Atlantic Coast

South of the commercial chaos of Myrtle Beach, travelers in search of serene tranquility have long appreciated Pawleys Island. The rope hammocks for which the island is best known aptly symbolize this generally relaxed, weatherworn community, where a few traditional tin-roofed shacks mix with ever-increasing numbers of multimillion-dollar mock-antebellum mansions. The poet and novelist James Dickey, author of Deliverance, liked the island so much that he is buried in the small Pawleys Island cemetery, adjacent to All Saints Church.

An even more extensive and intimate (and affordable) taste of the old-fashioned Lowcountry life is available just down the road from Pawleys Island. Spreading along the north bank of the Pee Dee River, a mile north of Georgetown on US-17, Hobcaw Barony is a 16,000-acre estate that was once the winter hunting lodge of 1920s financier and New Deal-era statesman Bernard Baruch, who then sold it to his daughter, Belle. The extensive, mostly undeveloped grounds are home to two university research centers specializing in coastal ecology, and the main homes and plantation buildings have been kept in original condition, complete with one of only a few surviving slave villages. Along with preserving these historic quarters and the regional history they represent, the nonprofit educational foundation that runs Hobcaw Barony offers two-hour tours (843/546-4623, Tues.-Sat., $20, reservation required) to school groups and individuals. Tours start at the Discovery Center Museum and Gift Shop (Mon.-Sat., free) along US-17.