3 Myrtle Beach Plantation Tours for Traveling Back in Time

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Say the word “plantation”, and iconic images from South Carolina’s past immediately spring to mind. Under a canopy of craggy oak trees with their centuries-old branches twisting in all directions, the impossibly long, perfectly straight drive stretches toward the expansive house, its veranda wrapping around all sides. You can't help but picture Southern belles in bustled gowns and dapper men hanging onto their every charmingly-accented word, sipping mint juleps and cooling themselves with lace fans. No Myrtle Beach vacation is complete without an afternoon of exploring these homes and grounds the way they were in a different era.

Hopsewee Plantation: Dating back to the mid-1700s, this traditional home in Georgetown was originally built for Thomas Lynch, Sr., an advisor to President George Washington alongside Benjamin Franklin. Having only been owned by five people, Hopsewee Plantation is said to be “a preservation rather than a restoration” because the house has been so lovingly cared for. Today, you can tour the fully-furnished main building from the brick cellar all of the way up to the attic, visit two slave cabins, and enjoy the grounds on the bank of the Santee River before retiring to the River Oak Cottage tea room, where you're likely to see the current owners preparing a traditional tea service.

Hampton Plantation: This historic site in McClellanville is for sightseers who like a little something extra with their plantation tour. The unfurnished main house is a beautiful remnant from the Myrtle Beach area's rice-rich past, with all of the carvings and crown moldings and two-story pillars you'd expect. The guided tour of the home at Hampton Plantation focuses on the architecture, the wealth and power of the families who built and maintained it, and the significance of the slaves they held. As part of the larger state park system, there's also fishing, boating, and trails through a former Hampton Plantation rice field that allow you the chance to catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer, an alligator, or if you're really lucky, a mosquito or two.

Cap'n Rod's Lowcountry Plantation Tours: If all of the hours of surfing and swimming in Myrtle Beach's waves have left you in need of something slower-paced, a cruise down one of the area's rivers on Cap'n Rod's pontoon boat will give you plenty of time to relax. You’ll lazily pass plantations and slave cabins before you reach your ultimate destination for a guided tour of the Hobcaw estate, which is said to have housed President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Lowcountry Plantation Tours in Georgetown promises a mixture of facts and folklore, history and mystery, from a lowcountry native.

Whether you want to be immersed in the decor of centuries past, gain a greater appreciation for the role of the slave in the rise of South Carolina's economy, or spend a day on the water, the Myrtle Beach area has a plantation tour for you.

(posted 3/18/14)