Fun, Festivals & Beyond
By Kimberly Duncan
One-of-a-kind events, parades, exhibitions and all manner of merriment can be found along SC’s Hammock Coast the whole year through. The South Strand stretch of the Palmetto State’s famous Grand Strand is especially busy during warm weather, though, and that means the time is now for booking a vaca-getaway that will immortalize summer for couples-in-love, families with kids, fishermen, beach bums, golfers and history buffs.
Unique to the Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island area, Brookgreen Garden’s Cool Summer Evenings are rightfully beloved and ballyhooed near and far. No other place or attraction offers anything like it and the limited time during which the experience is available makes June through early August a no miss proposition for a seasonal escape to SC.
In a nutshell, Brookgreen Gardens is nothing shy of a magnificent garden whose beauty has been enhanced in a thousand, often unexpected, ways. For a start, there are landscaped spaces, history exhibits, an accredited zoo and the nation’s largest outdoor sculpture collection. (More than 1400 works from the early 1800s to today are showcased!) There are boat rides, back-road overland excursions into private parts of the Gardens, and a butterfly house offered for a fee in addition to Garden admission. There’s much more to share so make a few minutes to surf to Brookgreen.org for scads of detail.
Free with regular park admission, the Cool Summer Evenings program takes place Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays through August 5 – during the long, lazy days of summer. During this special time, Brookgreen Gardens extends operating hours from 9 AM to 5 PM to 9 AM to 9 PM! Linger four hours longer for evening boat rides, live entertainment, and just-for-kids’ activities.
Come for dinner! The Pavilion Restaurant tucked under giant, old oaks is open until 7 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays. Or pack a picnic to enjoy at the Gardens’ designated Picnic Area
overlooking Jessamine Pond and another at the Native Wildlife Zoo. Afterward, enjoy beverages and snacks when you stick around for an impressive live music line-up of regional and local artists that include rock, jazz, country and Celtic. Go to Brookgreen.org to check out names and dates. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to performances that begin at 7 PM. (Sorry but no pets or outside alcohol.)
The Lowcountry Trail and Zoo and the Enchanted Storybook Forest – attractions unto themselves – close at 8 PM. The Children’s Discovery Room is open until 7 PM and has 30,000 LEGO® bricks available for kids to play with during their visit. A LEGO movie is shown at 6:30 PM in the Lowcountry Center Auditorium and Nature Connects Art with LEGO Bricks® will be open until 8 PM in the Zoo!
Thursdays are Family Nights. A Pirate’s Journey Along the Creeks takes shape aboard The Springfield, an uber-cool pontoon boat rides that sets sail at 5, 6, and 7 PM. At the journey’s end, kids get a pirate hat, a treasure map and they get to pick a keepsake coin from the on-board treasure chest. (Regular Creek Excursion tickets required.)
Of course, any time is a great time to visit SC’s Lowcountry but Brookgreen’s Cool Summer Evenings are especially perfect following a day of waterborne sun and fun on the Hammock Coast! Visit HammockCoastSC.com for information on anything and everything pertinent to this seaside strip of paradise, and visit Brookgreen.org for additional information on Cool Summer Evenings – a string of late day events that’s become a cherished annual tradition for locals and visitors alike.