Countless families and vacationers have visited Myrtle Beach for the warm weather, delicious seafood restaurants, and beautiful beaches. Yet, have you ever wondered what historical elements created its unique culture and atmosphere?
On your next trip to the South Carolina coastline, dive into the past at the most interesting Myrtle Beach historical sites. From heritage plantations where Gullah-Geechee stories are told today, to the native flora and fauna of the land, there’s certainly no shortage of incredible sights to see. Grab your camera and get ready for a tour of some of Myrtle Beach’s most fascinating historical attractions!
Brookgreen Gardens is a 9,000+ acre preserve, home to native flora like 250-year-old oak trees, American sculpture pieces, and a zoo that cares for animals unable to rejoin the wild. A visit to Brookgreen Gardens is for those with a particular interest in ecology – providing an up-close look at some of South Carolina’s native plant and animal life.
In addition to its wealth of natural history, Brookgreen Gardens takes you back to a time when slavery was commonplace and entire lifetimes were devoted to working the land. Venture deep into the preserve, and you’ll discover profound insight into plantation life during the 18th and 19th centuries. Knowledgeable tour guides lead excursions to plantation cemeteries, former rice fields, slave villages and other historic locations within the preserve. These sites allow visitors to witness firsthand what life was like for African Americans working the rice plantations – all while admiring the stunning landscapes.
Plantation River Tours & Airboat Tours
Trace the centuries-old histories of some of Myrtle Beach’s most intriguing plantations on Plantation River Tours & Airboat Tour. Departing from Murrells Inlet, the 2.5-hour tour journeys via pontoon boat through picturesque rivers and swamps. Meanwhile, your tour guides will tell stories about all the plantations you can spot from the water.
As you float along, you’ll see Arundel Plantation, Chicora Wood Plantation, Exchange Plantation, Hasty Point Plantation, Squirrel Creek Plantation and Willbrook Plantation. As the tales and anecdotes bring life to these prominent places in history, you’ll simultaneously get a moment of relaxation among the beautiful river scenery, mossy oaks, and native wildlife.
Built in 1740 on the banks of North Santee River, the Hopsewee Plantation offers a unique glimpse into everyday life for plantation owners and slaves alike. On a guided tour of this stately property, you’ll see each room of the home and notice details like random-width heart-pine floors and hand-carved molding. Be sure not to miss their special tours, which include actual stories from descendants of the Gullah Geechee people and lessons in sweetgrass basket weaving. Of course, if paranormal intrigue is more up your alley, don’t miss out on an adrenaline-filled ghost tour too!
Old Baldy Lighthouse
Drive about two hours north along the coastline from Myrtle Beach, and you’ll pull up outside of Wilmington, NC, another Lowcountry city with a similar history. At the entrance of the Cape Fear River, Bald Head and Smith Islands form a threshold between the Atlantic Ocean and the Port of Wilmington. This geographic formation was a strategic point during the British colonial period, Civil War, and World War II.
Throughout these eras for a total of two centuries, Old Baldy Lighthouse stood careful watch over the Atlantic waters. Today, history enthusiasts can take a guided tour through Bald Head Island to learn about its 400-year history before climbing up to the top of the lighthouse. Don’t forget your camera to capture those magnificent views of the coastline. Afterward, visit the nearby Smith Island Museum for more background on an island duo that played such a tremendous role in American history.
Cap’n Rod’s Shell Island Lighthouse & Plantation Tours
In the nearby historic city of Georgetown, Cap’n Rod’s Shell Island Lighthouse and Plantation Tours embark on an exciting journey back in time. Climb aboard the 56-foot pontoon boat to explore the Winyah Bay, Black River and Pee Dee River. As you learn about local history and ecology on the Plantation River Tour, you’ll encounter historic structures like trunk gates, slave cabins, plantations, and historic rice fields.
Don’t miss the Lighthouse Shell Island Tour as well, which stops at South Carolina’s oldest operating lighthouse and tells the haunting tale of “Lighthouse Annie.” As you soak up Lowcountry history on these tours, keep an eye out for native wildlife like eagles, dolphins, turtles, alligators, and ospreys.
Infographic created by Planemasters, Charter Fleets
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If your family is looking for something educational to do on your next trip to Myrtle Beach, consider taking a journey through the area’s storied past. The area’s plantations offer an unparalleled window into the successful agricultural economy of the South. You’ll also hear stories of the enslaved Africans who built it through blood, sweat, tears, and sheer skill. You’ll even explore the rivers and local gardens to view the historical sites alongside the native wildlife and plantlife. If you love learning about American history, the fascinating sights and stories of Myrtle Beach will make your vacation one you’ll never forget!