Charleston’s Magnolia Plantation

The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, located in Charlston in South Carolina, is an icon of America’s South. Founded more than 300 years ago, the plantation is the oldest public garden in America and has been voted America’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Travel and Leisure magazine. 

The 600 acre gardens offer incredible variety. As the plantation has stayed within the ownership of the same family for more than three centuries, each generation has added their own personal touch to the area, expanding and adding to its variety. The gardens bloom with different species all year round but are particularly famous for their camellias, azaleas and daffodils, which bloom during the spring months. The plantation was the first garden in America to plant azaleas outside and in spring hundreds of thousands of these flowers grace the brick-lined paths and lake basins.

Magnolia Gardens is seeped in history having survived the American Revolution, the Civil War and beyond. Visit the historic plantation house and view the public rooms furnished with early American antiques and family heirlooms. The From slavery To Freedom tour provides insight into vital role that enslaved people played in the development of this part of America.Visit former slave dwellings dating back to 1850, which were later inhabited by free men and women who continued to design and maintain the gardens and she served as magnolias first tour guides.

The nature trail allows visitors to see a large portion of the extensive plantation. Explore wetlands, lakes, forest and marshes, while naturalist guides help you spot alligators, turtles, egrets and herons in their natural habitat.

The boat tour explores catt-tail fringed canals and old flooded rice fields along the Ashley river. Alligators flip silently across canals, egrets stalk fish or frogs along the shore and you might even surprise a flock of wood ducks.  You can also explore the wild and otherwise inaccessible Audubon swamp garden by foot using the plantation’s network of boardwalks and bridges.

For kids there is a zoo where kids can pet and feed domestic animals, encounter white-tailed deers, explore a reptile center and learn about indigenous species such as the grey fox, beaver and bobcat. There’s a village of small-scale houses and buildings and a fairy village to explore. The sensory garden stimulates all five senses allowing kids to taste berries, touch sensitive plants that curl up in your hand, identify various colours of flowers, smell lemon plants and explore a sound garden.