Emerging from the agricultural structures of the colonial South, the Lowcountry bears a record of American history. This region along the coastline of South Carolina is imbued with traces of the past, like the architectural remnants of the pre-Civil War era, carefully preserved artifacts embodying the American dream, and even whole cities whose streets tell distinctive stories. Myrtle Beach attractions like these allow us to travel back in time and witness the evolution of the Lowcountry into the unique cultural and geographic region that it is today.
Brookgreen Gardens offers some of the most fascinating historical Myrtle Beach tours available. Within the depths of this 9,127-acre preserve, the Lowcountry Trail spans the restored rice fields of Brookgreen Plantation, where enslaved Africans made the daily journey to work from the slave village. The trail features remnants of the overseer’s residence juxtaposed with the stainless steel figure sculptures of award-winning artist Babette Bloch. As you walk the Lowcountry Trail, listening stations tell a compelling fictional story about the daily life of a slave at Brookgreen Plantation and the economic and social context. Brookgreen Gardens also hosts The Creeks Excursion, an educational pontoon boat ride into the preserve to view vast historic rice fields reclaimed by wildlife. Keep an eye out for alligators, waterfowl and osprey while your guide offers fascinating insights about the role of African slaves in the Lowcountry’s agricultural landscape and development.
Constructed forty years before the American Revolutionary War, the Hopsewee Plantation is most notable for being the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. During a guided tour from the full brick cellar up to the attic rooms, you’ll see the black cypress walls, heart pine floors, antique décor, and slave cabins that make Hopsewee a quintessential example of a Lowcountry rice plantation. The Gullah tour is an especially insightful way to go back in time to hear the stories of the enslaved Africans whose labor built the colonial South. Make sure to stay for lunch or tea at the River Oak Cottage and participate in the hands-on workshop on the West African art of sweetgrass basket weaving. On the tree-lined banks of the North Santee River, the Hopsewee Plantation stands as a vestige of the 18th-century agricultural era of the South.
As one of the first European settlements in North America, Georgetown boasts a highly original Southern charm. The city contains over 250 historic homes, including many over 200 years old and at least 60 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Explore Front Street, the oak-lined heart of downtown, to learn more about Georgetown’s influence in colonial history at any of five museums. Stroll along the Harborwalk to take in the ocean air as you browse sophisticated boutiques or stop for a repast at an award-winning restaurant. Only a 45-minute drive south of Myrtle Beach, Georgetown makes for a breezy day trip full of historical experiences, shopping, dining, and refreshing coastal views.
When spending time in the Lowcountry, a water-borne excursion is a must. Why not explore fascinating legends and personal histories from the comfort and excitement of a boat? Based in Georgetown, Cap’n Rod’s Shell Island Lighthouse and Plantation Tours hosts up to 49 people aboard their 56-foot pontoon boat for a swift outing on the Winyah Bay and surrounding rivers.
On the Lighthouse Shell Island Tour, you’ll get some vital beach time on a shell-covered island, where South Carolina’s oldest lighthouse still operates and still recalls the spooky story of Lighthouse Annie. Alternatively, you might go on an adventure up the Black or Pee Dee Rivers on the Plantation River Tour to see former rice fields, plantations, trunk gates, and slave cabins. All three of their tours offer educational narration about the local history and ecology, as well as a chance to see intriguing wildlife like eagles, dolphins, turtles, alligators, ospreys, and more.
Just two hours south of Myrtle Beach, Charleston is another excellent choice for an educational voyage back in time. Day Trips to Charleston takes the logistical hassle out of the equation, offering three transportation tours to take you from Myrtle Beach to Charleston and back. The Roundtrip Transportation is best for those who just need a ride but otherwise prefer the freedom to do their own thing. The other two tours include a guided bus or horse-drawn carriage tour of Charleston’s Historic District, a chance to shop the City Market, and visits to attractions like the Boone Hall Plantation, Fort Sumner, and the Patriots Point Naval Museum. A deep dive into Lowcountry history would certainly not be complete without a day trip to Charleston.
If the most stressful part of your vacation is figuring out the logistics of getting to and from all these places, the Coast RTA offers a great deal of mental relief. The Waccamaw Regional Transportation Authority provides the free Entertainment Shuttle (running from summer through Labor Day), which connects many of the area’s local hotels to major Myrtle Beach attractions like the boardwalk, Rockin’ Jump, Zipline at the Pavilion, and Broadway at the Beach. The bus system also runs to many neighboring cities of historical interest, including Conway, Georgetown, and Murrells Inlet. All buses are climate controlled, wheelchair accessible, and ADA compliant. Coast RTA works hard all seven days of the week to ensure your Lowcountry adventures are comfortable and stress-free.
From Charleston to Georgetown to Myrtle Beach, history is inextricably tied to the land. The Lowcountry preserves many of the most exemplary places, people, and stories of colonial history, showing us how our country got to be the way it is now. The appreciation of history through Myrtle Beach tours like these is, therefore, an educational experience. Not only does it put our current reality into context, but it also reveals our cultural roots and inspires us as we progress from our past.
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