Go Green at the St Pat's Festival in NMB

March is shaping up to be a fun month with Spring pushing and shoving to get here as early as possible.

Off-season rates are amazingly affordable and the weather has been wonderful. There are early blooms all around and tons of fun things to do. Some of our suggestions for the next few weeks include:

The annual St. Patrick's Day Festival on March 17th in North Myrtle Beach has one of the largest parades on the Grand Strand with more than 100 floats and entries. The parade starts at 9am but you'd better head to Main Street early to claim your prime viewing area along the sidewalks. Feel free to bring along a folding chair and get ready for a fun morning.

When the parade is over, the fun is just beginning. Now it's festival time! You'll find over 125 vendors displaying their arts & crafts, festival treats and more. There will be two stages with continuous entertainment - music, dance, and more music. Be sure to bring the "wee" lads and lassies, too! There'll be a kids' FUN ZONE with rides, inflatables and games.

Scheduled entertainment includes the New York Shields Pipes & Drums, Triple Toe Cloggers, Wake District Pipes & Drums, the bands Barleyjuice and Ceol na Gael. Remember to wear something green.

Spring Music Concerts... over the next few weeks, the Grand Strand will see many hot acts take center stage at our popular venues including the House of Blues and Alabama Theatre at Barefoot Landing, Broadway at the Beach's Palace Theatre, and the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot.

The Alabama Theatre will feature Don Williams on the 17th, a super Motown evening with the Drifters, Coasters and Platters the 24th, and Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis on the 31st.

The House of Blues has hot tribute bands bringing back the music of Metallica & Guns n' Roses on the 17th and Poison & Motley Crew on the 23rd. The BIG event is the Monday after the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am golf tournament and gala concert with Hootie & the Blowfish and friends (Sister Hazel, Javier Colon and more).

South by Southeast Music Feasts wrap up their spring concert series at the Depot with the Randall Bramblett Band on the 10th.

At the Palace Theatre you can catch a lively performance of Hooray for Hollywood all through the month of March and a special performance on the 30th by Howie Mandel of America's Got Talent.

Try a day trip to Brookgreen Gardens and appreciate nature and the arts. Featured special events in March include the "Birds in Art" Exhibition and "Down by the Riverside" & Other Spirituals.

Are you in need of some intensive retail therapy?

Are you looking for the perfect shopping destination? How about 6 great shopping destinations where the fashion is smart and the prices are great! For outdoor shopping with great restaurants and attractions for the family, Broadway at the Beach is the ultimate shopping experience. While Mom is picking out glamorous jewelry at the local’s favorite Bijuju, the kids can enjoy picking, stuffing, naming, and dressing their own Teddy Bear at the Build-a-Bear Workshop, and Dad can get countrified at the Foxworthy Store. After a long shopping day, slip on your flip flops and enjoy music and a meal at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville or have a nice evening stroll along the deck overlooking Broadway Lake and dinner at Key West Grill.

If you are looking for a more leisurely shopping experience, visit North Myrtle Beach’s Barefoot Landing, a friendly and casual southern-style shopping mecca. Treat yourself to a necklace and classy earrings at Southern Pearls or pamper your feet with comfortable shoes at the Happy Feet Store. Get ready for the beach scene with a visit to the Ron-Jon Surf Shop for stylish swimwear. In a more classic mood? Step into White HouseBlack Market for its assortment of fashions… all in the black & white theme, of course.

For the free spirits, visit Earthbound for your planet-friendly items and hop over to Peace Frogs for the coolest shirts and accessories. If your favorite color is purple, sashay (that's right, I said sashay) over to the PURPLEologist where you can outfit yourself head to toe with all sorts of accessories in magenta, fuchsia, lavender, violet, orchid, mauve or other similar shades. Take a midday break for a wonderful lunch at TBonz Gill and Grill.

Attention bargain hunters! Start your day at Tanger Outlet where you can shop at Old Navy, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and many more for amazing factory-direct discounted prices. Find a scintillating scent at Perfumania, a gift for a friend at Yankee Candle, or something special for the kids at the Disney Store or at OshKosh B’gosh.

