Bubble, Bubble, Toil and SOCCER!

"You look funny," exclaimed my son when I finished crawling into the blue plastic bubble and managed to stand up. I may look that way I said to myself, but that's exactly why I am here: to have a fun game! I waved good-bye to my son turning the big bubble I was wrapped inside to its side and ran to intercept a soccer ball. Let the fun begin!

It all started on a sunny, yet chilly, mid-winter Saturday morning on a green field at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex. It was Jan.10, the free Bubble Soccer Introductory Play Day on the McLeod Seacoast Meadow. A dozen red and blue plastic shiny bubbles were neatly aligned on the side of the field, next to a tent hosting the referees and the sign-up and liability waiver sheet table.

A few youngsters were already wrapped up inside the bubbles, chasing a soccer ball, having fun rolling over and bumping into each other. I looked at my wife and my son and they both smiled at me, nodding their heads: Go ahead, try it. I signed the waiver, listened to a few tips on how to hold the bubble as a backpack and off I went to join my team.

The new game: Bubble Soccer
The new game: Bubble Soccer

Two young entrepreneurs, Henry and Jessica Mora, husband and wife, founded Myrtle Beach Bubble Soccer after watching a video on YouTube. They saw how the popular British game, which involves participants playing soccer while wrapped in a huge bubble, has been rapidly growing in popularity in the United States. They quickly decided it was the opportunity for a great business: more fun than soccer, safer than football, cheaper than hockey, and bouncier than basketball.

Henry and Jessica Mora
North Myrtle Beach is the first to offer a Bubble Soccer league in South Carolina. I had a chance to talk to Henry and Jessica Mora before the kick-off of the event. Their enthusiasm and excitement is truly contagious. With a huge smile on their faces, they shared that bubble soccer is one of the most action-packed, entertaining, delightful sports to watch, and a safer version of soccer. Take one-part soccer, one-part pillow fight, one-part Vaudeville slapstick comedy, mix well, and what you get looks a little bit like this:

Henry and Jessica take reservations for birthdays, fundraisers, church/corporate events, and even just friendly backyard games. You can contact them on their website: www.myrtlebeachbubblesoccer.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/myrtlebeachbubblesoccer.  For a list of active bubble soccer leagues throughout the nation, check out www.nationalbubblesoccer.com.


Make a Plan and...Quit!

Celebrate The Great American Smokeout Day

The American Cancer Society marks the third Thursday of November The Great American Smokeout Day for an important reason. This date sends a message to people across the nation to take a step toward a healthier lifestyle. Today signifies supporting those who do smoke in making an effort to quit, as well as reducing cancer.

If you are a smoker, use The Great American Smokeout Day as the perfect opportunity to stop smoking and protect your health and the health of your loved ones. It is not news that smoking inflicts immediate damage to your body, threatening your future with increased risks for cancer, heart attack, lung disease, and early death.

Break the smoking habit

Here is a plan to help you quit smoking, according to HelpGuide.Org . Use these tips to break the addiction, manage your cravings, and kick the habit for good.

Start your stop smoking plan with START

S = Set a quit date.

Choose a date within the next two weeks so you have enough time to prepare without losing your motivation to quit. If you mainly smoke at work, quit on the weekend, so you have a few days to adjust to the change.

T = Tell family, friends and co-workers that you plan to quit.

Let your friends and family in on your plan to quit smoking, and tell them you need their support and encouragement. Look for a quit buddy who wants to stop smoking as well. You can help each other get through the rough times.

stop smoking

A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you'll face while quitting.

Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first 3 months. You can help yourself make it through by preparing ahead for common challenges, such as nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings.

R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car and workplace.

Throw away all of your cigarettes (no emergency pack), lighters, ashtrays and matches. Wash your clothes and freshen up anything that smells like smoke. Shampoo your car, clean your drapes and carpet, and steam your furniture.

T = Talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.

Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal and suggest other alternatives. If you can't see a doctor, you can get many products over the counter at your local pharmacy or grocery store, including the nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges, and nicotine gum.

Here is the great news about quitting: Smoking is not physically addictive for very long after you stop smoking.  Many studies have shown that about 100 hours after your last cigarette, all of the nicotine is out of your bloodstream.  And once all the nicotine is out of your bloodstream, you’re no longer physically addicted to cigarettes.

