The reason I like this so much is that it is just so unusual. It is very rare to get a chance to see one of the rich, important habitats close up. Even though I am horrified of snakes (and I’m sure a lot of them live here), I can almost forget that threat while I am walking through the swamp. It is such a strange, otherworldly place that is hauntingly beautiful. You get the feeling that you are invading some secluded habitat that no one has seen for hundreds of years. Despite all of the wildlife, everything is so still, almost suspended in time. You will get occasional movement from birds flying across the swamp or hear the familiar splash of snapping turtles sliding off a log, but the silence is stunning, especially if you visit after the regular gardens, where there are hundreds of people all over the place.
Make sure to bring your camera, binoculars, and bug spray. I cannot emphasize the bug spray enough. Now, I’m from Alabama originally, and we certainly have mosquitoes. Big, tenacious ones. But the ones that they have here in Charleston are like nothing I have ever seen. They are the size of baby swans. If they organized, they could take over the city. Get some bug spray (with DEET in it) and slather it on. Nothing will ruin your trip like getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
Admission to the Swamp Garden only is $7 and totally worth it. If you are planning on visiting the other plantations, you could probably cut out Magnolia. The gardens at Middleton aren’t as pretty, but they have more to offer. If you don’t plan on seeing the main gardens at Magnolia, you should stop in for the swamp, because you won’t find that anywhere else.
Results 1-10of 16 Reviews
Columbia, South Carolina
August 2, 2012
by Cindy Grant
July 9, 2012
From journal Charleston and the Low Country
Charleston, South Carolina
March 8, 2011
by The Breeze
May 14, 2005
Your admission to Magnolia Plantation entitles you to view all of its features and is actually worthwhile in itself. My suggestion would be to begin your day in the Orientation Theater (across from the parking lot), where you can see a 12-minute film on the plantation’s history. From here, you can step through the garden entrance and embark on a relaxing stroll along the winding paths with their numbered points of interest along the way. You can go at your own pace, taking photos if you wish or stopping at one of the benches or gazebos for a rest. After you have had your fill of the garden, probably within 45 minutes to an hour, your path will end at the plantation house. Browse the intriguing gift shop/gallery if you wish; this would probably be the best opportunity for the 30-minute house tour. If you are hungry for a bite to eat, there is a snack shop across the road near the parking lot where you can purchase a light meal (unless you brought your own) to eat at one of the tables in the adjacent picnic grounds. If you have youngsters along, they will enjoy the animals in the nearby barnyard/petting zoo.
On the other side of the main garden entrance is the office and information booth where tour tickets may be purchased. While you are in the area, in my opinion, it would behoove you to purchase tickets for at least one of the available tours, which will enable you to experience sights and sounds you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to see and a better chance to catch wildlife unawares. Another available choice is the adjoining Audubon Swamp Garden, another walking tour.
From journal Under the Spell of Charleston
We met at the designated time and place, which was at the depot just up the road from the plantation house, and departed on this tractor-driven "train" that had the capacity to hold about 50 to 60 people. The whole tour took around 45 minutes to an hour, and the whole time it was packed with fascinating sights and interesting bits of information about the wildlife that inhabit this centuries-old nature preserve. Our guide was very pleasant and knowledgeable about the area and a plethora of birds, land animals, and swamp creatures. He knew just where to look for the yellow-bellied swamp sliders (turtles) and alligators of all sizes. Near the end of the ride, he drove us past the antebellum cabins where the plantation's slaves had lived.
The only criticism I can think of is that he didn't stop long enough for picture-taking. Nevertheless, I managed to snap a few!
by Taylor Shelby
April 25, 2005
From journal Charleston Across the Ashley
Magnolia has got to have some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. I have been twice, once in December and once in April. In December, even though it was the dead of winter, it was still beautiful, because all of the camellias were blooming. They were stunning. I wasn’t expecting what I found in April. Just about everything was blooming. There were incredible amaryllis’ all over the gardens, and the irises were everywhere, in just about every color possible. Even some of the daffodils were still blooming, but they were on their last leg. The delphinium, foxgloves, verbenas, azaleas, and blooming shrubs added so much color, it was like walking through a Van Gogh painting.
