Explore the Rich History of the Grand Strand
The Myrtle Beach area is known locally as the “Grand Strand” and includes 60 miles of pristine Atlantic coastline and is comprised of 14 communities and two counties. Myrtle Beach is a dynamic family destination chock full of fun attractions, restaurants, the world-famous Boardwalk with the Skywheel, amusement parks, and much more, but did you know there are numerous opportunities to explore the region’s unique history?
Spend a couple of days away from the beach and immerse yourself in the rich unique history of coastal South Carolina. Did you know that the rice plantations of the South Carolina low country once were the major supplier of rice for the entire nation? Learn more about this at the The Rice Museum in downtown Georgetown, SC, located about an hour south of Myrtle Beach.
As you move northward on Route 17, you find Hopsewee Plantation. Built circa 1740, some 40 years before the American Revolutionary War, Hopsewee Plantation was one of the South's major rice plantations and the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Now a private residence, this National Historic Landmark is open for tours, tea, and seasonal dining.
Moving northward still, stop at Huntington Beach State Park. Pristine and wide-open, Huntington offers sea-breeze camping, the finest surf fishing South Carolina has to offer, and some of the top bird-watching on the East Coast. That’s not all. There is also Atalaya, the picturesque, Moorish-style winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, philanthropist and sculptor, respectively, who left the park and adjacent Brookgreen Gardens as their legacy. You can take a tour of the fascinating “castle” and learn the interesting history of the Huntington’s.
Across the highway from Atalaya is Brookgreen Gardens, an outstanding 9,000+-acre outdoor sculpture and botanical garden. This amazing attraction is so vast, one ticket is good for seven days! Brookgreen Gardens contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture in the country, displayed in a stunning garden setting, three galleries and a visible storage and research facility. You can also take a boat tour, visit the Lowcountry zoo and learn about Gullah Geechee culture.
From there, take a 40-minute drive west past the Waccamaw Wildlife Refuge to the historic town of Conway, SC. Established in 1732, this charming town on the Waccamaw River is rich in historic sites and boutique restaurants. You’ll also find the Horry County Museum. The Museum focuses on the history, pre-history, and natural history of Horry County, S.C., and educates the public about these subjects through exhibits, outreach programs, and events.
In 2009, the Museum opened the L. W. Paul Living History Farm. The Farm is a recreation of life on a one-horse family farm between the years of 1900-1955. Visitors to the farm can experience what life was like in a farm community during those years and attend quarterly events. Check their website for a full schedule.
Back in the heart of Myrtle Beach, the Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School & Education Center serves as a museum and school for the community. Originally built in 1932, the Myrtle Beach Colored School fell into disrepair until 2005 when the City Council assisted in recreating the old school as a window into the past, telling the story of African American education prior to desegregation. This school played a vital role in the African American community’s period of growth and transition in the 1950s.
Newly restored by the City of Myrtle Beach who recognized the importance of this historic site, Charlie’s Place was a night club owned by Charlie Fitzgerald and his wife, Sarah. Famous musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Little Richard, and Billie Holiday performed their music at Charlie’s place, and stayed in the adjacent Fitzgerald Hotel, also owned by Charlie and Sarah. The Fitzgerald’s home has been refurbished to become an event and community center, and several of the motel rooms have been reconstructed to show visitors the history of travel during segregation. Tours are free to the public on Tuesdays throughout the year. Please visit their website for more information.
Find more information on historical attractions, area history and family-friendly attractions in the Myrtle Beach area. Plan your next visit to many of these historical places by using our History Buff itinerary.