The entire Grand Strand is treated to and greeted by the breathtaking beauty of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean every day, but few places on the East Coast have a similar view of the sun setting over a large body of water. The lucky 11,000 Garden City Beach residents and countless visitors can see both spectacles from their oceanfront patios in the morning and their westward-facing decks in the afternoon. The array of colors splashing over Murrells Inlet is the perfect way to close a great day in Garden City Beach.
The view comes with some of the most valuable real estate on the Grand Strand, on “The Point,” as locals call it. This peninsula features a small strip of land and sand that juts out into the ocean and ends at the mouth of Murrells Inlet. The main oceanfront drag, Waccamaw Boulevard, is lined with stilted beach homes and condo units on both the ocean and inlet sides. There is a high rate of boat ownership among residents, and a loyal base of vacationers wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else.
The small, incorporated town of Garden City Beach is different world across the Atlantic Avenue Causeway that connects beaches to the mainland. Established single-family home neighborhoods make up most of the area between the waterfront and Highway 17 Business, and newer neighborhoods and multi-family complexes stretch to Highway 17 Bypass and beyond.
Not surprisingly, fishing, boating and other watersports are popular pastimes in Garden City Beach. After all, the easy access to both the Atlantic Ocean and Murrells Inlet provides plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. Marlin Quay Marina provides slip space for everything from yachts to fishing boats, and deep-sea fishing charters are available. Water-related activities like surfing, parasailing and paddleboarding are commonplace, and the adventurous take advantage of the locale to kayak through the salt marshes and tidal creeks.
The oceanfront area is the hub of activity during the summer months, but Garden City Beach also boasts several parks on the mainland that provides other recreational opportunities. Community park offers ball fields for all sorts of sports, as well as a city pool, and a high number of retirees are serviced by a pair of senior centers.
Golf is another local’s favorite, and even those who don’t like to chase the little white ball are known to get around town in a golf cart. Local ordinances allow the use of golf carts on all streets with a speed limit lower than 45 mph, and the law that forbids traveling via golf cart more than 4 miles from your home has little bearing in a town that consists of only 5 square miles.
For those who trade in their fishing poles for golf clubs, Garden City Beach is a great place to play championship-caliber golf while the rest of the town is on the water. Island Green, Indian Wells and the International Club are among the residential clubs in the area, and highly acclaimed layouts like Tupelo Bay, Blackmoor and Wachesaw East are only minutes away.
Be sure to get in some extra work with the putter because Garden City Beach also has miniature-golf options. Gilligan’s Island, Jungle Lake and Runaway Bay miniature golf courses offer fun for the whole family, which is pretty much ought to be the motto for Garden City Beach.
The crown jewel of Garden City Beach’s dining scene is the Gulfstream Café on Waccamaw Drive, where patrons can get fresh seafood straight from the fishing boats at the adjoining Marlin Quay Marina while enjoying incredible views of sunset over Murrells Inlet from the waterfront patio. The Conch Café, Sara J’s and the Causeway Grill & Raw Bar are other popular seafood spots along the waterfront.
Farther inland, along the Highway 17 corridor, Garden City Beach offers more traditional fare. Greg’s Cabana Café, the Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company, Carolina Tavern and Chelsea Jo’s offer a wide selection of fare. Garden City Beach is sandwiched between two of the top towns for restaurants on the Grand Strand – Murrells Inlet to the south and Surfside Beach to the north.