One of the most highly regarded sculpture gardens in the United States is Brookgreen Gardens, SC. If you love sprawling botanical arrangements and/or spectacular sculptures this floral gem is an absolute must-do on the Carolina coast.
This estate was founded in 1931 by Archer and Anna Huntington. In 1927, at age 51, Anna had developed tuberculosis. They decided to leave NYC due to the harsh winter climate, and those warm South Carolina temperatures became a blessing.
Anna’s work is found all over the world. Here at Brookgreen Gardens, SC, Anna could focus on her sculptures in a salubrious climate, away from the bustle of the big city.
Today Brookgreen Gardens features Anna Hyatt Huntington’s work, as well as a vast collection of exhibit figurative sculptures by American artists. It is one of very few places to have earned accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Brookgreen Gardens has also been designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Brookgreen Gardens foundation has collected, conserved, and exhibited plants, animals, and cultural materials from the South Carolina lowcountry. Their mission is to educate a diverse audience about sculpture, horticulture, and the ecology and history of the lowcountry, and to provide additional artistic and cultural opportunities for the community, (per Brookgreen Gardens website).
The sculptures are amazing and over 500 of them adorn the parked-out, 350-acre setting. It is the largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculptures.
Brookgreen Gardens, SC very much presents as a museum in a garden, Anna Hyatt Huntington and others have created something beyond the sum of its parts. The breadth and talent of it all is profound and overwhelming.
The ticket you purchase is good for a week. Brookgreen Gardens doesn’t expect you to explore the entirety of their collections in a single day. There is far too much creation to examine.
The variety of the gardens is impressive. They roll from one to the next in capricious and orderly fashions.
Some gardens are formal, like the Palmetto Garden and Poetry Garden. Some are whimsical, like the Old Kitchen, Gretchen’s Garden, and the Rosen Carolina Terrace.
If you love oak trees dripping with spanish moss, welcome to paradise. Live Oaks hundreds of years old create a quintessential southern atmosphere all throughout the gardens.
There is a majestic, wide-open arboretum with well-spaced pieces. Sculptures like the Gazelle Fountain, Time and the Fates of Man sculpture, and Saint James Triad are interesting and easy to find. Down by the river is a pathway that circles through a portion of the thousands of untamed acres which surround the primary grounds.
We recommend you set aside a half-day at minimum. Walking through the sculpture garden by itself takes three or more hours.
First thing you’ll do is pull off the 17 highway (map). A hundred yards down the road you’ll see a sign that says “tickets” and the welcome center will be on your left. Park and purchase your tickets. A short ways down the drive you’ll present your tickets at the gate.
The main parking lot is about a three minute drive from the gate. It is easy to follow the signs. There is plenty of parking available, even for RVs.
Brookgreen Gardens, SC is open daily from 09:30 – 17:00.
General Admission for adults is $20, Seniors is $18, Children is $10, and kids under 3 are free. Buy tickets here.
Address: 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
Phone: (843) 235-6000
Bicycles are allowed on hard surfaces. Picnics are allowed in designated areas.
You will not want to miss the sculpture garden. It is the primary reason to visit.
Some of our favorite sections of the gardens were:
Diana Pool — A gorgeous statue of the Goddess Diana backdropped by Live Oak Alley.
Live Oak Alley — A canopied path beneath moss-strewn oaks.
Rosen Carolina Terrace — The trees and gardens surrounding a beautiful pond are some of the most beautiful on the grounds.
Brown Sculpture Court — A pantheon of statues. Magnificent animals: Moose, Gazelles, Rhinos,etc.
Fountain of the Muses — One of the most famous sculpture arrangements in the park.
The Labyrinth on the river — Splendid river setting for a whimsical labyrinth.
The two primary features are the above mentioned sculpture garden and the lowcountry zoo. There are also lakes, galleries, pavilions, learning centers, a restaurant, and miles of scenic pathways. Remember: You have seven days to explore Brookgreen Gardens, SC.
Brookgreen Gardens is one of the most enchanting places we’ve visited in our USA Travels. The prodigious capacity is awe inspiring and a return trip is necessary. Also, be sure to visit Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park across the road.
If you are a teenager, perhaps strolling through gardens and reading placards isn’t yet your thing. Our children are no exception. Adults should find this botanical wonderland to be one of the most beautiful settings upon which they’ve laid their eyes.
Thank you for reading about Brookgreen Gardens, SC with us! Please feel free to peruse other articles, including our Complete Guide to Charleston and the South Carolina Coast.
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