South Carolina’s Hammock Coast is comprised of six coastal communities. I had the pleasure of experiencing half of them in just over a week: Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet and Georgetown. Here’s a personal guide to some highlights of the Hammock Coast well worth checking out.
On paper, Georgetown is a historic South Carolina city, being the third oldest in the state. However, the rich past runs deep in West African heritage, evolving into Gullah culture that connects to food, art, and local lore.
The Rice Museum
For more than 50 years, the Rice Museum has been safekeeping the historic agricultural backbone of Georgetown County. Over the years it has expanded to include showcasing lots of local artwork, crafts, books, jewelry and much more.
The museum and its supporters often host fascinating events that feel like you’ve stepped into a local’s living room. I was honored to be a guest of a special afternoon tea and discourse about Gullah culture. Stay tuned for the full story in a near future post!
A little sweet spot for a pastry or cake slice to tide you over until dinner. You can get a rich coffee or chocolate sweet too: it’s right next to the Rice Museum.
Along the Front Street there’s oodles of other boutiques to pursue, from consignment clothing stores to gourmet grocery and musical instruments to art galleries. I wish I had more time to poke around!
In search of a laid-back vacation on the water? Pawleys Island is where to go.
Pawleys Island European settler history dates back to the early 1700s when the first plantations were established. However, there were at least 17 Indigenous tribes in the Carolinas before the Europeans and enslaved Africans came. The two most known groups are the Waccamaws and the Winyahs.
To learn more about the settlement side of Pawleys Island, you can visit the historic district which has a few mansions, a seasonal hotel, and a picturesque chapel.
Afterwards, there’s plenty of great places to grab some good eats.
Pawleys Raw Bar
It’s nothing fancy but Pawleys Raw Bar hit the spot. Have a pile of crabs oysters, and finish up with a juicy burger. If you’re visiting with kids, there’s a fun playground attached to the restaurant where you can watch them play if you choose the right table.
I often crave something sweet along with a strong coffee in the morning. While driving through Pawleys Island, Parlour donuts came into view as an oasis of Americana and fresh baked treats. It’s a small chain throughout the U.S. (sadly lacking in the northeast!) boasting beautiful croissant-like donuts in all kinds of flavor combos.
Pawleys Island General Store
There’s plenty of grocery stores and Pawleys Island restaurants, but this cute stop has a bit of everything. If you are staying somewhere with an oven, they have some fresh locally made meals for a cozy night in. Pick up some groceries, decorative crafts, jewelry, and more. Have a look at their site too for shippable in-state goods and souvenirs.
Applewood Pancake House
Who doesn’t love a heart breakfast before tackling the journey home? Stop in at this cozy/cute eatery and order a pile of pancakes: you won’t regret it. It’s a huge menu, and no one was disappointed with their dish. I’m glad we left South Carolina with a wonderful experience of southern hospitality.
Support local nonprofits and spend at least an afternoon at Brookgreen Gardens on Murrells Inlet. We visited a few times on the ticket that’s good for seven days. Both local flora and statues complement each other along walking paths and manicured gardens. Little ones can visit the animals, both domestic and native, to the area.
There’s often special events happening at the gardens you can catch while visiting. This summer there’s Summer Light: Art by Night, offering illuminating installations after the sun goes down
Huntington Beach State Park
I say skip Myrtle Beach and focus on this strip of superb sand. People definitely visit for swimming and sandcastles, but it’s also a super popular spot for east coast bird watching and even camping.
Parking is easy-peasy during the off-season, but I bet you’ll have to get there early in the summer months. There’s also a fun playground and gift shop area. Besides beach fun, you can visit Atalaya, a nationally recognized historic castle.
Nance’s Creekfront Restaurant
If we ever asked around where to have a great seafood meal, Nance’s was immediately recommended. Located in Murrell’s Inlet, this classic joint offers so much local, fresh catches, it’ll be hard to pick your dish.. I was there early, but you can tell the place is bumping as the sun goes down, with ample outdoor seating along the water and live music playing by the bar.
Francis Marion National Forest
On the drive in and out of coastal South Carolina from the airport, you may be routed through the Francis Marion National Forest. You can stop into the Sewee Visitor center to learn more about the indigenous lowcountry population and local wildlife. Or simply enjoy the drive through a diverse landscape of swamplands, ocean coast and forests. You can stay to try out some camping, hiking, and canoeing too.