crispy Fried Shrimp" and the buccaneer's favorite dessert, "Apple O' Me Eye Pie".

So, grab your pirate hat and eye patch and set sail for Pirates Voyage. For tickets, call 1-800-433-4401 or visit them on the web at Go to Facebook, "Like" their page, and enter their drawing for a chance to win tickets and meet Dolly!

Be ye pirate, swashbuckler, sailor or landlubber, Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacations has the perfect vacation rental home, villa or condo for you and your crew. Book it online anytime or call and let us reserve one for you today.

A Magic Carpet Ride in Myrtle Beach

Many New Exciting Things to See and Do in Myrtle Beach

Have you ever thought of taking an air-conditioned ride 200 feet in the air? After you've experienced Myrtle Beach's newest attraction, The SkyWheel, you'll be able to say you've taken a "Southern Magic Carpet Ride." It's truly amazing! The SkyWheel will give you a full panoramic view of our fantastic oceanside city while you enjoy a comfortable ride with your family and friends.

You'll spend your orbits in one of 42 climate-controlled, enclosed gondolas - manufactured in Switzerland with safety and comfort in mind. At its apex, you'll be 200 feet above sea level and able to see up to 25 miles of ocean, beaches and surroundings. You can watch the people walking and having fun on our bustling Ocean Boulevard, on the beach, and even see one of Myrtle Beach's favorite destinations - Broadway at the Beach.

It's even more spectacular at nght! While riding a gondola after dark, you'll experience an awesome LED light show while you view the city's glittering nightlife. Each spacious gondola has room for up to six passengers and is like riding in your own private sky carriage.

Just imagine taking a break from your day of fun on the beach, relaxing in one of these cool SkyWheel gondolas and seeing so many wonderful sights. After your ride, visit the Landshark Bar & Grill located right beside the SkyWheel. Enjoy a frosty beverage and a burger, stroll the Boardwalk and check out all the other fun attractions that you saw while on the Wheel.

Defy gravity on The Slingshot right across the street from the SkyWheel. Enjoy a spooky time at Ripley's Haunted Adventure or be totally amazed at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Nearby you'll find lots of beachwear shops, arcades and more... plenty of places to find that perfect souvenir for a fantastic day or night at the beach.

More information about the SkyWheel

The Grand Opening is set for May 20th with a ribbon-cutting at 9:30 that morning. The ride averages a long 8 to 12 minutes and is very reasonably priced - $12 per rider and only $8 for kids 3 to 11, military or seniors 55 or older. Children two and younger ride free. The SkyWheel also offers a VIP Gondola for a higher rate that bypasses the line to put you in the first available gondola, gives you a double ride, a VIP lanyard, and VIP escort to and from the gondola.

This attraction will operate seasonally and plans special events for Father's Day, Independence Day, New Year's, and more. It is located at Myrtle Beach's Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade. For more information, call (843) 839-9200 or visit them online at

Plan to take your family on a Southern Magic Carpet Ride this summer on the amazing SkyWheel. For a fantastic deal on top-notch accommodations, check out our Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacation Specials.

May Fun in North Myrtle Beach

Take a Spring Break! It’s time for fun.

It’s time to get out and savor spring, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the best of the beach. Take a break! Everyone deserves one. Celebrate spring with family and friends, embrace the warm months and build priceless memories on a beach vacation getaway. There are lots of attractive options in the Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach areas. Here are some suggestions from your friends at Century 21 Thomas to make sure you have lots of fun at the Beach this May.

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate and appreciate history! Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for "fifth of May". Many people have the misconception that Cinco de Mayo is the equivalent of Mexican Independence Day. In fact, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. The Battle of Puebla is important for at least two reasons. First, the 4,000 Mexican soldiers were considerably outnumbered but they defeated the 8,000 soldiers of the much better-equipped French Army. Second, since the Battle of Puebla no country in the Americas has been invaded by an army from another continent.

Mark your calendar to come hear Edwin McCain in concert at Myrtle Beach’s Market Common on May 5th. Nacho Hippo's Cinco de Mayo celebration will feature a fun kid zone plus the concert and will be from 5 to 10 pm. And, it’s a family-friendly event with FREE admission and parking. More details here.

