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Historic Georgetown a ‘hidden gem,’ says Southern Living Magazine

28 Jul

Historic Georgetown a ‘hidden gem,’ says Southern Living Magazine

People have been discovering Georgetown since its founding in 1792, and while much has changed since those early days, one thing has remained the same: plenty of Southern charm and hospitality are hallmarks of this gracious coastal community.

That is certainly what Betsy Cribb discovered when she was assigned to write about the historic city — South Carolina’s third oldest — for the August 2022 issue of Southern Living Magazine.

“If someone plucked the best elements of the South’s visual patois—historic homes with gracious porches, sprawling live oak canopies, vibrant shop fronts, and sparkling waterways—and carefully arranged them all in one visitor-friendly spot, you’d end up with a place like Georgetown, South Carolina,” Cribb wrote in an article that spans five pages of the venerable magazine.

Front Street in historic Georgetown brings visitors from far and wide. (Photo by Chris Rogers/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce.)

Cribb then continues, letting people know more about the historic city, including where it is located and things to do while visiting.

“It lies at the heart of what’s known as the Hammock Coast, a strand of six towns located just south of Myrtle Beach and north of Charleston,” she wrote. “It’s a fitting nickname for the area where days settle into an easy, swinging rhythm and nobody hurries you along.”

Cribb said Georgetown is different from other towns on the Hammock Coast, where pristine Atlantic Coast beaches draw visitors with “a largely barefoot-casual dress code.” Georgetown, she noted, leans “into its cultural significance as a historic port city while celebrating its natural charms.”

It’s certainly not the first time that Georgetown has been featured in a national publication. For the past five years, Georgetown placed in the Top 10 as one of America’s top choices for Best Coastal Small Town in the prestigious USA Today/10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest. In 2018, Georgetown came in first in the online contest and was named America’s “Best Coastal Small Town.”

In the Southern Living article, Cribb urges visitors of Georgetown to visit the Historic District.

“Georgetown’s historic district falls within the original city grid, occupying about 37 blocks running along (and north of) the waterfront,” Cribb wrote. “Anchoring downtown is Front Street, with its colorful shops and aged brick facades overlooking the harbor.”

She also recommends patronizing some downtown businesses and makes a point to not miss the Harborwalk, a boardwalk that runs parallel to Front Street and overlooks the waterfront on the Sampit River.

Cribb shares a brief history of Georgetown, including Native Americans who were the first to inhabit the area, Europeans who settled there in 1526, when Georgetown was established as a city in 1729, when it became an official port of entry in 1732, and its rich history of exports.

She goes on to introduce two of the five museums in Georgetown that focus on the city’s history: the Rice Museum, which explores the area’s rice culture and is home to the remains of the Brown’s Ferry Vessel, a merchant ship that sank in the 1700s and was pulled from the Black River in 1976; and the Gullah Museum, which shares crafts and history of the Gullah Geechee culture celebrated by the descendants of enslaved Africans. Other museums in the city, not mentioned in the article, are the South Carolina Maritime Museum, the Kaminski House Museum, and the Georgetown County Museum.

Walking tours — or you can skip, if you prefer — showcase Georgetown’s 66 properties on the National Historic Register. (Photo by Chris Rogers/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce.)

Cribb’s article also explores the wild side of the Hammock Coast, all within a short drive from Georgetown.

“Georgetown’s access to the water and proximity to many public beaches (Pawleys Island, Litchfield Beach, and Huntington Beach State Park are all within 20 miles of downtown) make it a prime vacation destination,” she wrote.

She then introduced the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center as an “outdoor experience that’s singular to the area.”

“Yawkey, who was once an owner of the Boston Red Sox, grew up coming to this part of the world, eventually amassing a property that spanned 24,000 acres—all of which was donated to the State of South Carolina in 1977 after he died,” she wrote. “The land he left behind is home to alligators, more than 200 species of birds, and the second-highest number of nesting sea turtles in the state.”

The Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 531 Front St. (Photo by Chris Rogers/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

She adds that most of this preserve is accessible to the public only by guided tour, which the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources provides free. Another option is to book a tour with Rover Tours Shelling and Lighthouse Cruise in Georgetown, which visits North Island and the Georgetown Light House in Yawkey Center. Another boat tour that also visits North Island, not mentioned in the article, is Cap’n Rod’s Lighthouse Tour.

Knowing that finding the perfect place to stay while visiting Georgetown is almost as important as activities while you are there, Cribb suggests staying in “the town’s only boutique hotel, 620 Prince,” the address and namesake for one of the town’s celebrated bed-and-breakfasts.

“If it weren’t for a small wooden plaque by the front door that announces its 1882 construction, only the high ceilings and richly restored wood floors might give away the hotel’s age,” she wrote. “In the decor, there’s not a whiff of anything stuffy or dated: Coral-painted chairs with bright cushions hold court in the dining room, and beds are decked in luxe linens.”

Other bed-and-breakfasts in Georgetown, not mentioned in the article, are Baxter’s Brewhouse Inn and Mansfield Plantation.

Mark Stevens, director of tourism development for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, said Cribb’s article perfectly describes the appeal of Georgetown.

“We are so excited that Southern Living has highlighted Georgetown and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast in such a positive light,” he said. “We are accustomed to national accolades, but this is a particularly significant and well-done piece. We hope it brings even more people to South Carolina’s third-oldest city in the heart of the Hammock Coast.”

By Clayton Stairs / tourism manager for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast