Within just a short drive of Charleston you’ll find the enchanting Cypress Gardens SC — a serene 170-acre preserve where you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon admiring lush gardens, strolling around the property’s picturesque preserve, indulging in a romantic boat ride through the wetlands swamp, visiting with exotic birds and butterflies and perhaps even seeing an alligator or two.
Where is Cypress Gardens SC
Cypress Gardens SC is located at 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Originally a freshwater reservoir for s nearby rice plantation, Cypress Gardens is now a wildly picturesque and beautifully landscaped preserve, and if you didn’t already know, you’ll likely recognize it from the films The Notebook and The Patriot as famous scenes were filmed at the swamp itself. It’s also been featured in the Netflix series the Outer Banks as well as on an episode of the reality show Southern Charm.
Disclaimer: All photography is by myself and legally protected by U.S. copyright law, unless stated otherwise.
Gardens in Charleston SC
While there are many gardens in Charleston SC worth visiting, Andre and I particularly fell in L-O-V-E ❤️ with Cypress Gardens for the preserve’s unique, untouched beauty and miles of trails to explore. Cypress Gardens SC is a must-see for nature lovers and garden lovers alike as it has not only traditional gardens, but an heirloom garden as well as blooming butterfly gardens, flowering trees and enchanting plants along the many winding walking paths throughout the property.
You’ll find countless varieties of trees common to the lowcountry, including bald cypress, knobby cypress knees and tupelo trees dripping with dreamy Spanish moss, all reflecting perfectly in the mirrored waters.
While visiting Cypress Gardens you’ll likely notice the exquisite smell of blooming azaleas and camellias. It turns out they’ve been blooming on the property for quite some time, ever since the original property dwellers, the Kittredge family, planted azaleas and camellias here a century ago. The story goes that Mrs. Kittredge crafted her own perfumes using the blossoms.
Cypress Gardens Boat Tour
Aside from the beauty of the gardens and miles of nature trails to explore, many visitors of Cypress Gardens SC come for the Cypress Gardens boat tour, and for good reason! While the line to ride in the charming row boats is occasionally long, once you’re aboard you’ll see why. Not only is it romantic, it’s also incredibly peaceful to be surrounded by nature.
You can’t help but unwind as you take in the views while slowly paddling through the tranquil wooded wetlands amongst endless lily pads and below picturesque footbridges. With so many animals making the preserve their home, you’ll likely find yourself spotting alligators, seasonal birds, turtles who have crawled out to sun themselves on nearby rocks and a ducks aimlessly paddling about.
Note: For $5, you can hire a Cypress Gardens boat tour guide to do all the paddling for you — while simultaneously pointing out wildlife and the unique history of Cypress Gardens in a thick southern accent along the way.
Or you can opt to paddle around yourself, like Andre and I did! Now, while Andre is a Charleston fishing charter captain, you certainly don’t need to be a captain to row the swamp boats. It’s pretty simple to figure out, and to make your Cypress Gardens boat tour ride go smoothly, there is a recommended route to follow as well as hard-to-miss white arrows throughout the swamp to guide you around the vast 80-acre bog.
Note: As you float through the swamp, don’t stress if your boat bounces off a cypress or tupelo tree or two — it’s admittedly hard to steer clear of them all! And remember, there’s no need to hurry in the south, so if you find a shady spot to relax under a bridge or a beautiful egret to photograph, just pause the boat ride, drift a little, and take it all in.
Unique Things to do in Charleston
While there are countless unique things to do in Charleston, a trip to Cypress Gardens is perfect for those seeking to escape the city to do something more laid back yet still adventurous (and undeniably romantic). While experiencing a Cypress Gardens boat tour is a popular reason to visit, I also recommend walking at least part of the 3.5-miles of trails around the preserve and swamp itself. It’s truly beautiful any time of year — in fact Andre and I visited twice this year already and each time was absolutely magical.
Since Cypress Gardens is located in the south, the gardens are blooming, the boats are open for rides and the animals are active throughout the year. In fact, whether you’re local to Charleston, or are visiting and searching for unique things to do in Charleston, Cypress Gardens is a must-visit.
Each month features different reasons to visit: camellia blooms and bald eagles in winter, azaleas and wild violets in spring, lily pads, signing frogs and droning cicadas in summer, rust-colored foliage and screech owls in fall, as well as exotic parrots, egrets and river otters to spot all year round. Late March and April is also a peak time to visit if you want to see blooming dogwoods and tulip trees, active hummingbirds, and all the migratory Monarch butterflies fluttering around the butterfly house.
Truly the reasons to visit go on and on. That’s why so many Charleston locals make Cypress Gardens their favorite nearby destination to escape the downtown rush to explore serene nature trails. No matter what time of year you visit, the walking paths at Cypress Gardens SC are smooth and impeccably-maintained, with charming benches and quaint gazebos to relax at and take in the beauty here and there along your way. And yes, while there are miles of walking paths, there are trail markers everywhere so you will find it hard to get lost.
Cypress Gardens SC
Cypress Gardens is many things to many people, for Andre and I it’s a whimsical place to escape to where we can unplug, re-connect and explore winding trails under the warm sunny skies, a photographer’s dream, and one of our favorite romantic date spots. ❤️ Like I said, Andre and I have been to Cypress Gardens twice this year already, and aside from ourselves, we’ve seen countless other couples strolling through the gardens hand in hand so it’s a perfect place for a romantic date. Especially with the weather so unseasonably warm right now!
A visit to Cypress Gardens is truly one of the most unique things to do in Charleston. With some many winding paths, blossoming flowers, wild animals and an entire fairytale-esque swamp to explore, it’s a perfect place to add to your bucket list. Ideally you’ll want to bring your camera when you visit to capture all the wildlife and blossoming gardens.
If possible, I suggest going early or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds and catch some warm, golden sunlight. Although, keep in mind that the boat rides stop early (as of writing this, at 4pm) so if you’re in the mood for a boat ride through the swamp plan accordingly.
Cypress Gardens SC is also family-friendly, especially for children since it also has an interactive Swamparium, which is home to a few exotic sea animals, reptiles, alligators and even some snakes. Most of all, it’s for nature lovers who are seeking a quick getaway to surround themselves in nature and a thriving ecosystem.
It takes just one visit to fall in love with Cypress Gardens’ beautiful lowcountry landscape, local wildlife, swamp boat tours and fascinating history as a rice plantation. Those of you who remember the romantic rowing scene from The Notebook, or the haunting swamp hideout of the Revolutionary hero Francis Marion in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot will recognize Cypress Gardens SC immediately.
Getting to Cypress Gardens South Carolina
The 170-acre preserve is a short 30-mile drive north of Charleston and is open daily from 9am-5pm. Admission is only $10 (or less for seniors, military and children), and allows you exclusive access to miles of sun-filled nature trails to explore, countless luscious gardens, wild animal exhibits, a dreamy butterfly house and of course the popular Cypress Gardens boat tour.
Cypress Gardens Info
- Address: 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner South Carolina 29461
- Phone: (843) 553-0515
- Website: Cypress Gardens SC
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