Category Archives: News

Fun on Foot on the Hammock Coast

Fun on Foot on the Hammock Coast
By Kimberly Duncan

Summer time equals beach time, right? Almost everyone daydreams about a seaside vacation during the year’s hottest months – which is an unarguably good time to head for the ocean’s edge. But think about this: consistently moderate weather makes outdoor activities as enjoyable in February as in July. Here are just a few suggestions for fun on foot in every season.

Of course, long beach walks are bliss. Whether on the beaches of Pawleys Island, Litchfield, Huntington Beach State Park or the long, white shoreline of Garden City, the water’s edge is Dieter2016-Fall-Vacationsuncrowded this time of year. The skies are bluer, and the air more crisp. Tuck a book in a bag and stroll to your heart’s content. Stop to read before heading back again. Naps encouraged.

The Murrells Inlet Marshwalk is a must. For more than a mile a wooden boardwalk, studded with informational signage about marsh wildlife and rich local history, meanders around the water’s edge. In addition to marvelous views, restaurants and bars along Marshview - 12-24-16 (2lbc)the way offer a mix of burgers, wood-fired pizza, a bit of sushi, thick steaks and lots and lots of fresh seafood.

A bit further south, Brookgreen Gardens is an extraordinary place for long walks, too. Sidewalks and footpaths weave in, out and around beautiful gardens studded with statuary. Tulips blooms first, dogwoods and then the azaleas. There’s an accredited zoo to amble through and a picnic area overlooking a serene little lake.

From Murrells Inlet through Pawleys Island, the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway – locals call it the “Bike Path” – is as much for walkers and joggers as for bike lovers. Whether for a quick jaunt or a daylong hike, a paved path weaves through beautiful scenery, and is fabulous in too many cyclistStops to Paintway to be described in short order. A map is available online at

Neither last nor least among places for a fine ramble is Downtown Georgetown. The city’s 220-acre Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stroll past eighteenth century homes and a collection of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century commercial buildings. Don’t miss the Harborwalk that runs parallel to all restaurants, museums and shops on Front Street. (For a local tour guide, call Debby Summey at 843.446.4777 or by email at She’ll share details only a local would know!)

Once you arrive, visit Georgetown County’s Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 531 Front Street in Georgetown. Discover for yourself … a spring getaway on the SC coast is every bit as magical as any summer stint!

Brookgreen Gardens Opens New Gallery

As their tagline “Ever Changing, Simply Amazing” says, Brookgreen Gardens is always adding something new.

bgg_9587The new Naomi and Stanley Bleifeld Gallery recently opened to the public at Brookgreen Gardens. Located adjacent to the Mary Alice and Bennett Brown Sculpture Court, the gallery is open daily and showcases the work of historic and contemporary sculptors whose subjects are taken from the natural world.  Most prominent in the gallery are works of art by Stanley Bleifeld. Other artist works include Anna Hyatt Huntington, Sandy Scott, Walter Matia, Dan Ostermiller, Grainger McCoy, and numerous other important sculptors, past and present.

“The addition of the Bleifeld Gallery elevates Brookgreen’s status in the museum world and provides another indoor exhibit area to display some of our smaller and important pieces of art from our world class sculpture collection,” said Bob Jewell, President & CEO.  “Similar to the Offner Center, that opened several years ago, the Bleifeld Gallery was repurposed from an existing building that now has new life.”

The artwork of Stanley Bleifeld, given to Brookgreen Gardens by his widow, Naomi (“Nicky”), will be installed in the gallery by the end of January 2017.  Nicky Bleifeld also gave the lead gift to construct the gallery in his memory.  Although Stanley Bleifeld was renowned for his sculptures depicting the human figure, he was also known for his sculptures in the round and bas-reliefs depicting landscapes and ocean waves.  Brookgreen’s  Marine Relief on the exterior wall of the Jennewein Gallery is a prime example of Stanley’s genius in this subject matter.

Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark and non-profit organization, is located on U.S. 17 between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, South Carolina, and open to the public daily. For more information, visit their web site at or call 843-235-6000.

Hammock Coast Golf Scores Perfect Fall Escape

Hammock Coast Golf Scores Perfect Fall Escape

By Kimberly Duncan

Caledonia #8 green

#8 Green at Caledonia Plantation

By any measure, the cooler weather of Fall is a better-than-fine time for a seaside getaway. Crowds are thinning. Temperatures are more pleasant. Humidity drops. Skies dawn bluer. Hammock naps are more restful. Most locals will tell you this is their favorite time of year. Golf aficionados will tell you it’s the time of year that’s downright perfect. And it is.

Everyone knows Grand Strand beaches are a leading attraction for the Palmetto State. The southern end of the Grand Strand – including broad, beautiful beaches, five tidal rivers, a thousand creeks and the region’s rich store of history – is also without compare. Nonetheless – surprising as it may seem – it is the age-old game of golf that is the area’s number one year-round attraction. Golf, golf and more golf generates more tourism revenue than any other recreational activity in South Carolina.

