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 during the Revolutionary War, 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 grounds, including the breathtaking formal gardens and historic library. In fact, you can even attend one of their daily trappist monk prayer services. 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 this film was produced at Berkeley County’s famed Cypress Gardens. Also known for its beauty and nature setting, the gardens has been home to over 16 other major motion pictures including, “Cold Mountain” and “The Notebook,” along with the television mini-series “North and South” and one of its first movies, “Swamp Thing.”
Cypress Gardens features a black water cypress swamp amidst blooming azaleas, camellias and other native flowers. Take a serene boat ride on the black water swamp, and then visit the Butterfly House, the Reptile Center and aquarium.
Cypress Gardens offers a variety of tours, which can be customized for your group. Call ahead to book a personalized educational program: HERPS ALIVE offers a hands-on lecture featuring reptiles and amphibians through the use of live animals, bones, skins, and discussion. FOSSIL DIG defines fossils and their formation in the changing South Carolina landscape. Students are able to search outside in the sand for real fossils and keep their finds. FROM WORMS TO WINGS examines the life cycle and ecology of butterflies using both live and preserved specimens. The lesson continues at the giant butterfly sculpture and includes a tour of the Butterfly House.
SWAMP SAFARI offers the rare opportunity to explore a real life swamp. Enjoy a safe ride through the black water as our staff paddles large flat-bottom boats among the cypress trees. Look for alligators, turtles, birds and other wildlife. CREATURE FEATURE, which takes students on guided tour of the Butterfly House, Aquarium, Crocodile Isle, and/or Reptile Center, is another group favorite.
Year-round visitors and groups come to Berkeley County to enjoy activities on the water, horseback riding, racing on the mountain bike trails, camping, hiking and benefit from the vast historical, environmental and scientific educational experiences. Don’t miss Berkeley County, Discover Berkeley County — The Heart of the American South!