Over the bridge from Charleston, you'll find a hidden nature sanctuary just waiting for your visit. Once part of a large rice plantation, Cypress Gardens includes more than 170 acres of nature trails, a butterfly house, an aquarium, and a reptile center.
The main draw for South Carolina natives Helen and Truman Metts is paddling a flat-bottomed boat through the mirror-like water of the swamp while admiring the plants and wildlife.
"We have always loved it at Cypress Gardens," says Helen. "Truman plays sax in a band that entertains out here, and we enjoy seeing the different plants in bloom every season."
Water lilies and wildflowers proliferate, and trees and shrubs include tea olive, willow oak, and black gum. The wonderful cypress trees, which stand sentry throughout the swamp, command your attention. June brings out the flowers, such as buttonbush, crested fringed orchid, and water lotus.
After the boat ride, don't miss seeing the butterfly house, where flowering plants attract both butterflies and birds. Helen and Truman most enjoy their walks and boat rides, but they also urge you not to overlook the Visitors Center, with its excellent selection of books on gardens and nature.
Cypress Gardens: 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner, SC 29461; (843) 553-0515.
Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau: Call (843) 853-8000, 1-800-868-8118, or visit www.charlestoncvb.com.
This article is from the June 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.