Myrtle Beach may be better known for its modern amenities, such as new attractions, restaurants, shops and hotels like the Paradise Resort. But the Grand Strand, the 60-mile stretch of Carolina coastline that surrounds the Sun Fun City, is steeped in history.
With early settlements dating back to the colonial era, the Grand Strand is home to former rice plantations and antebellum homes, Revolutionary and Civil War sites, sea ports and river cities. All can be seen within a short drive to some scenic locales in the area.
So if you would like to take a break from the neon lights and want to dig a little deeper into the Grand Strand's unique past, spend a day exploring these historic sites. For all the great things happening in Myrtle Beach in the present, we shouldn't overlook the past:
Brookgreen Gardens: This popular Murrells Inlet attraction is famous for its beautiful works of art and nature, but the former rice plantation is also known for its rich history. An old church, plantation home and slave quarters are no longer standing but their sites have been preserved so guests can take a tour of the grounds. In the gardens, visitors can see the works of some of the top sculptures in US history. Across Highway 17 at Huntington Beach State Park, Atalaya Castle towers over the dunes and beaches. Natural beauty and local history come together on this property.
Hobcaw Barony: This former Lowcountry rice plantation covers 16,000 acres of swamps, wetlands, woodlands and an old village in which many of the old buildings remain intact. Previously owned by the Baruch family, the land has become a nature preserve for alligators, deer and rare birds. A new discovery center has been added to teach visitors about the history and natural habitat of the estate.
Horry County Museum: A recent change in venue has resulted in a serious upgrade of this facility that highlights the natural history and human history of the Grand Strand era. Featuring displays of native animals, plant life and man-made items that played a key role in the region, including agricultural and nautical exhibits, make this museum worth the 15-mile drive to downtown Conway. While you are in Conway, check out the Riverwalk and the old houses and buildings in the downtown district.
Hopsewee Plantation: This pre-Revolutionary War plantation home still stands on the grounds just north of Georgetown on the Black River. Tour the wetlands and woodlands that surround the property, and take a tour of the circa 1735 home. The gardens and tea house provide the perfect place to relax and enjoy a cup of seafood chowder, and a walking tour along the river provides excellent photo opportunities.
Pine Lakes International Country Club: The first golf course on the Grand Strand is responsible for helping to transform the Myrtle Beach area into a major golf destination. Opened in 1927 as a part of the defunct Ocean Forest Hotel property, Pine Lakes played host to vacationing northerners looking to play golf, ride horses and go fishing and hunting. The old clubhouse, which holds a place on the National Historic Registry, was recently restored to its original beauty, and the course also received a major makeover to increase its playability. Among the many historically significant events involved the launch of Sports Illustrated here back in 1954.
The rich history of the Grand Strand comes alive at these local landmarks and gives visitors a new appreciation for a place they previously only knew as a seaside vacation spot. Soak up the history as well as the sun on your next trip to Myrtle Beach and the Paradise Resort.