Sprawling 18th century plantations fan out across Charleston. The groves of azaleas and camellias at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens are among the largest collections in the nation. At nearby Middleton Place, the sixty-five acres of terraces are among America’s oldest landscaped gardens. The grandeur of Drayton Hall is a glorious example of Georgian Palladian architecture. McLeod Plantation is home to a grand oak thought to be more than 600 years old while the picturesque avenue of oaks at Boone Hall delights fans of The Notebook, which filmed scenes at the plantation. Scroll on to learn more about the Charleston area’s plantations and take a step back in time.
Before you go, explore our three-day History Buff Guide to Charleston.
This 17th-century estate, acquired in 1676 by the Drayton family, features America’s oldest gardens circa 1680. The groves of azaleas and camellias are among the largest collections in the nation, and are a sight to behold! Explore Magnolia Plantation's rich horticultural history via the Nature Tram or aboard the Rice Field Boat Tour before stepping back in time inside the Drayton family home on a guided tour.
This National Historic Landmark is home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens and a lively stableyard including free-grazing sheep, cashmere goats, Belgian draft horses, peacocks and majestic water buffalo. Step back in time and envision the self-sustaining lifestyle of a bustling plantation with pottery, weaving, blacksmithing and candle-dipping demonstrations. Here, you may trace the humble rice seed's journey from subsistence crop to sterling commodity that made Charleston the wealthiest colonial city during the eighteenth century.
For more than three centuries, crops have been grown on the grounds of this picturesque plantation, which has appeared in several television mini-series and movies. Dive deep into the Gullah culture during a live educational performance, tour the plantation's Georgian-designed home and hop on the Plantation Tractor Tour to take a ride around Boone Hall's 738 acres while hearing stories of the plantation's history via your guides.
Encompassing more than 36 acres, McLeod Plantation boasts a riverside outdoor pavilion and avenue of oak trees, including the McLeod Oak, which is believed to be more than 600 years old. The plantation is open for tours and pays tribute to the enslaved Africans who lived on the grounds from the 1800’s. Among the many opportunities to learn about the relationships between those who lived and worked on the plantation, guests may also tour homes built for enslaved families and view a display of antiques owned by former slave owners.
Widely considered the finest example of Georgian Palladian architecture in North America, Drayton Hall is certainly one of the Lowcountry’s greatest architectural treasures. Untouched by fad or fashion, the house museum stands as an example of meticulous preservation and has neither running water nor electricity. As one of the most successful planters of the period, John Drayton surrounded himself with the most fashionable goods acquired from travels around the world. The surviving furniture, ceramics and glassware exhibit the lengths that Drayton went to furnish his house with imported objects that befitted his status and lifestyle and, just as important, were in keeping with the latest protocol of British society.