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Category: Flora & Fauna

Explore the Outdoors: From Charleston Beaches to Lowcountry Wildlife

Charleston’s lively downtown area is far from its only attraction. Beyond its cobblestone streets and picturesque cityscape, the Lowcountry’s outdoor recreation and wildlife opportunities are begging to be explored. Whether you’re fishing for Red Drum in Charleston’s inshore waters or cruising the coastline and taking an island-hopping adventure, the Lowcountry offers an incredible outdoor experience for all.

The surrounding Lowcountry is a one-of-a-kind mix of history and natural splendor, beckoning families to discover her fascinating and majestic natural landscape. From visiting historic Charleston plantations to delving into the city’s rich equine history, one thing is certain: you’ll never lack for things to do!

Even those who have lived in Charleston their entire lives are still becoming acquainted with the area’s natural beauty and wonder. If you’re eager to learn more about the vast array of outdoor opportunities in Charleston, S.C., you’ve come to the right place.

Why Explore the Charleston Outdoors?

You don’t need to be an accomplished outdoor enthusiast to enjoy Charleston’s rolling rivers, tranquil marshes and miles of white-sand beaches. History lovers, adrenaline junkies, bird watchers and Lowcountry families alike can and do take advantage of the endless number of ways to experience the region’s natural landscape.

Those who live in Historic Downtown Charleston are accustomed to the urban hustle and bustle. But there is something to be said about stepping beyond the city limits to explore its natural wonders. What do you have to gain by going on an outdoor adventure in Charleston? Let’s take a look.

A Unique Blend of History and Nature

While most visitors flock to the Holy City for her impressive architecture and vast array of historic attractions, many history enthusiasts overlook the rich stories that nature has to tell. Hidden within the city’s marshland and live oaks are a millennium of history just waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re sailing a few hundred feet off the coast to see the Morris Island Lighthouse, taking a guided bike ride around Charleston or going on an exciting eco tour, both visitors and residents alike can appreciate the Lowcountry’s natural and cultural history.

Healthy Outdoor Recreation for the Entire Family

If there is one reason why you and the entire family should spend more time outdoors, it’s for your health. Research shows that spending time in nature can improve both mental and physical well-being. According to a 2018 study from the University of East Anglia, living in close proximity to nature and spending time outdoors can reduce the risk of numerous diseases and lower stress.

Charleston’s great outdoors has everything you need to live a healthy and active lifestyle. If you don’t want to go too far to get your sweat on, stop by one of the city’s many county parks, playgrounds and green spaces. Whether you want to run across Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge or take a relaxing stroll through the city’s gorgeous public gardens, you’ll find plenty of ways to stay active in the Holy City.

Environmental Education

Educational wildlife opportunities abound in the Lowcountry. With its wide variety of diverse ecosystems, South Carolina has no shortage of educational programs for both youngsters and adults to learn more about the region’s natural habitats.

When you live in a region as beautiful as the Lowcountry, it just makes sense to teach the next generation to love and respect the land. Additionally, Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry are one of the fastest growing places along the East Coast. As the region continues its fast-paced growth, the importance of land preservation and conservation can’t be ignored.

Outdoor Activities in Charleston, S.C.

Charleston has a bounty of outdoor opportunities that are ripe for exploring. Whether you prefer an adrenaline-packed kayaking adventure along the city’s gorgeous waterways or enjoy taking the entire family on pleasant nature walks, there is an outdoor Lowcountry experience for everyone to enjoy.

It’s not just the sheer volume of outdoor activities that makes the Lowcountry appealing to so many. With average temperatures hovering around the 60s during the fall and winter, you won’t be stuck indoors during the cooler months. Thanks to the city’s subtropical climate, Charleston has become one of the most popular and affordable snowbird destinations, with many temporary residents choosing to stay in Charleston vacation rentals or their second homes to escape the frigid cold up North.

Learn and Appreciate Lowcountry Wildlife

Ready to gain a newfound appreciation for the thriving wildlife in the Lowcountry? Along with Charleston’s many natural history museums and beloved South Carolina Aquarium, the city also offers a vast number of hands-on learning experiences and wildlife groups for you to explore.

