Magnolia Plantation & Gardens#12 in Best Things To Do in Charleston, SC
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 zoo and nature center make 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. Families also might enjoy the nature tram or boat rides (also extra).
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 8:30 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 Gilliard Garden Center, is $20 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.
More Best Things To Do in Charleston, SC
#1 The Battery
Many visitors say you can't leave Charleston without seeing this stretch along the city's southern tip, which they call beautiful and a must-visit. This row of Southern-style mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor was formerly the heart and soul of the city's maritime activity. Today, the area attracts camera-toting tourists from all over the country.
As you explore this picturesque neighborhood, make sure to also spend some time in the nearby White Point Garden, where several Civil War relics and memorials commemorate the city's role in the battle. Start your tour of the Battery at the 12-acre Waterfront Park (home to the giant pineapple fountain featured on many Charleston postcards), then follow the walking paths on East Battery Street for the nearly mile-long stroll to White Point Garden. If you're staying at one of the hotels or bed-and-breakfasts located downtown, you can easily walk along the Battery from your digs. If you're driving to the Battery, you'll find some limited street parking, and some lots closer to Waterfront Park. Bus route No. 211 provides service to Waterfront Park and East Bay Street. Several of the city's best walking tours make stops along the Battery. If you're interested in the history of the mansions or the promenade's role in the Civil War, consider signing up for a tour.
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