If you decide to come to the beach and celebrate, you can follow this link to take advantage of the North Myrtle Beach vacation rental discounts & specials offered by Century 21 Thomas. Stay longer for less!

MayFest on Main

Here is a great way to celebrate the arrival of another fantastic summer season at the beach! Join us on North Myrtle Beach’s Main Street for the 6th Annual MayFest on Main festival and concert series. This amazing street festival will kick off at the “Horseshoe” May 5th with an evening concert by Project 7ven, and a concert by The Mighty, Mighty Tams on the 6th.

The main festival is May 7th beginning at 10AM and will have great live music, dance, arts & crafts vendors, tasty festival food, a community stage, and an awesome kids' fun zone. Bring your beach chair and enjoy a wonderful day! Headlining the event will be the exciting Legends of Surf Music with Al Jardine, Dean Torrence and David Marks, featuring the Surf City Allstars. Also performing during the day will be The Dazz Band, BroadBand, and Danny Woods & the Board of Directors. Click for more details.

Come on down to the birthplace of shag dancing and enjoy the North Myrtle Beach MayFest. Need a place to stay? Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacations has super spring deals on one to EIGHT bedroom homes and condos. Click here to browse our selections, check availability and reserve the home or condo with the all the special features you want for your best beach vacation ever.

Rivertown Music & Arts Festival

Saturday, May 7th, the historic city of Conway plays host for the annual Rivertown Music & Arts Festival. Usually featuring Blues, Jazz, and Gospel; rest assured… there is always something for everyone. Headlining the festival this year will be Sea Cruz at 4:30, Southern Blue at 6:00, and the main act, Sol Driven Train, at 7:30. The festival starts at 10 am, will keep on going until dusk and will include artist exhibits and demonstrations from the various genres of painting, pottery, jewelry, glass, metal and mixed media. Antique car enthusiasts will be able to enjoy the car show hosted by the Chicora Car Club. Gourmet food, hot dogs and local cuisine will also be available in the food court area. For more details, click here.

If you plan to take a spring vacation to enjoy the music and arts festivals and the beach, follow this link for the Century 21 Thomas Super North Myrtle Beach Vacation Tips.

Blue Crab Festival

Tagged as “a significant celebration”, the 30th Annual Blue Crab Festival will take place on the waterfront in scenic Little River (just a few minutes from North Myrtle Beach), on Saturday, May 14th, from 9 am to 8 pm and Sunday, May 15th from 9 am to 6 pm. Be there a day early and you can enjoy the inaugural Friday Night Street Party from 6 to 10 pm… or longer, and don’t miss the fireworks at 9 pm. This popular festival will have abundant arts & crafts vendors, festival food, fresh seafood – including blue crabs, live music, kids’ fun area, business booths, and community groups. Exciting entertainment includes performances by Jim Quick & Coastline, The Fantastic Shakers, Tru Sol, and The Catalinas. For more details, click here.

South by Southeast Music Feast

Fantastic live music at the Historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot - an intimate, non-smoking, listening venue - featuring "Eclectic Americana Variety" from Bluegrass to Blues, Rock & Roll to Jazz. Saturday, May 14th, come listen to the sounds of Nashville duo singer/songwriters Eric Brace and Peter Cooper. $25 Admission includes free pot-luck dinner (Southern style, from BBQ and Hot Dogs to Covered Dishes and Desserts) and free beverages. Click for details.

What interesting spring and summer festivals and events will you attend this year? Let us know in the comments.

SOS Spring Safari at North Myrtle Beach

Dancin' in the Street and on the Beach in O.D.

It’s finally spring and the forecast is for beautiful, warm weather and tons of SOS beach fun! There will be a few thousand happy beach music and shag dance fans flocking to North Myrtle Beach to enjoy the best the beach has to offer. Kicking off today, the SOS Spring Safari is just about the biggest adult beach party on the East Coast with dozens of events scheduled for the the ten-day celebration.