Once experienced, avid golfers who taste this slice of paradise – known as SC’s Hammock Coast – are humbled by the prospects for a perfect golf vacation. The Hammock Coast is a finger shaped peninsula that stretches from the port city of Georgetown north toward Myrtle Beach to the fishing village of Murrells Inlet. In this piece that’s part of the greater Grand Strand Area (and one of the world’s most famous beach resorts), there is a collection of award-winning courses to rival any in America.

A collection of roughly a dozen professional layouts in this neck of the woods is known as The Waccamaw Golf Trail. Comprised of some of America’s most awarded courses, it’s a collection worth notice. Golf Magazine just unveiled its biennial list of the country’s “Top 100 You Can Play Courses” – a ranking of the nation’s best public-access courses – and two local layouts made the cut. As we say down South: “That ain’t for nothing.”

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue Golf Club were included in the most recent prestigious line-up. Many, if not all, of the other Waccamaw Trail courses have received multiple rankings of honor in previous high-status listings. One more current example? The Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association (MBAGCOA) recently announced the Litchfield Country Club as their 2016 Golf Course of the Year.

Litchfield Country Club, #2

Litchfield Country Club, #2

There are more details about each course well worth sharing. Google the courses we mentioned or short-cut (and expand!) your research and head to You can also call 888.293.7385.

Whether for golf or other extraordinary diversions like fine shopping and dining, historic attractions, fishing, sunning, beach-combing and long afternoon naps, there’s no better time or place than Autumn on SC’s Hammock Coast. For information about anything and everything the area has in store, accommodations to activities, visit Pull out your calendar, get the plan started and launch anticipation for the Best. Vacation. Ever.

Wooden Boat Show Celebrates 27th Year in Georgetown, SC

Wooden Boat Show Celebrates 27th Year in Georgetown, SC

Event Snagged Prestigious Awards
By Kimberly Duncan

Water-related and otherwise, the Hammock Coast possesses delights for every season in every year. Ocean, river, creeks and boats – and all requisite trappings – are central to the region’s history and traditions. And they’re central to the port city of Georgetown’s annual Wooden Boat Show, too. The Boot show pulls thousands to the southern end of SC’s Grand Strand – and there are as many residents as visitors among the happy crowd. When you live in one of the world’s most popular seaside locations, that’s the mark of an event that cannot be missed.

Always held on the third weekend of October, 2016 marks the Wooden Boat Show’s 27th year! Its place is secure as one of the port city’s finest fall pleasures and – given twenty-six years in the making – this year’s event will be better than ever. That’s no small feat as the two-day show has already won awards that include the Charles A. Bundy Award, SC Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel 2014 and the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events for four consecutive years.

crowd at wooden boat showIt is appropriate that historic Georgetown – sometimes called “Little Charleston” – hosts this crazy popular event. Here in SC’s beloved Lowcountry, four rivers tumble into Winyah Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. A fifth river enters the ocean just a tad south of Georgetown. There’s water, water everywhere, including hundreds of creeks, salt marsh habitats, cypress swamps, and old rice fields and canals.

The Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown will present the 27th Annual Wooden Boat Show on Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16.  Admission is free! As always, this year’s show will showcase the Southeast’s – if not the nation’s! – most praised wooden boat exhibits. On land and water, there will be nearly 150 classic wooden boats on display. There will also be model boat building and knot tying classes (for kids) and lots of vendors with maritime arts, crafts, jewelry and music, too.

The Show’s most beloved attraction is Saturday’s Wooden Boat Challenge. Two-person teams race to build a rowing skiff within four hours. Then they test their boats for seaworthiness in a rousing relay on the Sampit River where crowds cheer from Georgetown’s Harborwalk. Cash prizes hang in the balance and competition is fierce – and fun!  georgetown wooden boat show boat building challenge

This year, for the first time, a new signature event – the Cardboard Boat Regatta – will be part of “Sunday at the Show.” Families, businesses, schools, youth groups, friends, and nonprofits are invited to design and build a boat from corrugated box material. Sky’s the limit. Using imagination (and perhaps Google), participants will create vessels from simple sailing crafts to stunning “ships” or plain vanilla rubber ducks. A Pride of the Fleet award will be bestowed to the vessel with the most innovative engineering and artistic design. There will be other awards for outstanding theme, team participation and crowd support. The dubious honor – the Titanic Ribbon – will be awarded for the most dramatic sinking.

Attendees are able to talk to wooden boat craftsmen, manufacturers and owners. Events and entertainment are scheduled on the waterfront and along Front Street in Historic Downtown Georgetown. Add great restaurants and shopping to the equation, and – for a day or a long weekend – it adds up to a fabulous fall getaway perfect for boaters, sportsmen, couples and grown-ups with kids in tow. Tons of fun any way you slice it!

For schedules and other important information, visit the website at or the event’s beneficiary, (The Maritime Museum is one of four must-see museums located Downtown and within walking distance one from another!) Here are links to  where to eat, where to stay and other trouble you might want to get into, 🙂


Music and More

Music & More is in the Air
26th Annual Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art

If you’re looking for an excuse to escape to the Lowcountry as the cooler temperatures of fall approach, the Hammock Coast of SC has a foolproof plan in place. The 26th Annual Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art (PIFMA) kicks off Saturday, September 24 along the shady streets of historic Georgetown, SC. From the 24th through October 15, expect to be impressed by a series of art-related and musical events that are both fun and culturally enriching.

