A taste of heaven at Pearl Friar’s Topiary Garden – beautiful free things to do between Columbia and Myrtle Beach

Find a little Eden inside Pearl Friar’s Topiary Garden…insanely beautiful plant sculptures, intricate landscaping and humorous ornaments. It’s peaceful, calm and humbling.

Beautiful unique yet so accessible topiary garden

Welcome to a little piece of paradise

Admission is FREE, yet donations are always welcome. Park on the side of the road and tour the garden at your own pace. Keep in mind the “Garden” it’s pretty much Mr. Friar’s front and backyard so be respectful of his privacy. If you’re lucky you can catch him working on his masterpieces.

The landscaping is mind blowing…from few inches to 30 feet high! My favorites were the triangle in front of the yard, the Indian arrow point like tree towering over the garden, the funny tree stomp decorated with a human face and the miniature water wheel sculpture.

Take a look at this slide show and choose your favorite. Of course nothing beats seeing it live!

Don’t forget to also visit the Button Museum just few miles away. You’ll be lucky to get a personal tour from the Button King himself, the incredibly humble Mr. Dalton Stevens. Here is a custom Google Map with fun, inspirational and very affordable attractions.

2009 UPDATE!

Pearl Friar’s masterpiece garden was just featured in an HGTV episode. Another reason to go visit.

Enjoy!

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Pickens Hagood Mill and County Museum of History and Art- free awesome attractions in SC Upcountry

Step back in history at the Pickens County Museum of History and Art and Hagood Mill “Where Memories are Made”. They are both FREE attractions to enjoy Pickens County Museum of Art and History while vacationing in the South Carolina Upcountry.
Pickens was a native Cherokee territory until the American Revolution when they suffered defeat and had to surrender their South Carolina lands. In 1769 the Ninety Six Judicial district was created and was composed of present day Greenville, Anderson, Pickens and Oconee counties.

Hagood Mill Facts and Trivia
The gristmill was built by James Hagood in 1845 and it operated commercially until 1966. Hagood wellHagood Mill was a busy center. Records show, in 1870, it produced 140,000 pounds of meal and 11,200 pounds of flour.

In 1973 the mill was donated to the Pickens County and added to the National Register of Historic Places. To date it’s one of oldest known surviving gristmills still producing grain products.

Archaeological excavations revealed that on site rocks are covered with pre-historic carvings. The petroglyphs Hagood petroglyph will be preserved and displayed in the soon to be realized South Carolina Rock Art Interpretive Center.

Things to see and do at Hagood Mill
• 20 foot overshot wheel and wooden barn
• Old Bear Blacksmith shop
• A complete 19th century cotton gin
• Ol’ Mill Moonshine display
• Family farm exhibit

• Future SC Rock Art Interpretative Center
• Tour the property Hagood Mill 20 foot wheel and wooden barn Wednesday thru Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
• On a third Saturday of every month, rain or shine, the Mill operates and there are live shows: traditional music, folk storytelling and Native American dances.
• Check out the exhibits inside the visitor center and shop for one of a kind souvenirs, fresh stone ground cornmeal and grits and the Mill Cookbooks.
• Hike the ¾ mile nature trail (beware of snakes!)

Hagood Mill Events Schedule
(held on the 3rd Saturday of every month)
• July 19 – “Sugar in the Gourd, Dancin’ on the Board” – Buck dance contest
• August 16 – “Summer Gospel Show”
• September 20 – Hagood’s Mill famous Hagood Mill cotton gin“Fiddlin’ Convention” – competition for best old time fiddler, guitarist, banjo player and string band.
• October 18 – Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival
• November 15 – “Selugadu” – Native American Celebration with Cherokee dancing, drumming, storytelling and demonstrations.
• December 15 – “Celtic Christmas” Irish and Scottish music.

Pickens County Museum of History and Art
Take the kids to visit this awesome museum to witness one of the most history rich counties in South Carolina. From Cherokee diplomat Attakullakulla to American Revolution patriot (and county namesake) Andrew Pickens to present day Saturday evening barn dances and folklore stories.

