The Grand Strand certainly has a plethora of natural beauty. Just about every area you could visit here has reminders of why you chose this area to spend your valuable vacation time. From Little River to all the way down in Georgetown, the beauty is abundant and no matter which direction you are coming from, you’ll be greeted by Spanish moss-covered trees, winding rivers, and swamps teeming full of life and color. During your stay, there will be countless opportunities to relax, take in the majesty of the ocean with rolling waves, breathtaking sunrises, and glimmering tidal pools, as well as marine estuaries, blackwater rivers, and countless wildlife. No clever commercial needed here – it is truly wonderful!
There is one place here in the low country, that stands out among all the beautiful surroundings where you can completely lose yourself as you escape from not only your cares and worries, but even from the high-rise condos, nautical themed gift shops, and crab leg buffets. A place of art, history, culture, and unspoiled nature: Brookgreen Gardens.
Brookgreen Gardens is everything advertised and more. Located south of Myrtle Beach, in Murrell’s Inlet, this sculpture garden, musical venue, and wildlife preserve is 9,100 acres of breathtaking flora, fauna, and fascinating art. There are walking trails, museums, numerous sculpture gardens, a play area, a zoo, and even a butterfly garden. You can easily spend an entire day exploring and lazily walking the gorgeous grounds.
Brookgreen Gardens was developed on the property of four former rice plantations, one of which was the “Brookgreen Plantation”. Although there aren’t many relics from the old plantations, you can still visit the old Alston Cemetery where Governor Joseph Alston and family is buried. There’s also a memorial to his wife, Theodosia Burr Alston, who was the daughter of Aaron Burr. She was lost at sea and it is said that her spirit still haunts the grounds!
In 1932, Brookgreen was opened as a showcase for the sculptures of Anna Hyatt Huntington of Redding Connecticut, a mastered artist whose Joan of Arc is a feature of New York City’s Riverside park. Anna and her husband, Archer had a great vision to accent the natural beauty of the area with sculptures for everyone to enjoy. 551 acres of the 9,100 is devoted to these tremendous works and was declared a national historic landmark in 1984.
On a personal note, Brookgreen Gardens is one of my favorite places anywhere. My family and I have enjoyed going at different times throughout the year and look forward to the many special events. We enjoy taking lazy strolls among the Spanish moss strewn trees, following winding paths, and visiting the Lowcountry Center. There’s so much to take in and discover, that it’s difficult to see it all in one day! My children have enjoyed the zoo, which features domesticated and wild animals (the river otters are our favorite!). The butterfly garden is an experience you don’t want to miss. There is a small fee to enter, but you’ll love walking through the fragrant flowers, having lovely butterflies land on you and flapping their colorful wings. Recently, I had the privilege of performing in a four-night feature for brass music near the “Pegasus Statue” as part of the Summer Lights concert series. Food trucks were on site and walking through the gardens at night with lights that seem to float in midair created an other-worldly, surreal feeling that was nothing short of magical.
When you first turn into the property off Hwy 17, you are greeted by one of the most famous sculptures in the state: “The Fighting Stallions” by Anna Hyatt Huntington. She was one of the foremost “animaliers” in the world of sculpture and the detail in her work can be enjoyed throughout the property.
Each year, there are many festivals, galas, musical performances, and showcases for the arts that delight locals and travelers alike. The annual Nights of a Thousand Candles are a favorite as over 2,700 candles and lights illuminate the beautiful landscape and gardens helping to enhance the holiday spirit of all.
On your next trip to the Grand Strand, make time for a day at Brookgreen Gardens. It’s an experience that will be one of the highlights of your visit.
Current Ticket prices for Brookgreen Gardens are:
Children 3 and under
Seniors 65 & Over
Brookgreen Gardens is open daily from 9:30 to 5:00 pm . During “Summer Light: Art by the Night”, the gardens re-open from 7-10pm.
When you stay at Grande Shores, you will receive one complimentary adult ticket!
Jason Coker is originally from the metropolis of Burlington, NC and is passionate about vacation experiences. An aficionado of music, sports, and all things geeky, Jason spends his free time performing music, grilling out, and relaxing with his son, daughter, and lovely wife, Amy.