Mr. Rojo’s return to the Greens of Myrtle Beach

For all the Q Family Followers out there, you don’t usually hear from me, Mr. Rojo.  I usually like to stay in the background.  You’ve probably read the great posts of skiing in Colorado.  With those stories and the cold winter, you might want something to warm you up.  Here’s a post of my trip to Myrtle Beach, SC that I took.

Myrtle Beach, SC is well known for it’s well groomed golf courses.  It is the Nexus for all golfers to test their golf skills on professionally designed golf courses.  Yes, I love to play golf but I have only been to experience Myrtle Beach Golf one time in my life many moons ago when life was simpler and the days seemed longer.  When my good friend called and invited me for a trip to Myrtle Beach, I had to say yes even without the family CFO’s approval.  Luckily, I didn’t get into too much trouble for my impulsive behavior.

On our Dude’s Most Excellent Golfing Adventure, we planned to play three golf courses with the best course saved for last.  Oh.. and maybe we could run into Natalie Gulbis… For my friend. Not me.. because I’m a happily married man writing on my wife’s blog…  The last course we played was Wild Wing Plantation’s 27 hole course.  When we were younger, we probably  would have played all 27, but in our current state of easily pulled back muscles, we only played 18.  On this day, we were to tackle the Avocet course on Wild Wing Plantation.  It proved to be a tough track with rolling hills and hidden traps and water.  I’m not going to mention my score due to embarassment and besides, I think I stopped keeping score after the second snow man.  That’s a score of 8 for you non-golfers.

I had mentioned that I had visited Myrtle Beach when I was younger single man.  The only thing that I noticed was the golf and the beaches..  Oh.. and the bright neon lights of the T-Shirt shops.  This time around I saw Myrtle Beach through the eyes of a family man and noticed that there are a lot of family friendly things to do in Myrtle Beach like Broadway On The Beach and NASCAR Speed Park.

A Look Back to Family Travel 2011

Although we are a few days into 2012, our recent family trip to Keystone resort is still fresh in our mind, the first ski experience on one of the best family ski resort in Colorado. So to keep up with our tradition, we have our review post looking back to our family travel last year. It was a fun year!

January: Snow in Atlanta

Atlanta Snow 2011 Snow Tubing

It’s not often or should I say NEVER that Atlanta metro area will get seven inches of snow in winter. So it was a real big treat for our kids to enjoy snow tubing (home-made style) at our own backyard. The snow storm in Atlanta shut down the whole city a whole week. For adults, the cabin fever started to set in but for kids it was like an unexpected winter break!

February: Indoor Water Park fun

Wilderness at the Smokies Tube Slides

We went up to Sevierville, Tennessee to help celebrate our friend’s birthday. An indoor water park at Wilderness in the Smokies is a great year round fun where kids (and adults) can enjoy swimming, sliding, surfing and more in the heated environment even in the middle of winter.

March: Mickey Memory with Disney Social Media Mom

Disney Grand Floridian Carriage

This month we drove down to our familiar vacation spot in Orlando to attend the Disney Social Media Mom 2011 where we learned, laughed and connected with bloggers. It was our first time staying at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Spa & Resort and it was an experience we won’t easily forget. Mr. Z also experienced a big kid ride and hooked on the roller coaster now!

April: Fun in Atlanta at Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium Atlanta

In Spring, we stayed close to home and enjoy local  attractions in Atlanta like the Grand opening of new Dolphin Tale show at the Georgia Aquarium, the beautiful day at Piedmont Park for the Dogwood Festival

May: Birthday Celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest With Kids

This year we took another trip down to Orlando to celebrate Mr. Rojo’s birthday at the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. We hardly stayed at the Disney’s resorts previously because our family has a timeshare in Orlando but year 2011 we stayed in not just one but two property! And I have to say I understand why people keep going back year after year!

June: Summer fun in Seattle & Vancouver

Seattle With Kids - Waterfront

Our big summer trip this year was a two weeks trip to Seattle and Vancouver. It was a business/family trip combo. I attended TBEX 2011, the Travel bloggers conference, in Vancouver and we also enjoyed family vacation in Seattle.

July: Family Reunion in the Ozark & Side trip to St. Louis

St Louis with Kids Enjoy the Arch view

Our first family reunion was planned at the YMCA of the Ozark. It was wonderful for kids to meet and play with their cousins. We also took a little detour to visit St. Louis, MO. A fun day but not nearly enough to discover this gem in the Midwest.