If you vacation in North Myrtle Beach or if you are a resident of this area, check out Smoke Free NMB, a grassroots organization with a mission to reduce the effects of secondhand smoke (SHS) on workers, residents and visitors.

According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. Free help is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) and at 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers). You also can visit cancer.org/smokeout which features tools to install on your computer, such as the Smokeout Countdown Clock that allows you to pick your quit date and provides daily tips.

Helpguide.org: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/how-to-quit-smoking.htm
SmokeFree NMB: https://www.facebook.com/SmokeFreeNMB
American Cancer Society's tools: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/greatamericansmokeout/index

Spooky Ways to Spend Halloween in Myrtle Beach

Traveling during the holidays can be lots of fun, especially when visiting Myrtle Beach.  Halloween is quickly approaching and there are numerous activities to participate in while touring the Myrtle Beach area.  Whether looking for something to do with the family or a place to party, Myrtle Beach is the destination for endless fun throughout this creative, fun, and spooky season. You can be certain Myrtle Beach will get you in the mood for the Halloween traditions with costumes, sweets, haunted houses, and more!

If searching for family-friendly Halloween activities, you may choose from various Grand Strand attractions, such as trick or treating, or costume contests. Ripley’s Haunted Adventure opens its doors to visitors of all ages with a thrilling haunted house, high-pitched screams and scary effects. Live actors prowl behind every corner of this spooky asylum, terrorizing your every step.

Myrtle Beach Halloween - children having fun

Boardwalk fright nights on the Boardwalk make walking with zombies possible. Stop by the Nightmare Haunted House on 10th Avenue North on Ocean Boulevard and face the shivering evil laugh of a crazy clown as it haunts you up and down the dark corridors. Good luck finding your way without being followed!

Many trick or treating events and costume contests will be held at various locations throughout the Grand Strand. For example, the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk and Barefoot Landing will both be holding children’s costume contests, as well as trick or treating and other enjoyable activities.  Barefoot Landing will even include a pet costume contest!  Other fun spots include Broadway at the Beach, Market Commons, North Myrtle Beach, and both Tanger Outlets.

Myrtle Beach Halloween - Decorations

 Halloween parties may be your choice of entertainment. Captain Quarter’s Resort sponsors a family-friendly Halloween costume party and contest, with prizes awarded for various age groups from children to adults. They also have a family category for families who dress up as a group. The Children’s Museum of South Carolina offers games, candy, and activities from five different decades: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s on Oct. 24, from 5-7 p.m. Riley's Aquarium's Boo-Quarium Bash will take place Oct. 25 from 3-8 p.m., featuring a costume parade, build-a-scarecrow workshop, and a scavenger hunt.

Riplaye's Aquarium Halloween Party

If this Halloween involves more of an adult theme, there also are plenty of exciting adult events.  Broadway at the Beach and Murrells Inlet Marshwalk are both holding adult costume contests with great prizes. Celebrations Nitelife at Broadway at the Beach will be throwing a Halloween night bash and costume party with a DJ and loads of fun.

Myrtle Beach Boardwalk Halloween

Myrtle Beach is definitely the hot spot for the Halloween season. Family-friendly fun and adult entertainment are both options all throughout The Grand Strand. So don’t miss out on the costume contests, parties, trick or treating, or just a plain fun time! Why would one search anywhere else to spend Halloween when there are so many exhilarating choices in Myrtle Beach? Just pick your haunt-- an amazing time and spooky memories will be had. Happy Halloween!

Enjoy Cultural Diversity at the Irish-Italian Festival in North Myrtle Beach this Weekend

I may not have many aunts, uncles, cousins, or other family members to be a part of my daily life, but I never miss an opportunity to join my dear Irish and Italian friends for a pint of green beer and  a lot of good cheer. Both Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans have an enormous sense of pride associated with their heritage, visible even in a small beach town like North Myrtle Beach.

There may be a nip in the air and some color in the maple trees while we say good bye to the summer, but we switch from fun to more fun after Labor Day in North Myrtle Beach. Following the tradition started 11 years ago, the City of North Myrtle Beach puts together another ambitious Irish Italian Festival. Downtown Main Street running, into Ocean Drive, will fill up once again with more than 15,000 merry people on Sept. 27. Visitors and residents will be ready to celebrate the joyful mixture of cultures with street performers, arts and crafts vendors, and dance groups.
Irish-Italian Festival - Dance
Image courtesy of Bill Burris
Two stages of live entertainment will be set up on Main Street. The Irish stage will be at a very strategic location, right in front of  Flynn's Irish Tavern; while the Italian stage will be placed near the junction of Main Street and Hillside Drive.

