Whether or not you agree with visiting a plantation, you can’t ignore the fact that they are a part of history. These wealthy families had slaves and grew cotton, tobacco, and other agricultural products. Visiting a plantation while in Charleston is a way of understanding how the South functioned prior to the Civil War.
I’ve developed this guide to Charleston plantations so that travelers know what to expect from their trip. Some of these homes present a fuller picture of what life was like for the enslaved while others gloss over it and say that slaves were “treated like family.” Be sure to do your research before you go.
A Note On Plantations: These homes have a dark history that shouldn’t be ignored. Only you can decide whether this is something you’re interested in doing. Read this post for more perspectives on both sides of the debate.
Charleston, SC Plantations
Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant
Visitors to Mount Pleasant’s Boone Hall Plantation may recognize the home and majestic Avenue of the Oaks as the inspiration for Ashley’s estate in Gone with the Wind. It was also a filming location for countless other movies, including The Notebook and North and South.
The property hosts dozens of festivals throughout the year, including the Oyster Festival, Strawberry Festival, and Corn Maize. Be sure to visit their U-Pick fields and farmer’s market for fresh local produce.
Tickets are $24 for adults, $12 for children ages 6-12, free for children under 5, and $21 for seniors, military, and AAA.
Book your Boone Hall Plantation Tour from Charleston. Stay nearby at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Charleston NE Mt Pleasant.
Drayton Hall, West Ashley
Drayton Hall is one of the most well-known of the Charleston plantations and is one of the last remaining examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the United States. It has survived wars, earthquakes, and hurricanes.
The family home was sold to the National Trust as recently as 1974. While the home is no longer furnished, it allows visitors to take in the architecture even more. The grounds include lots of marshlands where you can spot all sorts of creatures.
Tickets are $22 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for children and free for members and their guests.
Stay nearby at the Aloft Charleston Airport and Convention Center or at neighboring Middleton Place.
Middleton Place Plantation, West Ashley
The property also has an award-winning inn and restaurant. Part of the main house was destroyed in the 1886 earthquake, but much of the house still stands. Also, the house was the birthplace of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Tickets are $28 for adults over 14, $15 for students 14+ with ID, $10 for children 6-13, and free for children under 5.
Stay onsite at The Inn at Middleton Place.
Magnolia Plantation, West Ashley
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded by the same Drayton family of Drayton Hall fame. The Camellia Gardens have brought in visitors for the last 200 years. Magnolia Plantation has well-preserved slave quarters and freedmen’s homes.
Nature tours of the surrounding swamps are fascinating for all ages. There is also a zoo and nature center on the grounds.
Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for children under 12 and free for children under 6. This includes a tour of the home and gardens.
Book your Half-Day Magnolia Plantation Tour with Transportation. Stay nearby at the Home2 Suites by Hilton Charleston Airport or at neighboring Middleton Place.
McLeod Plantation, James Island
Located on James Island, McLeod Plantation was built in 1854 on the Wappoo Creek. The home is in the Georgian style and was a headquarters during the Siege of Charleston during the Revolutionary War.
During the Civil War, the plantation was occupied by the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiments, a group of African-American soldiers. It’s also important for its Gullah history, telling the stories of the people of color.
The home was a part of the McLeod family until 1990. From there, it passed through a number of local institutions. It’s now a Charleston County Parks property, open as a museum. It features six slave cabins, a gin house for cotton, a carriage house, and other outbuildings.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $6 for children, and free for members and children under 2.
Stay nearby at the nearby Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston Downtown/Riverview.