Sasee Takes A Look: Garden City Beach

By Leslie Moore

Sasee Takes A Look: Garden City Beach

This month, Sasee takes a look at a beloved beach, a favorite of those who love its eclectic charm and feel. Horry County’s southernmost beach community, Garden City Beach is the only one that lies in two counties – the southernmost end  is in Georgetown County. The community is actually a peninsula; one side faces the Atlantic and the other faces Murrells Inlet.

Gairy Nichols and his business partner, Rod Swaim, own Dunes Realty, located on Atlantic Avenue in Garden City. Gairy’s dad bought the real estate company in the late ‘60s and renamed it Dunes. “I was his full time maid for quite some time,” Gairy laughed. Today Dunes Realty rents and sells beach homes along the Grand Strand (

Gairy and his wife live in Murrells Inlet, where they raised their three children, and are now enjoying four beautiful grandchildren. But growing up, Gairy’s summers were spent in his family’s Garden City Beach house, and he shared some of his memories with Sasee. “Garden City Beach was not developed until the ‘50s and ‘60s. In the ‘40s, the now closed Myrtle Beach Air Force Base used the area for target practice. “You can still find some of those shells on the beach occasionally,” Gairy told me.

At that time, folks who had a second home in Garden City Beach would come and spend the whole summer – the roads were dirt and sand, but the county would scrape them regularly. Beach houses were more than a dwelling, they were a lifestyle, and people gave them names, putting up eclectic signs. The Nichols’ home was called “Pandemonium.” Gairy remembers having two rods and reels that he kept in the water, spending his summer days fishing and crabbing – it was an idyllic childhood.

“Hurricane Hazel destroyed my family’s home,” Gairy remembers. “Someone in Murrells Inlet actually found the “Pandemonium” sign and gave it back to my father! That sign hangs in my office today after hanging on three family beach houses.” The Nichols hired a contractor to rebuild their home exactly as it was before Hazel, but he accidentally built the house on the wrong lot! “Back then, everyone’s lots were exactly the same, so we just traded with the neighbor,” chuckled Gairy as he shared his love for this small beach community.

Garden City Beach is still known as a family beach – but it’s only a short drive to Myrtle Beach where visitors can shop and enjoy exciting nightlife, plus take advantage of a myriad of recreational activities. “Visitors who rent oceanfront homes can also bring their boats and dock them at Marlin Quay Marina during their stay. It’s a lot of fun to take a boat and go to dinner in Murrells Inlet! This is something that other beaches just don’t have.”

The Garden City Pier marks the hub and center of this community and is a beloved landmark, as well as a favorite of fishermen. During the summer months, live music plays at night from both ends of the iconic structure. In September of 1989, Hurricane Hugo destroyed the pier, but fortunately it was spared by Hurricane Matthew. Generations of children have begged to visit the arcade across the street from the pier and during the summer season, it is always bustling. “The arcade is a safe place for children to enjoy,” began Gairy. “And, everyone has to get at least one foot long hot dog at Sam’s Corner while they’re in Garden City!”

For a spectacular sunset view, locals and visitors love Gulfstream Café. It’s the only restaurant in Garden City Beach with huge windows showcasing the sunset over Murrells Inlet. And the food is delicious! Another favorite is Sara J’s, located on the marsh, offering pristine views as well as tasty seafood. “I have renters who time their arrival with dinner so they can stop at Sara J’s before checking into their beach house,” said Gairy.

Garden City Chapel & Retreat Center is another important landmark of the area. This facility serves as a retreat center for church groups throughout the southeast, with eleven dorm rooms, a pool, a snack bar and more. The nondenominational church also provides worship services for vacationers every Sunday beginning in May and running through Labor Day. Gairy told me about the chapel’s children’s’ home mission. “Every year we host groups from twelve to fifteen children’s homes. Some of these children have never seen the ocean and we roll out the red carpet.” In addition to lots of beach time, the children are given trips to Wild Water and Wheels, Ripley’s Aquarium, WonderWorks, the Carolina Opry and more. The non-profit relies on donations to help give these children the time of their lives – to donate, visit Two dredging projects are planned in the upcoming year to keep area waterways open and beaches renourished. All of the Grand Strand, from the North Carolina border to Garden City Beach is scheduled to be renourished by 2018. Gairy explained to me that because of the damage from the floods in 2015, the timeline was moved up for the area from the Myrtle Beach State Park to the Horry County line in Garden City Beach, but the funding sources have not been finalized. “Hurricane Matthew’s damage may bring in more funding to complete the project this year,” Gairy said. “The Georgetown County side will be complete by April of 2017 and includes dredging Murrells Inlet and renourishing the beaches on the Georgetown County side. “This project will be done in the winter, when we don’t have many visitors, and is scheduled to be completed two weeks before Easter.”

November is the perfect time for locals to visit this lovely beach community. Take a walk on the pier or stroll the beach and enjoy the beauty of our area. See you in Garden City Beach!

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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