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Five free ways to see Horry’s river city

A visit to Horry County’s seat of Conway provides a stroll through time, natural beauty, and history that predates the founding of this country -- in any order, at any time of year.

Free things to do in this city first named Kingston can number more than five pretty easily, especially with all the fall arts and cultural events at Coastal Carolina University (check them out in the box attached). But here’s five to get you started.

1. Off the cuff, Tina Gerrald, vice president of communications at the Conway Chamber of Commerce, brought up the variety of sights awaiting anyone on the city’s Riverwalk and in Riverfront Park, accessed from Elm Street at the Waccamaw River. The park amenities include a playground, swings, benches, a gazebo, and a fishing area. Kayakers and canoeists also can put in their boats from a sandy landing at the park.

2. Taking a self-guided tour through Conway’s historic district starts with the Conway Visitors Center, 903 Third Ave., and lets “you go through downtown at your own pace,” Gerrald said.

“A lot of those live oaks on the ‘Live Oak Tour’ are beside buildings on the ‘Historical Tour,’” she said.

Many of the churches bear witness to the area’s history, evident in their cemeteries where some stones’ lettering has faded away. The Horry County Museum, which is preparing to move into larger quarters in a restored school, is housed in a former post office at 438 Main St.

Hillary Howard, executive director of Conway Downtown Alive, which coordinates various activities to promote downtown year round, also touted historic walking tours on her to-do list for visitors.

3. With a new semester under way, Coastal Carolina University has a slew of arts and cultural events into December.

The “Faculty Biennial Exhibition” of works by by 20 professors in CCU’s Department of Visual Arts, continues through Sept. 28. in the Rebecca Randall Bryan Art Gallery, inside the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts. Also, join a “Cultural Celebration,” with history, music, dance, art an food, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. WednesdaySept. 19 (rain date Sept. 26) on Prince Lawn, in the middle of the campus.

4. One way to enjoy an evening downtown is at the “Alive After 5” events, 6-9 p.m. monthly on the first Thursdays through November. Thinking ahead to Christmas, when “Rivertown Christmas” activities return for the first three Thursdays in December, Howard spoke about the various stores that put up “living window displays” for extra yuletide cheer.

“It’s something different than you get anywhere else,” she said.

5. Howard also made a pitch for anyone who’s more into bicycling or water sports.

“Pick up a map for the bike trail or the paddle trail,” she said.