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Historic Sites

Experience the history, beauty, enchantment and alluring fragrance of America’s last large-scale romantic-style garden where nature controls the garden’s design. Established in the 1670s, Magnolia is the ancestral home of the Drayton family. As the oldest plantation site on the Ashley River, Magnolia has earned the distinction as the oldest public garden in the United States. The Rev. John Grimké Drayton expanded the gardens in 1840s, opening them three decades later to steamboat passengers. As a result, Magnolia also enjoys being Charleston’s first tourist destination. Today, Magnolia carries on that tradition with 60 acres of gardens that bloom year-round. Renowned internationally, Magnolia’s historic camellia collection blooms in the winter and vibrant azaleas splash color in the spring. Open 365 days a year 8 am to 5:30 pm; call for Nov.-Feb. hours. Tour a pre-Revolutionary War plantation house. See local plants and fauna on a nature boat and nature train tours. Learn about the African-American contributions to Magnolia and Lowcountry South Carolina on an award-winning “Slavery to Freedom” cabin tour. Groups are welcome. Specially designed youth programs are available. Primitive campground open to organized groups. Leashed pets permitted. Garden admission $15; guided house, train, boat and cabins tours and an unguided Audubon Swamp tour additional.