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Charleston's Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Updated: March 4, 2024

In this post, we share everything you need to know about visiting Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. There are several plantations in the Charleston area, but few are as historic and notable as Magnolia. Updated for 2024.

Hours and Directions

Open 364 days a year, including all major holidays EXCEPT Christmas Day.

  • Hours: 9 AM until 5 PM

Magnolia is located at 3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29414.

To get to Magnolia, click here for exact directions from your starting point. For written directions from a variety of starting places such as Downtown Charleston and the many area beaches, visit Magnolia's website.

Admission Price

This inspiring garden and home are still welcoming visitors. For one low price, you can explore the grounds at your own pace.  Guided tours and activities are available at an additional cost.  

  • Basic Admission Ticket (2024):  $35 for Adults;  $21 for Children; $3 for Children under 6

What's included in the Basic Admission Ticket?

The Magnolia Gardens  You can enjoy a self-guided tour through the historic gardens. Some sections are more than three centuries old, allowing you to see what the plantation looked like hundreds of years ago. Allow at least 45 minutes to look around the gardens.

Slave Cabins

Now included in the Basic Admission Ticket is the From Slavery to Freedom Tour

The Magnolia Cabin Project Tour is a 45 minute experience that discusses Magnolia’s unique street of slave cabins which were occupied well into the 20th century.

These cabins have been carefully preserved and restored to document the full arc of African-American life at Magnolia Plantation. Each cabin reflects a different period of the African-American experience at Magnolia – from slavery to reconstruction and on through the 1920s and the Civil Rights era providing an extraordinary perspective.

A shuttle is provided to take visitors to the cabins and allow them to explore. Timed tickets are still required and they book up fast as they are first come-first served.

Also, included is access to the Garden Maze, Petting Zoo, Conservatory, the Old African American Cabin, and the Orientation Theater which shows a 30-minute film to watch before you explore the grounds.

You can also visit the Peacock Cafe and Gift Shop.

Magnolia Gardens

Additional Guided Tours

Each of the 5 below tours costs $10-15 per person (children under 6 are free).


The Plantation House Tour

This house is the third to stand here, though the original core structure was built elsewhere and floated down the river after the Civil War. Ten rooms are available to view on a half hour guided tour that shows you what life was like in the 19th century. In addition to the period pieces on display, you’ll also have the opportunity to see real family heirlooms from the original owners. If you want to learn about the Draytons and their home, this tour is an absolute must.

Tour starts on the front porch of the Plantation house. Tour begins at the top of every hour, beginning at 10:00 AM and ending at 4:00 PM.

Swamp Garden

Audubon Swamp Garden

The Audubon Swamp Garden features thousands of plants and animals living in the cypress and gum trees deep in the blackwater. Uniquely wild vistas this beautiful aren’t often found in the low country, and this is an area you can easily traverse on boardwalks and bridges. The swamp garden is so large and extensive that you’ll want to set aside at least an hour to explore its length.

Once you have purchased your ticket, you are free to stay and enjoy this special garden until dusk. 

Nature Tour Train

The Nature Train Tour

The Nature Train is a 45-minute tram tour of the Magnolia Plantation’s diverse landscapes, lakes, woodlands, marshes, and rivers while guides describe the estate’s history and wildlife. It’s entirely possible that you will see wild animals such as an alligator or blue heron while on this train. Take a break from walking through the garden and let a guide drive you around instead. Discover what made this land so desirable as you enjoy the natural splendor on display!

The Nature Train departs from a train depot near the main parking area. Departure is every half hour, but could be delayed for various reasons.  Check with the Admissions Gate or Office when you arrive.


Rice Field Boat Tour

The Rice Field Boat Tour is roughly an hour long boat ride that explores the plantation’s 125 acres of rice fields. As you float down the river, guides will explain the culture and history behind the area. This tour also offers excellent wildlife viewing, including potential encounters with alligators and egrets. Take a break after a long day of walking the grounds and enjoy a nice trip down the Ashley River as you learn about the rice fields.

Tour departs from a dock in the Magnolia gardens.  This tour is available every day of the week from March-October.

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Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, this plantation has been welcoming visitors since 1870. It is the oldest public garden in America and some sections remain in their original state for over 325 years. Not only has this estate been in operation for over three centuries, but they were actually one of the first locations to welcome visitors after the Civil War. 

Today, Magnolia Plantation is a house museum that has been restored to look as it did during the Civil War. 

About The Author

Scott Nelson

Scott has led over 2,000 tours of Charleston and has more than 1000 5 star reviews. He started working in museums at the age of 16 (Unsinkable Molly Brown House) and hasn't looked back. He was the Executive Director of Heurich House and on the historic interpretation/ education staff at Mount Vernon, both in Washington DC, for over 6 years. Scott moved to Charleston in 2012 for a job with the Historic Charleston Foundation and began leading tours for Free Tours by Foot.
Updated: March 4th, 2024
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