Speaking of celebrations... the O.D. Arcade and Lounge is celebrating its 20th year as a a part of SOS and doing it in their usual style with "porch parties with the porch people”. There are three porch parties this year led by DJ Murl Augustine, aka, The Wild Thang. These fun events are on the calendar for 2PM Saturday, April 9th; 5PM Wednesday, April 13th with the the last porch party Saturday, April 16th directly after the big parade. The Arcade is also hosting a Ladies' Hat Party this year at 1PM Sunday, April 10th.

Of course, a highlight of the SOS Spring Safari is the ACSC/SOS Parade on Main Street. This 16th Annual Parade will begin at 1PM Saturday the 16th. More than 1,100 people participated in last year’s parade so get out early and find a good spot on Main Street to watch the festivities.

There will be fantastic DJs at all the area dance clubs for the entire ten-day & night. Several other special events that will add to the fun include the Gospel Hour at Pirate's Cove, Sunday, April 10th beginning at 11AM with free Shrimp & Grits. Other special events include:

Sunday, April 10th, beginning at 11AM... The Gospel Hour with Free Shrimp & Grits at Pirate's Cove

Tuesday, April 12th, doors open at 6:30... Live Music by The Blackwater R&B Band at the O.D. Golf & Beach Resort Club

Wednesday, April 13th from 1 to 5... Live Music by The Coastline Band at Fat Harold's Beach Club

Thursday, April 14th from 2:30 to 5:30... Charlotte Shag Club's Shooter Party at Duck's Beach Club and Sidewalk Cafe

Friday, April 15th from 1 to 5... Live Music by The Fantastic Shakers at Fat Harold's Beach Club

Saturday, April 16th from 4 to 5... The SOS Hall of Fame Exhibition

Sunday, April 17th from 1 to 5... Support the Camp Kemo Auction to help kids with cancer

Charge your batteries, practice your best steps, and put on your boogie shoes on for a fun-filled 10 day celebration of beach music and shag dancing in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Come on down and make some memories.

And, if you don't already have reservations - Call Century 21 Thomas today! Mention this blog and tell them Debbie said to give you 20% OFF your Spring Safari Vacation Rental. (New reservations only, now through April 30th for 3 nights or longer. Some restrictions may apply).

Thanks, Debbie for the pics and SOS news!

Pet Safety and Pet-Friendly Vacations

Top Tips for Pet Safety and Etiquette While on Vacation

All right! It's time for the family trip and Rover is coming along. For a fun and relaxing vacation, make sure you take the necessary steps to ensure your pet's safety on this adventure.

Make sure your vacation rental is pet-friendly.

The first important element is to make sure your rental accommodation permits pets. A
variety of condos, houses and hotels will allow pets, usually for a nominal fee and with some restrictions. Other vacation rentals may have strict policies prohibiting pets in or on their property. Appropriate arrangements should be made and confirmed prior to arriving for your vacation. For those of you who wish to travel with your canine companion, Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacations has a selection of pet-friendly accommodations from which to choose.

Keep your pe
ts hydrated.
It's easy to get overheated on a hot, summer day. A water bowl secured somewhere in your car and a few bottles of water will make traveling with your dog easier and safer. A resourceful suggestion... Keep a Frisbee in the car. It's excellent for playtime with your pup and can also be used as a water dish.

Exercise your pets early mornings or evenings.
Summer days can be very hot, especially from late morning to mid-afternoon. Take advantage of the more pleasant times of the day to exercise your pet. Outdoor walks are best in the early morning before it gets too hot or in the evenings when it's cooled down. Keep your pet and yourself safe and in tip-top condition.

Remember to take a leash.
When on vacation, it is important to control your pet, especially in a public environment. Whether at a local park or a public beach, it is an absolute must that you have charge of your pet. We also suggest bringing an extra leash in case you misplace or break one.

Keep pets properly secured when traveling.
The bed of a truck is never a safe place for any pet. There are special seat restraints and carriers available for your convenience and your pet's safety when you travel. Using them helps prevent pets from distracting the driver and away from controls, pedals and open windows. This will make the journey less stressful and safer for you, your family and your pet.

