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Cypress Gardens Is Well Worth the Drive—and Price

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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It takes just one visit to fall in love with Cypress Gardens’ beautiful Lowcountry landscape, wildlife exhibits, swamp boat tours and fascinating history as a rice plantation. But what makes this Moncks Corner attraction so worth the 30-mile drive from Charleston is the price.

​For just $10 ($5 for kids ages 6 to 17), you get a full day of activities in a setting so extraordinary, it has been featured in 15 movies, including “The Patriot,” “Cold Mountain,” “The Notebook” and “Swamp Thing.”

​Originally part of Dean Hall—one of the Cooper River’s largest and most prosperous rice plantations—the 170-acre property features a swamp once used to flood the adjoining rice fields by a system of trunks and ditches. The original reservoirs were hand-dug by enslaved West Africans.

Today, visitors have the opportunity to explore the blackwater swamp’s natural beauty by land and water. A 3-mile network of walking paths and nature trails winds around the swamp gardens. The price of admission also includes free use of a flat-bottom wooden boat to paddle among the swamp’s magnificent bald cypress and tupelo trees.

The easy-to-follow, self-guided water trail takes you through wide expanses of lily pads, under picturesque footbridges to the far reaches of the 80-acre swamp. Or, if you prefer, you can opt to have a guide paddle you around for a nominal fee. Tickets for the guided tours are available at the Visitor Center.

​It takes about 30 minutes to paddle the trail. But be prepared to stop often for photos. From start to finish, it’s just one beautiful scene after another.

​As you float through the trees, you’re likely to spy an alligator or two and ducks aimlessly paddling about. You may also hear the low grunting of pig frogs, an eerie sound in the swampy setting.   

​Just walking around the gardens and paddling through the swamp is worth the price of admission. But Cypress Gardens offers so much more. 

​There’s a bird exhibit, butterfly house, heritage museum, heirloom garden, swamparium, alligator pond and a very cool nature center. And each attraction offers more fabulous photo opportunities.

​Cypress Gardens also features a couple of large picnic shelters and two unique climbing structures in a play area where you can cut your kids loose to burn up some energy. There are plenty of shaded park benches all around the preserve to enjoy a packed lunch or simply take in the scenery.

​Cypress Gardens is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Pets are permitted on a leash in any of the outdoor areas from November through February. Of course, you’re responsible for cleaning up after your pooch.

​For more information on Cypress Gardens, click here or call (843) 553-0515.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.