Seaside Palette 2015The opening event is the Festival’s Fourth Annual Seaside Palette. Fifty+ artists from the Carolinas and beyond will pepper the port city – here, there and yonder – painting en plein air, a borrowed French phrase that means “in the open air.” And not just for fun! They’ll be competing for prizes in a judged competition. Fleshing out the day will be the Seventh Annual Chalk Walk, an all-day event followed by a Wet Paint Sale where attendees will have the opportunity to purchase the days’ artwork.  Performances by local dancers and “world music” by Healing Force will be held in Francis Marion Park on Front Street.

Georgetown’s Historic District will be hopping on that weekend, but there will be a plethora of music and art to be had a bit further north on the Grand Strand. Not affiliated with the Festival of Music & Art, the 40th Annual Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23 – 25, at Huntington Beach State Park near Murrells Inlet, SC’s Seafood Capital. This event is much-loved and much lauded and is attended by thousands every year. Surf to

At this “famous and forty” annual Arts & Crafts Festival, more than 100 fine artisans will display the fruit of their labor for sale. There are dozens of kinds of art – from handmade jewelry and intricate woodwork, to painting, photography, glass and more. The state park’s exquisite natural beauty and the magic of Atalaya, a very old, Spanish styled castle where Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington once lived and worked, is a very big added treat. (Atalaya is a story unto itself!) Along with fine art and crafts and delish food, some of the Lowcountry’s best musicians will strut their stuff, too.

But back to the Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Arts … There is an impressive list of musical BarrettBarberperformers scheduled throughout the four-week event.  Big names on the roster include Grammy Award winner, Peabo Bryson and NBC’s The Voice Finalist, Barrett Baber. From Big Band and Doo Wop to Classical, Jazz and Country, there’s a bit of everything to enjoy.

One of the Festival’s most popular affairs is the Pawleys Island Wine Gala. This year’s Gala on September 29th is the seventeenth annual! As always, there will be hors d’oeuvres, tastings of 100+ wines from vineyards around the globe, the opportunity to makes purchase at a discount and plenty of knowledgeable vintners on hand.

There’s just too much to tell in short order. Visit the website at for scads of additional info and the opportunity to purchase tickets in advance – since many events sell out early. You can also call 843.626.8911 to ask questions. The dates are surprisingly close!

The Hammock Coast has beaches and rivers, boardwalks and bike paths, gardens and history aplenty, and we’ve got culture to flaunt as well. Check out Planning a cool weather getaway on the southern end of SC’s Grand Strand is a surefire way to beat the summer heat. Investigate and let the anticipation begin!

by  Kimberly Duncan


Fun, Festivals and Beyond

Fun, Festivals & Beyond

By Kimberly Duncan

One-of-a-kind events, parades, exhibitions and all manner of merriment can be found along SC’s Hammock Coast the whole year through. The South Strand stretch of the Palmetto State’s famous Grand Strand is especially busy during warm weather, though, and that means the time is now for booking a vaca-getaway that will immortalize summer for couples-in-love, families with kids, fishermen, beach bums, golfers and history buffs.

Unique to the Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island area, Brookgreen Garden’s Cool Summer Evenings are rightfully beloved and ballyhooed near and far. No other place or attraction offers anything like it and the limited time during which the experience is available makes June through early August a no miss proposition for a seasonal escape to SC.brookgreen gardens

In a nutshell, Brookgreen Gardens is nothing shy of a magnificent garden whose beauty has been enhanced in a thousand, often unexpected, ways. For a start, there are landscaped spaces, history exhibits, an accredited zoo and the nation’s largest outdoor sculpture collection. (More than 1400 works from the early 1800s to today are showcased!) There are boat rides, back-road overland excursions into private parts of the Gardens, and a butterfly house offered for a fee in addition to Garden admission. There’s much more to share so make a few minutes to surf to for scads of detail.

Free with regular park admission, the Cool Summer Evenings program takes place Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays through August 5 – during the long, lazy days of summer. During this special time, Brookgreen Gardens extends operating hours from 9 AM to 5 PM to 9 AM to 9 PM! Linger four hours longer for evening boat rides, live entertainment, and just-for-kids’ activities.

Come for dinner! The Pavilion Restaurant tucked under giant, old oaks is open until 7 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays. Or pack a picnic to enjoy at the Gardens’ designated Picnic Area
overlooking Jessamine Pond and another at the Native Wildlife Zoo. Afterward, enjoy beverages and snacks when you stick around for an impressive live music line-up of regional and local artists that include rock, jazz, country and Celtic. Go to to check out names and dates. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to performances that begin at 7 PM. (Sorry but no pets or outside alcohol.)

lego hummingbird

The Lowcountry Trail and Zoo and the Enchanted Storybook Forest – attractions unto themselves – close at 8 PM. The Children’s Discovery Room is open until 7 PM and has 30,000 LEGO® bricks available for kids to play with during their visit. A LEGO movie is shown at 6:30 PM in the Lowcountry Center Auditorium and Nature Connects Art with LEGO Bricks® will be open until 8 PM in the Zoo!

