The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is one of the oldest public tourist sites in the Lowcountry, dating back to Colonial times, and by the end of the 19th century it became and continues to be one of the most popular attractions in Charleston.
The plantation was founded by the Drayton family in 1676, and by the 1680's the first residence of the plantation was completed. Since then more than three centuries of the Drayton family have lived there in three homes, with the gardens and grounds first being opened to the public in 1872. This makes the Magnolia Plantation the oldest public gardens in America.
Today, the main house of the site is open to the public offering guided tours every hour. The core of this house was actually built in Summerville, SC before being floated down the Ashley River to take up residence in Magnolia after the Civil War. Visitors will be able to learn all about the history of the house and the Drayton family, with 10 rooms being open to the public offering a glimpse of plantation life in the 19th century. The rooms are filled with early American antiques, porcelain and a huge number of other Drayton family heirlooms.
The gardens are a sight to behold, with some sections being more than 325 years old. Being largely un-restored, visitors can see the vision of the Drayton family, who added to and expanded it with each generation. There are a huge variety of flowers on display; horticulturalists will be in their element. If you can, head down in spring where it will be full of life and color and you can really appreciate it at its best. Be sure to check out the Audubon Swamp Garden as well, where you can see this wild landscape by traveling over boardwalks, bridges and dikes.
The Nature Train is a must-do if you visit the plantation. Sit back and enjoy the wildlife, while listening to naturalist guides who can give you all the information you need about the surrounding area. You'll travel over marshes, lakes, wetlands and forests, and will see everything from alligators to herons and beyond. Ride past the old slave cabins and the 19th century rice ponds, and take in all the history. The site is over 600 acres, so to really appreciate all it has to offer a ride on the Nature Train is a must.
The boat tour should not be forgotten. The boat glides through the old flooded rice field by the Ashley River, and visitors will be able to see alligators and egrets while the captain fills you in on the rice-growing history of Magnolia. If you've got kids, take them to the Petting Zoo where they can feed the animals and have an up close and personal look at wildlife of all kinds.
There are a huge variety of other attractions and exhibits to choose from, so make sure you leave a whole day to really take in the plantation at its best. Special events are also catered for, so if you've got a big occasion planned the plantation can be the perfect backdrop.
Read about other Charleston tourist attractions:
- Morris Island Lighthouse - Charleston, SC - An Historic Island Lighthouse
- Joseph Manigault House - Charleston, SC - 19th Century Architecture and Style
- Charleston Waterfront Park - Charleston, SC - Park and Pier along Charleston Harbour
- Hampton Inn Charleston-Historic District - Charleston, South Carolina Hotel with Outdoor Swimming Pool, Business Center and Rooms for Special Events
Review, comment, or add new information about this topic:
Discuss this city on our hugely popular South Carolina forum
|Business Search - 14 Million verified businesses|