North Myrtle Beach is, by definition, a family-friendly beach town—so, be sure to  bring the children with you. A dedicated children's area will include  street magicians, balloon art, inflatables, and face painting.

My wife and I are anxious to taste the food from the local restaurants, including, but not limited to, the spicy grilled sausages, pasta, and pizza. Nothing bad can ever come out of a competition between restaurants , each trying hard to win the title for the best entrée, best decorated, and best dessert.

If you think you have what it takes, you may enter into Claudio’s Spaghetti Eating Contest, sponsored by Villa Romana. First to clear his or her plate (without using  hands, of course) wins bragging rights and a stylish plaque.
Irish-Italian Eating Contest
Image courtesy of The City of North Myrtle Beach - Parks and Recreation
The festival continues with much celebration around  the Irish and Italian gifts of music, food and culture. Come down to Main Street this Saturday for the North Myrtle Beach Irish-Italian Festival. Make sure to bring a lawn chair and a beach blanket with you to sit and enjoy the shows. For more details, visit the City of North Myrtle Beach website.

Go Ape to Live Life Adventurously in North Myrtle Beach

Some people are adrenaline seekers, thrilled by amazing rides. Others are simply in love with nature, looking for natural trails and difficult climbs. But what if you can combine the two? That is exactly what North Myrtle Beach has amazingly achieved with Go Ape, South Carolina’s first Zip Line and Treetop Adventure course.

Located just minutes from the popular Grand Strand, Go Ape's six-acre adventure ground is set within the newly opened North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, although far from being a typical park addition. The course takes you a few times across a 25-acre clear blue lake on the Southeast side of the park.  The views are simply stunning as you zip over the water from one side of the lake to the next.

The course, which takes a couple hours to complete, takes young or old through five different zip lines, nine ladders and about 40 obstacles, as well as Tarzan swings with names like Spider Web, Zigzag Bridge, Flying Carpet and Jungle Crossing to test your strength both mentally and physically.

Remember that old tree house you used to climb in the back yard when you were a kid? That was maybe a simple warm up for the amazing zip line that sweeps you across the forest canopy and ending with a spectacular crash into a giant net. How's that for feeling like Tarzan for a moment?

We all know that even Johnny Weissmuller practiced before shooting for Tarzan, so before you get equipped with harnesses, pulleys and carabiners, you receive a 30-minute safety crash course and training. Then, you can get your adrenaline pumping, free to fly on zip lines, swing through the trees, tap into your inner ape and monkey around.

I found Go Ape North Myrtle Beach Site Manager Evan Dwyer working hard on a hot Sunday afternoon. He stopped for a minute to talk with me and excitedly shared his enthusiasm and joy over the opening of the new course. He kindly offered me a few technical details. Evan assured me that you may be hanging in the trees, but you are not lost in the forest, since instructors are always on hand, regularly patrolling the course. You have to be 4'7'' and 10 years-old or older to participate in Go Ape. Also, if you are not 18 years of age, you have to be supervised by an adult. Please say "hi" if you happen to see the assiduous Evan Dwyer around the adventure course.

The Go Ape Treetop Adventure course in North Myrtle Beach is an excellent al fresco activity for families, friends and groups. South Carolina’s first treetop and zip line course will open August 30.

Plan your beach vacation with Thomas Beach Vacations. Choose one of our oceanfront condos or beach homes here and Go Ape in North Myrtle Beach.

Trippo - The Premier Water Slide in North Myrtle Beach

He took the final step up the ladder, hesitantly, eyes wide open, browsing the beach left and right for familiar faces. Nobody was there to hold his hand when he sat down at the top of the slide, with the cold water flowing down by his side. That was the beauty of it: to find the inner strength and face the challenge! He closed his eyes and boldly let himself slide, with a final gasp. ... The unknown welcomed him with joy and a huge splash.

My son has just tamed the beast, the giant "Trippo," a huge inflatable water slide placed for the summer in North Myrtle Beach. This was his first ride on a giant inflatable water slide and he enjoyed every moment of it, just like many other kids on the beach—judging by the long line of children anxiously waiting to climb up the back of the giant.

