Cypress Gardens reopens following a $2.1 million renovation


Cypress Gardens grand opening April 13, 2019 | Photo provided by Cypress Gardens

Table of Contents

In 2015, Berkeley County’s only tourist park (bringing in ~50,000 visitors annually) was destroyed by South Carolina’s historic thousand-year flood.” With nearly 20 inches of rainfall in some areas, Cypress Gardens was only accessible via rowboat – with 1-4 feet of water in most of the buildings.

As if the 2015 damage wasn’t heartbreaking enough, the park experienced more impacts from Hurricane Matthew (2016), Tropical Storm Irma (2017) and a January snowstorm (2018), which significantly delayed the parks reopening for 3.5 years.

While the 170-acre sanctuary is well known to locals as a spot for weddings, field trips, + its butterfly house, those who haven’t been there have likely seen it featured in movies like “The Patriot” and “The Notebook.I mean, how could you forget the iconic scene where Noah takes Allie for a boat ride on the swan-filled lake + they get caught in the rain?

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 11.06.56 AM

Cypress Gardens guided boat rides | Image via Cypress Gardens

On Saturday, the park officially reopened after a $2.1 million renovation to bring everything back to life. In addition to repairing the damage, Director Heather McDowell + her team also worked to expand the parking lot to 250 spaces (previously less than 150), added large playground equipment, educational tools, + updated buildings – including the Swamparium and the butterfly house.

The Swamparium has been completely renovated + has welcomed new friends – including fish + two Savannah monitors (large African lizards). The butterfly house now features 500 butterflies, two murals painted by local students, + interactive technology where you can use an app to get an in-depth analysis of the insects.

But, the most obvious addition upon entering the park may be the giant bronze alligator statue which is there to welcome guests as they enter.

Cypress Gardens is open seven days a week from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Berkeley County residents get free admission until June 30.