If you're in the Charleston area and want to get out of the city, a trip to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is worth considering, as it is about 25 minutes away from the historic district by car. According to the official website, the gardens were founded in 1676, which is pretty incredible if you think about it.
I got there in the early afternoon and noticed right away that the parking grounds were full of cars already. The good news is that many people were leaving as I was arriving, so I didn't have to wait in a long line and the crowds were starting to thin out.
General admission to the gardens is $15 for each adult. There are additional fees for anything else you might want to add on, such as a plantation house tour, nature train, boat ride, a tour of the slave cabins, and/or the swamp garden. There is also the option to pay $47 for an all inclusive pass, which I thought was a bit too pricey for the amount of time I had. When I went, I did want to take the field boat tour, but I was informed that they were already sold out. It was slightly disappointing, but as I said, I didn't get there very early, so it was my own fault. I decided to only pay $15 for the basics, but the grounds are vast, so I felt like there was plenty to see.
Magnolia Gardens are special because they are considered Romantic Gardens. Romantic Gardens originated in Europe during the Industrial Revolution. The purpose of a Romantic Garden is to lose yourself in its beauty and forget about your stressful job or the trials and tribulations of everyday life. I visited the garden at a time in my life when I was working a less than stellar job, so the gardens served their purpose and provided me with a nice escape. Although by the entrance and cafe there were many people, once I started meandering along the paths, I came across fewer and fewer people and could appreciate the moment a bit more. Since everything is so spread out, it didn't seem as crowded as I thought it would be when I saw all those parked cars upon my arrival.
The gardens were aesthetically pleasing, but they were a bit different from other gardens I'd visited since at Magnolia, the gardens weren't heavily manicured. Looking back though the pictures from my day, I'd say that the parts of the gardens really captured the essence of the Low Country--think hanging moss and marshes. Of course, the Low Country does have its alligators and I did spot a couple of them partially submerged in pond water. It was simultaneously cool and terrifying since I do have a what I like to call a justifiable fear of alligators.
I would suggest if it's possible that you try and visit the gardens during the height of the azalea season. When I was there, they weren't in bloom, but there is supposed to be an impressive collection of them. Even though there were no azaleas to see, I did manage to see a bunch of other flowers like hydrangeas and of course some magnolias.
Some parts of the gardens were otherworldly, at least to me.
After a bite to eat at the Peacock Cafe, I decided to call it a day and head back home. My trip to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was a day well-spent, but I'm glad I didn't shell out the cash for all of those extras I mentioned. I was busy enough strolling the grounds and taking in the sights.
What do you think of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens?