Beginner’s Guide to South Carolina’s Historic Plantations

Many travelers who visit South Carolina are interested in learning more about the state’s history. As a result, visitors are usually interested in touring historic plantations.  In the past, plantations were economic strongholds that wealthy owners used to support themselves and their families. Now, these historic estates serve as a reminder about an important era in U.S. history.

When choosing a plantation to visit, it is important that you understand your reasons for visiting these sites. Before you visit a historic plantation in South Carolina, review the following information so you know where you should go and what to expect once you’re there.

Which cities have the best plantations to tour?

During the 1800s, plantations were ubiquitous in the American South. These large-scale farming operations were in every state from Virginia down through the Gulf Coast. Like other coastal states, South Carolina had its own share of plantations.

While many of these estates have been destroyed over time, a striking number of plantations still exist for vacationers and locals to visit. Charleston, a city located on South Carolina’s coast, is a city with some of the most plantations travelers can visit. However, Charleston isn’t the only city with plantations that are open to the public. Other cities with these types of attractions include:

  • Beaufort.
  • Columbia.
  • Georgetown.
  • Spartanburg.
  • Union.

Keep in mind that other cities have plantations you can visit. If you have questions about what other plantations are open to the public, contact the tourism office for the city you are visiting.

What can I do at a historic plantation?

Some of the best plantations to visit offer more than historic lands and houses you can tour. The different activities you can do at a plantation varies by location. However, some common activities that might be available are as follows:

  • Touring the local gardens – Many plantations have grounds that include beautiful gardens you can tour. Depending on the location, you may also be able to purchase flowers or other items from the garden.
  • Boat tours – If the plantation you are visiting is located on a lake or river, you may be able to take a boat ride around the water.
  • Carriage rides – The plantation you are visiting may offer carriage rides around the grounds.

Are there any plantations where I can stay the night?

If you’re a big history fan, simply visiting a historic plantation may not be enough for you. In order to offer you more time when you can enjoy a plantation, some of these estates have been transformed into inns or bed and breakfast (B&B) locations.

There are various plantations in the state that also serve as hotels. Some examples of these accommodations include:

  • Mansfield Plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina. This preserved rice plantation was established in 1718. Today, visitors can stay at the plantation and enjoy more than 900 acres surrounding the house.
  • Broxton Bridge Plantation in Ehrhardt, South Carolina. The Broxton Bridge Plantation rests on 7,000 acres of land, which attracts sportsmen who are interested in hunting opportunities. The plantation home where visitors can stay was constructed in the 1850s.
  • Plantation Oaks Inn in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. This bed and breakfast is built on land that used to be part of Snee Farm Plantation, whose former owner was Charles Pickney, one of the signers of the Constitution. Rooms in this B&B are named after various hallmarks of South Carolina culture.

What should I bring with me when I visit a plantation?

When you visit a historic plantation, most of what you need is available onsite. However, there are specific items you should bring to ensure your trip is enjoyable. If you’ve never been to a plantation before, make sure you bring the following with you on your trip:

  • Bottled water – If you’re allowed to bring outside drinks to the plantation you’re visiting, consider taking a bottle of water with you. South Carolina summers in particular can be hot and humid, and you’re bound to spend a fair amount of time walking when you visit a plantation.
  • Sunscreen – One of the most rewarding aspects of visiting a plantation is being able to tour its historic grounds. Since you’ll be outdoors for a good portion of your trip, make sure you bring sunscreen with you.
  • A small backpack or purse – Plantations are filled with all sorts of information. As a result, you’re bound to pick up brochures or other informational packets during your trip. If you bring a backpack or purse to the plantation, you have somewhere to store these brochures and any souvenirs you pick up onsite.

Best South Carolina Plantations to Visit

No matter where you go in South Carolina, there should be historic plantations near you that you can visit. If you’re looking for some of the best plantations in the state to visit, consider taking the time to stop by one of these:

  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens near Charleston, SC
  • McLeod Plantation near Charleston, SC
  • Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens in Mt. Pleasant, SC
  • Charleston Tea Plantation in Wadmalaw Island, SC