CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA
"The Little Town on the Waccamaw River!"
By Glenn Arnette, lll
Today ended up being a special day for me as I truly discovered a wonderful community that has always been nothing more than a pass through town from Florence to Myrtle Beach. What a mistake! There is an exciting historical family place still alive in South Carolina. In 1670, the British settled Charles Town, known today as Charleston, and the area of Horry (O-ree) was considered part of Craven County. Robert Johnson included Kingston Township in a plan to develop the Province in 1730. In 1732 the site of KINGSTON was laid out. Now wait, I am not talking about Kingston in North Carolina, I am giving you a little background on how CONWAY, SOUTH CAROLINA started. In 1734 a plan for the town of Kingston (Conway) was completed and by 1735 the first settlers had arrived. Craven County was later changed to Kingston County and then to Horry County in honor of General Peter Horry in 1801. Not over yet…hold on. The name of Kingston was changed to Conwayborough for General Robert Conway. During the 1870’s riverboats transported passengers and goods along the Waccamaw River between Conwayborough and Georgetown. The South Carolina General Assembly shortened the town’s name to CONWAY in 1883. In 1887 the railroad reached Conway and in 1898 the town elected its first mayor. Now, there you have the background. If you want more about the history of Conway, contact (843) 248-1700.
There are many reasons to visit Conway. You can follow the historic trails map for a self -guided tour of stately old homes, picturesque churches and more than a dozen building and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take the family and stroll along the Riverwalk to view Conway’s oldest landmark, the Waccamaw River. Enjoy the Riverfront Park and let the kids enjoy a picnic and playground for the afternoon.
A must when visiting Conway is a narrated historic riverboat tour on the Kingston Lady that departs from the Conway Marina daily at 2 P.M. The Lady takes you down the old “black water” (Waccamaw River), which is rich in history and wildlife and is lined with beautiful moss draped ancient cypress and oak trees. You will be cruising the same waters steam sidewheelers once passed and catch a glimpse of gators, otters, turtles and the majestic Great Blue Heron. It is a two hour tour. For reservations, call (800) 361-6058 or (843) 248-4033. Check their wedsite at www.KingstonLady.com.
Now for those Northerners who do not know about MOSS, let me explain. Considered the premier botanical symbol of the South, SPANISH MOSS can grow almost anywhere but takes a particular liking to the rough surface of live oak bark. It is not a parasite, but an epiphyte, an air plant, living on atmospheric dust and water. It takes nothing from the tree but support. A live oak can support literally tons of moss. In the Spring Spanish moss blooms with tiny, three petal flowers, bright green and very fragrant, especially at night. Its seeds have downy parachutes that get caught in the foothold of the trunk and limbs where they cling and grow. Are you ready for this? Its scientific name is Dendrophgonusneoiles, and it is a member of the pineapple family. I am impressed ! Now we all know the true story.
Conway has a delightful historic downtown area with exciting shops. There you will find one-of-a-kind specialty stores, antique and collectible shops, and much more including one of my favorites, BODEGA, located at Main Street and 3rd. It features everything for the gourmet kitchen, gift baskets, wine and cheese and is the party central for the Conway area. Be sure to say hello to Kelli Thomas, the manager, who will help you with your gift selections. For information and directions call (843) 241-9271.
There are many other shops but for the ladies you must go to the QUALITY SHOP located on Main Street near the theatre. In 1932 Ida Ryan and Lilly Rogers opened the doors and today it still remains under the ownership of Lynne Griggs, a relative. Her Mother, Rosa Lee Watts owned the shop beginning in 1962 and to me she is one of Conway’s Leading Ladies. A jewel who is truly one of those “charmers” you do not see anymore and she is so pretty. When you shop there, please tell her Glenn said hello. Better still, call for directions (843) 248-9110.
For food we must include three of my favorites. The first would be the TRESTLE BAKERY AND CAFÉ. (They have two locations on Main Street.) It is a bakery, café and catering service all rolled into one fabulous intimate place! The coffee, sweet rolls and muffins, are perfect for the morning break. They have daily specials and delicious cakes and are open for Breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more about their offerings, call (843) 249-9896.
Next, there is the RIVERTOWN BISTRO, located on 3rd at Laurel. They specialize in fresh seafood, steaks, chicken and pork. Do not mistake them for a “seafood platter” restaurant as they feature the high end of fresh fish; i.e., tuna, snapper, etc. The are open for lunch Tuesday - Friday and dinner each night except Sunday and Monday. Now with ten years of service to the Conway area, Cyndi and Darren Smith welcome you anytime and will accept your reservation by calling (843) 248-3733. By-the-way here is one of their summer or Holiday recipes that will offer you an alternative to the Southern Mint Julip. Try the Champagne Punch and rare back in a big old rocker and think Southern thoughts. It is easy to mix.
1 cup cognac
1 cut triple sec
½ cup sugar syrup
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 bottles Champagne
Pre-chill ingredients. Excluding champagne pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl with a block of ice and stir well. Before serving, add champagne and stir gently. Serves 15-20 or better still a couple of Southern drinkers. What a way to go!
My final recommendation for dining would be BOOKSMITHS, a bookstore and café. They offer lunch and dinner and the prices are very reasonable. They also cater for large or small parties and are considered by the locals one of the best stops in town. Randy and Shannon Anderson are the owners and truly have a wonderful restaurant for the entire family. This is a real community restaurant and supported by the townspeople. They also have a meeting room complete with audio visual for special meetings. Now, here it is! Shrimp and Grits! This is an absolute must when you dine there. It is just one of those Southern things again. Remember, I talked about this in the Charleston story. Now it is just around the corner at 1023 Third Avenue. Don’t forget the homemade POUND CAKE, made from scratch. Have a slice or take home the whole thing. For information call (843) 488-2665. I am so hungry!
There are two places to stay that offer the real feeling of the Conway area. The MOORE FARM HOUSE is a charming Bed and Breakfast. Built in 1914 on the foundations of the James Moore family’s 1874 home, The Moore Farm House continues a long tradition of warm hospitality. There are four inviting rooms complete with air conditioning, bath robes, ceiling fans, whirlpool tubs, his and her showers, clock and TV. For a look go www.TheMooreFarmHouse.com or call for reservations (843) 365-9479. Perched on the edge of the Waccamaw River is the Cypress Inn. They claim to nourish the body and soul. They offer personal service for couples looking for a romantic getaway, weary business travelers, and those who want a little pampering. They offer twelve rooms each with its own personality. The Cypress Inn gently mixes old and new, while extending old-fashion hospitality because caring for their guests is done straight from the heart. The appointments are beautiful and the location perfect. For reservations call (843) 248-8199 or go to their website at www.acypressinn.com.
Well, that is about all the space for now. How can I not tell you about Coastal Carolina, the Horry County Technical College, or the North American Institute of Avaition? What about the wonderful Horry County Museum and the hundreds of other things to do and see in Conway? And then there is the Theatre of the Republic located right in the heart of Main Street. They offer some of the best productions in the area. For a schedule give them a call at (843) 488-0821. Look for the opening of the “Best of Broadway Duets” opening on the 29th of July.
Thanks, Conway for becoming one of America’s best hometowns. You have certainly stopped some of the traffic heading towards the Grand Strand, but more than that you have become a tourist destination for those in Myrtle Beach. For one thing your property value is way up! Wish I had a place on the beautiful Waccamaw River!
Remember, if you have any thoughts or comments email them to me at [email protected]. Until next time, have a great time and enjoy the Summer.
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