From the South Carolina Botanical Garden in the Upstate to Swan Lake Iris Gardens in the Midlands to Brookgreen Gardens on the Coast, discover some of South Carolina's most breathtaking and scenic gardens. Check out the itinerary below for where to go and what to do while you're there.
Three days of visits to South Carolina’s scenic gardens
Day 1 - South Carolina Botanical Garden
If you find yourself in South Carolina's Upstate, be sure to visit the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson. This 295-acre garden is on the Clemson University campus and is open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset. The diverse garden features natural landscapes, display gardens, and miles of streams and nature trails. There's also a 70-acre arboretum, a butterfly garden and a wildflower meadow. The Botanical Garden is home to more than 400 varieties of camellias and features an extensive collection of hollies, magnolias and other native plants. There's even a Cactus Garden!
Once you've explored the garden, head to downtown Clemson for a bite to eat. At BGR The Burger Joint, you'll find the best burger in the state according to Southern Living magazine. However, if you're looking for something a little different, head to the Palmetto Smokehouse and Oyster Bar for fresh oysters and other seafood.
Day 2 - Swan Lake Iris Gardens
As the only public park in the nation to feature all eight species of swan, Swan Lake Iris Gardens offers visitors an experience unlike any other. Nestled in the scenic town of Sumter, the 150-acre gardens and lake boast colorful islands, abundant wildlife and the world's most intensive plantings of Japanese iris. You also can expect to see camellias, azaleas, day lilies and magnolias. Swan Lake Iris Gardens also has a Braille Trail that allows the sight-impaired to enjoy the scents and feel of the garden, as well as Chocolate and Butterfly gardens. Swan Lake is known for the annual Iris Festival, which takes place in Sumter on Memorial Day weekend.
After exploring the gardens and lake, head to Hamptons in downtown Sumter for an upscale dining experience with an on-site bakery and market. Or, if you're looking for something a bit more homegrown, head to Simply Southern Bistro for some old-fashioned Southern cooking with a bit of a Cajun flare.
Day 3 - Brookgreen Gardens
Accommodations: The Inlet Sports Lodge is a destination in and of itself in Murrells Inlet. Or, for a budget-friendly option, try the Hampton Inn on Courtfield Drive, which is a short drive from Brookgreen Gardens.
Located on a 9,100-acre preserve, Brookgreen Gardens is situated on a 300-acre parcel that was once a rice plantation. This coastal gem features a magnificent sculpture garden, a wildlife sanctuary and back-road tours as well as various seasonal events. Built to be the first public sculpture garden in the nation, it was opened in 1931 by founders Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Some of Anna Huntington's artwork is featured in the gardens, as well as many works from other sculptors. Be sure to visit the Butterfly Garden and the Brenda W. Rosen Carolina Terrace Garden, which has a spectacular variety of perennials, roses, shrubs and mature trees. Across the street from Brookgreen Gardens is Huntington Beach State Park, which includes Atalaya, a National Historic Landmark and the winter home of the Huntingtons. Swing by if you have time to check it out.
After exploring, head to Pawleys Island Tavern for some classic South Carolina Lowcountry.