Do you want even more? Visit “Reader’s Choice and Visitor’s Voice: Best of the Beach” – Coastal Grand Mall. You’ll find everything from fabulous high dollar couture and great savings on today’s looks to home décor and specialty shop curios. Step into Bed, Bath, and Beyond for the perfect bed linens, bathroom décor, and kitchen knick-knacks. If you need to refuel with a Espresso or Frappuccino, right in the center of everything is a Starbucks!

While on vacation, enjoy all that our beach has to offer and SHOP TIL YOU DROP!

Celebrate the 4th at the Beach

Fireworks, Festivals and Family Fun on the Fourth!

Head to North Myrtle Beach for a memorable Independence Day holiday and celebration. Enjoy the best of the beach with fantastic weather, gently sloping beaches, and lots of fun attractions in our family-friendly area.

Some of the major 4th of July events in our area include:

Italian-American Salute to the 4th - July 2nd and 3rd at Market Common's Valor Park. Celebrate your heritage at this annual festival with continuous entertainment, food, Italian Ices and desserts, arts, crafts, beer, wine and more. Plus, there will be FREE face painting and tattoos for the kids! Noon to 8PM.

Independence Day Runs - Compete in the 2nd annual 5K and 8K runs at the Market Common area in Myrtle Beach for prizes and awards. July 2nd, 7AM to 9AM. See details online.

American Pride March & Salute from the Shore - Join us on Main Street in North Myrtle Beach for this tribute to our great nation along with active duty military, veterans, and Sons of the American Revolution. Festivities start at 11:30AM and end with a flag-raising ceremony and a military fly over including F-16 fighter jets at 1PM. See more info online.

4th of July Fireworks and Celebrations

North Myrtle Beach - This impressive annual fireworks extravaganza will blast off at the Cherry Grove Pier beginning at 9:30. Bring your beach chairs and enjoy the excitement. The pier is located at 3500 North Ocean Boulevard. If you're staying in one of our Cherry Grove rental homes or condos, you may have a grand view from your balcony or porch.

Barefoot Landing - Enjoy a beautiful exhibit of booming fireworks to celebrate the Fourth. The fireworks show over the lake begins at 10:15. Come early and enjoy an evening of shopping, a wonderful dinner, and all the fun of Barefoot's Summerfest. See more online.

Broadway at the Beach - Celebrate the birth of our nation with a huge fireworks display. The first "boom... ah... ooh" over Lake Broadway is at 10PM. Visit Broadway early for some retail therapy, live entertainment, and fantastic dining. See more online.

Battleship Blast - Battleship North Carolina's 50th Anniversary celebration will be memorable as the fireworks spectacular begins at 9:05. The Battleship complex will close at 6PM for the show so be sure to bring the family out early to tour this impressive, historic battleship before the festivities. Approximately 90 minutes north in Wilmington, NC. See details online.

Calabash - Just across the border, you can join us for the Independence Day "Celebration on the Waterfront" in Calabash, NC. Food, fun, music and games begin at 3PM. See more info online.

Surfside Beach - Come out to Surfside Pier from 6 to 10PM for a 3-hour FREE variety show by the Celebration Theatre's performers followed by a fireworks show at 9:30. Refreshments and souvenirs available as well as a water pool slide and inflatables for the kids. See more online.

We at Century 21 Thomas Beach Vacations hope you have a wonderful, safe July 4th holiday. If you haven't reserved your accommodations for your summer beach vacation, Century 21 Thomas still has a few beach houses, oceanfront and other condos available - even a few for the Week of the Fourth! Call us ASAP and we'll be happy to check availability and reserve one for you and your family.

Plan a Perfect Reunion at the Beach

Let's Meet at the Beach!

Do you miss seeing all of your family members? Do the family reunions you try to plan never really come together? Perhaps you never found the right location. Look no further; make your next reunion a rousing success by following these simple tips. Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach are prime locations for hosting family reunions. First of all, the name says it best… you’ll have the BEACH! Plus, your group will have a myriad of additional exciting attractions, amazing entertainment venues, wonderful dining and shopping opportunities, and more. You can be assured your group will have a full and fun experience. But before we venture off into the specifics of what our area offers, let’s start with some tips on how to plan a fantastic family reunion.