Obey local pet-related laws.
Municipalities each have their own rules and regulations regarding pets in public areas. Leashes are often required and pets may be permitted on the beach only during certain times of the day or in specific areas. When you take your pet outdoors, remember to carry a scoop and several plastic bags. Always pick up after your pets and remove any pet waste. BE RESPONSIBLE.

Be considerate of others.
When you take your pet along on your vacation, it is very important that you do not infringe on the rights of others. Dogs will bark... occasionally. Allowing continued barking or baying is unacceptable. By law, other families are entitled to "quiet enjoyment" of their vacation rental and time.

TripAdvisor Rates Myrtle Beach in TOP TEN

TripAdvisor Rates the Myrtle Beach High in Top Ten Family-Friendly Destinations

Highly regarded travel website TripAdvisor has ranked Myrtle Beach among the Top Ten vacation destinations for amusement parks and boardwalks as part of their 2011 Travelers’ Choice Family Awards. The TripAdvisor list of US destinations ranks Myrtle Beach #6 with praise for having abundant family-friendly amusement parks, water parks, and golf – in addition to excellent beaches.

TripAdvisor ranked Myrtle Beach as the best beach destination in the country in May of last year as part of its 2010 Travelers' Choice Destinations Awards. These prestigious awards are based on reviews posted on the website by users and travelers.

The complete 2011 Top Ten rankings include:

  1. Anaheim, California.
  2. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
  3. Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. Sandusky, Ohio
  6. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  7. Hershey, Pennsylvania
  8. Ocean City, Maryland
  9. Carlsbad, California
  10. Panama City Beach, Florida

Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand stretches from Pawley's Island to the Cherry Grove Inlet in North Myrtle Beach, encompassing 60 miles of gently sloping beaches, salt marshes and inlets. A popular family vacation destination for over half a century, the Myrtle Beach area offers accommodations that range from luxurious villas to classic beach cottages... something to fit nearly all budgets.

From the scream-worthy Swamp Fox, a wood-frame roller coaster, to dozens of thrilling water slides… the Grand Strand has it all! Hot choices for family fun include Family Kingdom Amusement & Water Park, the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, NASCAR SpeedPark, Myrtle Waves Water Park and Wild Water & Wheels. The Ripley family of attractions has a strong presence at the beach, providing exciting family outings at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, the Haunted Adventure, Marvelous Mirror Maze, Moving Theatre, and the very popular and educational Ripley’s Aquarium.

And speaking of the "E" word... Education can be FUN! Family and kid-friendly attractions abound at the beach. Take the kids to the Children's Museum South Carolina where they can play & learn. Everyone young and old will find a visit to Brookgreen Gardens and Castle Atalaya a pleasant day trip. Looking for an Eco-tour? Try a trek to T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station, a fifty-acre preserve that's home to tigers, apes, falcons, Bubbles the African elephant, and more. Check out the stars, laser & music shows, at state-of-the-art Ingram Planetarium.

New area attractions for 2011 are guaranteed to provide even more excitement and fun for the whole family. WonderWorks – an amusement park for the mind – will amaze visitors with interactive exhibits such as landing a space shuttle, piloting a fighter jet, and experiencing a 360 degree virtual roller coaster. Adrenaline Pumping Adventures at WonderWorks will feature outdoor adventures including a thousand foot ZipLine and a pirate-themed, forty-foot high Ropes Course.

Sports fans will have a blast catching a baseball game and rooting for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Texas Rangers class “A” team at BB&T Coastal Field, a first-rate facility right in the heart of the beach. Spring and summer baseball camps at the Ripken Experience are great choices for future All-Stars to hone their skills “the Ripken way”.

If your family hasn’t experienced the awesome fun of the Myrtle Beach area, give it a try. It’s a great place to make incredible vacation memories. Where you stay can be as important as where you play. For the tops in comfort and value, choose one of the spacious beach houses or oceanfront luxury condominiums offered by Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacations. Selections range from one to EIGHT bedrooms, are oceanfront and nearby, and have features such as pools, hot tubs and lazy rivers. You’re certain to find one that’s perfect for your family’s beach vacation headquarters. Book online anytime or call and reserve yours today!