Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Pawleys Island, SC

  • Published 2022/09/27

If you feel like you’ve already gone to every tourist spot in the world, you haven’t gone to Pawleys Island, SC.

It’s an extraordinary island getaway with exquisite natural wonders and unspoiled history.

You might not suspect a place like this hiding in plain sight in the US, but it’s there, and it’s waiting for you.

Only less than 4 miles long and only a house wide, Pawleys Island almost feels like an artifact of a bygone era.

It’s got resort islands for neighbors, but it offers a unique experience.

Many of the houses in Pawleys Island have stood there since the 1700s, with little changes in between.

This history will strike you even more when you find out that the 3rd or 4th generations of a single family have stayed in these houses.

For instance, one family has owned Liberty Lodge for literally a century.

Of course, beach lovers will find something to love at Pawleys Island.

Bring your surfboard and catch some waves, or bring your clubs and get over to tee time.

Do you want to know more about Pawleys Island, SC?

Check out this list of the best things to do while there.

Have a Historic Wedding at the Pawleys Island Chapel

Front View of Pawleys Island Chapel's exterior

makasana photo /

Are you planning to get married but you don’t want the hassle of a big celebration?

You can just get away to Pawleys Island and say your vows at the historic Pawleys Island Chapel.

Since 1947, the chapel has opened its doors to worshippers and travelers alike.

Just head to the island’s marsh side to reach the chapel.

Exterior of Pawleys Island Chapel

makasana photo /

The surrounding marsh and beach have turned the place into a wonderful wedding getaway.

It’s no surprise that the chapel sees roughly 25 weddings every year.

You just need to travel there from September to May if you want to get married at the chapel.

Visit the Pawleys Island Chapel at 391 Myrtle Avenue, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Salt marsh beside and behind Pawleys Island Chapel

Billy McDonald /

Golf and Fish at the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

A golf course that could also double as a nature park perfectly describes your experience at the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.

Since 1994, Caledonia has earned the reputation of being one of the premier golf courses in America.

You could pin this success to the genius design work that architect Mike Strantz put into the course.

Emphasizing the natural beauty of the greens, he fit all 18 holes around sloping hills, streams, and ponds.

Every year, you can also see thousands of flowers blooming over the course.

This quaint garden atmosphere should leave you feeling like you’ve got the full Southern experience at a golf course.

Visit the Caledonia Golf & Fish Club at 369 Caledonia Dr, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Practice Your Swing at The Heritage Club

Why don’t you practice your golf swing amid trees and lakes older than you?

True to its name, The Heritage Club lets you play golf on a course filled with 600 acres of giant magnolias, 300-year-old oak trees, and several freshwater lakes and marshes.

The course also sits along the gorgeous Waccamaw River Trail, offering a unique landscape you won’t find in other golf courses.

Once you’re done playing, you can head to the clubhouse and enjoy the view overlooking the Waccamaw River.

Visit The Heritage Club at 478 Heritage Dr, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Check Out Masterpieces at the Cheryl Newby Gallery

For 38 years, the Cheryl Newby Gallery has featured the pieces of fantastic artists working in various styles and media.

The gallery’s offerings have attracted legions of patrons who wish to adorn their homes or offices with masterworks of fine art.

You can see dozens of paintings, sculptures, and ceramic art on display during your visit.

The Cheryl Newby Gallery is also proud to represent nationally renowned artists.

For instance, you’ll see works from the impressionist painter Ray Ellis, the award-winning pastel artist Lisa Gleim, and the ceramic artist Glenda Taylor.

Visit the Cheryl Newby Gallery at 11096 Ocean Hwy #4, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Work It Out at Hammock Coast CrossFit

Pawleys Island isn’t just for relaxing and having a chill time, but also for people who want to get active on vacation.

For example, you can go to Hammock Coast CrossFit and stay active with other members of a thriving fitness community.

It’s also open to everyone of all CrossFit skill levels.

So, even if you’re a complete CrossFit amateur, you’ll still fit in Hammock Coast.

After all, a family of coaches runs the place. They want every guest to feel that they’re all in it together.

Visit Hammock Coast CrossFit at 735 Petigru Dr, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Reflect on Life at the All Saints Church

On the mainland of Pawleys Island, near the Waccamaw River, stands the historic All Saints Church, constructed to serve the spiritual needs of people in neighboring areas.

The chapel you see today stood in 1917, and it’s the fourth iteration of the building.

On the same site, they built the first chapel in 1737.

The All Saints Church is also home to the popular ghost story of Alice Flagg, a 16-year-old girl who died of possible malaria in 1849.

Alice was a member of a prominent Pawleys Island family, the Flaggs.

The story goes that you can see her ghost in the churchyard of All Saints, though the church has placed signs forbidding ghost hunting on the grounds.

Of course, the National Register of Historic Places also listed this building in its records.

If you want to learn Pawleys Island lore, this church might be the best place to start.

You can visit the All Saints Church at 3560 Kings River Rd, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Admire More Art at the Gray Man Gallery

The oldest art gallery and custom framer in Pawleys Island is the Gray Man Gallery, one of the many unmissable spots on your trip.

