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Myrtle Beach loves Canadian visitors. Based on the 400,000 Canadians who visited the Grand Strand area of South Carolina last year, the feeling is mutual.

To celebrate their friendship, Myrtle Beach has hosted the Canadian-American Days festival annually since 1961. The nine-day mid-March event draws Canadians with discounts and special events.

Things to do

Special events, many of them free, take place in Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Garden City Beach and Conway. They include concerts (with big name performers like Tom Jones and Anne Murray), dance competitions, pipe bands, car shows, Waccamaw River boat tours, tours of Georgetown, Conway and Ocean Keyes, casino cruises, bird identification, theatrical performances, quilt displays, snowbird games and Broadway on the beach.

Myrtle Beach family activities feature wildlife and history days, storytelling for kids at the Children's Museum of South Carolina, river boat rides at the Wacatee Zoo, glass-blowing, a St. Patrick's Day parade, fireworks, a circus and a kite festival at Huntington Beach State Park.

With pancake suppers, barbecues, cookouts and picnics, no visitor will leave hungry.

The Canadian-American Days website, below, lists locations, addresses, dates, times costs (if applicable), phone numbers and websites for special events on each day of the festival.

Discounts for Canadians

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce offers Canadians discounts on motels, inns, condos, hotels, resorts and camping, ranging from five to 25 per cent off room rates.

The Canadian-American Days website gives contact information for businesses offering deals and special rates. There are also recreation discounts for boating, museums, shopping, photography and theatres.

The website also lists restaurants, pizzerias and coffee shops offering two for one discounts and 10 to 20 per cent off entrées. Seafood is popular, but steak, barbecue and international restaurants are also available.

To receive these discounts, visitors show their Myrtle Beach Loves Canada discount card (downloadable) or mention the code listed on the website.

Grand Strand beaches

For many visitors, the 60 miles of sandy beaches along the Grand Strand are the biggest draw. They stretch along the South Carolina Atlantic coast from Little River to Pawleys Island.

Myrtle Beach boasts 215 sunny days annually. Temperatures average 64 degrees F (18 degrees C). If the water is too cool for swimming and surfing, visitors can enjoy beachcombing, boating, parasailing, shell-collecting, sunning, fishing and sandcastle-building.

Myrtle Beach golf

Golfing on more than 100 golf courses and 50 miniature golf courses is another big draw for visitors.

The Market Common at Myrtle Beach is Grand Strand's first urban village, with apartments, condos, restaurants a 16-screen movie theater and stores. It is located on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

In North Myrtle Beach, the Lakeside Conference Center is located at Barefoot Resort. The Marina Plaza, next to Docksider's Grille, offers views of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Invitation to visit Myrtle Beach

The Honorable David Wilkins, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, invited Canadians to visit Myrtle Beach. "Canadian-American Days represent everything that's special between Myrtle Beach and Canada, from business and trade relationships to friendships. Y'all come down and let us show you our Southern hospitality and our famous beaches."