Thursdays are Family Nights. A Pirate’s Journey Along the Creeks takes shape aboard The pirate1_000 BrookgreenSpringfield, an uber-cool pontoon boat rides that sets sail at 5, 6, and 7 PM. At the journey’s end, kids get a pirate hat, a treasure map and they get to pick a keepsake coin from the on-board treasure chest. (Regular Creek Excursion tickets required.)

Of course, any time is a great time to visit SC’s Lowcountry but Brookgreen’s Cool Summer Evenings are especially perfect following a day of waterborne sun and fun on the Hammock Coast! Visit for information on anything and everything pertinent to this seaside strip of paradise, and visit for additional information on Cool Summer Evenings – a string of late day events that’s become a cherished annual tradition for locals and visitors alike.


Treat Your Sweetheart to a Hammock

Treat Your Sweetheart to a Hammock

Buy it on Your Hammock Coast Getaway!

By Kimberly Duncan

Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, and that makes timing perfect for upping your romantic game with a long beach weekend on SC’s Hammock Coast. If you’re not familiar with this piece of paradise, it’s located on the south end of the Grand Strand, midway between the glitz of Myrtle Beach and the elegance of Charleston, SC. History, natural attractions, shopping, golf and great food abound.

Even if the weather’s brisk, it will be difficult to do everything you want. (Christmas found folks barefoot on the beach!) Trust the buzz, a cool weather getaway to the south end of SC’s Grand Strand will sweep your better half off her – or his – unsuspecting feet. Pick and choose from a wealth of options to fashion the most personal, most memorable getaway ever.

If you’re foodies, The Hammock Coast is a slice of Carolina Lowcountry you will remember as “Paradise Found.” From Murrells Inlet, the Seafood Capital of SC, to the historic port city of Georgetown, dozens upon dozens of restaurants run the gamut from predictable and beloved fresh seafood joints straight to elegant eateries with linen tablecloths and candlelight. Check out, and for a list of choices certain to earn a stolen kisses.

History buffs should buckle up for a wild ride. There are more than a fistful of museums, old plantations with preserved homes open for visiting, historic tours on boats and buses, splendid old churches and gardens steeped in the shade of live oaks older than this nation! A number of these historic gems are perfect for picnics – a quintessential romantic pastime.

If you love nature, you need do little more than look around. Beaches are long and lovely – and blissfully uncrowded this time of year. There’s an award-winning Bike Path from Murrells Inlet through Pawleys Island. There are deep-sea fishing opportunities and several state parks with maritime forest trails, bird watching tours and lots of additional programming. Five rivers and countless creeks provide opportunities for kayaking tours and fly fishing trips.

The Murrells Inlet Marshwalk weaves in and around expansive salt marshes that characterize the Inlet’s storied seafood village. In Georgetown, the Harborwalk meanders along the Sampit River’s edge. There are several marinas, numerous boat ramps and wildlife observation areas.

We’d be remiss not mentioning that at least twelve of America’s most lauded courses are located on the Waccamaw Neck –the Hammock Coast stretch of the Grand Strand – including three of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses,” seven ranked 4.5 stars in Golf Digest’s list of “Best Places to Play in America,” one classed in the “Top 25 in America” by Golf for Women, and one of only three five-star courses in the Southeast. Check out for a list of alternatives.


Skip the predictable chocolates and woo your Valentine with a sweet and sexy adventure. Ditch the chilly winter temperatures of the north for the moderate temps of the seaside paradise known as The Hammock Coast. If you love the ocean, shopping, golfing, hiking, biking, fishing, eating, or any combination thereof, this is a place you’ll return to again and again. Love is all around! There’s no time to waste! Check out the Hammock Coast to kick-start your romance.



Perfect Last Minute Gift


Perfect Last Minute Gift
Showcases Brookgreen Gardens

By Kimberly Duncan

 By any standard, Brookgreen Gardens is among the Southeast’s finest assets and easily qualifies as one America’s premier gardens. Located on SC’s Hammock Coast, the southernmost sliver of SC’s Grand Strand, the Gardens showcase history exhibits, boat tours, an accredited zoo populated with animals who can no longer survive in the wild and a sculpture collection of more than 1400 pieces – many of which are scattered among exquisitely landscaped outdoor spaces. And all that is just a beginning.

Founded in 1932 by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, art and nature join hands in this place; that was the Huntingtons’ goal. For nearly 85 years Brookgreen Gardens has been a spot for inspiration, refuge and retreat for tens of thousands. It is one of the few attractions in the United States to have earned accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as well as being designated a National Historic Landmark and listed on the Register of National Historic Places.

