How to Best Enjoy/Avoid Myrtle Beach’s Fall Bike Week

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For many good folks, it’s the reason to come to Myrtle Beach.

But for many others, it’s the event to avoid.

Myrtle Beach’s Bike Week Fall Rally, while considerably smaller than its nearly 75-year-old, 300,000-person-draw springtime cousin, is still a big deal, flooding Grand Strand streets, restaurants and bars with all manners of two-wheeled motorized vehicles and the men and women who love them.

Between September 26 and October 5, expect to welcome between 20,000-25,000 leather-clad visitors to our fair city. Motorcycle enthusiasts cite the freedom, excitement, camaraderie and adrenaline rush of riding as reason to love it. But the noise, crowds and traffic are a large part of loathing it, too.

Regardless of which camp you belong to, we’ve got your plan.

Love it:

Speeding along the open road — especially when it’s a gorgeous, warm coastal highway — is as invigorating as it gets. The Fall Rally coordinates multiple day rides, tours and gatherings at which you can find a like-minded crew and get going. Head north on Route 17 toward Wilmington for some fun day trips exploring small historic towns, great restaurants and interesting attractions (note: wearing helmets is the law in North Carolina, while that applies to those under 21 in South Carolina). South of Myrtle Beach is spectacular Charleston, and all the waterfront delights you hit along the way.

Certain area bars and restaurants not only cater to Bike Week crowds, they delight in them. Here are some best bets, and check out the comments for more good suggestions.

Some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Do familiarize yourself with local laws and ordinances.
  • Plan ahead if you’re in a large group.
  • Make sure your lodging can accommodate your bike and/or trailer.
  • Respect the locals!

Loathe it:

The simultaneous roar of thousands of motorcycles causing you to retreat to the nearest country club for almost guaranteed safe haven? No need to go to extremes. But here are a few “survival tips” if you would just assume sit this year’s rally out:

*Try and stay put. While we don’t mean holing up in your hotel until the last plumes of exhaust leave town, it’s probably wise not to do much serious driving around Myrtle Beach and the surrounding area this week. When you do drive, ask your concierge or a local about getting to your destination via back roads. If you’re not staying here at the Driftwood, be sure to call ahead and ensure your preferred destination is not a “biker friendly” establishment. Or at least is not one groups of bikers generally choose.

*None if by land, do if by sea. Bikes can’t go in the water, but you can. Rent a kayak, take a plantation river tour, head out on a fishing charter, or take a surfing lesson. We were sort of joking about the country club thing above, but you run a very low risk of running into a herd of bikers on the golf course.

*Go small or stay home. The big Grand Strand attractions (Broadway at the Beach, the Boardwalk and Promenade, Murrells Inlet, etc.) are likely to be draws, so consider heading to quieter spots. Litchfield Beach is a nice, low key destination, as is Brookgreen Gardens, where you won’t find any hogs doing wheelies around the statuary.

*Know your culinary audience. The ample restaurant scene (and the Fall Rally’s smaller numbers) means that crowds won’t cramp your foodie style. Tiny, romantic destinations with limited parking space are not likely the spots for rally gatherings, so consider heading to a place that fits this criteria. But joints with names like “The Rathole” and “Suck, Bang, Blow”? You might want to steer clear. In fact, check out the link above in the “Love It” section and just avoid those places at all costs.

*Grin and bear it. When else are you going to be in the company of tens of thousands of two-wheeled steeds and the real characters atop? Embrace this uniquely Myrtle Beach tradition and strike up a conversation with a fellow visitor. You might just find your next golfing buddy.

What are your tips on enjoying or avoiding Myrtle Beach Bike Week?

(posted 9/9/14)

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