You know about the beaches, the golf courses, the restaurants and shops. But how well do you really know Myrtle Beach. Here are 10 trivia facts you may not know about this vacation hot spot:
* The first “locals” in Myrtle Beach were the Waccamaw and Winyah tribes, and the first “tourists” to the area were Spanish settlers who sailed with Lucas Vasques de Allyon. They founded the first colony just south of the Cape Fear River but the settlement was wiped out by disease within the first year. Future tourists found better fortune.
* Country music super group Alabama got their start serving as the house band at The Bowery in downtown Myrtle Beach in 1973. In fact, the band got its name from a sign that used to be the backdrop of the stage at The Bowery, which is still open today. The band went on to win eight Grammys and make it into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
* Long Bay, the crescent-shaped coast that runs from the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to Georgetown, was a popular spot for pirates in the early 1700s, including the legendary Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard. Pirates used to hide out in the inlets and attack ships transporting treasure. Blackbeard eventually met his doom in Cape Fear.
* The 1989 movie “Shag,” starring Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda and Scott Coffey, was filmed in Myrtle Beach. Other movies to be shot on location on the Grand Strand include “Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken,” “Chasers” and “Swimming,” along with TV shows “Dawson's Creek” and “East Bound & Down.” Recently, “Magic Mike 2” was filmed downtown.
* Myrtle Beach used to be known as “New Town” until the local newspaper sponsored a contest to officially name the area. Mrs. F.E. Burroughs, the wife of the founder of Burroughs & Collins that developed the area, won with the name she chose for the many wax myrtle trees growing on the coast – not crepe myrtle, as is popularly believed.
* The first hotel in Myrtle Beach was the Seaside Inn. Built in 1901 at the bargain price of $3,800, the Seaside Inn had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but for just $2 per overnight stay guests got three square meals, a roof over their heads and easy access to the beach – the same thing that brings people back more than a century later.
* Vanna White, the longtime letter-turner of “Wheel of Fortune” fame, was born in North Myrtle Beach, as was The Golf Channel reporter Kelly Tilghman. Other locals to go on to fame include actors Anthony James (“Unforgiven”) and Christopher Jones (“Forrest Gump”) and actresses Madison Iseman (“She Will Be Free”) and Melissa Wyler (“Legally Blonde 2”).
* The tract of land along Kings Highway and Oak Street, between 21st and 27th Avenues North, was originally known as Washington Park, a harness-racing horse track that opened in 1938. Featuring a 5,200-seat grandstand and a 1 1/2 mile course later became a NASCAR track, a golf course and driving range and the old Myrtle Beach Mall.
* Sports Illustrated magazine was founded in Myrtle Beach at Pine Lakes International Golf Club in 1973. A group of Time Inc. executives visited Myrtle Beach by the old train line out of Conway, making a relaxing trip on the links at Myrtle Beach's first golf course while finalizing the plan to release the popular sports publication.
* More than 14 million visitors come to the Grand Strand every year, part of the reason it was voted America's No. 1 summer destination by TripAdvisor in 2014. Other accolades include No. 1 Hot Spot for Winter Meetings (Convention South magazine), Best Restaurant Cities (Huffington Post), and Top 10 Places to Retire in S.C. (Mavoto).
(Sources: City of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce)