Top 5 Plantation Tours In Charleston SC: Old South Charm

If you’re looking for the best Plantation Tours in Charleston SC, you’re in luck. I‘ve visited Charleston SC many times and have toured every plantation in the Charleston area (and beyond).

Although there is plenty to do in Charleston itself, you should put a few of the surrounding plantation tours on your must-visit list. These plantations all offer something different, from immersive historical narratives to breathtaking garden landscapes.

Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or garden lover, this guide aims to steer you toward the most rewarding plantation experiences Charleston has to offer.

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My Top Picks: Plantation Tours In Charleston SC

#1 TOP PICK

Boone Hall, a brick house with white portico, framed by tree branch.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BOONE HALL
✔️ Beautiful Grounds
✔️ Preserved Slave Quarters
🚫 No Antebellum House

#2 PICK

middletonhouse

MIDDLETON PLACE
✔️ Astounding Gardens
✔️ Home Of A Founder
✔️ Can Spend All Day

#3 PICK

A white bridge over water with flowering bushes in background.

MAGNOLIA PLANTATION
✔️ One Of The Oldest
✔️ Garden & Swamp Tour
✔️ Incredible History/Wildlife

Charleston isn’t the only place with plantation tours. For a unique tour full of natural beauty, check out the Bulow Plantation Ruins in Florida. This prosperous sugar plantation was burned by the Seminoles in the 1830s.

My Top 5 Charleston Plantation Tours and Gardens

These are my favorite Plantation Tours in Charleston SC, but not in any particular order. They are all worth seeing!

1. Middleton Place

4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC

A large limb of a live oak treet swoops to the ground, with Spanish moss hanging on the trees and azaleas in bloom can all be seen on this plantation tour in charleston sc.
Beautiful landscaped gardens at Middleton Place.

Middleton Place Plantation is a historic plantation and garden located just outside Charleston, along the scenic Ashley River.

The primary attraction at Middleton Place is its meticulously landscaped gardens, which are considered some of the oldest — and most beautiful — in America. The gardens feature a wide flowering trees and plants, including camellias, azaleas, magnolias, and an impressive collection of antique roses.

Related Post: Enjoy “old house” tours? Check out the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park NY, a glamorous mansion from the Gilded Age.

Visitors can explore acres of picturesque ponds and camellia alleys while taking in the breathtaking views of the Ashley River.

In addition to the gardens, this Charleston Plantation tour also features guided tours of the historic house, which was once the home of Henry Middleton, a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and his descendants.

Part of the house at Middleton Place Charleston SC that still stands. Its a brick house with brown shutters.
Much of the house at Middleton Place was destroyed by an earthquake, but the one side still stands.

The house tour provides a glimpse into the lives of the Middleton family and their significant contributions to American history. Visitors can explore the period furnished rooms and learn about the plantation’s role in the history of South Carolina.

What I Like: You can definitely spend a few hours at Middleton Place walking the beautiful landscaped gardens. There is also a petting zoo, restaurant, and period craftsmen throughout the grounds.

Plan ahead and leave enough time, because this is one of the most expansive Charleston plantation tours.

Book a Middleton Place Tour

2. Boone Hall Plantation

1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC

The entranceway to Boone Hall Plantation, showing massive live oaks and blooming azaleas, is one of the most beautiful plantation tours in charleston sc.
I love the long lane to enter Boone Hall Plantation.

Boone Hall Plantation was the first Plantation tour in Charleston SC that I took, so it stands out to me as one of my favorites.

Located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, it is a historic gem that features a long oak-lined driveway that is breathtaking when the azaleas are in bloom.

With a history spanning more than three centuries, this plantation has witnessed dramatic changes, from its establishment in 1681 to its role in the antebellum era as a working plantation.

The mansion itself is not as spectacular as others on this list, but the grounds are impressive. Not built until 1936, the Boone Hall mansion serves as the backdrop for guided tours.

It’s the beautiful avenues of oak trees, draped with Spanish moss, that makes this one of my top plantation tours in Charleston SC.

Boone Hall Plantation also offers a variety of tours to cater to different interests. The “Black History in America” tour delves into the experiences of enslaved Africans and their descendants, shedding light on their resilience and contributions to American culture.

They also have a “Gullah Culture” tour that explores the unique Gullah Geechee heritage, a rich blend of African and Southern traditions that has shaped the Lowcountry for centuries.

Additionally, you can explore the meticulously landscaped gardens and original slave cabins.

What I Like: Boone Hall has some of the only original slave quarters still standing, which provides a better understanding of Plantation life. The grounds are also beautiful, especially in the spring.

Book A Boone Hall Plantation Tour

3. Drayton Hall

3380 Ashley River Road, Charleston, S.C.

Drayton Hall framed by a big oak tree is a three story brick building with a white porch. The roof is red.
Drayton Hall Plantation offers a memorable Charleston tour.

Drayton Hall’s history dates back to 1738, when it was established by John Drayton. The plantation played a pivotal role in the development of South Carolina’s rice culture.

My favorite thing about Drayton Hall, is that , unlike many other historic sites, this Charleston plantation has been preserved without undergoing significant architectural alterations or reconstructions.

Guided tours take visitors through the stunning Georgian-Palladian mansion, showcasing its remarkable architecture and details that offer a glimpse into the lives of the Drayton family.

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Beyond the Drayton Hall mansion, visitors can explore the beautiful gardens and grounds, which offer serene views of the Ashley River and provide insight into the horticultural practices of the era.

Drayton Hall is notable for being the oldest unrestored plantation in the United States that is open to the public. It is a National Historic Landmark that stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Southern plantation culture.

A look inside Drayton Hall, showing a wooden floored hallway with stairs rising on each side and meeting in the middle. The paint on the walls is green.

