Southern Beauty at Its Best: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Charleston’s Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is the only garden in the state of South Carolina to have been designated as one of America’s Most Beautiful Gardens by Travel + Leisure Magazine. It’s America’s last large-scale Romantic-style garden and the most visited plantation in Charleston.

History of the Grounds

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded by the Drayton Family in 1676 and has survived through the American Revolution and Civil War. It began welcoming guests in 1970 and is now the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in the country. Unlike most public gardens in the US, which are formally designed without regard to the natural surroundings, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was created and continues to be designed around the natural environment, showcasing the beauty of the area alongside the spectacular garden designs.

Visiting Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

The large, romantic-style gardens—the largest, unrestored gardens in the country—are what bring people through the gates. Each generation of the Drayton family has added to the gardens, which now is home to countless species of flowers that bloom all year long.

Visitors to the grounds can also take the Nature Train Tour, where they will explore the wetlands and marshes on a tram, with a close-up look at the alligators, turtles, and other wildlife that live in the Lowcountry. The Rice Field Boat Tour and Magnolia Cabin Project Tour offer a look at the history of the area, including the legacy of slavery. A zoo, gift shop, and café round out the experience.

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