Historic Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina

by Stephanie Withers
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens - Charleston, SC

The last full day of our southern U.S. road trip found us heading further north toward Charleston, South Carolina. We were headed for another historic U.S. destination, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Open to the public since 1870, the gardens at Magnolia host thousands of different plants and flowers and are truly a sight to behold.

My sister and I left historic downtown Savannah early in the morning in order to fit in a whole day of adventure. We were refreshed by another night in a comfy bed and wanted to get in as much touring as we could before checking into that night’s campsite by early evening.

The historic gardens of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC are home to thousands of different plants and flowers - it truly is a sight to behold. #usatravel #usaroadtrip #southcarolina

A quick stop to Frampton Plantation

On our drive into Charleston, we spotted signs on the side of the road directing us to Frampton Plantation, a visitor’s center and museum in Yemassee, SC. Who can say no to roadside signs? Not me!

The property was part of an original King’s Grant to the Frampton family in the 1700s, but the old farmhouse was burned down by General Sherman’s troops in 1865. It was rebuilt in 1868 and donated to the Lowcountry Tourism Commission in 1993.

We spent some time talking with the woman that worked inside (as we know my sister is a big fan of doing by now) and touring the property before getting in the car and heading down the road to a small store where we were told we’d ‘find the best pie’. The best? I dunno, but it was pretty darn good!

Touring the Magnolia Plantation gardens

Magnolia Plantation was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. It is one of the oldest public gardens in America, opening to visitors in 1870. The Drayton family made their wealth cultivating rice.

During the Revolutionary War, the property was occupied by British and American troops. This house has really seen some history!

The gardens expanded in the 1800s as the young man who inherited the property wanted to create a series of romantic gardens that would make his bride forget her home in Philadelphia and stay forever with him at Magnolia. This man introduced the first Azaleas to America. Didn’t he know you can only woo a Philadelphian with cheesesteaks and soft pretzels? X-D

The Magnolia Gardens opened to the public in 1870 in an effort to save the family from the ruin of the Civil War.

We learned a lot about the family, the property, and the gardens from the tour through this massive home that’s set up like an American history museum. They even have a Slavery to Freedom tour acknowledging the vital role that the Gullah people played in the region’s history. I have to be honest, I’m a bit of a sensitive soul. Walking through the big mansion and then the small, primitive slave quarters really left a heavy weight on my heart. I’m glad they’re taking the time to acknowledge that role and educate others.

The gardens are vast and they are incredibly beautiful. You could walk around for hours taking it all in. We grabbed some lunch on the property and while we were eating, we were being visited by a bunch of different animals – peacocks, ducks, donkeys, horses…

We finished up our tour of the property and headed into the downtown area to walk around and do some shopping. The city was beautiful with its enclosed gardens, colorful buildings, and friendly people. We walked through some shops, spending a good amount of time in a thrift store, talking with its owner. We couldn’t stay long though because we wanted to get to our last campsite before sundown.

We camped in Francis Marion National Forest. It was hot and muggy, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night and being absolutely amazed by how many stars I could see – even without my glasses!

And just like that, our trip was over…

We spent a few hours in Myrtle Beach the next morning, walking around and buying a new outfit because mine had gotten wet and gross during a brief dip in the ocean.

On the drive up I-95, we stopped at a friend’s house in Virginia for a night, desperate for a shower. And the next morning, we were back home in Philadelphia.

My sister and I talk about this trip often and it holds so many wonderful memories for us. Road trips are my absolute favorite way to explore the U.S. Planning a road trip of your own? Check out this post here on how to plan and budget a big road trip of your own!

The historic gardens of Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC are home to thousands of different plants and flowers - it truly is a sight to behold. #usatravel #usaroadtrip #southcarolina

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