Imagine majestic Oak trees draped in Spanish moss, lovely historic plantations, and soul-soothing seascapes. This beautiful vision can become your reality on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast. Home to the famous Pawleys Island Hammock Company, these hand-woven hammocks are a signature way to relax along this stretch of coastline. Travelers come here to unwind and recharge. Looking for some downtime of my own, I hit the road to this Southern coast known for peaceful ambiance and a slower pace.
Lovely Mansfield Plantation
On the quiet side of Georgetown, Mansfield Plantation is one of the most well-preserved antebellum rice plantations in America. Book a stay at this bed and breakfast to experience its romantic mystique. Surrounded by close to 1,000 private acres, you can explore the banks of the Black River, take leisurely walks, and relax in the sheer beauty of the plantation. After my visit here, I felt as if I had traveled back in time, returning to the present feeling refreshed from the peace, the solitude of this beautifully preserved place.
Marsh Walk in Murrells Inlet
Known as the seafood capital of South Carolina, it’s not surprising to find an enchanting Marsh Walk in the center of a historic fishing village. The wooden boardwalk meanders alongside a natural saltwater estuary where I find a bevy of seafood restaurants. Here you can savor freshly caught local seafood in low-country dishes. Dining at Wicked Tuna, each bite of my dinner is fresh and flavorful.
Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park
More than one local suggests to me – you must go to Huntington Beach State Park to walk through Atalaya Castle. I followed their advice, though not sure what I was about to see. Built in the 1930s, Atalaya was the winter retreat of world-renowned American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. It’s a stunning example of Spanish Mediterranean architecture built into a grand seaside castle. Today, it sits without furnishings, and stands as an open-air structure for guests to walk through to learn about Atalaya’s heydays. I relish every moment of its breathtaking beauty.
Be a Nature Tourist
An easy kayak paddle over calm waters for an up-close look at the low country’s environment is on my agenda. Shaded by Cypress trees, I paddle with a group of fellow nature enthusiasts led by Black River Outdoors. Our guide points out nesting ospreys, numerous turtles, a snake hugging a tree, and one sneaky alligator who pops up his head to check us out. Kayaking is a great way to check out the unique natural surroundings of the low country.
Hammock Shops Village
Hammock Shops Village is the perfect place to swipe the credit card a few times. Under towering oak and pine trees, shoppers stroll along brick paths to over 20 clapboard-style cottages filled with one-of-a-kind shops – no chain stores here.
After a bit of shopping, my hunger seems to peak with my arrival at BisQuit. Here, they whip up unique flavor combinations on biscuits or atop burgers. Be sure to save room for their signature milkshakes – they are worth every calorie!
One of the oldest cities in the state, I find Front Street historical and charming. I browse through locally owned shops, dine at Big Tuna – a waterfront restaurant, and take a sunset stroll on the Harbor Walk.
You can come and just swing in a hammock. Or you can fill your days and nights exploring, seeing, and tasting the Hammock Coast. It’s entirely up to you how you want to spend your time on this laid-back Southern destination.
Exotic cultures, new faces, delicious fares, beautiful oceans, and urban places gets Sara Kendall racing to the airport. Sara is just as passionate about photography as she is for traveling, so you will find her writing is paired with her beautifully captured images. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and online publications including her long-standing run as a contributing travel writer for The Charlotte Observer.