If you are planning to drive any distance to attend the Lights of Magnolia, you should think of extending the stay to include all the tours at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. It is a full day of separate tour experiences that will expand your knowledge and raise your cultural awareness of the oldest gardens in America and home to one of the last authentic examples of a style of gardening that has become known as romantic.
Magnolia Plantation – By Daytime
A GENERAL ADMISSION PASS allows you to tour on your own throughout more than 100 acres of cultivated gardens on a site of almost 500 acres. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the original ornamental garden, named Flowerdale, was planted in 1685 by Thomas and Ann Drayton on a grant of land issued by King Charles II. After 14 generations, the heirs of the original family still privately maintain the site and world-recognized historic collections of Camellias and Azaleas.
Visiting the grounds on a basic admission pass includes visits the Barbados Conservatory, the Petting Zoo, the Antebellum Cabin, the Orientation Theater with a 22-minute repeating video, the Horticulture Maze, and the Wildlife Observation Tower. New additions over the past several years include a Children’s Garden, the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, and a Boy scout campground. Pose for photographs on the iconic white bridge originally constructed in 1840 and the more rustic red bridge crossing a black-water pool next to the conservatory.
General admission also includes access to the Magnolia Plantation House porch, Gift Shop and Peacock Café.
The NATURE TRAM offers a 45-minute narrated tour of the Plantation, outside of its historic gardens and lawns, giving an insight into the story of how Magnolia Plantation has evolved since 1676 and offers exposure to the extensive flora and fauna of the wildlife refuge. Alligators, turtles, herons, egrets, and other native animals are often viewed in abundance. The trained guides are able to answer your questions about how the internationally famous Carolina Gold Rice was cultivated and also interpret how nature along the Ashley River was governed by the changing tidal flow of the water
The NATURE BOAT is another 45-minute narrated tour, which explores the Plantation’s 125 acres of rice fields, while offering excellent close-up wildlife viewing. This tour is seasonal; please enquire for dates and times.
Our MAGNOLIA PLANTATION HOUSE with its elegant, columned porch and extensive collection of Early American museum quality antique furniture offers a 30-minute guided tour giving background on the family’s plantation living since the 1840s. On the ground level of the house, for those of you who love to shop, visit the GIFT SHOP.
The “FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM” explores our unique street of slave cabins, occupied well into the 20th century. It has been carefully preserved and restored to document the full arc of African American life at Magnolia Plantation. Each Cabin reflects a different period of the African American experience at Magnolia – from slavery to Reconstruction and on through the 1920’s and the Civil Rights era providing an extraordinary perspective. Listen to a discussion of the lives of blacks on the Plantation, have a tour of the cabins, 40-45 minutes.
The AUDUBON SWAMP GARDEN with its 60 acres of black water cypress and tupelo swamp, is traversed by boardwalks and dikes. Inhabited by local mammals, birds, and reptiles. This self-guided walking tour is lovely, mysterious and educational. Opportunities are available to view anhinga, osprey, bald eagles, egrets, herons, turtles and alligators, to name only a few. Allow at least 45 minutes for a personal tour of the swamp named for ornithologist and artist John James Audubon, who visited the plantation before the Civil War and is said to have collected waterfowl specimens here as models for his paintings.
The Sights and Sounds of Charleston, SC
Charleston is one of America’s #1 destination vacation and tourist cities. It is a focus for unequalled American History sites, trendy restaurants, terrific barrier island beaches, amazing private and public gardens, and exciting night life. It is a young vibe with an historic back beat.
Downtown Charleston is loaded with housing inventory dating to the 18th Century. Many historic homes are open to the public: Nathaniel Russell, Joseph Manigault, Aiken-Rhett, Heyward-Washington and Edmondston-Alston Houses welcome visitors on regular weekly hours. Additionally, the private gardens that can be seen on a casual stroll through the historic quarter will fill up a full afternoon of touring on those weekends when one or another of the associations open them for public touring. Included in any walking tour of the historic district will be the amazing collection of window boxes. These shine like horticultural gemstones among the rainbow-colored hues of stuccoed houses. It is a city with an amazing number of cultural “firsts!” Read about them here: https://www.charlestoncvb.com/blog/charlestons-firsts-oldest and here: https://chstoday.6amcity.com/historical-firsts-charleston-sc/
Visitors must make time for sites and adventures such as the Marketplace and its sweetgrass basket vendors, the Battery that faces Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter, horse-drawn carriage rides, the Old Slave Mart Museum, the Powder Magazine, and the dozens of churches that give the town its appellation, “The Holy City.” The “Four Corners” is at the intersection of Broad and Meeting Streets. It is unique in American urban architecture and recognizes the presence of institutions representing federal, state, local and ecclesiastical law on each corner of the intersection.
Historic Plantations, Gardens, and More
There are two additional historic houses and gardens next to Magnolia along the Ashley River. Each of the three interprets different aspects of life in the South over a span of 350 years. The formality of Middleton Place and its hedged gardens create an idyllic backdrop to its vast terraces and rice ponds. Drayton Hall is arguably the finest extant example of Georgian Palladian Architecture in America.
America’s only commercial tea farm, The Charleston Tea Plantation, is found on Wadmalaw Island just off the coast. Close by, on Jonn’s Island, is one of this country’s oldest trees: the great Angel Oak.
Additional tour opportunities include Boone Hall and its row of brick slave quarters, the newly reopened Cypress Gardens (location for many major motion pictures) the sites that interpret black history and the Gullah culture found across the Lowcountry. Finally, the intrepid visitor includes visits to Fort Moultrie and Charles Towne Landing for the complete history with an international narrative.
For more information on touring the Lowcountry and making formal plans to tour all the sites with pre-booked tours you should visit: www.Charleston.com