Exploring South Carolina’s Historical Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

February 13, 2019 by

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Azaleas in Bloom Azaleas in bloom. Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

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South Carolina’s Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is home to the oldest restored gardens in America with some areas of the property more than 325 years old. Under the ownership of the same family for more than three centuries, each generation has expanded and added to the gardens with countless species of plants in bloom year round.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Flowerdale Flowerdale. Photo royalty-free via Pixabay.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Blooms Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Visitors come to indulge in Magnolia’s rich history while absorbing the beauty of the gardens, and native wildlife.

 Magnolia bloom. Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Main House Plantation House. Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

The Plantation House
Most of the main Magnolia Plantation House was built prior to the Revolutionary War near Summerville, South Carolina then floated down the Ashley River to Magnolia after the Civil War. Transport yourself back into 19th-century plantation life and learn about Drayton family lore while touring the home’s ten rooms furnished in early American antiques and other Drayton family heirlooms, all arranged to preserve the property’s history.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Zoo and Nature Center Peacock Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

A Zoo and Nature Center
What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Within the Zoo and Nature Center’s safe and controlled environment, visitors will learn facts like this as they interact with a variety of the plantation’s domestic native species. Don’t be timid—the animals love to be petted and fed! The reptile house features turtles, lizards, and other reptiles while other exhibits feature indigenous species and animals not typically seen in the wild, including colorful peacocks.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Nature Tram Tour Nature tram. Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Nature Tram
Hop on to the Nature Tram for a leisurely tour of wetlands, lakes, forests, and marshes as a naturalist guides point out alligators, turtles, egrets, and herons in their native habitats. You’ll learn about the landscape and culture of the old South—from 19th century rice ponds, slave cabins, and a Native American ceremonial mound.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Swamp Tour Photo via Maveric149, creative commons license.

Peacock Cafe
Against the backdrop of the plantation’s stunning landscape, The Peacock Cafe serves breakfast until noon and lunch throughout the day. Hungry visitors can purchase snacks and beverages such as hot tea, bottled water, and cola products.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Rice Boat Tour Rice boat tour. Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

The Rice Field Boat Tour
Rest your weary feet after walking the trails and you may spot some wildlife while learning fascinating facts and history about rice harvesting and river transportation.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens Slave Quarters Slave quarters. Photo via Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

Open every day of the week between March and October, tickets for the one-hour Rice Boat Tour are $8 in addition to garden admission. Children six and under are free.

With basic admission, you can visit and explore the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens on your own. If you’re up for it, the Wildlife Nature Walk and Hike offers another way to experience the 60-acre plantation, a 125-acre waterfowl refuge, and a 60-acre cypress and tupelo black water swamp. If you prefer to visit on the water, rent a canoe and paddle your way through history.


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