Georgetown might seem like a small, sleepy Southern city, but the quiet tree-lined streets belie a colorful history rich with pirates, Revolutionary War leaders, elegant plantations and a bustling seaport.
It wasn’t long before Georgetown became a busy seaport, with a wealth of imports and exports that attracted international commerce as well as enterprising pirates, some 2,000 marauders who attacked barges and ships from the safe harbors of the barrier islands. Legends of Blackbeard and Red Anny survive to this day, and many still believe there is pirate booty to be found around Georgetown and all along the coast..
The real treasure, however, is Georgetown itself. Surrounded by the remains of plantations and the elegant town homes of planters who prospered by growing indigo and rice, Georgetown is a perfect blend of history and modern living. Nowhere is this more evident than Front Street, which faces the Sampit River.
This is where you will find museum homes such as the Kaminski House amid modern boutiques and restaurants housed in historic buildings. Joining longtime dining establishments such as The Rice Paddy are newer places, including Big Tuna and an Italian restaurant. A pleasant diversion here is to stroll the River Walk along the Sampit. Shrimp boats and other vessels are docked alongside, and it is an excellent spot to watch a Carolina sunset.
When you are ready to move on to nearby attractions, you will find Hopsewee Plantation and Hampton Plantation State Park to the south. Hopsewee dates back to 1740 and is best known as the home of Thomas Lynch, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In addition to the original house, there is a short nature trail along the bank of the North Santee River and several outbuildings.
The Hampton Plantation house, on Wambaw Creek, was built in the early 1700s. South Carolina poet laureate Archibald Rutledge grew up on this former rice plantation during the Reconstruction years and is responsible for restoring the house and gardens.
To the north, the area known as the Waccamaw Neck leads to the glitzy Grand Strand. Along the way are a variety of natural attractions such as Bellefield Nature Center, Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington State Park.