August: Back to School

Summer time flew by when you had so much fun. Before we knew it, the kids were back in school. Yes, here in Atlanta we go back to school in August!

September: Myrtle Beach on Labor Day

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kayaking with kids

Now, that kids are in school, we have to work around school holidays and take advantage of every holidays we can get. So we planned a short break during Labor Day weekend to visit Myrtle Beach. What a fun place for the whole family! We found that Myrtle Beach is not just a place for fun time at the beach or various family entertainments like MagiQuest but we could also enjoy nature like Kayak tour.

October: Fall Family Camping

In October, we had our first fall family camping trip with a group of our friends at Redtop Mountain Park. It was beautiful even though a bit too cold for this tropical girl. Kids, on the other hand, had no problem with the cold temperature at night when they had the whole park to explore. The water in the lake was too cold for anyone of us to dare going in. But we knew it will be a great place to camp again in the summer.

November: Legoland Florida

During the Thanksgiving break, we went to visit the recently opened Legoland Florida. Mr. Z was beyond happy to be able to ride in EVERY SINGLE ride at his height. Miss J loved being a big kid who could take her little brother on the ride without us. Ah!! A theme park where kids rule!

December: Ski & Snow at Keystone Ski Resort

Ski With Kid - Keystone Ski School near Denver

Our last but certainly not least family trip of the year was one of the memorable one for our whole family. It was their first time on ski and my first time learning to ski. One word, AMAZING trip! We certainly enjoyed our whole experience during our trip to Denver & Keystone. This will certainly be a place we would love to revisit again in the future.

Wow! I didn’t realize how much we have traveled this past year until I started this post. It certainly has been a blessing for us to be able to continue our love of travel and adventures. We are thankful for the opportunities we have been given and hope we will continue to be able to travel as a family in 2012. Here to more travel in 2012!

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Fun Time with Mini Golf & Go-Karts

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Go-Karts

When we travel, we like to mix educational type activities with a little dose of pure fun family entertainments. There is no other places that offer more varieties of family attractions than in Myrtle Beach.

Driving Experience at NASCAR SpeedPark

Myrtle Beach with Kids - NASCAR SpeedPark

With only a few days visiting Myrtle Beach, we had to pick and choose activities that would please the whole family. One of the choice that Mr. Z & Miss J chose was the NASCAR SpeedPark.

They had been fascinating with the idea of being able to drive a car by themselves for a while. But with petite size parents, I felt bad that they were always too short to meet minimum height to most theme parks to enjoy those go-karts fun.

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kiddie Zone

Luckily, there were a few options for them to be able to drive the car themselves in NASCAR SpeedPark. The Beginners Circle is a perfect spot for pint-size visitors. However, Mr. Z was a bit disappointed that most of the rides were for younger crowds.

Myrtle Beach with Kids Driving Go-Kart

Nonetheless, he was able to drive his own go-kart as he wished. It was a bit disappointment for him that he didn’t have as many choices as he hoped for but it was a great motivation for him to eat more so next time we visit he would be tall enough for all the rides.

Myrtle Beach with Kids Driving

Miss J, on the other hand, was a little dare devil that came out of her shell this year. She enjoyed driving and I had to say she was pretty good for a little girl.

If you decide to check out NASCAR SpeedPark, I would recommend you to check out their website and see what type of tickets or passes you want to purchase beforehand. It was very confusing to figure out which is the best value for a family. It all depends on your kids and how long you want to stay.

The line to purchase tickets was long and slow so pack your patience with you when you visit. At least your kids can play some video games while you wait in line. :)

Putt Putt at Hawaiian Rumble Golf

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Hawaiian Rumble Golf

I’m not avid golfer and quite frankly I don’t have much time to spend that much on the golf course. But for a quick putting fun, there is no better place to try out mini-golf at this miniature golf courses capital city. I don’t really know how many mini-golf courses there are in Myrtle Beach but we saw them as frequent as drug stores.

Myrtle Beach with Kids Mini-Golf

We were able to squeeze in putt putt fun one night at Hawaiian Rumble Golf. This Hawaiian mini-golf theme is a bit further North for people who stays closer to Myrtle Beach downtown area. But if you stay in the North end of the beach, it would be a good place to visit.

