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While Middleton Place's gardens attract those who like trimmed hedges and flower-lined paths, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is the place to go if you're more of an avid nature lover. Yes, the house is worth an hour of your time – it's a less ornate version of other Charleston plantation homes, but the interior is just as beautiful – but most visitors come here to enjoy the wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for gators, otters and turtles in the Audubon Swamp Garden, grab your binoculars and look for local birds at the waterfowl refuge, don your helmet and bike one of the several trails or get lost in the horticultural maze. Recent travelers also agree that the petting zoo makes this a great place to bring the kids.
There are also several guided tours offered here, each one detailing a different aspect of the plantation's history or its natural surroundings. Recent visitors specifically recommend taking the 45-minute "From Slavery to Freedom: The Magnolia Cabin Project Tour" (which will cost you an extra $8), and skipping the 30-minute house tour.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is located about 3 miles southeast of Middleton Place along the banks of the Ashley River. The house and gardens welcome visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. November through February, and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. March through October. General admission, which includes access to the gardens, the petting zoo, the conservatory, the orientation theater, the peacock cafe and the old African American cabin, is $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 12. Entry to the house and guided tour participation costs extra. For more information, visit the attraction's website.
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