The greatest generators of wealth in early American history can largely be seen in South Carolina. Around the Charleston area, there exist a handful of plantations. They are spaces of conflicting emotions, manicured and made too look like they fell out of a romance film. However, they are also traces of America’s slavery filled past, where those who worked and toiled on the fields to build up the wealth of the plantation struggled just to survive. As spring gets underway, many of these plantations in the Charleston area are worth a visit not just for their historical lessons, but also for their eye popping, colorful gardens.
Boone Hall Plantation: Proudly calling itself America’s most photographed plantation, Boone Hall is certainly the Charleston area’s most famous plantation. It is perhaps best known for its live oak tress lining the drive up to the estate, called the Avenue of Oaks. The trees were planted in 1743 and form a natural arch that poses effortlessly for photographs. Boone Hall is also one of the oldest, working and living plantations in America. It has been growing and producing crops for over 320 years. While the actual estate is not original, the grounds do make for a fine way to spend the afternoon. Travelers should be sure to admire the antique roses that stretch back over 100 years in age in the gardens of the plantation. The grounds are also home to educational information on the life of slaves on the plantation, a sobering reality seen thought the slave cabins perched right next to the picturesque Avenue of the Oaks.
Magnolia Plantation: For the Charleston area plantation turned up several notches, you can head to Magnolia Plantation. Located on 500 acres and owned by the Drayton family since 1676, this plantation visit is truly historical. Being the same family for more than three centuries has helped the plantation maintain its historical value. You can wander through the home its with early American furniture or pause in wonder at the reconstructed cabins of the salves who once tended the fields. However, Magnolia Plantation’s true drawing card is its gardens. Its camellias and azaleas reach their peak blooms in March and April, making for the prime time to visit.
Hampton Plantation State Park: Just before reaching Charleston, if you follow signs to the Hampton Plantation State, the road will lead you through a forest of live oaks and magnolias. The bumpy ride down a dirt road is well worth it however. Hampton Planation State Park is not as overrun with tourists as the above-mentioned plantations. As a result, you can experience that paradoxical eeriness and calm that a plantation lends. The actual mansion takes on a blindly white color in the Georgian style. It contains information on how those who were free lived on these grounds. Aside from the mansion, you should also explore the grounds, home to the final traces of a colonial era rice planation.
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