Notably, award-winning local artist Vida Miller owns the place so that you can be doubly sure of the quality of artwork on display.

During your visit, you’ll find several works from talented Lowcountry artists.

Likewise, if you buy a print, you can also have it framed at the gallery.

You’d be getting two excellent art experiences in one go.

Visit the Gray Man Gallery at 10729 A, Ocean Hwy, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Catch Some Rays at Magnolia Beach

If you want to go to the beach but can’t stand crowds, you should bring your family to Pawley Island’s Magnolia Beach.

You’ll have miles of beach to yourselves, where you can admire the deep blue waters or simply soak up the sun.

Besides swimming and sunbathing, you can also try water sports at Magnolia Beach. You can also bring your dog for an afternoon of play.

After that, you can swim together in the sea, which is always clean thanks to the lack of crowds.

It’s a terrific summer getaway for travelers who are sick of sharing an overcrowded beach.

Visit Magnolia Beach at 49 Loggerhead Ln, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Enjoy the Waves at Surf the Earth

How would you enjoy surfing without proper gear?

Solve your surf gear problem by heading to Surf the Earth, a store established in 1990 to cater to surfers who want high-quality gear.

Today, the store has ventured beyond selling board shorts, T-shirts, or hats.

They’ve also begun to offer ecotourism programs, such as waterman camps.

You can also enroll in private surfing lessons or join surf camps.

Likewise, Surf the Earth provides paddleboard and kayak tours with local guides.

You can also rent out surfboards and other equipment.

Visit Surf the Earth at 47 Da Gullah Way, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.

Use Your Imagination at All Fired Up Studio

You are the artist in this locally owned and run a paint-your-own-pottery workshop.

They aim to offer a friendly, tranquil, comfortable setting and a welcoming studio where guests can let their creativity kick in.

Paint-your-own-pottery studio ALL FIRED UP is the best and only one on Pawleys Island.

You select a piece, they provide instruction on the fundamentals, you craft your artwork, they polish it and heat pottery in their kiln, and you pick up your colorful, sparkly creation in around 3 to 5 days.

ALL FIRED UP is fantastic for artists of all ages and expertise levels, beginners and specialists alike.

Browse for Items to Keep at Hammock Shops Village

In 1889, steamboat captain Joshua John Ward invented the most supportive and durable cotton-rope hammock, slowly gaining popularity.

The First Pawleys Island Rope Hammock is located in the Hammock Shops Village, where you can see the weavers at work.

The roadside stop later included a plant nursery in combination with hand-woven hammocks, freshly captured crabs and oysters, artwork, and other products.

The appeal of Pawleys is visible at The Hammock Stores, whether you’re perusing the shops, drinking wine on the veranda, or watching the craft of hammock weaving and herb basket making being displayed daily.

Enjoy the day browsing anything from handmade antiques and jewelry to coastal treasures, trendy apparel and shoes, wine, presents, chocolates, art, gourmet culinary products, and more.

Test Your Golfing Skills at True Blue Golf Club

The expansive fairways, rolling greens, and great elevation changes are hallmarks of the spectacular, engaging layout.

“Nationally Recognized” Mike Strantz design’s undulating topography and local greenery is One of the most breathtaking locations in golf.

True Blue Golf Club is a must-see due to its 18-acre practice area, a pro store with everything you need, and a pleasant grill room.

With six sets of tee boxes, the par-72 course can reach 7,126 yards and is available to all players.

True Blue Golf Club uses local grasses and plants to preserve the property’s charm while highlighting the area’s stunning natural surroundings and unexpected elevation variations.

The Steve Dresser Golf Academy is housed in an 18-acre practice area on the course.

Taste Italian Cuisines at Caffe Piccolo

Italian cuisine is served at Caffe Piccolo, a Pawleys Island establishment far from the Grand Strand’s hubbub.

Caffe Piccolo offers a distinctive yet traditional setting that emanates relaxation and fellowship among friends.

The layout of Caffe Piccolo was created by fusing elements from the proprietors’ favorite locations to create the gem that the cafe is today.

It is dimly lit and has a firelight vibe.

Only fresh, regional ingredients are used in the creation of their menu to guarantee that each dish lives up to its promise while still embracing traditional Italian cuisine.

In addition to a comprehensive Italian menu, including shrimp, crab, clams, mussels, chicken, beef, and pig in classic sauces, Caffe Piccolo provides daily seafood specialties for dinner.

Live Healthy with the Help of High Country Olive Oil

High Country Olive Oil is a retailer of old Italian balsamic, top-tier extra virgin olive oils, excellent gourmet foods, personal care items, and gifts.

They import extra virgin olive oils from different countries.

The olives are picked when they are freshest, and the oil is extracted via cold pressing.

A wide range of specialty delicacies from various suppliers is available at High Country Olive Oil.

Frontier Soups and Dips, Spices and Herbs, Honey, Salts, Parpadelles Pasta, and other items are some of their products for sale.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Smell the Flowers at Brookgreen Gardens

Pathway lined with flora at Brookgreen Gardens

Craig Zerbe /

Fifteen minutes from Pawleys Island lies Brookgreen Gardens, voted as one of the Top 10 Gardens in the United States.

