Georgetown, South Carolina

Hey y'all, it's a southern thing

Jan 8, 2004
Outside Magazine
best American towns Georgetown, South Carolina

Alligators, egrets, and the ghosts of souls lost at sea take up residence in Georgetown's historic waterways    Photo: courtesy, USFWS

IT'S A TOSS UP trying to decide which is more astonishingly preserved: the downtown of South Carolina's third-oldest municipality, bordered by the Sampit River, shaded by live oaks, and riddled with dozens of pre-Revolution buildings; the southern hospitality of the well-established families who live here; or the unspoiled natural riches nearby.

OUTDOORS: Five meandering rivers drain into Winyah Bay, providing weeks' worth of canoeing or kayaking alongside alligators, egrets, and the remains of 18th-century rice plantations. And to the southwest, Francis Marion National Forest offers a quarter-million acres of lakes, rivers, and low country, threaded by the 42-mile Swamp Fox–Palmetto Hiking Trail and 40 miles of doubletrack on the Wambaw Cycle Trail.

REAL ESTATE: Colonials—some built before 1800—in the laid-back historic district start at $170,000, though at that price they may have issues (hello, dry rot!). Newer homes in outlying neighborhoods can run as high as $400,000 (for a gorgeous spread along the riverbank).
HANGOUTS: Harbor House, a three-story Georgian bed-and-breakfast of 1700s vintage, affords a pelican's-eye view of the shrimpers and sailors docked along the Sampit River (doubles, $135–$175; 877-511-0101, At the Thomas Cafe, a lunch counter on Front Street that opened in 1928, choose from Cajun omelets, crawfish-cake sandwiches, and bread pudding with bourbon sauce.