HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WMBF)- Hartsville is a city known as a small town with a big heart.
“Explorin’ with Loren” tagged along with Lauren Baker, Hartsville’s director of tourism and communication, to explore the city’s rich history and adventures for tourists and locals to enjoy.
“We’re full of people that just really truly care about this town,” said Baker.
The day started at Kalmia Gardens of Coker University.
“It’s 35 acres of beautiful gardens out here and it doesn’t matter what the weather is. If it’s a chilly day like today, bring your jacket and just come out. You can still see such beautiful scenery. In the springtime, they have beautiful flowers. It just truly is a special place,” said Baker.
A place that was once a neglected dump until the 1930s, when Mrs. May Roper Coker, known as Miss May, transformed it into a botanical garden filled with beautiful plants, flowers and trails.
“The view is dynamic. It constantly changes,” said Dan Hill, assistant director of Kalmia Gardens. “At the far end of the gardens, botanically speaking, it’s like you’ve travelled back in time thousands of years, of how the southeastern forest used to look.”
Hill showed off their newest addition, an observation platform that overlooks the 60-foot bluff.
“This was a really important addition to the gardens to help people with limited mobility. That way if they have trouble on our trails, they could come to this platform and immerse themselves into the natural world,” he said.
The centerpiece of the gardens is the Thomas Hart House, which was built on brick pillars in the 1820s.
“Thomas Hart is who founded Hartsville. Two years before he built the house, he cut the timber down, he milled it himself after it had dried and then in 1820, he built the house,” said Hill.
People can visit Kalmia Gardens for free. It’s open seven days a week from dawn until dusk. There are also plenty of events to check out.
After a morning hike, stop by Hoof And Hound in downtown Hartsville for lunch. The laid-back, dog-friendly restaurant specializes in burgers, craft beer and bar food, and it’s all made from scratch.
“Everything is always great here. We enjoy everything we have. It’s a nice atmosphere and the people are friendly,” said customer Debbie Woods.
Restaurant co-owner Josh Shumate said they opened their doors in March 2019. He noted their name stemmed from the love of burgers and the love for dogs.
His dog is the face of the company. Shumate said the restaurant takes pride in serving nothing but the best to their customers.
“We’ll accommodate anybody who comes in the door as far as you want to change something on the menu, and everything is homemade. It’s made from love. It’s a family-owned restaurant,” he said. “We look to open many more.”
CLICK HERE for more on Hoof And Hound.
Once lunch is finished, take a stroll through the charming streets of downtown. It’s filled with more eateries and unique shops, like SeerSuckerGypsy.
“Everything in here, it’s hard to describe in just a few words, but it’s very eclectic. We have repurposed and local handmade items,” said store owner Roxie Gardner.
Gardner said she started her own jewelry line called SeerSuckerGypsy and was later inspired to open her store in 2015. She said there are more than 30 artisans who make up her shop. It sells everything from farmtiques and vintage knick-knacks, to bath bombs in a bathtub, and, of course, her handmade jewelry.
It’s a shop that has something for everyone, and it’s all made from love.
Baker said Gardner is just one of the many folks who decided to grow their business in the flourishing city, whose population is just under 8,000 but the city serves 30,000 people daily.
“We’re full of entrepreneurs that just have a heart, whether they were born here or transplanted here. They just love this city and want to bring new, exciting things here and that’s always a great thing about Hartsville,” said Baker.