Myrtle Beach with Kids Hawaiian Rumble Golf Volcano

The Volcano is the showcase at the Hawaiian Rumble Golf. Fortunately, Miss J had gotten over her fear of volcano from a few years ago!

Myrtle Beach with Kids Hawaiian Language

Don’t forget to check out the sign for each hole to learn Hawaiian phrases.

Mahalo NASCAR SpeedPark and Hawaiian Rumble Golf for providing us with complimentary passes. As always, you can count on me to disclose when I receive something for free and also to share my honest opinions.

Myrtle Beach With Kids: Guided Kayak Tour with Black River Outdoors Center

Myrtle Beach With Kids: Guided Kayak Tour

When we travel, one of family activities I love to plan in each city is to find local guided tour whether it was photo walking tour or guided nature walk.

This time in Myrtle Beach is no difference. I combed through list of many family attractions and tours available for families to choose from.

Guided Kayak Eco-Tour with Black River Outdoors Center

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kayak with Black River Outdoors Center

The Black River Outdoors Center has caught my eyes. They offered guided kayak eco-tours at various locations in Myrtle Beach area. Plus the tour allows kids of all ages to attend as well. It’s something you don’t find that often with this kind of outdoor adventures.

A quick email and a follow up phone call, we were booked for a 2-hours guided kayak eco-tour of Tupelo Swamp. To get ready for a tour, we checked out their website FAQ which provided great information on what we need to bring – hat, sunscreen, water – just to name a few.

Early Saturday morning, we arrived at the Peachtree landing, our meeting location, to find the Black River Outdoors Center truck was already there loading their kayaks. The guided tour had 2 guides. One is a lead guide, Paul, who provided educational and tidbits information through out our trip. The other is the  guide who makes sure that no one gets lost in this swamp.

Great Activity for the Whole Family

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kayaking with kids

Another reason why I chose Black River Outdoors Center in Myrtle Beach was the family friendly aspect of the tour. There is no age limit on children because you can kayak with your kid. However, children must be 13 and over to be able to paddle their own kayak.

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Family Kayaking Guided Tour

During summer camp, they did kayaking at our local YMCA camp and they were hooked. That’s why they had been so excited to know that I added kayak tour to our trip to Myrtle Beach. Mr. Z and Miss J were pretty bumped that they are not old enough. Nonetheless, they were very excited to get on the water. I will caution parents if their kids want to kayak by themselves because it’s physical. After only 2 hours paddling, I felt like the burn on my arm. Ah! It was the sign of the inactive person in me. :)

Explore, Learn and Relax

We spent the first few minutes on paddling instruction. This was my first time so I was a little nervous. But as soon as we got in the water, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I just had to remember how to slow down and turn.

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kayak Tour with kids

We started off heading along the water toward the Cypress-Tupelo swamp. Since it was pretty early in the morning, it wasn’t busy at the landing. There was hardly anyone else except our group in the water. Even though it was a busy weekend in Myrtle Beach, we felt completely out of civilization in our own world.

Paul, our tour guide, provided useful information about trees, animals and other knowledge about the swamps. However, due to openness of the space it was hard to hear him talk. So if you are really interested in learning, stay close to him.

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kayaking Tour with kids

He was very good at answering any questions you have about ecology and the environment. At one point, he pointed out the water lily that edible. He even dove under the water to get some for us to try. One word ‘Bleh’.. The taste was horrible. But I was so proud of both Mr. Z and Miss J, they did try it out as well. That’s the thing about traveling. It helps pushing you out of your comfort zone.

The clean air, quiet surrounding with only the sound of birds provided us with the real connection to nature. We cruised along the river, paddled our kayak deep into the river and learned about different types of plants and insects who call its home. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the landing.

Myrtle Beach with Kids: Kayaking Guided Tour

It was one of the best experience we had during our fun time in Myrtle Beach. I would highly recommend any family planning a visit to Myrtle Beach who looks for things to do beyond attractions and shopping to check out Black River Outdoors Center. They offer various type of tours and also kayak rental if you want to just explore on your own.

Check out other travelers’ photo at Delicious Baby Photo Friday.

Thank you Black River Outdoors Center for providing us with complimentary tours. As always, you can count on me to disclose when I receive something for free and also to share my honest opinions.

