Magnolia Plantation, Charleston SC

One of my ‘musts’ when visiting Charleston was to visit a plantation. There are so many to choose from in the city, Drayton, Boone, and Middleton just to name a few, it can make your head swim! After carefully weighing the pros and cons of each, I decided to go with Magnolia Plantation [3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414] because it is so much more than simply a historic house, it is entirely infused with nature.

Upon entering you will be awed by the beauty of the land driving down the enchanting oak lined entrance.

magnolia_plantation_live_oakYou are on the property of the Drayton Family, a plantation established in 1676 for rice cultivation. Soon you will see the plantation house, if you choose to take a tour you will be surrounded by early American decorative artifacts and learn details about life in the 19th century.

magnolia_plantation_houseStandard admission allows you to wander the garden, petting zoo, conservatory, and old African American cabin – you could easily spend hours here and there is a café on the grounds. The gardens are beyond magnificent and we couldn’t have picked a lovelier time to visit than the spring bloom.

magnolia_plantation_garden_The world was a rainbow, filled with vibrant azaleas and blossoming trees, colorful guinea gamefowl and peacocks!

magnolia_plantation_charleston_Walk along the extensive scenic trails, twisting and turning, crossing Alice and Wonderland like bridges.

magnolia_plantation_charlestonYou will feel perfectly in tune, garden and nature in harmony – very different from a typical strictly laid out and organized garden.

magnolia_plantation_south_carolinaMake your way to the rice fields once bustling with work, now bustling with birds.

magnolia_plantation_rice_field_Spot a moorhen in the water or a hawk flying above it.

magnolia_plantation_rice_fieldWalk along the water and make your way to the observation deck for a different view.

magnolia_plantation_observation_deckWe made our way back to the front of the grounds to check out the zoo which was a really nice addition. Many animals indigenous to the area including turkey, deer, fox, a whole reptile house, and typical farm animals. Plus more fabulous peacocks!

DSCN3520For an additional fee you can add a ride on the nature train, nature boat, slavery to freedom tour, and/or Audubon swamp garden. Admission is pricey for all plantation tours in the area, but I was lucky enough to find a groupon which substantially cut down on costs – make sure to check if it’s still there when you visit. The groupon included the Audubon swamp which was an incredible bonus, I highly recommend it.

audubon_swamp_garden_magnoliaThe trails here aren’t terribly long, but you will want to take your time. They are packed with wildlife, beauty, and have interesting environmental signage.

audubon_swamp_garden_magnolia_plantation_3The boardwalks give you a great chance to get up close and personal with the swamp life.

audubon_swamp_garden_magnolia_plantationYou will quickly come to identify tupelo trees, one of the few trees that are able to grow directly in water. The boardwalks disappear and the trail opens up to a colorful scene.

audubon_swamp_garden_1Here we were shocked and excited to spot our first alligators, some of the larger ones we would come upon!

audubon_swamp_garden_charlestonAs we kept walking we spotted a majestic bird sunning in a tree, and another of the same species sitting in a nest.

anhingaI have never known this bird before, called an anhinga, and was so happy to have learned of it. Further down the road we walked beside a large pond, and lucky for us we were there at the right time.

audubon_swamp_garden_charleston_12The springtime rookery was filled with birds nesting up in the trees, flying about bringing twigs home, and lots of action.

audubon_swamp_garden_magnolia_plantation_1There were plenty of ibis, heron, and egrets to view, along with more gators and some turtles!

audubon_swamp_garden_magnolia_plantation_2What an exceptional treat. After a while of observation we continued on, passing a serene African American cemetery, and then back to where we started.

audubon_swamp_garden_magnolia_plantation_Filled with history, nature, and pleasing aesthetics, the Magnolia Plantation was one of the highlights of our visit to Charleston! It was the very first thing we did after setting foot out of the airport and set a wonderful aura for the rest of the trip.

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