South Carolina is one of the oldest and most historic states in the United States, and the Little River area has a rich history. Not only is it rich in culture, but it is further revered for its breathtaking nature and scenery. The North Myrtle Beach area is a true, nature-filled gem suited to impress even the most well-traveled visitor.
Among these awe-inspiring landmarks lies one that is much less known, yet every bit as worth the visit: the Vereen Memorial Gardens. Whether you are a local to South Carolina, or simply wish to make your trip to the area as memorable as possible, a visit to this park is a definite must-do for your bucket list. Read on to learn what makes this park so unique!
About The Vereen Memorial Gardens
The Vereen Gardens is a definite must-see when visiting North Myrtle Beach. Once privately owned land, today the area is overflowing with nature and wildlife, including over 100 acres of forest and saltwater marsh, connecting to the Intracoastal Waterway.
The gardens are owned by the Horry County Parks and Rec department, and are open to the public. Best of all, there is no cost to visit this park and enjoy its nature-filled wonders. The park stretches across three miles and features trails that are easily walkable. Dogs are allowed in the park, and the terrain makes it appropriate for both baby strollers and joggers to navigate with relative ease.
History Of The Park
Hidden amidst a lush forest, the grounds of the gardens were once owned by the Vereen family as part of a 400-acre plantation. The plantation had been in the Vereen family as far back as the colonial era. In 1972, the land’s heir, Jack Vereen, decided to donate 115 acres of the land to the Horry County Historical Commission. Jack Vereen, born in 1882, had inherited the land from his parents, Hartford Jennings Vereen and Florence C. Frink. The property first entered into the Vereen family in 1797 when it was given to Jeremiah Vereen Jr., the descendant of French Huguenots who arrived on the North American continent in 1680.
Beyond this, the park maintains historical significance for a number of other reasons. For example, George Washington visited the land during his Southern Tour. Since during the time of his tour, there really wasn’t any connecting infrastructure or hotels, Washington’s diary notes that he stayed at the home of Jeremiah Vereen. Vereen then served as a guide for the President and his crew on their two-mile hike across the plantation as they continued on their journey.
Although the home in which Washington stayed has long since been demolished, the moment remained a proud story passed down to the future generations of the Vereen family.
Locating The Park
Also known as the Vereen Botanical Gardens, the park is located just outside North Myrtle Beach in Little River The park can be accessed from Rt. 17 and Rt. 179, just one mile from the North Carolina state border. Due to the secluded nature of this park, it is easy to miss from the road, so keep that mind when visiting and its best to have your GPS ready!
The park opens at 9:00 am Monday -Saturday, and closes at sunset, year-round. Please be advised that there are no indoor restroom facilities at the park, but portable toilets are available.
Special Things To Do At The Vereen Memorial Gardens
Ideal for lovers of a good hike, the park features a network of secluded pathways and boardwalks with a number of special touches to be found along the way, including a waterside gazebo and wooden porch swings. The trails themselves are arranged into a 3 mile long loop, and feature a fishing pier with stairs leading down to the water. The park is also accessible by boat via the Intracoastal Waterway.
Passing through the Vereen Gardens, one will also find the Kings Highway, a waterway used during some of the country’s most historic expeditions, such as that of Lafayette in 1777. While much of the Kings Highway today has been paved over, the stretch of highway that exists in the Vereen Gardens still maintains its original appearance.
Lovers of history will also enjoy a visit to the Vereen Family Cemetery, located on the grounds, which is the final resting place of a number of Revolutionary war soldiers. Sometimes in the 1950’s, the Vereen family invested in the restoration of the cemetery.
Likewise, anyone who is fond of nature will enjoy the wide variety of native plants that call the park home. A handful of educational displays liter the park to educate visitors on where they can find specific types of plants within the park. In alignment with this, the park is an excellent hotspot for bird watchers.
For anyone looking to spend a full day at the park, you will be able to enjoy one of two picnic areas, featuring a handful of picnic tables and three picnic shelters, one of which is marshside. A playground for children makes the park a complete family-fun destination. This, of course, includes the family dog, which the park also welcomes! However, all pets must be kept on a leash at all times. There are even a few watering stations where Spot can cool off with a drink after a long day of exploration. If you do decide to bring your pet, please make sure to pick up after them. The park does have a few stations that supply doggy bags if you forget to bring your own.
Plan Your Visit!
If a picture is worth a thousand words, not even Shakespeare himself could capture the wonderment of the Vereen Botanical Gardens. It is one of those places that one must experience in order to truly understand the depth of its beauty. There are hundreds of parks and marshlands across the U.S., but there is something unique about this particular plot of land that makes it stand out from the rest. Perhaps it’s the history of the land that gives it that special energy, perhaps it’s the true connection with nature one can feel during their visit… either way, be sure to plan your visit to this park during your stay in North Myrtle Beach!