How to Visit the Beautiful Gardens at Mepkin Abbey South Carolina

How to visit the beautiful gardens at Mepkin Abbey, South Carolina. Just one hour from downtown Charleston.

One quiet Saturday morning our family was sitting outside by our garden. The kids knew that something was in store for the day, as it usually is, whether that be a trip to the ocean, a plantation, or a day full of gardening in our own backyard.

Since it was Mother’s Day weekend I was ready for a peaceful family adventure. One with Spanish Moss covered oak tress and gardens to explore.

Large oak tree hanging over the Cooper River at Mepkin Abbey.

Mepkin Abbey South Carolina

In 1762 Mepkin was a thriving rice plantation situation on the Cooper River and owned by Henry Laurens. It changed owners a few times and in 1949 Henry Luce, founder of Time, Life, Fortune and Sports Illustrated magazines, donated a large portion of the land for the foundation of Mepkin Abbey. It is now privately owned and a home to a community of Trappist Monks who devote their lives to prayer, hospitality, spiritual study, and work.

Simple white sign as you drive in.

LOCATION & ADMISSION

Mepkin Abbey is located an hour northwest of Charleston at 1098 Mepkin Abbey Road, Moncks Corner, SC 29461.

Admission to the gardens is free and open to the public. They do ask that all visitors sign in at the visitors center/gift shop upon arrival. At the visitors center you can view a map of the gardens and be sure to obeying all posted signs.

Map of Mepkin Abbey South Carolina.

GUIDED TOURS

They also offer a guided tour of the church for a small fee of $5 per adult, children are free. Tours are offered Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11:30- Be sure to view their website for the most up to date information about hours and tours at -Mepkin Abbey-

GARDENS, PONDS, AND THE COOPER RIVER

Just a short drive from the visitors center you’ll head down the road to the public gardens. There they have a small parking lot and you can take a leisurely stroll around the area.

Blue pond surrounded by large greenery.

Along the left side you’ll find two beautiful blue ponds, benches overlooking the Cooper River, a stone stairway leading to a manicured lawn and more.

Brick stairway leading to a rod iron gate.
Family exploring the grounds of Mepkin Abbey under the large trees covered in Spanish Moss.

To the right of the parking area you’ll find a sculpture garden, Columbarium, Meditation Garden and the Laurens Cemetery.

Wooden sculpture.
Path along the Columbarium.
Sculpture of the crucified Christ in the hand of God.

“Thy Father’s Hand” By Garland Weeks

LABYRINTH

Walking the labyrinth is a little different than you might think. This isn’t a tall stone maze, instead a labyrinth is a singular line that makes many turns back unto itself before reaching the center. Its path is used for meditative walking, prayer, and reflection as you walk towards the labyrinth center. On either side of this manicured path are flowers native to South Carolina.

Family walking the long labyrinth.

VISITORS CENTER AND GIFT SHOP

Before you make your way back home, be sure to stop in the gift shop where you’ll find local honey, salsas, handmade soaps and other gifts.

Visitors Center and Store Hours-

  • Tuesday through Saturday 9am – 4pm
  • Sunday: 1pm – 4pm
  • Monday: Closed
Wind chimes hanging along the gift shop porch.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO VISIT THE GARDENS

There are a few things that play into the time you spend at Mepkin Abbey. If you decide to take the guided tour you can be sure that that in itself takes around 45 minutes to an hour. With walking the gardens and the Labyrinth it can easily take another hour or more. And you can find yourself spending another 15 minutes in the gift shop browsing the local gifts and crafts.

However, the heat of the day will determine how much time you’ll want to spend walking outside.

Tips:

  • Check the weather before you go
  • Plan to be there early so you can enjoy the gardens before it gets too hot
  • Call in advance for a guided tour of the church if traveling a far distance
  • Bring lots of water to stay hydrated with the wonderful heat that comes with South Carolina

Monastic Guest Program– Did you know that Mepkin Abbey also serves as a retreat? People of every religion and background are welcome to “become a Monk for a month”. You can read more about their program here at -Monastic Guest Program-

Visiting Mepkin Abbey was the perfect way to spend Mother’s Day weekend. The botanical gardens and view of the Cooper River are like none other, and with admission being free to the public, it’s a great way to get out, take a walk in nature, and do some reflecting.

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