My two best friends, JoAnn and Carla, and I have been getting together for a weekend for the past three years. We’ve chosen Myrtle Beach in the winter because it’s cheap and not too far away. We’re flexible about what we do and see – it’s more about being together.
All three of us are budget conscious – we all work for ourselves and live for bargains. We also like to eat, have an occasional drink and are willing to try something new, if it won’t kill us.
For this trip, we each spent under $200.
The itinerary and experience
All three of us are planners – we have seven kids between us and our days are crammed full of work and family stuff. Although we booked our accommodations a couple of weeks in advance, we had nothing else scheduled. On the way to Myrtle Beach, we made a loose plan. Here’s how it went down:
Kingston Plantation Resort – We found a GroupOn for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with living room and full kitchen for $238 for two-nights at a resort on the beach. When we checked in, we were surprised we had to pay a $20 per day resort fee. The villa was decorated in a 1980s beach-style, with too much pink and green everything. Despite the frilly pillows and dried flowers, we had ample room to hang out. We ate one breakfast in the villa with food we brought from home. – $92 each
Nacho Hippo – This is a Myrtle Beach icon. In season, expect lines and long waits. Off-season, we walked right in and were the only ones in the place. The menu is Mexican food with a few twists. Carla and JoAnn had fish tacos ($4 for one taco). My vegetarian burrito promised fire-roasted veggies, but either the stove was broken, or someone got lazy. Mine was filled with uncooked zucchini and uncooked, uncut squash (yes, one-quarter of a squash didn’t get cut or cooked). It was our first minute in Myrtle Beach, so I ate it without complaining … too much. – $10 each with tip
Myrtle Beach SkyWheel – The SkyWheel flight was mine and JoAnn’s idea. Carla is afraid of heights, but she kept her eyes closed most of the time and made it through the five turns around the gigantic Ferris wheel in the enclosed gondola. She probably won’t do it again. I loved it – great photo ops, beautiful views and “safe danger” – out of my comfort zone, but not enough to harm me. – $14 each
Afternoon adventure and drinks
La Belle Amie Vineyard, LLC – This was an unexpected highlight for all of us. The service we received was unbelievable – that and the Peach Bellini slushie made the experience perfect. The wine tasting included six wines, plus a mulled spice wine and one of the two slushies on tap. There are plenty of places to sit – porch, outdoor seating, including some around the large firepit. This was a deal. – $5.50 each
Villa Tuscanna – We were still on a slight high from our vineyard visit. JoAnn was set on Chianti South in Little River, but when we arrived, it was closed for the month of January. We scrambled and found this Italian restaurant – we had to have Italian because it was in our heads. Food was great and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Carla chose the gluten free Bolognese ($15); JoAnn had the Egg Battered Grouper ($25) and I had Lasagna ($24,) and we split the Tiramisu ($6) – $30 each with tip
Hook & Barrel – This was another surprise experience. Hook & Barrel opened last July and serves brunch on Sundays and dinner during the week. The seafood is locally sourced, the kitchen uses induction rather than gas to cook. I had the Cinnamon Roll French Toast with bacon ($16) and JoAnn had the Farm Fresh Omelet with cheesy hash browns ($14). Food and service were amazing. – $20 each with tip
Gas –JoAnn chauffeured me around all weekend. Perhaps I should have paid her portion of the gas. – $15 each
The total came to $186 each. Small price to pay to spend time with long-time friends.
Photos: Vanessa Infanzon, Nacho Hippo