What I Like: There are some memorable stories surrounding Drayton Hall during the Civil War that I ended up using in my novel Shades of Gray. This makes my list of favorite plantation tours in Charleston SC because of its history and back story.

Book A Tour at Drayton Hall

4. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC

The Magnolia Plantation mansion house is a gray building with a long two-story front porch with white bannisters.
The house at Magnolia Gardens.

I’m not sure I can describe Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Founded in the late 17th century, it is one of the oldest and most renowned plantations in the American South.

Initially established by Thomas and Ann Drayton in 1676, it has been home to generations of the Drayton family and has played a significant role in the development of rice cultivation.

Treat yourself to a chauffeur, plus admission to Middleton Place and Magnolia Plantation, AND box lunch.

What sets Magnolia Plantation apart is its breathtaking gardens, which are among the oldest public gardens in America.

I was lucky enough to finally visit when everything was in bloom in March and it is stunning! The gardens are a blend of formal and informal designs, featuring a wide variety of plant species, including azaleas, camellias, magnolias, and countless other colorful flowers and trees.

Guided tours and educational programs provide insights into the plantation’s history. Visitors can explore why Magnolia has earned the title of “One of America’s Most Beautiful Gardens.

For an unforgettable plantation visit, check out the Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, Fla, where an African queen became a plantation owner.

What I Like: I never realized how lovely a swamp could be until I visited Magnolia Plantation. This tour of the grounds includes arched bridges in a wonderland of flowering plants. The beauty is breathtaking, and it’s why Magnolia Gardens is on my list of best plantation tours in Charleston SC.

Book a Tour at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Don’t want to drive? You can book a tour to Magnolia Plantation with transportation from Charleston.

5. McLeod Plantation Historic Site

325 Country Club Drive, Charleston, SC

The McLeod Plantation mansion house shows 6 white pillars on the two-story white house. The sun is peeking from behind.

This 37-acre plantation on James Island dates back to 1851. It’s now a Gullah/Geechee heritage site that offers an honest look at what life was like for the enslaved and emancipated African Americans who worked there.

Besides the Georgian-style plantation home, the site also includes slave quarters, a cotton gin house, and a Gullah cemetery.

It’s a great opportunity to tour a mansion house and visit the slaves quarters as well. Every tour guide emphasizes a different aspect of life on the plantation.

A one-story white shack with a brick chimney under the limbs of a massive live oak tree.
Slave quarters at McLeod Plantation.

What I like: All of the plantations explain the contrast between slave owners and slaves, but McLeod Plantation really dives into the complex relationships between the two groups.

I also loved the ancient live oaks at McLeod, especially those near the slave quarters. It’s amazing to think about what those trees witnessed.

Book a tour at McLeod Plantation

Other Charleston Plantation Tours and Activities

Charleston Tea Garden

This offers a fun and educational experience like no other. Witness the process of growing and making tea while enjoying a free factory tour, exploring a unique gift shop, taking in scenic views, and sipping all the tea you desire!

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Explore the preserved estate, once owned by a Founding Father and now under the care of the National Park Service. You can wander the grounds, visit the historic cottage, explore exhibits, watch a film, shop at the museum store, and attend various programs—all for free!

Charleston Horticultural Society

They offer a variety of programs, including signature lecture series, seasonal workshops, and exclusive garden tours, all aimed at celebrating the heritage of horticulture in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Cypress Gardens

Visitors can enjoy wandering along miles of garden trails, paddling through cypress swamps, relaxing in a greenhouse adorned with butterflies and flowers, and discovering exhibits featuring native and exotic reptiles alongside a freshwater aquarium.

Other Charleston Tour Packages

Charleston Architecture and History Tour

There’s probably no other city as beautiful and historic as Charleston, in the U.S. Experience the best of Charleston on a history and architecture walking tour.

Old South Carriage Historic Horse and Carriage Tour

You can’t really see Charleston correctly without going on a historic carriage tour.

Experience more than 300 years of history on this guided carriage tour of Charleston. See the many mansions, churches, and gardens as your horse-drawn carriage tour covers more than 2.5 miles and 30 blocks of historic Charleston.

Other Tours In Charleston SC

Charleston City Sightseeing Bus Tour

USS Yorktown Ghost Tour

Experience a special behind-the-scenes tour of the aircraft carrier Yorktown, granting exclusive access to parts of the ship typically off-limits to the public. The price of this tour includes admission.

Charleston Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Explore the darker side of Charleston and experience some of the city’s most eerie sites with a 90-Minute Ghost & Dungeon Nighttime Walking Tour with Entry to Provost Dungeon! Wind through the Historic District’s dark corridors and graveyards, and hear spooky tales of ghosts, voodoo, local superstition and famous haunted spaces from your local guide.

Plus, many more highly-rated walking tours!

Two other plantations that I love in South Carolina are Hopsewee, also home to a Declaration of Indpendence signer, and Hampton Plantation, where George Washington visited.

I also recommend Oak Alley and Nottoway in Louisiana.

You’ll Love Plantation Tours in Charleston SC

As you can see, all of the plantation tours in Charleston SC have their own particular historical significance and charm.

Charleston’s plantations stand as living testaments to the city’s storied past, offering visitors a chance to connect with history, nature, and culture all in one place.

Whether you’re drawn to the stunning landscaped gardens, the centuries-old architecture, or the stories of those who once lived on these grounds, Charleston’s plantations provide a window into the past.

If you like plantation tours, there are some great ones in Louisiana, including Laura Plantation and the Houmas House. One of my favorites though is Nottoway, also called the White Castle.

Where To Stay In Charleston

Want to find a hotel close to one of the plantation tours in Charleston SC?

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