Beyond the Boardwalk

An oasis of art and beauty in splashy Myrtle Beach.

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More than one million Canadians travel to Myrtle Beach every year in search of sunshine, surfs, shopping and the sweet feel of swinging a golf club on one of its celebrity-designed courses.

Not too many come to look at gardens and art. That’s because most tourists aren’t aware the area boasts one of the top horticultural attractions in the U.S., a stunning 550-acre public garden with the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture, set in a mythological landscape with hundreds of ancient southern live oaks dripping in Spanish moss.

It’s the kind of place where you can wander dreamily for hours, suffused in sunlight and captivated by the natural beauty of native plant life, from magnolias to palmettos, and the creative works of famous sculptors such Daniel Chester French, who created the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Brookgreen Gardens is 30 kilometres from the tourist hustle of Myrtle Beach, with its manufactured attractions such as the Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! as well as the mile-long Boardwalk lined with noisy arcades and kitschy souvenir shops.

Spring break revellers and paunchy seniors flock to this vacation resort, known as the hub of the Grand Strand, a 100-km string of beaches on the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina. It’s not as hot as Florida - the average year-round temperature here is 24 C - but you’ll shave six hours off your driving time.

And Myrtle Beach is keen to keep Canadians coming its way - its CanAm discounts, offered until the end of April, help make up for the low Canadian dollar with deals of up to 55 per cent off on many hotels and up to 30 per cent off selected attractions and restaurants.

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