Scottery and I spent part of last Sunday afternoon at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens. We have both been here before for weddings and some events, but only have seen the event spaces that are on a separate area of the plantation, not the main grounds. But you can never learn too much about the world around you, so we drove out there to take advantage of the buy one, get one free ticket offer and to soak in a little bit o' culture on a cold January afternoon.
And what a great afternoon it was. When we got the tickets, Scottery gave me the option to choose one 'add on' to the base ticket price -- unfortunately the boat tour of the swamp only runs in the warmer months (looks like we'll have to go back in the spring!), so of the other choices I went with the Nature Train. We only had about 20 minutes until our train left, so we grabbed a quick bite at the Peacock Cafe, a window-order restaurant that serves beer, and we had lunch at a stone table overlooking a giant field of roaming miniature ponies and a marauding flock of mystery fowl who came dangerously close to forcing me to give up my egg salad sandwich. But it was a pastoral scene and a calming spot to enjoy a light lunch. Turns out the Nature Train (actually more of a John Deere and covered, caravan seating) was a great choice, and the train tour guide drove us around the grounds for about 45 minutes, taking us along the riverbanks, swamp and old rice paddys. The guide was knowledgeable about the bird and animal species we passed, and he presented it in a way that was much more interesting than an average tour.
After the tour, we then went to the zoo / nature center and met and fed some of the fauna. I've never gotten to pet a deer, much less have one eat from my hand. We also saw foxes, a bobcat, and peacocks! After a quick hand sanitizing, Scotter and I spent time walking through the famous gardens, planted beginning about 325 years ago and touted as America's oldest unrestored gardens. After an hour or so of walking (insider tip: wear walking shoes!), we still had only seen a small fraction of the grounds. We found our way through the Horticulture Maze, crossed over two dramatic foot bridges, and walked along the banks of the Ashley River. Even in January, there were still flowers in bloom. I can only imagine the kaleiodoscope of colors in the spring time.
IF YOU GO
- Wear walking shoes
- Allow a large block of time, then you might get to see more than we did...although we saw a lot.
- The tickets actually allow you to come back one more time within the week, so plan accordingly if you'd like another day out there for 'free.' You can receive a $5 discount coupon via email here.
- Bikes and pets are welcome on the grounds (obviously not in the plantation house or in the petting zoo).
- Dress to be outdoors -- if it's cold, bring a jacket. If it's buggy, bug spray! The best parts of the plantation are all outside, so come prepared so you can enjoy it.