Little River and Calabash

By Leslie Moore

Little River and Calabash

This month, Sasee explores Little River, the oldest settlement in Horry County situated just below the North Carolina/South Carolina line and the charming village of Calabash, just over the North Carolina border.

Little River

Evidence of Native Americans harvesting oysters and clams, plus an abundance of fossils and arrowheads, show that these early Americans loved Little River’s seafood bounty as much as we all do today. Fresh, delicious seafood still draws thousands to the area.

The Colonial era found Little River a busy, bustling seaport village with thriving timber and naval businesses. Like Murrells Inlet, which bookends the southern end of Horry County, Little River was a favorite hiding spot for pirates like Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard. But, by the mid-1800s, this small town was a bustling, busy seaport.

Today, Little River is known for its fresh seafood, fishing charters, annual blue crab festival and centuries-old live oak trees. The slower pace and laid back lifestyle makes this town a favorite for visitors and especially for those who call the town home.

This year will mark the 35th Annual Blue Crab Festival, held on May 14th and 15th. One of the largest events in the southeast, it is host to over 300 fine arts and craft vendors, specialty food vendors, live entertainment and lots of fun children’s activities.

Little River is also home to Current Transitions, a learning center for developmentally delayed adults. The students create beautiful art pieces that will be sold at this year’s event. Director Linda Trost loves her town, raving about the friendly people and places. One of her favorite eateries is International Café where she always orders the pickle soup! As unusual as it sounds, Linda assures us that it is amazing.

Another Sasee favorite place to eat is Clark’s Seafood and Chophouse – the waterfront view is amazing. Also, Sasee shoppers love browsing in Sea Island Trading Co., a fun and unique boutique with great women’s styles and unusual home goods.

Little River and Calabash

Calabash

Located just north of the South Carolina line, Calabash was originally known as Pea’s Landing. It wasn’t until a post office opened in 1883, that it became known as the Village of Calabash. In the 1930s two families, the Becks and the Colemans, began “fish camps” that were held outdoors, serving oysters, shrimp and fish with food that came straight from the docks. In 1940, both families moved the service indoors and added the famous fried style of seafood that is the signature of Calabash. Cooks use cornmeal instead of flour to bread the food, and it is delicious! Calabash became widely known throughout the United States when entertainer Jimmy Durante began closing his radio show with the words, “Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.” Mr. Durante and Lucy Coleman became friends when the popular entertainer visited her family restaurant. By the 1960s, other restaurants had opened to meet the demand of the many tourists who came to enjoy Calabash seafood. Today there is approximately one restaurant per ten permanent residents of the village.

One of Sasee’s favorite places in Calabash is Sunset River Marketplace. Since opening its doors in 2002, Sunset River Marketplace, an art gallery owned by artist Ginny Lassiter, showcases only artists from the two Carolinas, and this eclectic spot boasts an amazing offering of clay art, oil paintings, watercolors, mixed media, pastels and acrylics, plus award-winning works in metal, wood, hand-blown glass, fiber and other media. 

Sasee asked Ginny some of her Calabash favorites, “I love eating at Grapevine, but really I like going anywhere I don’t have to cook or do the dishes!” Of course, there’s no place Ginny would rather be than hanging out at Sunset River Marketplace, painting or just talking about art!

Sunset River Marketplace marketing director, Dariel Bendin, says, “I’m a sucker for the shrimp sandwich at Seafood Hut.” She also loves hanging out at Sunset River Marketplace, but you may find her haunting local antique and consignment stores!

Another favorite of the Sasee crew, The Boundary House Restaurant at Callahan’s shares some of the same virtues as the original Boundary House, a gathering place for travelers as early as the 1740s in Calabash. Sitting on the boundary line of two provinces in those days, The Boundary House was a stopping point for many English travelers and even a few settlers. It also was the place for many sermons, gatherings and even a famous duel involving the governor of North Carolina. While it faded from existence in the early 20th century, the present day Boundary House still serves the same delicious Calabash seafood, but has added many other options for diners. Be sure to take time to browse in Callahan’s of Calabash, a wonderful treasure trove of a store with everything from home décor to gifts to apparel.

Who doesn’t love treasure hunts in consignment shops? Calabash is home to one of the area’s best – Bloomingail’s Consignment. Owner Gail Roberson wanted a place where every woman could afford to buy nice things – and this store is filled with high quality items at prices you just can’t believe!

We want to know your favorite places in Little River and Calabash! Send them to lmoore@strandmedia.com, and we’ll post them on our Facebook page!

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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