The neon lights and high-rise hotels of Myrtle Beach is only 15 miles away from the peaceful, riverfront town of Conway, SC, but the contrast in scenery makes it seem like it’s a world away.
Far removed from the attractions and tourism-related businesses of the Grand Strand, Conway is a small Southern town of 18,000 that is rich in history and Southern charm. Located on the banks of the Waccamaw River, the city was originally established as the village of Kingston back in 1732 and grew into a major economic hub in the 19th century due to trade and commerce via the river and railway systems. Producing lumber and turpentine used for shipbuilding, as well as tobacco and other agricultural products, Conway was the center of economic power in the county before the development of the coastal areas as tourism destinations.
Conway’s downtown district is home to no fewer than 60 sites on the National Historical Register, and the revitalized downtown district provides the perfect mix of old and new. Visitors can take a stroll along the Waccamaw River through the downtown district and visit local cafes, taverns and shops, such as art galleries and coffee and pastry stores. Here are five hot spots you don’t want to miss if you decide to visit historic Conway:
River Walk: Take a stroll along the banks of the Waccamaw on this trail and see where it all began. Now occupied only by kayaks and canoes, this stretch of river used to be bustling with boats coming in and out of port. The river is lined with beautiful live oak, cypress and pine trees, and the trail has stops at parks, playgrounds and picnic areas, the perfect place to take a break during your visit to Conway.
Horry County Museum: This brand new exhibit features interactive displays and exhibits that tell the story of the area’s natural history and the people who shaped it into the place it today. Featuring exhibits about Native Americans who first call this area home, the unique animals and plant life, such as alligators and Venus flytraps, and the agricultural roots of the town, the museum is a great place to get a crash course in Conway history.
L.W. Paul Historic Farm: Experience life on a 1900s farm at this scenic homestead on the outskirts of town. Visitors can see what it was like to live and work on a small farm by performing chores and other daily activities. Milk the cows, feed the chickens, brush the horses and give your kids an appreciation for life before cell phones.
Conway Kayak Company: Located on the River Walk, Conway Kayak Company offers guided tours of the downtown district and the backwater swamps of Conway. Ideal for families and groups looking to go off the beaten path, the kayak tour flows slowly through the dark waters of the Waccamaw River to Lake Busbee and beyond. Led by professional guides, the tours last up to three hours and explore some areas of Conway that are accessible only by the river.
Live Oaks Tour: The streets of downtown Conway are lined by towering and twisting live oaks draped with Spanish moss. Many of the trees are older than the city itself, and some have stories deeply rooted in Conway’s long history. The Hanging Oak was the site of the last legal hanging in the state of South Carolina in 1909. The city has gone to great lengths in recent years to preserve and celebrate these original city residents.
(Photo courtesy: Sciway.net)