Pickens County museum Andrew Pickens\' duel pistols is housed in a 1903 jail complete with crenellated turret, now part of National Register of Historic places. There are 39 permanent displays with artifacts, pictures and arts telling and preserving the incredible history of the Tri-counties.

The museum is also host to the prestigious Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition, an annual event showcasing best artistic creations from the state. Delight yourself outside along the Interpretive Gardens trails highlighting flora native to local forests, grasslands and bogs.

Pickens Museum Attractions

• Andrew Pickens’s 18th century English manufactured duel pistols captured from loyalist Capt. John Hamilton at 1779 Robert Carr’s Fort battle.
Pickens County Jail Room exhibit

• The Winchester Axe used to split the victim’s head at a “Blockade” Distellery dispute in 1936. A year later the fellow was released from prison for good behavior!
• The Jail room and noose where the last execution took place
• Young kids love watching the old corn grinding machinery, the antique children clothes and toys and the early 1900 music instruments
• Laugh (otherwise you may cry) at the 1960s food prices. How about 39 cents a pound for Prime Ribs or 49 cents for half-gallon ice cream? I wonder how much the gas was…

I spent quite some quality Art at the Pickens Museum time upstairs with my 4 years old admiring the works from the 29th Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition. I suggest asking kids questions like “What does this painting makes you feel?”, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind?”…you’ll be surprised by some of the answers. Either way seeing them drawn to art and interpreting paintings it’s priceless.

Where
Hagood Mill is located at 138 Hagood Mill Road, Pickens SC 29761, 3 miles north of city of Pickens and close to Cherokee Foothills Hwy 11.
The museum is in downtown Pickens, at 307 Johnson Street, near the intersection of Hwys 183 and 178. Operation hours are Tuesday to Saturday mostly 9 AM to 5 PM (Thus is till 7:30 PM, Sat till 4:30 PM).

Live the history in Pickens County and scenic South Carolina Upcountry!

A photo tour of Beaufort: history, art and incredible outdoors

Chartered in 1711, Beaufort is South Carolina’s second oldest town after Charleston and its best kept travel secret…not for long!

Here are some things worth shouting about this historic yet vibrant little town recently dubbed “the Newport of the South”:

  • Top 50 Waterfront Adventure Towns in the nation
  • The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America
  • The Kaleidoscope Film Festival (you remember The Patriots, Forrest Gump and Prince of Tides to name a few of the many films shot here)
  • The picturesque downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, with more antebellum homes per block than any other American town.
  • Check this post for fun and free things to do with kids while in the area.

    I’ll let the photos do the talking. Have a wonderful vacation in Beaufort South Carolina!

    Walterboro Artisans Center and Colleton Museum: Indulge your artistic side and love for Carolina history (free family things to do)

    Need ideas on how to spend quality family time this Memorial Day weekend or on your vacation travel to Charleston, Edisto or Hilton Head? Well make a day trip to historic Walterboro and visit the South Carolina Artisans Center and Colleton Museum. They are both FREE to attend.

    Walterboro was established as a summer colony in 1784 so rich Plantation owners could escape the dreadful Lowcountry marshes malaria. Colleton county was established around 1682 making it one the oldest counties in the country!

    Things to Know Before You Go

    Artisans Center

    Carolina Pottery

    Carolina Pottery


    The South Carolina Artisans Center is a premier family travel destination in the Lowcountry.
    Housed in a restored eight room Victorian cottage, the center showcases over 240 of the finest Carolina artists, emphasizing traditional and indigenous folk art and contemporary crafts.

    It features educational exhibits, craft demonstrations and live performances by artists.

    This is a great opportunity to introduce children to art and crafts. My 4 years old loved the funny pottery characters and wood-crafted dinosaurs toys. We spend good amount of time making up stories to interpret each exhibit.

    You’ll have some awesome standout gift options that are sure to make a lasting impression. There are so many crafts to choose from (ornaments, glass work, jewelry, sea grass baskets, paintings) ranging from few dollars to thousands. Each piece is unique!

    The Artisans Center is free to attend and is open Mon thru Sat from 10 AM to 5:30 PM and Sun 1 to 5 PM. There are signs throughout Walterboro directing you to the center; Beware the driveway is very narrow and easy to miss. Here is the Google Map to the center.

