Have you ever been to a city so rich in history that you leave feeling like you MUST return? This is how we felt about Charleston South Carolina. I am sure it is beautiful year round, but we were there over the first week of Spring. The flowers were in bloom all over. The oak trees with hanging spanish moss everywhere looked so magical. The cobblestone like sidewalks downtown had a very European feel and the architecture was amazing.
Our first excursion was to visit the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. There are so many different historic plantations to visit in Charleston that it was hard to choose which one to visit. We really enjoyed walking the grounds on the multiple trails around waterways, through trees and in the gardens. We braved the peacocks in the petting zoo as well, they would get huffy and puffy when you would get too close, but the geese and deer walking around looking for someone to feed them seed was pretty comical to watch.
Of the handful of guided tours to choose from, we selected the “From Slavery to Freedom” tour. It was both terribly sad to learn about the enslaved at the rice plantation turned English gardens post civil war, and incredibly interesting. The tour guide was so knowledgeable, and kept us intently listening. He did not sugarcoat the hard times that the slaves endured like some of the online reviews said for other plantation tours. We wanted to learn the truths of that time in our history and he did just that.
The plantation is still controlled by the Drayton family, 15 generations so far. The slave quarter cabins (only 4 remaining) were built in the 1850s, the plantation grounds have been in the Drayton family since 1676. This was incredibly hard work with horrible living conditions. It was heartbreaking to be standing in these cabins while learning about the history of the property. Tours of the gardens started in 1870 and run by former slaves who chose to stay on the grounds to eventually earn an income once the gardens started bringing in money. Our guide let us know that the enslaved who initially stayed ended up having multiple generations live and work there, with the last person leaving in the 1990’s.
The same afternoon we met up with my coworker/friend and her sister for a great lunch on the water, and walked over to buy some fresh shrimp from a fish market for dinner. We so enjoyed getting to meet up with them, it was a great day! They told us about the Angel Oak, and said it was a must see. Turns out that it was only about 8 miles from our campground so we made our way out there as well. The Angel Oak tree is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old. It is also thought to be one of the oldest living things in our country. It was a pretty spectacular view and a “must see” when visiting Charleston…and it is FREE!
In researching what we should do while visiting the area, we saw that there are multiple ghost tours, horse drawn carriage tours, along with private tours all around downtown Charleston. We decided to take a walking ghost tour by Buxton Books & Tour Charleston. They are located down on the waterfront with a parking garage across the street (this was very convenient as parking in Charleston is pretty tight when your vehicle is a huge truck). Their tour is based off of the book “Ghosts of Charleston”. This tour is also the only one in Charleston that takes you inside of the cemetery of the Unitarian Church Graveyard built in 1772. It was a presentation of the deep history of Charleston all while looping in ghost stories, as we walked the city. We thoroughly enjoyed it and would take another one of their tours when we visit again.
Only staying in this city for one week made it impossible to see everything, so we will return one day. So many people told us how amazing Charleston is and they were all correct! What a great week we had! Until next time Charleston….