When professional photographer Anne Swift Malarich began roaming the gardens in 1997 with her young son in a stroller and a camera at the ready, she launched a pictorial tribute to Brookgreen Gardens. From among the 10,000 photos shot annually, those showcased in this newly published hard cover book – Brookgreen Gardens: Through the Seasons in Images and Words – are nothing short of staggeringly beautiful.

The book also features carefully vetted prose and poetry by volunteers, staff and members of the community. Organized by season, photographs and poems are book-ended with essays by Robin Salmon, Vice President of Art & Historical Collections and Curator of Sculpture for Brookgreen Gardens for the past forty years.
The concept for this book has been surpassed by its reality. In the words of Ms. Salmon.

“… scores of visitors through the years have been soothed, inspired, and rejuvenated by the magical wellspring that is Brookgreen Gardens. A walk in the sculpture gardens takes away worries and fears … And now, inspired by her beauty and tranquility, those closely connected to her have penned their tributes to the muses of Brookgreen.”

For Christmas or any occasion, there is no more perfect gift than this stunning new book. It’s perfect for all ages and especially for anyone who appreciates nature and art. And, if you act quickly, there may still be time to have copies shipped in time for the holiday!

Preview a brief video about the book at Order online at or call Keepsakes, Brookgreen’s gift shop, at 843.235.6038 or 800.849.1931. Questions welcome!

Find your treasure at Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival

Famous Event Ushers Fall to the Lowcountry
Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival

by Kimberly Duncan

Parades, festivals, expos and all manner of merriment can be found all along Georgetown County’s Hammock Coast, and SC’s greater Grand Strand, the whole year through. The greater Myrtle Beach Area and its beautiful beaches were once considered a summer-only vacation destination, but that detail has changed in a very big way. There’s always something to keep residents and guests gratified, and the weather’s so mild there’s fun every day, all the time. Not surprisingly, that’s a detail that lures lots of savvy tourists, many of whom return year after year.

Atalaya Arts and Crafts festival for webNo Hammock Coast calendar would be complete without mention of the annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival at Huntington Beach State Park, located between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. This highly acclaimed event has received consistent praise through four decades. In fact, 2015 marks its fortieth anniversary! Enjoy fine art displays, delicious cuisine, and the musical talents of popular area musicians. There’s so much for sale – paintings, jewelry, wood work, sculpture, photography, crafts of every kind and style – it’s prudent to plan to stick around for a nice, long spell. More than 100 fine artisans are featured – many on hand and happy to chat!

There’s much to know and anticipate about the Festival, not the least of which is its backdrop. The sheer natural beauty of the Huntington Beach State Park is stunning. It’s one of the East Atalaya CourtyardCoast’s best-loved beaches (and birdwatching sights). It is also home to a salt marsh teeming with wildlife, an age-old maritime forest, a campground, visitor center with fun exhibits, lots of trails and more. Perhaps best of all, it’s home to Atalaya – (pronounced “at-a-lie-a”) – a Spanish inspired castle that once served as the winter residence and studio of American sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. Atalaya is literally a story all its own.

HBSP - 05-25-13 (47x)It’s arguable but definitely possible that Huntington Beach State Park’s beauty is at its best during the year’s cooler months. Shoulder seasons make for great beach vacations. The pace is slower. The crowds are smaller. Every outdoor activity is pleasant. Prices are often more competitive, too. This year, plan a visit during the Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival and discover your own Best. Vacation. Ever.

For details about the Festival, call 803-734-0767 or visit For more information on the Park and Atalaya, call 843-237-4440 or visit For more information about splendid cool weather beach and golf vacations, visit

The 40th Annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival will be held September 25—27, 2015 at Huntington Beach State Park near Murrells Inlet, SC. Hours are Noon to 6 PM on Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturday and Noon to 6 PM on Sunday. Admission to the park during the Festival is free. For adults, daily entry is $8 and a multi-day pass is $10. Visitors 15 and younger are admitted free. Pets are not allowed. Stroller and wheelchair access can be difficult due to uneven surfaces, stairs, crowds and narrow hallways.


A Labyrinth on the Grand Strand?

A Labyrinth on the Grand Strand?
By Kimberly Duncan

One of the Grand Strand’s and SC’s Hammock Coast’s most unexpected attractions is an authentic, walkable Labyrinth – an often-misunderstood word and a concept largely unfamiliar to the Lowcountry. And yet we have one of our very own!

There’s a beautiful labyrinth at Brookgreen Gardens, America’s first public sculpture garden conveniently located between Myrtle Beach and the charming city of Georgetown. It’s perfect vacation territory during the South’s cooler months.

Many confuse a labyrinth with a maze. Labyrinths wind toward a center point and are used as places of reflection and meditation. Conversely, the paths of a maze incorporate dead ends. A maze is a puzzle to be solved; a labyrinth has an unambiguous route to the center.

The history of labyrinths is eighteen to twenty thousand years old.
From Africa, Egypt, France and Italy to Swedish fishermen and
America’s Hopi Indians, many cultures embraced labyrinths.
Labyrinths are not specific to – or in opposition to –
other religions or belief systems.

