For visitors in search of an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience, Brookgreen Gardens is a must-see.
A 9,100-acre oasis of art and culture across Highway 17 from Huntington Beach State Park, Brookgreen boasts world-renowned sculpture, meticulously maintained gardens, a distinctive zoo, and historic river cruises. The work of acclaimed sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington is prominently featured at Brookgreen, a National Historic Landmark that boasts more than 1,400 works by 350-plus artists.
Pieces range from Edward McCartan's signature gold leaf-over-cast bronze Dionysus at the center of the gardens, designed by Huntington in the shape of the spread wing of a butterfly, to the awe-inspiring Pegasus, the gardens' largest sculpture which took artist Laura Gardin Fraser eight years to complete. Art is interspersed throughout the various gardens, which include the Live Oak garden, an homage to the 300-year-old oak trees that date from the property's rice plantation heyday, and the joyful Fountain of the Muses, where mythological bronze creatures cavort around a pool.
Snippets of poetry and seasonal flowers such as spring daffodils add touches of beauty and whimsy. The newest addition to the gardens is the medieval, seven-circuit Labyrinth at Brookgreen, overlooking a tributary creek of the Waccamaw River. River cruises on a 48-foot pontoon boat past former rice fields that now shelter alligators and waterfowl are available, and visitors can further satisfy their wildlife hankerings at the Native Wildlife Zoo. The only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) on the coast of North or South Carolina, the zoo houses Lowcountry animals that were either bred in captivity or have sustained a major injury. Brookgreen also offers an array of seasonal events, detailed on its website.
From now until April 26, guests can take part in the Environmental Impact exhibition, touring museums throughout the country to showcase leading contemporary artists who focus on local and global environmental issues. Winner of numerous awards, including the South Carolina Governor's Cup Tourism Award and a spot on Southern Living magazine's readers' list of Top Five Favorite Gardens, Brookgreen is also a bargain.
Admission is $15 for adults, and tickets are good for seven consecutive days.