Enjoy the Cool Summer Evenings at Brookgreen Gardens

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk has Hot Summer Nights, a season-long celebration of fireworks and concerts. Brookgreen Gardens counters with its Cool Summer Evenings, a more-laid back event that's cooler in more ways than one.

Relax in the shade of live oaks that predate the signing of the US Constitution and take in the sounds of live music on the grounds of the spectacular setting. Located on a former rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, about 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Brookgreen Gardens transforms into the best place on the Grand Strand to chill on a hot, steamy night.

Free with regular park admission, the Cool Summer Evenings program takes place every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights until 9 p.m., from June 11 through August 8. Take a boat tour of the tidal inlets that make this 9,000-acre property such a special place, catch a concert under the stars on the garden lawn, or get up close and personal with the animals in the Lowcountry Zoo.

Cool Summer Evenings features a "Just for Kids" section to give the little ones a safe place to burn off some energy while the grownups explore the wonders of the oldest sculpture garden on the East Coast. Featuring a wide range of native plants and trees alongside the works of some of the great American sculptors of the 19th century, Brookgreen Gardens attracts thousands of visitors during the summer months but has plenty of space to accommodate them all a magical night out in nature.

Featuring live music all three nights, Brookgreen Gardens also offers unique experiences each evening.

Wednesday nights offer a production of "Theater Under The Oaks: Aaron & Theodosia," a historic drama based on actual letters between former President Aaron Burr and daughter Theodosia Burr Alston, whose family plantation makes up part of the Brookgreen Gardens property today. The live theater gives visitors an entertaining history lesson of Lowcountry life during the Colonial period.

Thursday nights is perfect for families. Up Close at the Zoo, hosted by Jerry Walls of the CBS show "Carolina Safari," gives guests a first-hand look at several species of native fauna, including alligators, turtles, otters and birds of prey. A live performance at the Enchanted Storybook Forest and a boat ride focusing on life as a child during the Colonial period are also on tap.

And Friday nights are more about romance with live concerts on the lawn. Bring a blanket, listen to live jazz and sip wine under the oaks. That's what it's all about at Brookgreen Garden's Cool Summer Evenings.

(posted 5/20/14)