We visited Brookgreen Gardens the first week of April 2012 over spring break. Lovely, beautiful, peaceful, poetic, artistic, graceful, historic... just some of the words to describe Brookgreen Gardens. Formerly three different plantations, the 9,000 acres left by the Huntingtons to the state of SC were transformed into an amazing oasis of history, art, and culture. Besides ponds, rice fields, sculpture, fountains, huge live oak tree allees draped w/spanish moss, we saw a small (3-4 foot) long alligator sitting along the bank of a pond, toured the zoo & aviary, saw mules, horses, wild turkey, a variety of birds including owls, eagles, hawks, foundations of the former slave quarters, and many, many flowers and plants lovingly cared for and displayed by the caretakers who work there. There are many things to see and do (some tours cost extra, beyond the entrance fee) but as this was our first visit, we just roamed as much of the place as we could in the day we had to visit during our trip. Our 12-yr-old enjoyed the children's garden, the zoo, the many lion sculptures and the alligator we happened upon along the bank of the pond (we did keep our distance, but my hubby got close enough to determine it was real). There are signs everywhere warning to not feed the animals and to stay on the paths as there are many forms of wildlife in the area - and being a swamp, gators are part of the deal! There are restaurants both sit-down and to-go w/a patio that had tables to enjoy a quick bite. We didn't pack a picnic but grabbed hot dogs for lunch. Ck out the website for details. This is an amazing place to visit - especially if you like nature and gardens.