Revived! Cypress Gardens comes back to life after hurricane
by The Press and Standard | June 29, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: June 26, 2019 at 3:47 pm
By MARY GALLAGHER
Photos by WILL A. DAVIS
If you can believe it, we had company from up North and it was only going to be 97 degrees on Friday during the great drought of 2019 — so let’s visit a real black water swamp!
This was our first trip back to Cypress Gardens since the massive $10-million repair work after the flood damage of 2015 and the April 2019 re-opening. (Officials estimated the waters rose from 2-5 feet and sat for several days from the storm.)
But Cypress Gardens still the wonderful old-fashioned type attraction (opened in 1932) that isn’t overrun with digital screens or screaming neon anything, thank goodness! Yup, those are real butterflies (including a dead one or two) in the Butterfly House and a couple of colorful talkative birds in large outdoor cages. I think there used to be more butterflies but give them a little time!
We chose to spend the extra $5 per person and take a guided boat tour which is about the most gentle, calming (nature or otherwise) experience we’ve had in a while. Our guide was able to keep up an intelligent informative patter about flora and fauna, cypress and other trees, ownership history, rice plantations and anything else you might want to know, while he asked our help in locating any wildlife. What animal would be dumb enough to be out at 4 p.m. in a swamp when the temps were pushing 100 degrees? Just a boat load of humans. I never even saw a mosquito or alligator or anything. But that was ok too — you can visit more creatures in the reptile house.
What is really nice about Cypress Gardens is the 4.5-mile system of assorted paths through real nature with fairytale bridges over various points of water. But don’t be too quiet. You want to warn the snakes and alligators you’re coming.
The paths are smooth enough to push a stroller, the parking lot is huge and paved, the restrooms are large and modern. There is a nice area by the small gift shop to sit at tables in the shade and have a purchased snack or bring your lunch.
It’s a great destination for multigenerational families and kids can run around or play in the playground area, while grandparents can take it easy if they so choose.
I recently graduated from a wheelchair due to some broken bones and was able to walk about fairly well. I think a walker would be fine and probably a wheelchair too — at least for the main building attractions or if there is an event going on such as their plant sales. You do have to step down into the slightly wobbly boat from the dock if you chose to go on the water. Bear in mind if you fall in, the water is only 3-5 feet deep in most places.
Due to a number of natural occurrences the duckweed has turned the backwater into a green carpet and I was fascinated by the giant aquatic weed removal machine — a giant water Zamboni. The duckweed is sucked up and piled on land and dried to be used as a natural fertilizer for the grounds at Cypress Gardens.
I learned the water is turned black by the tannins in the leaves of trees in and around the swamp. Like unsweet tea!
Now if you’ve never been there, Cypress Gardens is about 50 miles from Walterboro near Moncks Corner. We spent about three hours there and didn’t do any trails. If you want to make a full day of it, Moncks Corner has some interesting antique shops or spend your extra time in Summerville.
3030 Cypress Gardens Road
65+, 911, Military $6.50
Children 6-17 $6.50
Children 5 and under Free