Most visitors come to Myrtle Beach for its modern, man-made attractions, such as golf courses, seafood restaurants and shopping malls, and its natural resources, like the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful white-sand beaches. Often lost in the mix is the Grand Strand's rich history, including some of Colonial America's earliest settlements and wealthiest plantations.
Although the city of Myrtle Beach itself is less than a century old, the nearby South Carolina Lowcountry towns of Georgetown, Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet still reflect the pre-Revolutionary War history of the region and the rice culture that dominated the South Carolina coast through the Civil War. Visitors can still see remnants of the old days by taking a walk back in time at these regional historic sites:
- Atalaya Castle: Built in 1931, this Moorish-style castle is reminiscent of the architectural wonders of the coast of Spain. Located in Huntington Beach State Park just steps away from the ocean, Atalaya was the winter home of wealthy industrialist Archer Huntington and his sculptor wife Anna Hyatt Huntington — and the residence is now available for tours. Guests can explore the castle and the grounds, which include a beautiful courtyard filled with flowers and palmetto trees. A popular spot for weddings and receptions, Atalaya provides the perfect backdrop for family photos.
- Brookgreen Gardens: Located just across Highway 17 from Huntington Beach State Park is the East Coast's oldest and largest botanical sculpture garden. Built on a former rice plantation, guests can soak in some history along with the property’s lovely flowers and statues. Brookgreen offers tours of the old Oaks Plantation, where the remnants of the plantation home, slave quarters and cemetery can be seen. Boat tours offer a ride through the former rice fields and tidal creeks of the 9,000-acre property.
- Hobcaw Barony: Located just north of Georgetown, this unique estate encompasses the scenic coastline, maritime forests, swamps and former rice fields of the Baruch family compound. The 17,500-acre nature preserve that stretches from Winyah Bay to the Waccamaw Neck was the lifework of heiress Belle Baruch, who inherited and preserved the land as part of her namesake trust and established a nature center and other educational programs to teach future generations about the diverse landscape. Tours are available Mondays through Saturdays.
- Hopsewee Plantation: Take a trip back in time at this Colonial-era plantation on the scenic Santee River in Georgetown. Featuring an old plantation home owned by Thomas Lynch, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, this 35-acre property was established in 1735 and remains mostly as it stood nearly three centuries ago. Visit the tea room and take a tour of the grounds and home for a true taste of Southern history.
- North Carolina: Not all of the area's historic sites are located on the South Strand. Visitors can also take a short ride to the Carolina border to see the historic waterfronts of small towns like Little River (SC) and Calabash (NC). A drive farther up the coast offers opportunities to pass through other historic seaside towns like Oak Island, Southport, Bald Head Island and eventually Wilmington, which was established in 1712. Colonial-era homes, waterfront warehouses and the retired Battleship North Carolina are among the many historic attractions in the area.
After your day trip back in time, step back into the future at Compass Cove Resort. Featuring modernly decorated rooms, state-of-the-art facilities and a convenient location to all the fun things Myrtle Beach has to offer, you can play time traveler for a day and soak up the area's rich history before returning to all the comfort and relaxation the modern world has to offer.