A former rice plantation, the land that is now Brookgreen Gardens is a sweeping meadow accented with walled and open gardens, pools, and fabulous bronze and marble sculptures. This outdoor museum also has hiking and walking trails, an archaeological dig site, a zoo, and an arboretum which we couldn't find. A pontoon creek excursion and an off-road trek are also available for an extra price each. However, both attractions will take you to areas you won't see walking around on foot. Fortunately, the entrance ticket is good for seven consecutive days, so if you can't explore everything on your first visit (and you can't) you can return anytime within the next week to see the rest.
But spend as much time as you can at the Gardens. Picnicking is permitted in designated areas, or dine at the cafe, the small "kitchen" (dine under magnolia trees!), or the restaurant that serves lunch.
My husband and I meandered through several gardens to the Trail Behind the Gardens where one can see remnants of old rice fields. Then we strolled over to the Lowcountry Trail, stopping to take photos of sculptures, two small alligators, and a blue heron as we went. Soon after, we discovered we'd reached the Lowcountry Center. The archaeological dig was a bit further, as was the zoo. Our time was limited, so we took a trolley (which runs between the attractions) and headed back to our car.
Overall, we had a fabulous time at this Lowcountry attraction. Brookgreen Gardens is located off Highway 17 in Murrells Inlet. Ticket prices as of August 2008 are $12.00 per adult, $5.00 for children 6-12, and $10 for Seniors 65 and older. Check their website for changes before you go, and for operating hours.
For more information on Brookgreen Gardens, go to www.brookgreen.org/index.cfm or read Heaven is a Beautiful Place. For a map of Brookgreen Gardens, go to www.brookgreen.org/map.cfm
Photos are on our Smugmug Album. Click on the link (not the photo) to view the gallery.