Brookgreen Garden’s labyrinth is positioned beside a creek along the north end of the Trail Beyond the Garden Wall, one of Brookgreen’s designated walking paths. Its location allows visitors time well spent with a leisurely stroll through the Gardens – and perhaps lunch at the onsite restaurant – before encountering the Labyrinth itself. (There’s a picnic area too.)

There’s much more to know about Brookgreen. By any standard, it is one of the Southeast’s finest assets. They currently display a collection of more than 1400 works of American sculpture. The natural beauty of the Garden’s is staggering. There’s also a wildlife park, trekker excursions, boat tours, interpretative history exhibits and more. (It’s budget-friendly in that admission includes all the glory for seven full days!)

SC’s Hammock Coast, the southern sliver of SC’s Grand Strand, delivers a crazy wealth of things to do during cool weather months. Everything is less crowded. Temperatures are pleasant. There’s rarely a wait at award-winning Lowcountry restaurants. The golf and beach are at their very best. Retail options are impressive, too. (Get a jump on Christmas shopping!) Lodging alternatives are wide-ranging – from creekside and oceanfront to homes, condos and hotel rooms sporting golf, river, creek and marsh views.

For whatever reasons, you and yours deserve a pre- (or post-!) holiday vacation. Make it happen. Wait until spring or summer only if you must. Pop over to to get your getaway started. You’ll find scads of interesting info about Brookgreen Gardens at

Fill Your Sails with History in Georgetown, SC

Fill Your Sails with History in Georgetown, SC

By Kimberly Duncan

Georgetown - 06-01-14 (7t)Studies have documented growing interest among travelers in tourism opportunities that protect the environment and showcase local cultures. More than ever, people enjoy traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent fascinating stories and people of the past, and the slice of the Lowcountry south of Myrtle Beach has a rich store of history to explore.

The entirety of Georgetown County – which also includes southern Garden City Beach, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island and Andrews – is packed with historic and eco-friendly attractions but – for sake of space – this article will focus only on the charming port city of Georgetown. Located on the southernmost tip of the Grand Strand, it was among the nation’s busiest seaports in Colonial times. A four-by-eight block grid is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And there are five – yes, five! – museums within easy walking distance one from another.

  • Georgetown County Museum sits in the heart of the downtown waterfront district, a block off Front at 120 Broad Street. One of the best small museums anywhere, the facility plays host to an array of history exhibits and programs. An exceptional collection of everyday objects chronicles daily life through almost three centuries of local history. Impressive traveling exhibits spice things up on a rotating basis. Find details at
  • The Kaminski House Museum is a must – especially for those interested in architecture and antiques. English and American furniture dates from the early 1700s. More than a few pieces are of national and international significance. Constructed in 1769 by a wealthy merchant for his daughter, the home sits on the bank of the Sampit River and anchors the west end of Front Street. The front yard, overhung with massive old oaks, is as beautiful as the old home itself. Check out
  • The SC Maritime Museum at 729 Front Street celebrates the rich maritime history of Georgetown and the whole of the SC. The building is one of few that survived a devastating fire in September of 2013 – a fire that burned nearly an entire block of historic structures. This is a highly recommended stop for anyone who enjoys nautical history, ships, and the deep blue sea. Sail over to
  • From the area’s earliest settlements to the twentieth century, rice cultivation dominated lifeTown Clock in the Lowcountry. Explore the story through dioramas, maps, artifacts and other exhibits at the Rice Museum. Known locally as home to the Town Clock, it is an iconic symbol of Georgetown. There’s an impressive art gallery, too. Research details at
  • The Gullah Museum at 123-7 King Street provides a rich education about the history of the Gullah/Geechee people – descendants of African slaves – who inhabit the southeastern Atlantic coastal region. To say these people played a significant role in everything from southern cuisine to farming and religion, education, politics and culture, is understatement at its finest. Call 843.527.1851 to ask questions.

Each museum has its own gift shop and every single one is stocked stem to stern with an array of gifts, jewelry, art, decorative home accents, unique Lowcountry gifts, books and more. If you can’t find time to tour each of the five museums, at least stop to shop!

Independent of area rivers, nearby beaches, abundant golf, gardens, state parks and old plantation homes, Georgetown’s museums alone are worthy of a long weekend getaway. The city and the county is rich in history and alive with excitement! There’s a warm welcome waiting for you during cool weather months on The Hammock Coast of SC. Start daydreaming and planning at


Don’t miss the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show!

Wooden Boat Show Celebrates 26th Year in Georgetown, SC

Event Snagged Prestigious Awards
By Kimberly Duncan

Georgetown, SC is the Palmetto State’s third oldest port city. Four rivers slide into Winyah Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. A fifth river spills into the ocean just south of Georgetown. There are hundreds of ancillary creeks, as well as salt marsh habitats, cypress swamps, old rice fields and canals between them. There’s no better backdrop for an autumn escape.

