Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Founded in 1930 by Anna Hyatt Huntington, one of the greatest animal sculptors in 20th century America, along with her philanthropist and archaeologist husband, Archer M. Huntington, Brookgreen Gardens is the first public sculpture garden in America and remains one of the finest collections of American sculpture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Aside from the more than 1,200 mammoth bronze, granite, limestone, marble, aluminum and other metal sculptures scattered throughout the grounds, the site is also lush with landscaping and is a National Historic Landmark.
“This is a very special place, where history, art and nature co-exist, as the Huntingtons intended it to be,” said Molly Mercer, sales and marketing associate for Brookgreen Gardens. “Groups visiting Brookgreen Gardens report that their entire experience is one of a lifetime.”
Groups can picnic in the gardens or just take in the sights and art while walking through those historic acres that are also home to a wildlife preserve, and numerous educational and cultural programs.
New Orleans Botanical Garden
Located in New Orleans City Park, one of the finest urban parks in the country, the New Orleans Botanical Garden has grown to be a Southern gem.
“The seeds for the New Orleans Botanical Garden were planted in 1936, when the City Park Rose Garden opened,” said Paul Soniat, director of the New Orleans Botanical Garden and a fixture in the garden since 1982. “Today, it is one of the few remaining examples of public garden design from the Works Progress Administration and showcases the Art Deco influences of three renowned talents of the era [Richard Koch, landscape architect William Wiedorn and sculptor Enrique Alférez].”
Although the garden is only 12 acres, the tiny patch offers much to do for groups of any size, from lunch served by the Botanical Garden’s own catering department to hourlong guided tours that wind through the sculptures and plants and end up at the petite garden shop.
“There is a certain peacefulness in the garden,” Soniat said. “A little gem inside of City Park, where people can sit, enjoy the garden and remove themselves from the sometime stress of urban life”