And what a climb it is...standing 40-feet tall, Trippo needs the brave sliders to climb many tall stairs before getting a chance to glide down one of its three 170-foot long shuts. The blue giant, strategically set up on the beach between 1st and 2nd Avenues South in North Myrtle Beach, is open daily between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, from 10:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.

I will always remember the look on my son's face after he got off the chute on his first slide down the Trippo. I only saw that look in a movie with Cervantes' Don Quijote de la Mancha after the ingenious gentleman won the battle with the mean dragon—in his mind, a mere windmill for the rest of us, simple paysans. My son was excited and proud, ready to try it again... and again... and again. ...

There are few things contributing more to a successful family vacation than happy children, getting excited and burning out their energy on the beach. That's exactly what my son did, climbing up the Trippo's stairs, sliding down the curved shuts on the side or catching up speed on the main one, rotating on his back or gliding on his belly, just to end at the bottom in a big, happy splash.

If you happen to be in North Myrtle Beach, let your children experience Trippo. It is well worth the $3/ride or the $20/day wristband for unlimited rides. Tickets and wristbands are available a few feet away, at Ocean Park. For a perfect beach vacation, choose one of our oceanfront vacation rentals from our large selection here and add unforgettable memories to your family trip at the beach with Trippo.

Experience the Ultimate Fondue Effect at The Melting Pot Restaurant in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is... Well, it has never been easy for me to finish this sentence since my experience here has always been so rich, colorful, intense and vibrant. Another adjective has made its way through lately, and that is "tasteful!" A visit to the Myrtle Beach area is delicious any time of the year. One thing is for sure: Myrtle Beach is taking food very seriously.

A defining aspect of the Grand Strand dining scene is its endless variety. From the mom-and-pop restaurants on Main Street North Myrtle Beach to the upscale places of Murrells Inlet or Pawleys Island where condiments like ketchup are a sacrilege. This area can satisfy any gourmet's fine palate.

I have been looking recently for a relaxing dining place to spend some quality family dinner time so I decided to try The Melting Pot in Myrtle Beach. I've learned about the place from a good friend who was absolutely convinced my experience there would be memorable. He was spot on. So here I am, excited to share with you that experience.

Normally, I tend not to be impressed with restaurants, especially while on vacation. This time though, as soon as I went in I became aware of The Melting Pot's charming and intimate atmosphere. The Melting Pot was the perfect place to reconnect with my family, with its dim lights, ambiance and love songs playing in the background. If you look in the dictionary for the definition of a polite and knowledgeable person you'll see the picture of our server. He took his time to explain the menu in detail and never rushed us through the fondue experience.

You can order 1-3 or more courses. We chose the 4-course experience: cheese fondue, salad, entree and chocolate fondue.

Cheese Fondue

The Melting Pot - Cheese Fondue

Of the 4 choices of cheese, I chose the Melting Pot Cheddar Cheese fondue, which is prepared tableside. The cheddar cheese fondue was served with artisan breads, apples and seasonal vegetables for dipping. Mmmm, mmmm, delicious!


The Melting Pot - Salad

We had 3 salad options, but we stuck with what we knew and had the Caesar salad. The kids enjoyed the salad, even openly admitting how much they loved it, a thing I don't hear too often from them when it comes to salads.


The Melting Pot - Entree

The Melting Pot - the Entree

At the Melting Pot, you also get an opportunity to cook your meat. The restaurant has everything from ravioli to filet mignon. We ordered the "Land and Sea" meal with premium filet mignon, herb-crusted chicken, and Pacific white shrimp. We cooked our Seasoned Court Bouillon entree at the table, and fresh seasoned vegetable broth, recommended by our server. It was served with seasonal vegetables: mushrooms, potatoes, and broccoli and the signature dipping sauces.

Chocolate Fondue

The Melting Pot - Chocolate Fondue

Our chocolate fondue came with fresh strawberries, blondies, bananas, pineapple, cheesecake, Rice Krispy treats, marshmallows, pound cake and brownies. We chose the "Pure Chocolate" fondue - milk chocolate melted to perfection.

I can honestly say that this was one of the best dining experiences I've had the last 10 years I've been visiting the Myrtle Beach area. At The Melting Pot, it all seems to be about making the guest feel welcome and leave the restaurant with an unforgettable dining experience. In the end, I have to give credit to my friend who recommended the restaurant: It truly was a pleasant and unforgettable experience.