Because water – and boats – are central to Hammock Coast history, it is fitting that historic water exhibitsGeorgetown – sometimes called a “little Charleston” – has hosted a wildly popular boat show for more than a quarter century now. Always held on the third weekend of October, The Wooden Boat Show brings thousands of happy visitors and area residents to the quieter, southernmost end of SC’s Grand Strand. The award-winning two-day show has been recognized as one of the Southeast’s Top Twenty Events. And it’s still growing.

The Harbor Historical Association of Georgetown will present the 26th Annual Wooden Boat Show on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18. This year’s show will once again showcase one of the nation’s most-lauded wooden boat exhibits. On land and water, there will be nearly 150 classic wooden boats on display. An Opti-Pram regatta will feature the SC Youth Sailing program’s fleet of wooden Optis.

boat building challenge1 The Wooden Boat Challenge –teams of two battling to build a rowing skiff in four hours – is a can’t-be-missed special attraction. Afterward, all Hades breaks loose as participants test their boats for seaworthiness in a rowing relay on the Sampit River. Cash prizes hang in the balance!

There will also be model boatbuilding and knot tying classes and vendors with lots of maritime arts and crafts, jewelry and music, too. Visitors will be able to meet and talk to wooden boat craftsmen, manufacturers and owners. Events and entertainment are scheduled on the waterfront and along Front Street in Historic Downtown Georgetown. Add great restaurants and shopping to the equation, and – for a day or a long weekend – it adds up to a fabulous fall getaway perfect for boaters, sportsmen, couples and grown-ups with kids in tow.

For more information, visit the website at or the event’s beneficiary, the South Carolina Maritime Museum, at (The Maritime Museum is one of four must-see museums located Downtown and within walking distance one from another!)

Sometimes seaside locations are overlooked during cool weather months, but everyone should know Georgetown, Pawleys Island, and the fishing village of Murrells Inlet are open and ready for business. The weather is mild. Crowds have returned home. State parks and all manner of eco-activities are abundant. Golf courses are at their best. Shopping is gearing up for the holidays. Restaurants are introducing new menus. Everything there is to love about the southern coast of SC is at its best. And the Wooden Boat Show is only one of many fun events bulking up the Hammock Coast calendar. Find out everything you need to know at The options will surprise you!

Experience the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art

Music Is in the Air in Pawleys Island
25th Annual Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art

by Kimberly Duncan

The Hammock Coast is a best kept secret as regards culture in South Carolina. From the fishing village of Murrells Inlet south to the historic and charming port city of Georgetown, the Grand Strand’s southernmost reaches serve up an enviable wealth of riches every day of the year. There are literary lunches with famous authors (, museums, fine art and photography galleries, performing art venues, one of the world’s most prestigious sculpture gardens, plantation homes, historic churches, tea rooms, poetry readings, lectures and classes of every sort.

Of all the Lowcountry’s stellar events, the Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art is one of which the region is especially proud. In fact, this year marks the 25th anniversary of a weeks-long event counted among the most celebrated music and art festivals in the entire Southeast. In celebration of this silver anniversary, 2015’s Festival timeline spans four full weeks. Start planning quickly because the dates are surprisingly close – September 25 through October 17!

The big draws – just to name names most might know – include Grammy Award Winning artists Aaron Neville, Steve Tyrell and Mike Farris; their performances stretch over three weekends. Around those blockbuster opportunities, there is a whole host of other enlightening and enjoyable cultural opportunities. Here’s a brief sampling:

Seaside Palette en Plein Air will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 25 and 26, when more than fifty artists will gather in the Georgetown Historic District to participate in the Third Annual Seaside Palette. Artists will paint until dusk on Friday and begin again on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. until painting ends at 2. Then, from 3 until 5 p.m., attendees will have a chance to meet all the artists and buy their creations at the Wet Paint Sale & Reception on the wide, beautiful lawn of the Kaminski House Museum – a downtown riverside spot tucked beneath old oaks, steeped in history and steps from Georgetown’s Harborwalk.

Also on that Saturday in the Historic District, Seaside Palette will feature the Sixth Annual Chalk Walk. In the Italian tradition of street painting, this event is a valuable way to teach and promote the history of this lost art to artists of every age and level of skill. Also on that day, a very special musical group, The Squonk Opera, will present a genius show that’s hard to classify and different from anything you’ve ever seen – or heard.

Among the next week’s biggest events is the Sixteenth Annual Pawleys Island Wine & Food Gala on Thursday, October 1. Patrons will enjoy hors d’oeuvres prepared by the area’s best chefs, tastings of 100+ wines from vineyards around the globe and the opportunity to purchase many options at a discount. The evening will also include a dessert tasting and a silent auction with tempting trips and treasures. AJ Croce, Natalie Douglas, Ken Lavigne, Davis and Johnson and The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra round out the Silver Anniversary Celebration represented by Blues, Classical, Big Band and soulful ballads. There’s lots more planned on many dates than room to specify.

The Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art is one of a hundred mighty fine reasons to visit South Carolina’s Lowcountry for a cool-weather beach vacation. Check out a wealth of detail about the Festival at, or call 843.626.8911. Start planning a beach getaway to The Hammock Coast of South Carolina at



Celebrate National Hammock Day!