It’s also a historical site, completed in 1931 through the efforts of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington.

If you want to experience art, nature, and history, go to Brookgreen Gardens.

What can you find inside the gardens?

Tall trees at Brookgreen Gardens

Andrew F. Kazmierski /

You’ll see America’s largest collection of figurative sculptures, arranged throughout the gardens and displayed in three galleries.

Likewise, you’ll find the Lowcountry History and Wildlife Preserve, where you can see native plants and animals, and artifacts of the 1800s rice plantations.

There’s a zoo in Brookgreen Gardens, too.

Visit Brookgreen Gardens at 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576.

Sculpture at Brookgreen Gardens

ehrlif /

Spend the Day at Huntington Beach State Park

Boardwalk at Huntington Beach State Park

MarynaG /

Another nearby attraction is Huntington Beach State Park, where you can enjoy the salt marsh and the birds living there.

Bring your binoculars and admire the sweeping flight of the kittling wood storks or other birds flitting across the marsh.

You can also check out the three miles of unspoiled beach.

Birds perched on Huntington Beach State Park's boardwalk railing

MarynaG /

Relish this marvelous view of untouched nature, and ponder the world’s beauty.

The waters of Huntington Beach State Park

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Once you’re done, you can also check out the stately residence of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, the philanthropist and sculptor who gave the world Brookgreen Gardens.

This time, consider the human capacity to leave behind beautiful things.

Visit the Huntington Beach State Park at 16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576.

Scenic view of Huntington Beach State Park

MarynaG /

Learn Local History at the Georgetown County Museum

Flags in front of the Georgetown County Museum

grandbrothers /

Again, just go fifteen minutes out from Pawleys Island to enter Georgetown County, another place filled with travelers’ delights.

One of the first things you can do at Georgetown is to visit the County Museum and learn about the history of this colonial town in all its facets.

Witness over 300 years of American history captured in the artifacts gathered from the daily lives of old-time Georgetown residents.

For example, you can check out the Civil War exhibit or the Military History display.

You can also look back to the 1850s with the Plantations exhibit, where you can learn how enslaved Africans led to the prosperity of Georgetown County’s rice planters.

Likewise, you can learn how the region-specific Gullah language and culture evolved.

Visit the Georgetown County Museum at 120 Broad St., Georgetown, SC 29440.

Step Into History at the Hopsewee Plantation

Exterior of Hopsewee Plantation

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to see how an 18th-century rice plantation looked like, head to the Hopsewee Plantation in Georgetown.

It’s just one of the many historic homes in the county, but it offers travelers the most personal historical experience.

The mansion was one of the rice plantations that flourished in South Carolina in the 1800s.

In 1850, the Hopsewee Plantation alone produced roughly 500,000 pounds of rice, enriching its original owner, John Hume Lucas.

On the grounds, though, you’ll see a small intact lave dwelling, reminding you of where all this wealth truly came from.

During the plantation’s height, 178 slaves crowded together in similar shacks scattered around the property.

Today, the Hopsewee Plantation is a happy but grim reminder of American history.

Visit the mansion at 494 Hopsewee Rd, Georgetown, SC 29440.

Explore More History at the Kaminski House Museum

Exterior of Kaminski House Museum

grandbrothers /

Georgetown is home to 60 antebellum homes, but perhaps the most famous is the Kaminski House Museum.

In 1769, the leading merchant and self-styled “King of Georgetown,” Paul Trapier, built the mansion.

Prominent Georgetown citizens have owned the house throughout the years, including its first mayor, John Keith.

Another mayor of Georgetown, Harold Kaminski, bought the house in 1931, and he and his wife, Julia, lived there.

When Julia died in 1972, the family willed the colonial house to Georgetown as a museum.

Today, you can enter the beautifully preserved mansion and buy souvenirs at the gift shop.

Admire the house’s signature Lowcountry Single style architecture, and check out the Charleston-made furniture.

Visit the Kaminski House Museum at 1003 Front St., Georgetown, SC 29440.

Join Cap’n Rod’s Lowcountry Tours

The largest boat operator in Georgetown, Cap’n Rod’s Lowcountry Tours, has guided tourists along Winyah Bay and across several rivers since 1995.

You get to go onboard their 56-foot pontoon that can seat 49 passengers on their tours.

Cap’n Rod’s offers various types of tours.

For instance, you can take the Plantation River Tour, where you’ll pass various riverside plantations, complete with extravagant mansions and grim slave shacks.

You could also join the Lighthouse Shell Island tour, which offers a glimpse of the local marine wildlife, such as dolphins.

For an hour to an hour and a half, you can even stroll along an unspoiled beach accessible only by boat!

Book a tour with Cap’n Rod’s Lowcountry Tours at 701 Front St., Georgetown, SC 29440.

Final Thoughts

Pawleys Island is a unique experience and a gateway to other places laced with historical and natural attractions.

So, you’ll never go wrong by visiting the island.

Swim to your heart’s content or join a historical tour.

Walk along the beach or visit a prewar rice plantation.

Pawleys Island will always be your gateway to adventure, no matter your choice.

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