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A short drive and worlds away from the sun and sand of some of South Carolina’s most beautiful beaches, Brookgreen Gardens combines art, nature and imagination into an idyllic respite for all ages.

Located between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, this sculpture garden and wildlife preserve features everything from boat rides to just-for-kids activities. The lush allées and flower-filled nooks and crannies of the property’s 9,000 acres showcase some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington opened it in 1932 as America’s first public sculpture garden, but long before that, the bogs and rich riverfront land were home to enslaved Africans who cultivated rice.

Today, visitors can spend the day learning about art, history and more. View outdoor sculptures of all sizes, including some by Anna Hyatt Huntington. Take a break from the heat in one of the indoor galleries as well.

Brookgreen Gardens entwines nature and art throughout the property – around every turn dragonflies and skinks turn sculptures into sunning spots, while visitors stop to admire the combination. At the Native Wildlife Zoo, animals who could not survive in the wild (due to injury or having been born in captivity) let all ages get a closer look at some of the many reasons to preserve local habitat. Check the day’s schedule to see feedings of everything from rare breed livestock to a very intimidating – but fascinating – alligator.

For the youngest visitors, Brookgreen Gardens also features a sensory trail and a Children’s Discovery Room. Pick up a Brookgreen Detectives booklet at the welcome center so children can participate in a bit of scavenger hunt as they make their way through the gardens. And don’t miss the Enchanted Storybook Forest, which gives children a great opportunity to immerse themselves in their favorite stories in the form of playhouses.

A visit to the Lowcountry Trail is a must. If possible, take in a special program, like the Gullah Geechee program series presented weekly by Ron Daise. Plan ahead for special events held throughout the year. Cool Summer Evenings, featuring children’s activities, music and more, continue Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays through Aug. 11. The Music of Motown runs several nights in September, and Nights of a Thousand Candles ring in the holiday season in November and December.

Tickets are good for seven consecutive days, making it convenient for families to break the trip into shorter visits or to revisit favorites. For details and tickets, visit www.brookgreen.org.

You can go

Brookgreen Gardens is located at 1931 Brookgreen Dr., Murrells Inlet. It is open daily 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. The last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing.

Cost: $16 for adults; $8 for children ages 4 – 12; seniors 65 and older $14; free for children 3 and younger

Tips: Save $1 when purchasing tickets online at www.brookgreen.org/tickets.html

What you should know: Some activities, such as boat rides and a visit to the butterfly house cost an additional fee

For more information: Call 800-849-1931 or visit www.brookgreen.org.

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