The Magnolia Plantation in South Carolina

The Magnolia Plantation

It’s no secret that South Carolina has some of the most stunning plantation homes in the country.

Magnolia Plantation is one of Charleston’s most beautiful and historic homes. It’s known for its wildly popular romantic-style garden, which Travel + Leisure magazine selected as America’s Most Distinguished Garden.

This home, which has been owned by the Drayton family since it was built in 1676, provides a look back at the rich history that defines not only the city of Charleston, but the South as a whole.


Magnolia Plantation was built in 1676 by the Thomas and Ann Drayton. Unlike many plantations, this is one of the few that has remained in the same family throughout its history.

Thomas and Ann Drayton built the plantation after their arrival to what is now Charleston from Barbados. They cultivated rice and experienced incredible wealth and growth.

To ensure the plantation stay in the family and bear the family name, as generations took over ownership of the home, Thomas Drayton’s great grandson willed the home to his daughter’s sons as he had no other male heirs. However, he stipulated that his grandson’s take on their mother’s maiden name so that the Drayton name stayed with the estate.

Like many plantations in the American South, Magnolia Plantation used slave labor. Original slave dwellings still exist on the property and serve as a part of the Magnolia Cabin Project Tours, which details the period of time of slavery to freedom and recognizes the importance of the Gullah people and culture in shaping the south.

What’s especially interesting about Magnolia Plantation is that the grounds opened to the public in 1870. At that time, the gardens of the plantation had become well-known for their opulence and beauty, so the Drayton family took advantage of this by opening their gardens to the public. In doing so, they were able to rebound from the impact of the American Civil War and the plantation made it through one of the most difficult times in the American South.

Since that time, Magnolia Plantation and its gardens have become one of the greatest public gardens in the United States.  

Features & Attractions

Visiting Magnolia Plantation is so much more than just a historic home and garden.

If you love animals, take advantage of the petting zoo onsite or visit the Peacock Cafe, which is home to live peacocks and mini-horses. If you want to get a solid orientation and history lesson about the property, visit the orientation theater.

You can also go for a ride on the nature train to take in the sights, get out on the water on the nature boat, and go for a self-guided walk through the Audobon Swamp Garden.

You’ll also want to explore the impact of the Gullah people during the Slavery to Freedom Tour and by visiting the Gilliard Garden Center.


The gardens of Magnolia Plantation are known as romantic-style as they aren’t sleek and formal rather, they are one with nature and are allowed to grow. In fact, the gardens at Magnolia Plantation is the last large scale romantic garden in the country.

The gardens are full of azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, gardenias, crepe myrtle, and noisette rose, just to name a few.

Plantation House

The main house at Magnolia Plantation is actually the third home built on the land. It was built prior to the Revolutionary War, floated down the Ashley River to the plantation after the Civil War, and has remained on the land ever since.

Ten rooms in the house are open to the public and furnished in the style befitting of the time period in which the home was built to give visitors an authentic look into 19th century living.

Carriage House

The historic carriage house at Magnolia Plantation dates back to 1840. This home overlooks the Ashley River and is surrounded by Live Oaks draped in Spanish moss. Today, it is a popular location for weddings

Petting Zoo

The petting zoo at Magnolia Plantation gives visitors the chance to interact with native animals and learn more about their habitats. This exhibit features white-tailed deer, gray fox, beavers, bobcats, birds of prey, snakes, lizards, and turtles.  [

Nature Train

The nature train takes visitors through the plantation’s 600 acres of wetlands, forests, lakes, and marshes. Guides on the train help visitors spot alligators and other native animals that call the grounds of Magnolia Plantation home. Tour guides will also describe the rich cultural history of the plantation and surrounding area during the trip.

The Peacock Cafe & Restaurant

The Peacock Cafe and Restaurant serves breakfast until noon, sandwiches, snacks, and beverages throughout the day. Bottled beer and sangria is also available.

Weddings & Events

With its beauty and old southern charm, Magnolia Plantation has been the go-to destination for weddings for years.

Those interested in planning a wedding or other event at the plantation can work with staff at the plantation to determine what elements of the plantation will be included in their event. Many individuals make use of the carriage house on the property for weddings and receptions, while others use the gardens as a complete backdrop for an unforgettable outdoor wedding.

Magnolia Plantation offers the carriage house, veranda, and conservatory for your wedding and event needs.

Address, Hours, Season & Contact Info

Magnolia Plantation is located at 3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29414. It is open 8am to 5:30pm daily. For more information contact or call 843-571-1266.