Visit The Hammock Shops and Celebrate National Hammock Day
By Kimberly Duncan

Thousands of years ago, hammocks were created to get slumbering souls off the ground away from creepy-crawlies. Today, it’s the ultimate symbol of relaxation, and none is better known than the famous Pawleys Island Hammock – a hammock whose unique design has remained the same for well more than a century. It’s a hammock so strong and comfortable its handmade design has endured — unchanged and unchallenged.

Pawleys Island Rope Hammock

The first Pawleys Island Hammock was constructed sometime in the late 1800s when John Joshua Ward, a riverboat captain with deep roots on The Hammock Coast, grew frustrated by the lumpy straw mattresses used on the river barges he steered up and down the Waccamaw River (a busy stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway) to and from Charleston. In his effort to score a comfortable night’s rest, he toyed with alternatives.

First, Capt. Josh tried a canvas creation, but it was nearly as hot and uncomfortable as the prickly straw. He tried knotted string, but the necessary knots made it equally uncomfortable. After considerable trial and error, a hammock of soft cotton rope evolved. It was expertly woven, not knotted, and its comfortable width was held open by a curved “spreader bar.” That bar lent a cradle-like curve and kept the soft material from collapsing onto itself. The novel design also allowed air to circulate making the hammock a relatively cool place to rest – even during the South Carolina coast’s sultry summers.

062-Case-HamkCoastThat’s the story of the original Pawleys Island Hammock – the hammock that endures as centerpiece to a couple of dozen exceptional shops and dining venues in Pawleys Island. The much-lauded development, beautifully landscaped and brimming with history, is aptly known far and wide as The Hammock Shops. And they’re all set to celebrate National Hammock Day on July 22. There will be hammock weaving demonstrations and other fun stuff still taking shape. Porch rockers and the famous hammocks, ubiquitous throughout Pawleys Island and the Lowcountry, beckon one and all to linger and make memories of the Best. Vacation. Ever.


Visitors will find a bit of everything from Southern collectibles, fashionable clothing and shoes, locally designed jewelry, original art, fine wine from ‘round the globe, snazzy pet supplies, home accessories – and frankly a lot more than there is room to detail. Onsite eateries serve awesome sandwiches (some on huge, homemade biscuits), chef-inspired cuisine, newsworthy milkshake, more than one fine outdoor bar and the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of a juicy all-American hot dog or ice cream cone savored on a shady bench beneath age-old oaks.

The Hammock Shops Village delivers shopping and dining that’s a lot less mall and a lot more magic. Located on Highway 17 in Pawleys Island, it is open daily, seven days a week. Don’t miss the opportunity for a memorable day of shopping, dining and relaxing in the heart of SC’s Lowcountry. And by the way, hammocks make great gifts! Never met a soul who doesn’t want one!

Spend some time on the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk

Murrells Inlet MarshWalk

by Kimberly Duncan

Check a SC map, and you’ll see a saltwater estuary unfold on the south end of Myrtle Beach and the famous Grand Strand. It has a rich history populated by Native Americans, the nation’s earliest Europeans, pirates, soldiers, fine fishermen, artists, hermits, writers and modern-day tycoons. Still, it’s retained its charm as an unpretentious fishing village – with a sweet, wide-Couples 3mouthed inlet that spills into the Atlantic –and a reputation for seafood of legendary perfection.

Few would argue the best place to take in the sights and sounds of this slice of SC Lowcountry is Murrells Inlet’s MarshWalk. Expect marsh, creeks and tiny islands that don’t make maps; the views alone are priceless. For more than a mile, a wooden boardwalk, studded with informational signage about marsh wildlife and rich local history, meanders around the water’s edge in a little town famous for hush puppies and deep-sea fishing.

Aside from Mother Nature’s most obvious attractions, a wish list of restaurants and bars line the MarshWalk, one and all offering some mix of big burgers, wood-fired pizza, a bit of sushi, crispy fries, thick steaks, cold beverages and lots and lots of fresh seafood. Add so much fine food to salty views, views, views , sea breezes, moss in the wind, swaying spartina grass and … well, you’ve got yourself a version of paradise that begs a visit.  DeadDogSaloon

Here, there and yonder, there’s live music in quantity – particularly when the weather’s fine (and it usually is). Tunes drifting on the breeze range from Country to Reggae, Classic Rock and Beach, of course. Patrons can sit and linger at one restaurant/bar or amble the Marshwalk willy nilly. Snag a beverage and dance a jig when and where you choose.

MarshWalk strolling, MarshWalk dining , MarshWalk nightlife. Add charter fishing, kayaking, parasailing; things are always hustling on the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk. If you’re early enough, you’ll see boaters unloading their catch. Come for lunch; stay the day and play all night. October brings a raucously fun Halloween Costume Contest and Parade and an Annual Oyster Roast with bushels and bushels of sweet local oysters. Check a calendar of events at Another great site for researching your visit is

The view, the music and the fun are always free: you’ll find no cover charges here! The MarshWalk is a gathering place where locals and visitors congregate– the former glad to live here and the latter wishing they did!