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The Grand Strand welcomes millions of visitors to its sandy shores every summer, but the crowds drop off significantly after Labor Day and gradually throughout the months that end with "ber".
That's a shame, because any local will tell you that fall is the best time to be in North Myrtle Beach. Smaller crowds, lower humidity, empty beaches and no-waiting restaurants are just a few of the fringe benefits of booking your Grand Strand vacation in the fall.
But there are a few key differences between the summer and fall seasons you might want to take note of if you're planning an autumn getaway. If you pack your bags the same way you do for your summer visit, you may be missing out on some of the fun fall activities Myrtle Beach has to offer. Here are five things you will wish you would have brought:
* Golf clubs: Who wants to walk around a golf course when it's 100 degrees and humid outside? A surprisingly high number, actually, but nothing like the influx of golfers when the fall season arrives. The milder temperatures allow some hard-corps hackers to play multiple rounds in a day, and play 36 holes without breaking a sweat except for those embarrassing three-putts. Throw the clubs in the trunk just in case you get the urge.
* Blender: It never gets too cold here for a frozen drink, but they become a bit harder to find even during the unseasonably warm days. Many of the hotel pool bars shut down in the offseason, and few hotel rooms consider a blender to be a basic and necessary kitchen gadget. Hotels do, however, provide guests with an unlimited supply of ice, so you can throw your own happy hour party on your oceanfront balcony with pitchers of margaritas or pina coladas.
* Hiking boots: Summertime guests can get away with packing only a pair of flip-flops for footwear, but that's not quite the case in the fall. You may want to wear closed-toed shoes on cooler autumn nights, but a pair of hiking boots opens up another side of the Grand Strand you may have never explored or knew existed. Check out the trails at Myrtle Beach State Park, Huntington Beach State Park and the North Myrtle Beach Sports and Recreation Complex.
* A cozy blanket: The Grand Strand climate remains warm throughout the fall, but at nights, especially on the oceanfront, it can get a bit brisk. Even a gentle sea breeze can give you a chill at night when you sit on your balcony overlooking the beach. No need to bring a bunch of winter clothes when a comfy blanket will do the trick. Don't take it to the beach to get wet and sandy; save for cuddling up and reading a book with the waves crashing beneath you.
* Shopping list: With the holiday season just a few months away, a fall trip to Myrtle Beach is a great time and place to get some early Christmas shopping done. The many malls and shopping centers are fully stocked but light on traffic, giving shoppers plenty of room to bargain shop for that perfect gift for loved ones. Just make sure you have enough trunk space to take it all home.
(Photo courtesy: http://www.meyerre.com)