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article imageOp-Ed: Hidden historic gem, Conway, SC, worth visiting Special

By Elizabeth Parker     Mar 12, 2013 in Travel
Conway - This spring break on your way to Myrtle Beach, SC, take a break at the town of Conway. At the point highway traffic starts to crawl on busy days, Conway looks like another bland highway pass through town. In reality it is a hidden historic gem; stop in.
Located on the Waccamaw River, which is part of the inter-coastal highway from Maine to Florida, 15 miles west of Myrtle Beach, SC, is Conway, South Carolina. Few people ever think of Conway as a destination in its own right. What a surprise when I had to stop in to have my car looked at this weekend by the local GM dealer.
Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge  Conway  SC  built in 1937.
Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge, Conway, SC, built in 1937.
As I crossed the Waccamaw River Memorial Bridge from the old highway 501 to the Main St., I could tell I was in for a treat. The beautifully crafted bridge built in 1937 leads you in and out of a town that cares about its history and how it looks and feels. History spanning from the 1800's to the current day is evident once you reach the west side of the bridge where the town comes in to view.
The City of Conway City Hall  historic site  built in 1825 by Robert Mills  architect of the US Trea...
The City of Conway City Hall, historic site, built in 1825 by Robert Mills, architect of the US Treasury building and Washington Monument.
The historic Conway City Hall is just on the left after coming across the bridge on old Highway 501. Framed by tall palms with Greek styled Doric columns it announces with southern dignity that you have arrived in a true southern small town. The historic building was built 1825 by Robert Mills the architect of the Washington Monument and US Treasury Building. Parking the car in one of the many available parking lots or spaces and taking a walk is the only way to really appreciate the active and historic streets of Conway.
Coffee shop on Main St.  Conway  SC  with ornate sign.
Coffee shop on Main St., Conway, SC, with ornate sign.
Up and down the main street you will find bakeries, diners, and stores with ornate signs hanging from traditional brick exteriors. Inside the stores and eateries you find many photos and artifacts showing the history of the town.
A 50 s style diner found on Main St.  Conway  SC.
A 50's style diner found on Main St., Conway, SC.
Stopping for breakfast or a milkshake feels like an event.
Breakfast as served at the Trestle Bakery Cafe  on Main St  Conway  SC.
Breakfast as served at the Trestle Bakery Cafe, on Main St, Conway, SC.
The Trestle Bakery & Cafe made a perfect spot for a breakfast of bacon and eggs served with fresh made sourdough bread toasted and a great cup of coffee. Little art shops and galleries show the town has attracted artists of many genre's. What would a historic town be without an old train track running through town.
The train track running through Conway  South Carolina following the Waccama River.
The train track running through Conway, South Carolina following the Waccama River.
At Conway Glass you can see glass blown live the first Saturday morning of the month, take Saturday classes from October to May, or just buy your favorite piece from the showroom floor where there's something for every budget. The pride in the town was evident when I stopped and chatted with Barbara Streeter of Conway Glass. Barbara pointed out the Mayor of Conway as she walked across the street doing a little of her own shopping and explained to me that Conway was currently working on a campaign to get the word out about it's festivals, history and activities that make it a great destination city.
The archway from the parking lot to the Conway Riverwalk in Conway  SC.
The archway from the parking lot to the Conway Riverwalk in Conway, SC.
After breakfast and speaking with Barbara, I headed to the River Walk park. This beautiful historic park and walk way, maintained by the City of Conway, is something not to miss. There is ample parking at the trail head where you'll see the archway above to start your walk along the shores of the Waccamaw River.
Informative sign along the Waccamaw River walk tells of the area history.
Informative sign along the Waccamaw River walk tells of the area history.
Signs will inform you of the history of the region, historic wooden buildings along the walk that may be rented for functions and there is lots of benches to sit and listen to the birds from underneath the Spanish moss hanging from the big oak trees that line the river.
Spanish moss hanging from Oak trees along the Waccamaw River walk.
Spanish moss hanging from Oak trees along the Waccamaw River walk.
I can't wait to stop in when the leaves are back on the trees.
The Conway water tower with its River painted on the side.
The Conway water tower with its River painted on the side.
At the Conway Marina along the walk, where you can see the nearby Conway water tower, you find boats of all sizes, with the river giving access to the inter-coastal waterway. The marina can slip boats up to 40' LOA and 20' beams. They have a small general store, rent kayaks and canoes, dock boats at one of 8 public slips and have a public boat launch. Just one more way to enjoy the river in Conway.
Historic Kingston Presbyterian Church  built in 1858.
Historic Kingston Presbyterian Church, built in 1858.
Leaving the River walk, just past the train tracks, heading back to the car you will see the very southern and very historic Kingston Presbyterian Church, with it's Greek Revival styling built in 1858. Kingston was the original town name, established in 1732, and was later changed to current day Conway as the Conway Chamber of Commerce says. This is just one of many spires you'll see in this typical southern town, learn more about what to do and see in Conway at the Chamber of Commerce site on the visitor link.
A quaint restaurant with a nice southern porch in Conway  SC.
A quaint restaurant with a nice southern porch in Conway, SC.
Next time you're passing through Conway via the highway, make a detour, and wait for the traffic to lighten up. Grab a meal at one of the many great restaurants in town and take a walk along the river. Better yet... plan a day or night to go to a show at the award winning Theater of the Republic, take in a live show and a great dinner at one of the fine dining establishments by the river, or go for one of the many festivals you'll find in Conway such as the recently approved Yarn Bomb festival coming April 27 - June 1, 2013.
One of the views from the River walk in Conway  SC.
One of the views from the River walk in Conway, SC.
Conway, South Carolina, deserves to be a destination, not just a drive by from the highway. Take a look and be pleasantly surprised.
To see the photos included in the story and more, check out the album at the top of the page. Click the little box in the right top corner for the full screen version.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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