    Colleton Museum
    The Colleton Museum is housed in the “Old Jail,” a two-story castle-like neo-Gothic structure built in 1855-1856 with brick from the old Jacksonboro Courthouse. The Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the museum highlights:

    • A permanent artifacts collection on Colleton and the Lowcountry region from prehistoric times to the early 1900s.

    • A kid magnet “Animals of the ACE Basin” natural history exhibit of native South Carolina wildlife (watch out for the alligator standing guard by the door!)

    • An entire floor dedicated to honoring the brave Tuskegee Airmen pilots: news clips, mob stories, conquering “The Jug” articles, photos, war planes replicas – this is by far the guys favorite museum attraction.

    Colleton Museum is free to attend and is open Tue through Fri 10 AM to 5 PM and Sat Noon to 4 PM. Here is the Google Map with its location.

    Other Walterboro attractions are the Great Swamp Sanctuary and the Slave Relic Museum, and in the area, the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.

    Have a great family time this Memorial Day weekend in historic Walterboro!

    State Museum, South Carolina art, history and science under one roof (Columbia fun things to do)

    Housed in the former Columbia Mill building the State Museum features 4 floors of interactive exhibits covering art, history, natural history, science and technology. It is South Carolina’s and probably the Southeast’s largest state museums.

    Playing with Leonardo da Vinci Machines

    Playing with Leonardo da Vinci Machines

    Curious to find out how Columbia came into place? In 1785 the South Carolina Senate approved to move the new state capital on the land near Garners Ferry on the Congaree River.

    Among other nominations were Camden (the first proposal, later rejected), the Sumter District (supported by Gen. Sumter the “Fighting Gamecock”!) and the land near St. Matthews.

    Columbia was America’s first planned capital city, designed and laid out in a two-mile square with streets named for agricultural products (how original!) and Revolutionary War heroes.

    Not everyone seemed to agree the Columbia city planning was a very good idea. Col. Thomas Taylor who owned several hundreds acres along the Congaree River near the future site of Columbia is reputed to have said that the city founders “have turned a damned fine plantation into a pretty poor town”.

    Interesting Things to See at the State Museum

    The Cotton Mill exchange – The State Museum building once was a prominent textile mill, the Columbia Mill or “Duck Mill” as it was called. Opened in 1894 it was the world’s first totally electrically operated mill. It closed in the late 80s.

    Columbia Mill

    Learn the life and customs of Coastal Native Americans and the very moving story of Priscilla, a little girl abducted centuries ago from Sierra Leone.

    Priscilla

    Marvel seeing the 1904 Curved Dash Oldsmobile one of the first automobiles in South Carolina and full size replicas of “Best Friend of Charleston” the first American-built steam locomotive and the H.L. Hunley, the Confederate’s best hope to break the blockade during the Civil War and first submarine to sink an enemy ship. To this day we don’t know why and how the Hunley disappeared.

    2010 Update!
    Here are the most recent findings, clues and theories on what might have happened to the Hunley. Check out these amazing artifacts on display in North Charleston.

    Inside Hunley submarine

    See the incredible dugout canoe! Kept underwater for centuries it was found in pristine condition, still attached to its roots, a rare archeological treat. Apparently the wood cracked and it was never finished.

    Dugout Canoe

    At the natural history exhibits the pre-historic animals steal the show. You will be awed to see full size replicas of a mammoth, giant armadillo, and a “cute” T-Rex as one might expect.

    Mammoth

    On the Science and Technology floor you can admire the gold medal of Dr. Charles Townes, South Carolina first Nobel Prize winner, who invented the laser; also on display outer space artifacts from moonwalker Charles Duke.

    If you get hungry Crescent Café is open till 4 PM and offers deli sandwiches, hot-dogs, salads and soups, and bakery items like croissants, muffins and cookies. Beverages options are soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate and tea.

    2009 UPDATE!

    The museum hosts remarkable traveling exhibits so make sure to come back and enjoy them all. For example in 2008 we had a blast trying to figure out how to operate dozens of Leondardo da Vinci inventions (yes they let you touch and play with them!).

