How to Celebrate Your Anniversary in the Grand Strand

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It’s happening.

The calendar date has been circled. The kids are with a sitter. You’re both ready to be together… alone.

Your anniversary has arrived — how are you celebrating?

The Grand Strand is chock full of festive, romantic outings and restaurants that will stoke that marital fire — or just take the edge off the nuttiness of family life — that are easy to access and easier to love. The following is a day to remember.

Morning: We can’t think of many things more awe-inspiring, peaceful and romantic than watching the sunrise over the ocean. Set the alarm and sneak out before dawn’s early light with travel mugs of coffee in hand. Find a patch of sand, watch the sun’s spectacle together, and delight in how that tranquility will set the tone for the rest of the day. Then go grab the kids and get breakfast at Sea Captains House. You’ll be hungry by then — and their bacon is ridiculously good.

Noon: Ok, it’s been real, kids. Now it’s time to skedaddle so mom and dad can be alone again. This time, you lovebirds, head out to La Belle Amie Vineyard for a wine tasting — a mere $3 will net you samples of six wines (for another $2, keep the glass). Walk the grounds of the century-old grape arbors and then buy a bottle to continue the celebration later. From there, head to Litchfield’s own Stox & Co. Salon and Day Spa for a relaxing, invigorating couples massage. For $190 you can lie side-by-side with your sweetie and get the full-body treatment — without having to take turns kneading shoulders while watching Sportscenter.

Nothing like a good rubdown to get the appetite up, so now we’ll talk lunch. Nearby in Pawleys Island, we love Bistro 217 for their food and the charming outdoor courtyard seating. We’re not sure if fried oysters have the same, um, “naughty” properties as their raw brethren, but they sure are tasty in their Fried Oyster Salad. However, their Bistro Burger was voted one of South Carolina’s Best Burgers by Southern Living magazine so that’s a great option to try. Generous patties are made of Certified Angus Beef and topped with aged cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, homemade mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickle and wedged in a fresh roll alongside slaw and fries. Don’t worry about the calories — you’ll work it off later.

Hey! We mean by outdoor activity. Sheesh, minds out of the gutter, people.

Afternoon: Resist the urge to slump down in front of the TV with a full belly and zen’d out muscles. Grab your sweetheart and hit the marshes of Murrells Inlet by kayak. Express Watersports offers rentals for $15 per hour (longer tours are available, too), which is a bargain considering the access to wildlife, sunshine and epic people- and boat-watching. Kayaking is good for beginners, and is as strenuous or leisurely as you want to make it. Either way, you’ll be happy you ordered that burger.

Late afternoon: Hotel break for a shower!

Night: Here’s the main event, folks. The romantic dinner. For a big, special night, we have to recommend Austin’s Ocean One right on Litchfield Beach. Each of the dining room’s seats boasts extraordinary views of the sea — but you’ll be too busy gazing into your lovah’s eyes to notice. OK, maybe you’ll notice. But the menu is fine-tuned fine dining with inventive takes on the freshest ingredients, all with a very sleek, very romantic backdrop. Choose a series of small plates on which to nibble, or select a show-stopper from their seafood-heavy entree menu. The Pistachio and Ginger Crusted Grouper is a fave. Order a bottle from their fabulous wine list, but be sure to leave room for the Chocolate Caramel Demon.

Post-dinner: Tip the babysitter, kiss those sleeping kiddos, and head out onto your balcony. Remember that bottle of wine you bought earlier? Time to pop the cork and toast to many, many more days just like this one.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate an anniversary on the Grand Strand?

(posted 8/12/14)
(Photo courtesy: Bistro 217)