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A Visitor’s Guide to Brookgreen Gardens

If you’re thinking about enjoying the amazing food and great nightlife that Myrtle Beach has to offer? You may also be wondering what there is to do during the day, either by yourself, as a couple, or family. Enter the perennial favorite of all visitors: Brookgreen Gardens.

Your time in Myrtle Beach won’t be complete without a day (or two) at Brookgreen Gardens. Just a stone’s throw from Huntington Beach State Park, the gardens are a haven for lovers of nature, history, and the arts.

Brookgreen Gardens is one of the most celebrated botanical gardens in the country. It celebrates the natural beauty of South Carolina and the work of American artists across thousands of acres.

This is your guide to everything you need to know about a visit to Brookgreen Gardens!


About Brookgreen Gardens

Photo Credit: Larry Porges

  • Address: 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC

  • Website: brookgreen.org

  • Tickets: See current pricing here. Ticket includes entrance into the Lowcountry Zoo and History Center

  • Amenities: The park has restrooms, picnic tables, and plenty of parking.

A National Historic Landmark, Brookgreen Gardens is a storied wonder filled with pristine flora and creative gems. For almost 100 years, the gardens have been welcoming visitors to their serene 9,000 acres. As such, they’ve become larger than life and an icon of South Carolina.

A visit here is an exploration of manicured beauty and the amazing results of successfully blending the best of nature and humanity. As you explore, the whole family will uncover the rich 19th-century history of rice plantations. The journey then continues through eye-catching botanical gardens and zoo for the little ones.

It’s easy to figure out why Brookgreen Gardens is a must-see for all who visit Myrtle Beach and its Grand Strand.


What To Do & See at Brookgreen Gardens

American Sculptures

Photo Credit: PQK

The gardens may be the main focus of the name. But the truth is, the art found within Brookgreen Gardens makes it like no other. Across the 9,100-acre property is a veritable oasis of artistic talent. Here, you can discover over 2,000 sculptures created by 430 artists. It’s the largest and most comprehensive figurative sculpture collection in the United States.

The sculptures are spread throughout the park and within galleries. In fact, you’ll be greeted at the entrance by the famous Fighting Stallions sculpture, created by Anna Hyatt Huntington, the park’s founder. They’re a brilliant addition to the spectacular scenery and almost as common as the trees. As you wander the paths and boardwalks, you’ll revel in the creative masterpieces, each with its own story to tell.

Some of our favorites include the bronze Dionysus in spectacular gold leaf at the heart of the gardens. Another, Brookgreen’s largest, is a jaw-dropping rendition of Pegasus – a sculpture that took Laura Gardin almost a decade to complete.

Botanical Gardens

Photo Credit: Jaci Starkey via Flickr CC2.0

Rivaling the captivating beauty of the sculpture garden, the Botanical Gardens is a floral gem atop the park’s crown. Paved paths enable all visitors to easily explore the alluring sections that showcase the region’s flora at its unspoiled best.

Start off with the Live Oak Allée. The trail meanders through an abundance of memorable live oak trees, first planted in the early 1700s. Continue to the Butterfly House, whose four wings preserve horticultural delights that grow ever more grandiose. To finish off, the Terrace and Palmetto gardens showcase perennials, roses, the South Carolina state tree, and the Fountain of Muses.

Lowcountry Zoo

Photo Credit: Amaury Laporte via Flickr CC2.0

Brookgreen Gardens combines the elements of nature and humanity with aplomb. However, it also looks out for the younger ones, making it a destination for the entire family.

Lowcountry Zoo features native animals that have been rescued or bred in captivity. The animals enjoy life in a wildlife preserve setting and are able to roam free in spaces that best resemble their native environments.

This is a great way to get to know animals that call South Carolina and the Lowcountry home. A nature trail takes you around the zoo to see bald eagles, foxes, otters, deer, and even alligators.

Lowcountry History Center

Photo Credit: Timothy Brown via Flickr CC2.0

When Brookgreen Gardens’ live oaks were planted, the park became home to four major antebellum rice plantations. Brookgreen preserves the rich history of the past, good and bad, in the Lowcountry History Center.

Here, and along the Lowcountry Trail, you can discover the legacy of the park’s former inhabitants. Learn about the lives of Gullah Geechee people, the history of slavery, and of those who lived in opulence before and throughout the 19th century.

As you wander the serpentine boardwalk trail, you’ll reach a viewpoint overlooking Mainfield, which has the former plantations behind you. Here, for those enslaved, lay the centerpoint between village life and days of planting, harvesting, and threshing.

To elevate your experience, get your hands on a free audio tour. This explores the stories of life on the plantation and unfolds as you make your way along the trail.

Take a Guided Tour

One of the best ways to enjoy and learn about Brookgreen Gardens’ past is on tour. Departing from the Lowcountry Center, boat rides and overland vehicles take you on a variety of excursions, each with its own unique look at the area’s heritage.

There are three main tours, all of which run from March to November. The Creek Excursion takes you along the Waccamaw River and waterways that surround the old plantations on a 48-foot pontoon boat.

The Oaks and Laurel Hill tours provide an interpretive exploration of the plantation, including cemeteries, former Civil War sites, and the mesmerizing Long Leaf Pine Forest.


Special Events at Brookgreen Gardens

Photo Credit: Jacqueline F Cooper

In addition to tours, Brookgreen Gardens presents seasonal events. These provide even more reasons to visit and are worth scheduling your time around.

From midsummer until the start of fall, Brookgreen Gardens hosts Summer Light: Art By Night. Featuring unique lighting, complemented by fabulous temperatures, exploring the gardens after dark is the perfect family-friendly nighttime activity.

The garden’s calendar is also packed with one-off events and exhibitions that focus on art and flora. However, the most beloved special event is the lighting of the Christmas Lights and the Night of a Thousand Candles.

This event runs from Thanksgiving to the 1st of January and features over 2,700 hand-lit candles and an abundance of sparkling lights. Add on a splash of the holiday spirit, and there’s no better time to experience Brookgreen Gardens.


Nearby Attractions

Photo Credit: MarynaG

You can easily spend multiple days exploring Brookgreen Gardens with a mix of events, tours, and picnics in the open green spaces. However, if you’re coming from Myrtle Beach or headed north from Charleston, you may wish to combine the gardens with another activity.

  • A nearby option includes Huntington Beach State Park, with its own assortment of hiking trails, beaches for sunny days, and bird watching.

  • Ten minutes south of the gardens lies the colonial Pawleys Island. Come and discover amazing antique shopping, delicious seafood, and historic architecture.

  • Got the kids along for the ride? Check out our guides to the best beaches, arcades, and museums in Myrtle Beach.


Explore Brookgreen Gardens & Myrtle Beach

There may be so much to do in Myrtle Beach, but a few minutes from town is all it takes to experience the region’s amazing nature and incredible history. Brookgreen Gardens showcases the best of both while also providing a wonderful place to spend time with loved ones and friends.

If you’re ready to experience the gardens and all that Myrtle Beach offers, book your stay at Crown Reef Beach Resort & Waterpark.

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