Berkeley County

Small town feel, metropolitan appeal

03/21/2011  | 
Field Trip Destination

Just minutes from downtown Charleston, Berkeley County has become one of the great getaways for the next generation!

Mepkin Abbey

Mepkin Abbey, an active trappist monastery, is located on the plantation site of Revolutionary War Hero Henry Laurens. Laurens, a signer of the Articles of the Confederation, was held prisoner in the Tower of London and exchanged for General Lord Charles Cornwallis, the British General who laid siege to cut routes from the Port of Charleston. Mepkin Abbey now offers tours of these historic grounds, including the breathtaking formal gardens. Visitors claim words cannot express the overwhelming beauty of the Cooper River rolling by the huge oak trees and lush green land.


Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox”

Berkeley County holds the land where the legendary General Francis Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox,” guided his militia in and out of our thick swamps and forests to escape General Lord Cornwallis. This important history has been recaptured in numerous films including, The Patriot, a large part of which was filmed in Berkeley County.

Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens was once part of Dean Hall, one of the most prosperous Cooper River rice plantations of the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1920s, owner Benjamin Kittredge looked upon a red maple tree’s glorious reflection in the blackwater swamp. This inspired him to create Cypress Gardens. Today, azaleas, dogwood, daffodils, wisteria and cypress trees reflect brilliantly in the mirror-like waters.

Take an exciting boat ride on this beautiful black water swamp, then enjoy the gardens and exhibits. In 2010, Cypress Gardens opened its new Heritage Room exhibit, featuring African-American artifacts found on the site of the old Dean Hall Plantation. After two years of researching and studying artifacts found on the site — which date back to the 1700s — archaeologists can now offer an accurate perspective about life on the plantation.

Cypress Gardens offers a variety of tours which can be customized for your group: “Herps Alive” offers a hands-on lecture featuring reptiles and amphibians through the use of live animals, bones, skins, and discussion. “Birds of a Feather” teaches about the wide variety of adaptations in birds and their use in identification. “Fossil Dig” defines fossils and their formation in the changing South Carolina landscape. “From Worms to Wings” examines the life cycle and ecology of butterflies. “Fish Story” explores the various features of fish necessary for their existence underwater. “Flower Power” demonstrates why some plants have flowers and fruit while others are carnivorous. “Swamp Safari” offers the rare opportunity to explore a real life swamp. “Creature Feature” takes students on guided tours of the Butterfly House, Aquarium and Reptile Center. “Dip Netting” and “Blow Up the Swamp” gives students an opportunity to catch, observe and release aquatic animals and plants.

Old Santee Canal Park

This 195-acre park, located on the site of the first true canal in America, sits on the historic Stony Landing Plantation and was an important site for trade and transportation since colonial times. It served as an early trading post for Native Americans, and, the first semi-submersible torpedo boat, CSS Little David, was built on these grounds. Educational programs highlight a wide range of historical events which took place on or around Stony Landing Plantation, such as children’s life, archaeology and canal history.

The Berkeley Museum

The 5600 exhibit Berkeley Museum is located in Old Santee Canal Park. From the Native American residents of the Ice Age, to the famed “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion’s battles during the American Revolution, and the planters who settled the area, the Berkeley Museum provides an entertaining and lively perspective of Berkeley County’s rich and exciting 12,000 year history.

Water and Nature

Berkeley County’s rivers, streams and lakes offer superior canoeing and kayaking adventures. “Berkeley Blueways” feature 20 canoeing and kayaking trails. During blooming season, wildflowers rich with colors of the rainbow line the banks. Egrets, herons, eagles, fish, turtles and alligators make these waters home. Keep an eye out to catch a glimpse of animals such deer, otters, squirrels, fox and even bobcats along the banks.

Visit the Santee Cooper Locks on the Cooper River, an engineering marvel which allows visitors to experience the second largest water lock in the United States. The Cooper River is the only known location in South Carolina to offer an underwater history trail. On a calm day, scuba divers flock to see the extraordinary remains of a British War Ship. The Cooper River, known for being a plantation road to Charleston, has also served as a port since the 1700s.

For more information call 843-761-8238 or visit
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