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7 Posts authored by: ryansweezey

Next week is the Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C.! For any history buffs looking for a bit of local lessons, the journey is not far. In fact, you can get a taste of state history right in the Convention Center at the South Carolina Hall Fame!

Dedicated in 1973 and made the state’s official hall of fame in 2001, the South Carolina Hall of Fame “was created to recognize and honor those contemporary and past citizens who have made outstanding contributions to South Carolina’s heritage and progress,” according to the Hall’s website.

Each year, one contemporary and one deceased citizen may be inducted, and inductees include both native South Carolinians who made their names elsewhere and those who made notable achievements after moving to the state.

Inductees made their marks in a variety of areas, including politics, medicine, sports, entertainment, military, literature, civil rights, industry and more. Some of the most famous members include President Andrew Jackson, Vice President John Calhoun and Senator Strom Thurmond. 2015’s inductees were Susan Pringle Frost, a leader in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and philanthropist Darla Moore.

You can test your local history knowledge on the website, where there is a quiz with three difficulty levels. Try it before and after visiting to see what you’ve learned!

Wondering where you can grab a bite to eat after a day of Backyards & Beyond sessions? There are plenty of well-reviewed restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area, and one of the highest-rated is just up the street!

If you’re in the mood for Italian food, try Toscana Italian Restaurant, located about a mile and a half from the conference center. TripAdvisor gives it four and a half out of five stars all-around, for overall rating, food, value, service and atmosphere. Out of 820 reviews, 638 reviewers rated it “excellent,” with an additional 109 giving a “very good” evaluation.

The interior of the restaurant is described by reviewers as “elegant but homey.” Many call the service outstanding, and that seems to come from the top-down, as the owner/chef has made personal replies to many of the patrons’ comments online. The owner is from Italy, so you can expect the real Italian food experience even in South Carolina!

Florida-grouper-coconut-florentine5On the menu, you can find many standard dishes in the way of ravioli, manicotti, etc. There is also plenty that is a little outside-the-box, including gorgonzola escargot, which one five-star reviewer described as “different but very tasty.” The bread at this restaurant received rave reviews. Prices are reasonable.

The restaurant is open until 10:30 pm daily and dress is always casual. 

On a particularly nice day, stop into Myrtle Beach State Park after Backyards & Beyond sessions. Myrtle Beach State Park was the first State Park to open in South Carolina back in 1936, and allows for a number of great activities and scenery, with boardwalks, beaches, nature trails and campgrounds. Mb_pier_lg

Along a one-mile stretch of undeveloped beach, you can hunt for shells and shark teeth, or take a dip in the Atlantic. Fishing is allowed on the pier, although a fishing license is required, and can be purchased at local bait shops.

Take a stroll along the Sculptured Oak Nature Trail, which the park’s website declares “a rare opportunity to see one of the last stands of maritime forest on the northern coast of South Carolina.” Let your eyes take in a variety of beautiful trees and plants as well as native birds, reptiles and amphibians. You can even grab a birding list on the website for birdwatching help! The trail runs for a half-mile, and joins up with another trail of similar length, the Yaupon Trail. Both trails are designated as easy, and lead to beaches and boardwalks.

Visit the State Park’s website for more details on activities, fees, rules and regulations, as well as information on the species of plants and animals within the park. The website also offers materials for scavenger hunts.

Regular admission is just a few dollars, and the park is open from 6 am to 10 pm. Be sure to stop in the gift shop on your way out and grab some ice cream. The park will be a great getaway into the beauty of nature, although if you really can’t get away from your devices, there is free Wi-Fi!

Sometimes it’s fun to do something totally unplanned. Who knows what you’ll feel like doing from one day to the next? If that’s the case, the ideal place to go after a day at the Backyards & Beyond Conference in Myrtle Beach may be Broadway at the Beach. Broadway

Advertised as “South Carolina’s favorite Travel Destination and the largest entertainment venue of its kind in the state” on Trip Advisor, Broadway at the Beach would be an excellent destination for the indecisive tourist. There is a huge variety of options in this area, as it is home to numerous outlets, shops, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and an array of other attractions. Head on over and take a walk around, take in the options and try a little of everything!

