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While the Myrtle Beach area is loaded with modern conveniences and 21st century attractions, the Grand Strand is also a hotbed for history buffs. From ages-old plantations to a rice museum and a Spanish-styled castle surrounded by thousands of acres of coastal preserve, the opportunities to explore history on the Grand Strand abound.
During your next getaway to our stretch of the Carolina coast, take a step back in time with a visit to one of these historical area destinations:
Brookgreen Gardens: Found about 22 miles south of Ocean Reef Resort in Murrells Inlet, this 9,100-acre sculpture garden and wildlife preserve features several lush and expansive botanical gardens, each with its own distinct theme. And, containing 2,000-plus artworks by more than 400 artists, the grounds also showcase the nation’s most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture. But perhaps of more interest to the history buff, this official National Historic Landmark is also home to a trio of historic rice plantations: Laurel Hill Plantation, Springfield Plantation and The Oaks Plantation. For more information on Brookgreen Gardens’ place in history and the historic tours offered there, visit brookgreen.org.
Hobcaw Barony: Encompassing 16,000 acres of unspoiled land on the coast near Georgetown, this attraction located about 35 miles south of Ocean Reef offers a unique mix of natural, cultural, educational and historical resources that draws researchers, students and tourists from far and wide. At the 1930s-era Hobcaw House, which served as a winter retreat for the wealthy Baruch family, famous visitors included Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Ralph Pulitzer, and other notable leaders and icons of the 20th century. To learn more about Hobcaw Barony and its many historical offerings, visit hobcawbarony.org.
Hopsewee Plantation: Built 40 years before the Revolutionary War in 1735, this National Historic Landmark near Georgetown was a major Lowcountry rice plantation and holds a special place in history as the birthplace of Thomas Lynch Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. While it continues to serve as a private residence, the home — furnished with 18th and 19th century period furniture — is open to the public for tours on Tuesdays through Saturdays throughout most of the year. Visit hopsewee.com to learn more.
The Rice Museum: Did you know that, in the 1840s, the Georgetown area produced nearly half of America’s rice crop? This museum located in the Old Market Building in Georgetown teaches visitors about the area’s role in history as a major center of rice cultivation with dioramas, maps, paintings, artifacts and other exhibits. Further, The Rice Museum regularly showcases the works of local artists with rotating exhibits and is home to the Browns Ferry Vessel, which serves as the oldest vessel on display in the nation. Learn more at ricemuseum.org.
Atalaya Castle: The former winter home of industrialist/philanthropist Archer M. Huntington and his sculptor wife Anna Hyatt Huntington, this 30-room Spanish-Moorish style mansion in Murrells Inlet overlooks the Atlantic Ocean at Huntington Beach State Park. To learn more about circa-1930s castle Atalaya (which means “watchtower” in Spanish) and its history, visit atalayacastle.com.
After your trek back in time, head home to the comfortable accommodations and wide-ranging amenities found on the Myrtle Beach oceanfront at Ocean Reef Resort. Book your Myrtle Beach vacation today — and get ready to enjoy a getaway that will go down as one of the best in your family’s history!