It seems like there are miles of trails that wind around the grounds. There is a lot of variety, too. Most of the trails are wooded paths, and they open up onto ponds, bridges, Ashley River, and open areas. They have a big swampy area that leads into an Asian-inspired bamboo garden. I really enjoyed that area. Bamboo just isn’t something that I get to see growing very often. After awhile, I was, quite frankly, ready to be done with it, and I have to admit that I skipped a few things.
Magnolia has things other than the gardens. They have an indoor Barbados Garden that showcases tropical plants. One of my favorite things is the petting zoo that has a variety of goats, deer, and sheep and all kids of birds. They were all very friendly, so don’t feel nervous. Also, keep in mind that there are peacocks all over the place, and they make this horrible screaming noise. If you haven’t ever heard this, just be prepared. It can be quite unnerving. With the price of admission, you get to see a short video introduction to Magnolia, but don’t waste your time. Not only is it boring, but it had some glaring errors. Probably the worst was when they said the slaves who lived at Magnolia had a happy life, all because they were taught to read (just a heads up, if you are looking for history, don’t expect it from Magnolia. It isn’t their thing.)
Admission to only the gardens is $14. You can see the house, nature train, nature boat, and swamp garden for extra charges.
January 30, 2004
From journal Golf, Gators, and Great Sights in Hilton Head SC
Fairview Park, Ohio
April 11, 2003
Brief History During the 1680’s the first residence at Magnolia was completed. This house was burned during the Revolution. After the destruction of the original house, the second house was built. It was a three story structure of cypress with a ground floor built of English bricks, salvaged from the ruins of the first house. Just 50 years later General Sherman’s marauders burned this second house. The present house was built on the burned out ground floor of the present house. The house and gardens are now in the hands of John Drayton Hastie. He is the 9th generation to own the home and has been the sole owner since 1971.
Magnolia is 10 miles from downtown Charleston and 45 miles from Edisto beach. It is open 365 days a year from 8:00 – 5:30. Visitors are welcome to stay until dusk.
Cost The basic admission fee includes the 50 acre Historic Garden, Orientation Theatre, Barbados Tropical Greenhouse, Petting Zoo, Antebellum Cabin, Horticultural Maze, Biblical Garden, Herb Garden, Wildlife Observation Tower and trail access to the entire 500 acres of the Plantation. Individual Admission prices are as follows:
Basic Admission (Nature Boat)--Adults $13+, Seniors $12+, Kids (6-12) $7+, Under 6 FREE
Plantation House (Audubon Swamp) or Nature Train (separate)--Adults $7+, Seniors $7+, Kids (6-12) $5+, Under 6 FREE
* Children Under 6 are not admitted to the House tour.
There is an outdoor snack bar on the grounds. They have breakfast croissants, sandwiches, snacks, pop. The prices range from $3 up for sandwiches. They are good. There are picnic tables under the trees, also a covered pavilion with a lot of tables. You are welcome to bring your own picnic. There is a very nice gift shop and art gallery in the bottom floor of the house. Children especially like the petting zoo which is a rather large fenced-in area. The white peacocks are a sight to behold. Children and adults alike enjoy playing on the joggling boards that are placed near the house. The nature train takes you through the swamp. You will see alligators and turtles in abundance. You can also walk to the swamp from the plantation.
It is very easy to spend all day at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, especially if you want to make a leisurely day. Visitors can return free once within a week upon presentation of the basic admission ticket. For this reason we think it is a good idea to visit the plantation the first time at the beginning of your vacation. For more on Magnolia visit http://www.magnoliaplantation.com/. Also click on my photos below.
From journal Edisto Beach, SC Revisited
Montgomery City, Missouri
March 27, 2003
Spending time through the Gardens and the Plantation home and the outer buildings was well worth the admission cost. It gave us insight into a whole different world than the one my children are growing up in. We enjoyed just sitting on the big front porch for a "spell" and sitting on the big branch of a huge old tree out front and thinking about time gone by. Our youngest son enjoyed the hedge maze.
We have taken many vacations as a family but often feel so busy trying to take everything in, but the pace of Charleston and our visit to the plantation felt very slow moving and relaxing. It was a refreshing feeling.
From journal Good 'Ol Southern Hospitality