Grab dinner at one of 21 restaurants, including Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Landry’s Seafood, or Yamato Steakhouse Japan before grabbing dessert at Ben & Jerry’s or The Fudgery. WonderworksTour the Hollywood Wax Museum or see what’s playing at the Palace Theatre. Venture inside the eye-catching upside-down building WonderWorks and exercise your mind in over 100-hands on exhibits.

You can have fun even without entering any of these establishments just by taking a stroll and observing the sights. You may even see some folks ziplining overhead across the lake, which is the centerpiece of the park. Generally, the area is open until 9 p.m. most nights, although hours for restaurants, attractions and nightclubs may vary. Check out the Broadway at the Beach events calendar to find out what’s going on during your visit.

When you’re looking for something to do following a day of wildfire discussion at October’s Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C., take a stroll up the street to Ripley’s Aquarium. Just a little over a mile north of the Convention Center, the Aquarium could be the perfect destination for a rainy day (or a sunny one!).

The most popular exhibit is Dangerous Reef. Home to large sharks, giant sting rays, tarpons, a sea turtle, Sandbarsharl-headerimg and more, this area features a 340-foot long glidepath through the tank. Patrons pass through an acrylic tunnel that offers spectacular views of sea life swimming overhead, giving the feeling that you’re really in the depths of the ocean. The glidepath is the world’s largest underwater tunnel with gliding sidewalks.

Other exhibits to check out include Ray Bay (yes, you can touch the rays!), the Indo-Pacific Reef, Rio Amazon and more, each featuring creatures from their respective parts of the world. Sign up for a tour or peruse at you own leisure.

The Ripley’s Aquarium website recommends setting aside two hours or more to fully tour the 1.4 million gallon facility. The building is open until 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Stingray-columnheaderimgs-spottedeagleCameras are allowed and the building is wheelchair friendly.

An individual pass (good for the whole day) is $22.99 for adults. The Aquarium offers group rates, as well as discounts for AAA and AARP members and active and retired military. Customers can also buy combo packs for discount admission to Ripley’s other Myrtle Beach attractions, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s 5-D Moving Theater, and Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.

For more information on the Aquarium or facts about the species there, visit the website or email Check back next Wednesday, September 23 to learn about another Myrtle Beach attraction. 

In just a handful of weeks, wildfire folks will be flocking to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the bi-annual Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference. The event runs from Oct 20-24, but there will be plenty of free time following a day of wildfire knowledge sharing to take in the local flavor. While walking down Oceanfront Boardwalk, it will be hard not to notice SkyWheel, a 187-foot tall Ferris wheel in the center of the 1.2 mile beach-side stretch.

Erected in 2011, SkyWheel offers spectacular views of the Boardwalk, beaches and surrounding communities for a very reasonable $13. Discounts are available for children under 12, Slider-2seniors and military, as well as group rates available for parties of 15 guests or more.

Wheelers will complete their circular journey in closed, air-conditioned cabin cars that seat two to six. If your party has fewer than six people, strangers will not be brought in to complete your car, allowing for a comfortable experience. The ride involves three full revolutions and will take about eight to 10 minutes.

The wheel, which is handicap accessible, is open daily from 11 a.m. until midnight, weather permitting. After dusk, the wheel is lit with vivid colors, so you’ll want to snap some photos of the ride itself as well as the views from its zenith.

For more information, visit the SkyWheel website or contact Check back here next week to learn about another attraction you can visit during your stay in Myrtle Beach.

In response to blazing wildfires in the West, NFPA has released seven tips for reducing the risk of losing your home to wildfire. The goal of the collection is to dispel the notion that there 7 Firewise Tipsis nothing you can do to increase your home's chance of survival in the event of a wildfire. 

The tips are centered around defense against stray embers, which account for more than half of homes destroyed during wildfires. These strategies include moving flammable materials away from dangerous areas and sealing any entrance points to the home. For example, mulch and branches should be raked and trimmed to a safe distance away from the house, furniture should be brought inside and all vents, doors and windows should be closed to stop embers from entering. Check out the video below to get the full list of tips from Michele Steinberg, NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division Manager.

Materials have been provided to the media to include in related future coverage in the hopes that reporters will assist in the public education effort about wildfire preparedness.

While these are certainly not the only things that should be done to fully guard against home loss, the aim is to provide the public with at least a basic knowledge of what they can do to protect their property. For more information about what steps should be taken before, during and after a wildfire, visit NFPA's page on wildfire emergency preparedness.

Please also visit the Firewise website for more wildfire resources.

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