Tip #1. Use your reunion location’s chamber of commerce or convention and visitors bureau to assist with your planning. They provide an incredible amount of information, can assist you in checking rates, and provide helpful visitor guides. Not only are their services free, you can get all you need in one stop. Just check out their websites and see for yourself.

Tip #2. Before you jump ahead to decide all the attractions you would like to enjoy, be timely about reserving your lodging. We suggest trying one or more of our super spacious vacation homes or villas. This way you can ensure you have a headquarters for your reunion that will comfortably accommodate all your family members. Once you have confirmed the “where”, everything else gets easier. Remember, the sooner you book the rental, the sooner you can start planning all the activities. One of the perks of acting as the group leader is that you can always stake your claim to the bedroom of your choice. And, it makes it so much easier on the rest of the family.

Tip #3. Get everyone involved. You can create committees and delegate various tasks and responsibilities to other family members. This not only spreads out the work but gives everyone a sense of unity in making the event a success. Consider forming committees to research family history, to coordinate travel, accounting, to preserve the event via photos and videos, and to research and recommend attractions and entertainment.

Tip #4. Plan your group’s activities. There will be a nearly endless list of things to do but not everyone will want to do everything. Find out things that everyone would like to partake in and you’ll be more successful creating the ultimate family reunion. Your clan may prefer a picnic and day trip to Brookgreen Gardens, a fun-filled day at a Water Park, an evening at a professional baseball game, time on the beach, local musical shows, or serious retail therapy. There are lots of opportunities to do things together that are FREE. Have some laughs and create some great memories by using your family members as the entertainment. Host a family talent show, tell stories, sing karaoke, or spend time doing interesting arts and crafts.

Tip #5. Decide on a theme. Keep it simple - something easy like a beach or tropical theme. Not only can you participate in beach activities and have fun in the sun, you can take advantage of all the surrounding attractions near the beach. Take these tips into consideration when you start organizing your family reunion and you should have smooth sailing.

Speaking of sailing and smooth segues, you’ll find a host of exciting water activities your family can enjoy during your reunion. We can recommend several sites that offer parasailing, banana boat and speedboat rides, and eco-tours, and more. The guided Jet Ski Dolphin Tour lets you see Dolphins up close after a fun trip shredding through the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway.

For more fun with live animals, there are two attractions that are perfect for you. Alligator Adventure at Barefoot Landing has live shows where you can watch in amazement as 15 foot gators leap from the water to clamp down on dinner dangling above them. They also hold lectures and teach you how to handle alligators or snakes. You’ll be able to touch the animals, get your photograph taken with them, and have any questions answered by their highly trained staff.

For something really different and exciting, try a trek to the T.I.G.E.R.S. Preservation Station. It features some of the world’s rarest tigers and you can see them up-close and un-caged. You can get even closer, with the option of cuddling up with a cub and having your picture taken while they crawl on your lap.

For even more fun and “hands on” thrills, take the T.I.G.E.R.S. Wild Encounter Tour, located just south of Myrtle Beach airport. You can interact with uncaged apes, chimpanzees, and orangutans. While on this guided walk through the breathtaking 50-acre preserves you will meet Bubbles, the 4-ton lovable elephant, along with an array of other animals. You may even have an encounter with a real LIGER, the largest cat on record (a liger is the cross between a male lion and female tiger).

Get involved with our local history with a spine-chillin’, spooky, supernatural twist. Ghosts and Legends at Barefoot Landing will provide a unique experience whether you opt for the Ghost Walk, the Ghost Show, Blackbeard’s Séance, or the Psychic Walk. Embark on a journey to hear fascinating tales from “other” and enjoy moonlit excursions accompanied by friendly, knowledgeable guides.

If you prefer not to be bound to the ground, try a helicopter ride for a change of pace. Accommodating up to four passengers per flight, the scenic rides capture the beach’s grand beauty from above. A helicopter ride might not be a traditional family reunion experience, but it could certainly be an unforgettable one.

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 www.piratesvoyage.com. 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 http://www.themyrtlebeachskywheel.com/.

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.