    This year we were amazed seeing the most powerful natural forces at work: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, blizzards, floods and the world’s largest hail stone! Added bonus you can play weather man on a live TV screen. The Powers of Nature exhibit will run till first week in September 2009.

    Giant hailstone at Powers of Nature exhibit

    Giant hailstone at Powers of Nature exhibit

    Where

    Admission: Adults $7, children 3-12 $5. Military and senior discount is $1. For a full schedule of events, special tours, birthday parties visit the State Museum website or call (803) 898-4921 and (803) 898-4999 for group reservations.

    Directions: The State Museum is located downtown at 301 Gervais Street across from Edventure Children’s Museum, few blocks west of the State Capitol.

    Discovery Center

    Learn and play at the SC State Museum!

    Hollywood comes to South Carolina! (State Museum at least…)

    Carolina movie lovers come visit the State Museum downtown Columbia for a super cool exhibit on all the Hollywood and independent films shot in the Palmetto State. Did you know that over 250 movies were filmed in South Carolina? You bet! Oscar Die Hard with a Vengeance set propswinning movies like Forrest Gump, Cold Mountain and The Abyss, as well as American classics, such as The Patriots, Days of Thunder, Prince of Tides, Renaissance Man, The Great Santini, and Die Hard With a Vengeance. Even the recently released and already award-buzzing comedy, Leatherheads, featuring George Clooney and Renee Zellweger calls Carolina “home”.

    The exhibit is only $3 over the regular admission price of $5. So for a price of one movie ticket you get enjoy memorabilia, props and costumes and watch adrenaline pumping clips from dozens films made over the past 100 years, right in our backyard. That’s something we can all be proud about!

    Interesting and Fun Facts to See
    Sketch from Forrest Gump - Lt. Dan Jumps in the ocean1. You will jolly up seeing some of Forrest Gump original sketches: like the scene when he carries Bubba or the one when Lt. Dan finally makes peace with himself and jumps into the ocean.

    2. “Fire engine causes fire evacuation!” The 1921 fire engine from The Chiefs TV series was accidentally driven into the building last November setting off the smoke alarms Fire truck from The Chiefsand causing evacuation of the Museum and the entire Dept. of Revenue.

    3. Heavy winter snow in Greenville? That’s right. Portions of downtown were covered in artificial snow to convey authentic Siberian winter for The Printing movie set in pre-perestroika Russia.
    Renaissance Man scene shot at Fort Jackson
    4. Get a good laugh watching several edited clips depicting classic scenes actually shot in South Carolina even though the movies imply otherwise. Like the drive over “a New York bridge” you guessed it was Cooper River bridge; or the one from Renaissance Man’s army post clearly shot at Fort Jackson.

    5. How about seeing up close and personal some of the costumes and props from your favorite movies? Like Tom Cruise’s jumpsuit from Days of Thunder, the scaffold gallows from The Patriots, a full size replica of the Hunley submarine, Eddie Murphy’s fat suit, set pieces from Die Hard with a Vengeance and the football team’s mascot from Radio.

    6. Wanna take part in a movie? You can at the State Museum. You can drive a car pretending you’re in Leatherheads. Check this out! Driving automobile in Leatherheads

    7. End your Hollywood tour with a look of some famos South Carolinian actors.

    Where: At the State Museum through October 19, 2008. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM; Sunday 1 – 5 PM; Open Monday between Memorial Day and Labor Day

    Have fun and be proud in Columbia South Carolina!

    Brookgreen Gardens photos (educational things to do with kids)

    Take a sneak peak into Brookgreen Gardens, located between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island and about an hour drive from Charleston, featuring the world’s largest outdoor collection of sculptures by American artists. For aproximately the price of a movie ticket you can enjoy for 7 consecutive days the amazing sculptures, exquisite gardens, the Lowcountry zoo and much more.

    Get more information and travel tips at my previous post on Brookgreen Gardens.

    That’s a family outdoor recreation, art and history children education definitely worth shouting about!

    Learn the Lowcountry history and enjoy the beautiful South Carolina outdoors!