Beach Report : Where to have fun around the Grand Strand

Hard Rock Park goes

to daily operations

With its formal grand opening Monday and Tuesday, there's no time like now to check out Hard Rock Park while it's fresh. The $400 million theme park was partly built on the site of the former Fantasy Harbor entertainment complex; partly on the failed Waccamaw Factory Shoppes. There was a soft opening in April and in mid-May. Now it'll be open daily, with the bugs worked out and everything slated to be up and running – including recently-in-the-works Maximum RPM roller coaster (you do the track in a “mini sports car”; a ride-in Ferris wheel lifts your vehicle to the track overhead).

Still available: two-day ticket package – $250 – that includes park admission for both days, admission to concerts by the Eagles (Monday) and Moody Blues (Tuesday), free parking, a souvenirs package and a food/beverage package. Details/tickets: 843-236-7625; Staff and Wire Reports

The Fresh SeafoodRestaurant & Market

The place: 1343 Kings Highway (beside Kmart), Myrtle Beach. Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Details: 843-448-9043.

The taste: Here's a casual eatery with friendly staff and tasty, reasonably priced food. Friends and family could easily go there and just hang out because the place has a laid-back atmosphere.

The seafood comes from the market, with the cook scooping out fresh seafood right from the meat case in the front of the store. There is a lunch and dinner menu, with a variety of seafood featured on each. There are fish, clams, shrimp, perch, catfish, chicken and burgers on the lunch menu, while the dinner menu additionally features mahi-mahi, flounder, orange roughy, coconut shrimp and other popular seafood.

Sandwiches are also an eatery staple, with the restaurant offering whiting, spot, croaker, grouper and other fish sandwiches. A crab cake sandwich is also offered. The eatery sells frog legs, too. I opted for the “Big Four” – fish, shrimp, oysters and scallops. All the seafood was lightly breaded.

The dinner came with coleslaw, hush puppies and french fries. Land lovers can order steak; seafood lovers will be glad Dungeness crab legs and lobster are also sold here. Dieters should know their food can be grilled.

To drink: Pepsi products and ice tea (sweet and unsweetened) are $1.64. Refills are free.

The price: Prices range from $4.90 to market price (for the lobster dinner). Johanna D. Wilson, Sun News

Panini 38

The place: 1289 38th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday. Details: 843-448-5154.

The vibe: Panini 38's cozy atmosphere is great for both the wine and beer crowd. Two high-definition TVs situated above the bar offer good views from all seats in the restaurant, so you can enjoy a beer while checking out college basketball.

Booths and tables abound, but for a more intimate experience, check out the booths, which are great for sharing a glass of wine and some conversation.

The crowd: The patrons were older, fun-loving sorts, singing along to live country tunes and calling out requests. A feel-good vibe also surrounded the pack of gentlemen at the bar.

The drink: Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. daily, and there are several beer specials available. The bartenders were knowledgeable about the wines on the menu and were extremely polite. Your tab comes in a sleeve, so there's no one eyeballing you as you write in the tip.

The sound: On most evenings, there is live music. Genres vary. The night we were there, Jason “Cowboy” Parchert performed acoustic country and classic tunes. Parchert is worth a listen, especially if you love country sung in a deep, bass voice, a la Johnny Cash or Randy Travis. Plus, he takes requests.

Overheard: Patron 1: “How did Steve get home last night?” Patron 2: “I don't know. I heard he took his clothes off.”

Most awesome/strangest site: There is artwork on every wall at Panini 38 and even some photographs. It gives the place a gallery feel, while still maintaining a cozy vibe. Mary Erskine, Sun News