It’s an odd feeling being a tourist in a place you used to call home, but that’s just what I did on my most recent trip to Charleston. I went back to the tourist attractions I never went to before and ones I returned to in order to take better photos of. I’m working on an e-book to the Holy City, so it was both for research and fun. I visited a number of plantations, but this was my first time at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, known for its Audubon Swamp and camellia gardens.
I’m not sure why I never went to Magnolia. Maybe it was plantation fatigue, but I missed a good one. It’s the ancestral home of the Drayton family, known for Drayton Hall and was built around 1676. The gardens themselves have been honored countless times and it’s one of the most visited plantations in the state of South Carolina. The first visitors came to the gardens in 1870 and have continued since then.
What sets apart Magnolia over its competitors is the acreage. I didn’t tour the house itself, as it was around 3 pm when I turned up, but I’m sure it was lovely and indicative of the time period. Instead, I started for the gardens and grounds. The first thing I came upon was the swamp, where I saw two alligators basking in the sun, pictured below. Cypress knees stuck up from the shore, stopping you from entering the water like a natural fence.
I almost got lost along the way but found an observation deck, which I used to figure out where to go. It offered views of the river and surrounding gardens, well worth the four levels of stairs. I saw small boats cut through the channels to get to the lucky houses that have access to them.
Bridges zigzag across the water in the gardens, including this simple white one, simple footbridges and a red Japanese inspired bridge. I probably could have spent all day walking around just the grounds without even going near the gardens or the house.
I’m glad I was able to finally cross this plantation off my Charleston bucket list once and for all, even if it was five years after I graduated. I got some great shots that I can’t wait to share in an e-book I’m currently putting together for This Is My South!
Magnolia Plantation is open daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Admission is $15 for adults and extra for a house tour, entry into the Audubon Swamp, train and boat tours and a slavery tour. It’s located about 30-45 minutes from downtown Charleston, depending on traffic.
Have you ever been to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens?
Thanks to Charleston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for covering my admission into Magnolia Plantation and many other Charleston attractions.