Plantations were a staple of the economy, culture and lifestyle of the pre-Civil War South. When you visit these 5 plantation destinations in Charleston, you will find that these plantations are rich with spectacular sites of nature, vivid architecture, and amazing stories of plantation life.
The spirit of Major John Boone and his love of family, and the finer things of life can be experienced even as you approach this classic southern plantation. The moss-draped canopy of the “Avenue of Oaks” that leads to Boone Hall will transport you back 250 years to Charleston’s plantation past. Boone’s son planted the twin rows of oaks to showcase the family’s wealth, and they are just one of many features found at Boone Hall today, including 9 original slave cabins, some of the few still standing in the Southeast. Also, visitors can pick strawberries in spring and pumpkins in fall, as well as buy seasonal produce at the plantation’s farm stand.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
The Drayton family founded Magnolia as a rice plantation in 1676, and several gardens date back more than 325 years. While seeing an ancient Native American ceremonial mound, and rare wildlife, you will encounter rarely seen animals and plants as you walk the network of wooden boardwalks and bridges. Also, check out the Petting Zoo and Nature Center, where you can have face to face encounters with furry, feathered and scaly wildlife. Boat tours usher visitors through flooded rice fields, providing glimpses of the alligators, herons, turtles and egrets that call the waterways home.
Without the lure of modern conveniences, such as electricity, air conditioning and plumbing, this house remains largely undisturbed by modern life. Since it's building between 1738 and 1742, it has endured earthquake, fire, and flood. Nearby, visit "A Sacred Place", the oldest documented African-American cemetery in America still in use. Take guided tour of the historic home, and learn about the 7 generations of the Drayton family who lived there. Also learn about the history of slavery in America, from Africa to America and from slavery to the emancipation of slaves.
Middleton’s carefully landscaped gardens are a delight for every age, in any season. Built in 1755, the House Museum takes visitors on a tour of 4 generations of the Middleton family and a sneak peek into their lifestyle through personal items such as furniture, silver, porcelain and rare books. Since the house and grounds remained in the Middleton family for more than 300 years, visitors get a look at this historic family as well as the chance to learn about plantation life. In the stable yards, costumed historic interpreters bring to life the skill and artisanship necessary to run a Lowcountry rice plantation.
Charleston Tea Plantation
Since beautiful Wadmalaw Island cannot be commercially developed, it makes it one of the Lowcountry’s most unspoiled destinations. The island's mild climate is also exactly right for growing Camellia sinensis, or tea, which still grows in over 300 varieties on the 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation. Visitors can take a factory tour and trolley ride through the plantation to learn how the tea plants are turned into the leaves used to brew South Carolina’s famous “sweet tea.” Relax, and fill your glass with a southern delicacy, American Classic Tea on ice. Charleston Tea Plantation is off the beaten path, so plan to spend the day at this one-of-a-kind attraction.