Mansfield Plantation © Thomas Namey, Namey Design Studios
Magnificent plantations sit along the Ashley River and the highway towards Georgetown, the main attraction being Boone Hall Plantation. A majestic oak avenue leads to the estate, where travellers can visit the original slave quarters, cotton gin house, and the mansion, furnished and decorated according to the period.
Still near the river and closest to Charleston, Drayton Hall is the oldest preserved plantation house in the USA. Dating from 1742, the Georgian masterpiece is a National Historic Landmark and the only plantation house on the Ashley to survive the Civil War intact.
Conversely, Middleton Place was largely destroyed. But the south wing has been restored and contains an impressive collection of historic documents, silver, furniture, and paintings. Interestingly, its grounds are the oldest landscaped gardens in the country, designed in 1741.
The estate also boasts stable yards filled with heritage breeds of cows, goats, pigs, and chickens. The ornamental lakes and surrounding gardens are home to roaming peacocks and other farm animals.
Magnolia Plantation was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. The plantation opened its doors to the public in 1870, allowing all comers to view the gardens. It thus became the oldest public garden in the country.
The stunning decorative gardens can easily be viewed on tram tours that cover the grounds. South Carolina is blessed with many impressive plantation estates and there are hidden gems to be discovered in addition to the favourites listed here.