One of the most popular and pleasant gardens in South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens (daily, $16 adults), 18 miles south of Myrtle Beach, is a nonprofit 350-acre park on the 9,100 acres of lushly landscaped grounds of four colonial-era indigo and rice plantations. Oak trees laden with Spanish moss stand alongside palmettos, dogwoods, and azaleas, as well as hundreds of sculptures, including many done by the owner, Anna Hyatt Huntington, who developed the site in the 1930s. Alligators and otters play in the simulated swamp, and many species of birds fly around enclosed aviaries in a section of the gardens set aside as a wildlife park.
Across the highway is the 2,500-acre Huntington Beach State Park (843/237-4440, $5 adults), which sits on land carved out of the Huntington estate that is leased to South Carolina. Besides a nice beach and a popular campground, it features the Moorish-style castle called Atalaya ($2), Anna Huntington’s winter home.