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Myrtle Beach Has Many Museums To Explore

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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There's far more to Myrtle Beach than surf and sand. It is an area rich with culture, history and unique natural wonders, too. These treasured regional aspects are documented and displayed - sometimes for preservation and learning, sometimes just for fun - at the many museums along the Grand Strand. Revelations await you, so don't wait for a rainy day to go. Visit one or more exhibits to see, touch and experience this region of South Carolina in new and surprising ways.


Historical Museums

Get a taste of 18th-century living at Georgetown's Kaminski House Museum.

Learn about the Native Americans who initially inhabited the area, the first settlers, the establishment of rice plantations, the effects of the Civil War and more at the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum. A long-term gallery features a timeline history of the region while a second gallery spotlights short-term regional exhibits. You'll even learn the history of the Shag - the state's official dance and a popular pastime in coastal South Carolina.

A trio of museums in historic Georgetown paint an in-depth picture of life along the South Carolina coast. Get a taste of 18th-century living at Georgetown's Kaminski House Museum and Stewart Parker House. Take a guided tour and you'll be charmed by the architecture of these antebellum homes, both appointed with period furnishings and antiques. Listen to stories of former residents who helped shape the quaint, historic town and fought to preserve their way of life through wars and other catastrophes.

As the state's second largest port, Georgetown is an appropriate home for the South Carolina Maritime Museum. Learn about the seafaring way of life through this museum's collection of photographs, documents and artifacts, which include the Fresnel lens from the North Island lighthouse.

Once you've got your sea legs, head to the Rice Museum to explore the agricultural lifestyle of landlubbers who operated the area's first rice plantations in the 17th and 18th centuries. Their story is told through maps, exhibits, artifacts and dioramas that document the importance of the rice crop to the people of Georgetown - once the source of nearly half the nation's rice supply.

Accounts of segregation, education and the perseverance of the human spirit inform and inspire visitors to the Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum. Take a tour for a thought-provoking look at a tumultuous period in South Carolina history. The restored 20th-century building, which first opened its doors to "persons of color" in 1932, is a re-creation of the original school environment where "separate but equal" educational opportunities were policy for more than 20 years.

South Carolina has a lot to be proud of, and that includes a host of notable persons who hail from this great state. Get the low-down at the South Carolina Hall of Fame in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, where homage is paid to South Carolinians from the distant and recent past as well as the present. Learn about their remarkable lives and contributions, and how they helped make South Carolina a wonderful place to call home.


Art Museums

Brookgreen Garden started out as a sculpture garden for founder Anna Hyatt Huntington and other artists of her era.

Experience art appreciation by the sea with a visit to the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach. With 10 galleries, an art studio and resource library, this facility serves as the Grand Strand's hub for fine art. The museum, housed in a 1920s cabana-style villa with an ocean view, has featured exhibits from the likes of such masters as Jonathan Green and Ansel Adams. Workshops and programs for children, adults and families are offered regularly and make for a great beach break.

Boat rides, holiday lights, animals, butterflies - people come to Brookgreen Gardens for a myriad of reasons. Its origins as a sculpture garden, however, form the foundation of this National Historic Landmark with an internationally recognized art collection. Brookgreen's late founder, Anna Hyatt Huntington, envisioned and created an outdoor gallery for her own sculptures as well as those of other artists. Today, visitors can view more than 1,400 works of art from more than 350 sculptors and enroll in sculpture workshops, too.


Interactive Museums and Attractions

Ripley's Aquarium is a living museum that reveals the mysteries of ocean life.

Exercising the mind doesn't seem like work when you visit one of the area's interactive museums. Kids will only register the element of fun as they play their way through exhibits designed to be touched and explored.

Myrtle Beach is home to EdVenture Children's, where kids can try on a variety of hats through role playing and hands-on activities. Banker, builder, archeologist, pirate, farmer, even a pizza delivery truck driver - all children need to learn about the world around them is imagination. The museum takes care of the rest. Themed activities and programs, such as Indoor Adventure Day and Tales for Tots, offer more in-depth learning experiences.

Broadway at the Beach's WonderWorks, another interactive museum disguised as a playground, will pique your child's natural sense of curiosity and creativity. A lot of laughter and learning happens at this 50,000-square-foot upside-down "laboratory" filled with more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Experience what it's like to don an astronaut suit, lie on a bed of nails, create gigantic bubbles, play a floor piano with your feet or be nearly blown away by hurricane-force winds. In addition to these "learning labs," there is laser tag, a ropes course and other amusements for even more adventure.

Experience the wonders of a living museum at Ripley's Aquarium, where adults and children can learn about sea life through observation and interactive displays. The Discovery Center is a magical place where visitors can hold a live horseshoe crab. There's also an interactive, multimedia playground for kids. Treat your eyes to stunning exhibits, including a massive coral reef structure teeming with rainbows of fish. For the ultimate aquarium adventure, schedule a behind-the-scenes tour where you'll learn what it's like to care for these amazing creatures.


Just for Fun

Hollywood Wax Museum features life-like visages of celebrities from Dolly Parton to Clint Eastwood.

You might not snag an autograph, but you can get up close and personal with your favorite stars at Hollywood Wax Museum in Myrtle Beach. Check out the life-like visages of celebrities, such as Dolly Parton, Clint Eastwood, Beyonce and Johnny Depp, and get the scoop on their personal and professional lives. You can also learn about the intricate process of creating these models, a three-month process that requires expert artistic skill.

Automobile lovers will drool over the classic collection at the Wheels of Yesteryear museum in Myrtle Beach. With more than 50 vintage American-made cars, this exhibit is considered one of the finest in the Southeast and draws crowds of "motor heads" annually. The museum owners have 100 classic cars, so some of the inventory rotates each year. Depending on your age, a visit here might be a trip down memory lane or a history lesson. Either way, it's hard to resist running a hand over the glossy hood of a muscle car and even more fun to imagine yourself behind the wheel.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.