Home » 2000 Spring Break on Hunting Island

Magnolia Plantation, SC

Saturday, April 22, 2000 - 7:00am by Lolo
8 miles and 0.25 hours from our last stop


Andrew feeding the deerAndrew feeding the deerJust a short distance from Charles Towne Landing is Magnolia Plantation, another great place for a scenic family bike ride mixed with a bit of history. Although the plantation house was open for tours, we decided to skip that and spend our time exploring the beautiful grounds and gardens instead.

Like Charles Towne Landing, everything was accessible via bike. A 5-mile dirt trail went along the entire perimeter of the grounds, winding along the Ashley River, through the Audubon Swamp Garden, past a large Indian burial ground, along "the Street" ( a row of the last remaining antebellum slave cabins), and over to the plantation and garden area.

Herb continued his Nigel Thornberry filming of us along the bike ride. In the Audubon Swamp Garden we saw alligators sunning themselves on platforms in the middle of the swamp built for just this purpose. They looked quite content. We also saw egrets and herons enjoying this beautiful blackwater swamp.

Tommy with peacockTommy with peacockProbably the best part of Magnolia Plantation was the beautiful gardens. Our personal favorite was the horticultural maze, which was a replica of the one designed by King Henry VIII at Hampton Court in England. There were nearly 14 miles of pathways to get lost in, so I wanted to make sure that we stuck together. I'm pretty navigationally challenged, so I didn't want them to leave me in there alone wandering around helplessly until dark. Tommy managed to lead us through safely to the exit.

Nearby the gardens, we found a beautiful male peacock strutting his stuff for a lady peacock, who looked very much like an army helmet with legs. I know that with birds the male is supposed to be the more attractive half, but this was ridiculous. And to top it off, that little helmet was teasing him.

Our last stop at Magnolia Plantation was a small petting zoo where the kids chased some turkeys and roosters and hand fed some deer."


Magnolia Plantation is located just a short distance west of Charleston. The plantation was home to 10 generations of the Drayton family, who lived here continuously since the 1670s. Their first mansion burned down shortly after the American Revolution. The mansion was rebuilt and subsequently burned down by the Union General Sherman on his "march to the sea." The third house that is here today was a simple pre-Revolutionary home built in Summerville, South Carolina that was floated down the Ashley River to this location after the second home was burned down. The house, which is open for tours to the public, is furnished with early-American antiques and other Drayton family heirlooms.

The gardens, which reach their peak around March or April, are among the most beautiful in all of American. The gardens include an herb garden, a topiary garden, a Biblical garden, and even a horticultural maze, which replicates the one built in England by King Henry VIII.

Other sights on the grounds include a restored antebellum cabin, a plantation rice barge beside the Ashley River, a Nature Center and Zoo, and a Nature Train that takes passengers on a 45-minute ride around the perimeter of the plantation.

Also, on the grounds is the Audubon Swamp Garden, an independently operated 60-acre cypress swamp known for its abundant waterfowl. More than 224 species of birds have been documented here in a single year. 150 years ago, the famous wildlife painter, John Audubon, came here to observe the waterfowl. Today, visitors can wander on boardwalks, bridges, and dikes through this beautiful swamp, where thousands of plant and animal species coexist amongst the cypress and tupelo gum trees, surrounded by blackwater. Along the way, keep your eye out for egrets, herons, turtles, alligators, and the elusive river otter.

A great way to take in all the sites of Magnolia Plantation is to bike ride the 5-mile dirt trail along the perimeter of the grounds. The trail winds along the Ashley River through the Audubon Swamp Garden, past a large Indian burial ground, along "the Street" ( a row of the last remaining antebellum slave cabins), and over to the plantation and garden area.

Magnolia Plantation location map

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