Myrtle Beach With Kids: Perfect Accommodation for Family @ Kingston Plantation

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Kingston Plantation

Myrtle Beach is one of top family destination in the US. So it’s a given that there are plenty of choices for accommodation to choose from. To narrow down the perfect place to stay for your family is a task that can be accomplish by utilizing VisitMyrtleBeach.com, the official site of Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Choosing the Area to Stay in Myrtle Beach

First step is to decide which area of the Grand Strand you want to stay. For family-friendly and less crowded, I will suggest the North end of the central Myrtle Beach area for the proximity to various attractions and yet not as busy with crowd visitors as in downtown area.

We were hosted by Kingston Plantation Hotels and Resorts, the oceanfront Myrtle Beach resorts feature Embassy Suites Hotel and Myrtle Beach Condos.

Ideal Location for Family Beach Vacation in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Kingston Plantation Oceanfront

The Kingston Plantation is located on the North end of the Myrtle Beach within minutes from various family attractions and shopping centers. It’s a perfect vacation for family seeking a beach vacation where you stay in a condo that is just steps away from stretch of sand beach along the Atlanta ocean yet only a few minutes drive from all local attractions from aquarium, family entertainment centers like MagiQuest, NASCAR Speedpark or shopping mall like Broadway at the Beach or Barefoot Landing.

Spacious Oceanfront Condo for Family

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Kingston Plantation Bedroom

The accommodation options at Kingston Plantation are plentiful and it’s sure to satisfy any type of families or vacationers. There are over 1,000 luxury accommodation choices from oceanfront room, condos and villas. I think I have found our next family reunion location!

We stayed at the 2 bedroom oceanfront condo. The condo units are individually owned but managed by Embassy Suites Hotel so you have all the amenities of home yet the luxury of hotel services. As soon as we opened the door, the kids couldn’t drop their bags fast enough to check out this 2 bedroom condo. They ran from master bedroom to dining room and bounce back to kitchen and the balcony.

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Kingston Plantation Kitchen

The room that we stayed in has more than enough space for the 4 of us. It includes dining room with the view of the Atlantic ocean, full-size kitchen that we spent every morning enjoying breakfast and washer/dryer that we could wash our clothes from a day at the beach.

Since each condo unit is individually owned, the decoration and furniture will be different from one another. Our unit is adequate for our short stay. Many things seem a bit date but not to the point where you will think you have stayed at the 70s show.

If you plan to cook, I recommend checking before hand to see if you will have all kitchen equipment you need. When we travel and stay at a condo, I always plan a simple meal like spaghetti or rotisserie chicken. Who want to spend hours in the kitchen when the beach is calling your name!

Fun Activities for Everyone

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Kingston Plantation Activities

Staying for 2 nights was way too short to explore this resort because there are many things to do in Myrtle Beach with kids. The resort has regular activities for guests ranging from live music, games, craft and sport activities.

Myrtle Beach with Kids - Kingston Plantation Splash Waterpark

We didn’t have time to even participate in any resort activities but we sure didn’t miss spending quality time relaxing and enjoying perfect weather at the Splash! Waterpark. Splash! Waterpark is an outdoor waterpark right on the beach with slides and lazy river for kids and adults. Unlike most pools in the property, the hour of operation is shorter so take advantage when they open.

While the kids ran up and slid down the slides numerously time, I enjoyed relaxing time amidst all the laugh and scream of happy families. It’s easy to see why Myrtle Beach is a top destination for families. I have met a family who celebrate 40th birthday and family reunion at the same time. Three generations in one place and everyone as happy as you can see.

Don’t Forget about the Beach

Myrtle Beach With Kids: Kingston Plantation Beach

And we wouldn’t be able to face ourselves if we came all the way to Myrtle Beach without spending time on the beach, right? With our busy schedule, we squeeze in beach time for kids to enjoy jumping the wave and chasing after the elusive white foam crashing to shore. It was a busy time as families try to enjoy their last hooray of summer before kids go back to school.

We would be content to just staying here for the rest of the week but life is calling and we had to pack up and go back to be a responsible adult. Stay tune for more stories about our Myrtle Beach visit in the next couple weeks.

Disclosure: I received complimentary stay from Kingston Plantation Hotels and Resorts. But there is no expectation on positive review from them. This post is based solely on my experience and my opinion without any outside influence. I always provide my honest opinion on our stays and won’t write about a place we will not stay ourselves.