Set aside a couple of days to explore this breezy seaport.

Sampit River
Georgetown snuggles up to the Sampit River.
| Credit: Mary Margaret Chambliss

Don't judge Georgetown, South Carolina, based on what you see driving along U.S. 17. Tucked a few blocks away from the sprawl and the factories, the heart of the town shines like a jewel on the water. Colorful rows of shops and stately historic homes spread out for blocks from the topaz-hued Sampit River and emerald green marshes. It's a fine base point for exploring the surrounding Lowcountry.

Shop Like a Local
Massage your wallet with some retail therapy in Georgetown's own Rainbow Row. Park your car, and wander along Front Street, the gateway to stores, eateries, and taverns. One of our favorites, the Rice Museum gift shop, sells handmade jewelry, local pottery, and home accessories. Antiques lovers will fawn over Augustus & Carolina. Focusing on fine furnishings, antiques, and accessories, it's the kind of place where your jaw drops just thinking about the prices, unless you're lucky enough to be able to buy something!

Adventure Time
The pirate lovers among your group will delight in a lighthearted, swashbuckling cruise. The tall ship Jolly Rover docks at Harborwalk before sailing at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Monday-Saturday in Winyah Bay. You won't have to walk the plank while exploring the waves along with a crew of fun-loving pirates. or (843) 546-8822. Cost: $26 adults, $14 under age 12.

Georgetown on the Plate
Kudzu Bakery & Market, hidden in a little courtyard a block off Front Street, serves delicious fresh-baked pastries and coffees. It's also a fine spot to pick up wines and deli sandwiches for the day. If you want a broader selection of meats and prepared sides, visit Morsels Market on Front Street to pack a gourmet picnic.

The best white tablecloth restaurant in town, the Rice Paddy, is set in an old bank building. Reservations are a must here. Start your meal with a cup of the shrimp-and-corn chowder, a creamy mixture that's now on our comfort food list. The crab cakes and lamb top the menu as nightly favorites.

Dinner can also be a party. Stop by the Old Fish House (locals call it the Big Tuna) for the raw bar, fried seafood, and cold drinks. As the night wears on, the place heats up with good times.

Sleepy Time in The Lowcountry
The best place to stay in Georgetown is at the DuPre House Bed & Breakfast Inn. A block off Front Street, this 1740s-era home delights with handsome architecture and period furnishings. From immaculately designed bed chambers (each with private baths, TVs, and DVD players) to the exquisite breakfasts, the B&B is a feast for your sensibilities. or (843) 546-0298. Rates: $170-$195.