  • Visit the Caw Caw Interpretive Center—Be sure to check out the Caw Caw Interpretive Center in Ravenel, S.C. for a fascinating lesson in Lowcountry nature, culture and history. Experience the many different types of natural habitats, from dry upland forest to cypress swamps, all while learning about the landscape’s rich history.
  • Take a Guided Eco Tour—If you’ve always wanted to see dolphins and manatees up close, try taking a guided, multi-day kayak tour from Coastal Expeditions. Located in Mount Pleasant on Shem Creek, the Lowcountry outfitter takes people of all ages and skill levels on guided kayak and canoe tours to explore estuaries, blackwater and barrier islands.
  • Join a Conservation Group—Want to appreciate the outdoors with like-minded individuals? Discover an enormous list of conservation groups in South Carolina, and you’re sure to find an organization that’s right up your alley.
  • Go Bird Watching—Charleston has a large and active bird watching community. This is hardly surprising, given the roughly 300 species of birds in Charleston County alone. You don’t need to look far for bird watching opportunities. From Folly Beach County Park to the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, bird lovers will have no trouble finding a place to cozy up with their binoculars. Don’t forget to check out the Center For Birds of Prey for fascinating flight demonstrations and educational programs!

Get Active with Outdoor Sports

Looking for a way to work off Charleston’s savory, Lowcountry cuisine? With its many unspoiled waterways, nature trails, parks and playgrounds, Charleston offers plenty of ways to get your heart rate up all year long. Here are a few of the most popular outdoor activities in the Lowcountry:

  • Surfing—Charleston boasts a huge surfing community and hosts several big surfing events each year which include both shortboard and longboard. Along with friendly surf competitions, many surfing groups and organizations seek to raise money through their competitions to benefit water-related non-profit organizations to keep oceans healthy and safe for all.
  • Kiteboarding—On any given day, you’re likely to spot more than a few kiteboarders zipping through the water and doing flips in the air. If you’re a newcomer to the sport, take a few tips from Holy City Kiteboarding and get in the water for a thrilling afternoon.
  • Paddling—The Holy City is truly a paddler’s paradise. With so many diverse waterways to paddle upon, it’s no wonder that Charleston is home to the East Coast Paddlesports Symposium—one of the biggest and best paddlesport festivals in the region.
  • Golfing—Golf enthusiasts will have no problem finding a place to tee off in Charleston. Daniel Island is home to two PGA golf courses, while Mount Pleasant boasts an Arnold Palmer signature golf course, the only one in all of Charleston.
  • Trail Walking, Running and Hiking—It takes no special skill to get out and walk a trail, and fortunately, Charleston has plenty of nature trails to traverse. From hiking Awendaw Passage to strolling along the West Ashley Greenway, there are plenty of trails to get your daily dose of nature. Want to combine nature and history? Take a stroll through one of Charleston’s gorgeous plantations and learn more about botany, husbandry, as well as the plantation’s historical and cultural significance.
  • Biking—With a mild climate year-round, Charleston is a great place for a pleasant bike ride around the city. The city is also home to a strong cycling community and numerous recreational bike clubs.

This is just a small taste of the outdoor recreation opportunities in Charleston that sports-minded individuals can enjoy. Spend some time with the locals, and you’ll soon be exposed to a variety of interesting outdoor hobbies and recreational pursuits that may tickle your fancy.

Take a Stroll Along Charleston’s Beautiful Beaches

When it comes to exploring the Lowcountry’s great outdoors, you definitely don’t want to miss out on Charleston’s breathtaking beaches. From taking romantic strolls on Sullivan’s Island to catching waves and relaxing on Folly Beach, Charleston’s beaches are just waiting to be explored.

  • Folly Beach—One of the most popular beaches in Charleston, Folly Beach has helped many families make lasting memories with its abundance of outdoor recreational activities. Laid-back and slower-paced, surfers can catch a wave in its dolphin-filled waters before grabbing a hearty breakfast at Lost Dog Café. Once summer rolls around, families enjoy booking a Folly Beach vacation rental to spend quality time on “Charleston’s Beach Town.”
  • Isle of Palms—An idyllic coastal town, Isle of Palms offers a relaxing, yet fun atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. In addition to its beautiful, white-sand beaches and typical beach activities (surfing, shell-hunting, etc.), IOP is home to a large turtle population. It also offers numerous eco tours that allow guests to view dolphins at sunset or venture to Capers Island, an undeveloped barrier island just north of Charleston.
  • Sullivan’s Island—Don’t appreciate the crowds at Folly or IOP? Check out the quiet shores of Sullivan Island instead. The quiet and quaint atmosphere on Sullivan’s Island makes it perfect for romantic walks along the beach, while its strong winds and occasional swell make it ideal for kiteboarders and surfers.
  • Kiawah Island—If the sound of award-winning recreational activities and top-notch golf courses sound appealing to you, be sure to check out Kiawah Island. Golf enthusiasts flock to this unique barrier island for its PGA Championship Gold and world-class amenities. To top things off, Kiawah Island is well known for its sustainability and commitment to the environment. Along with many outdoor recreational opportunities, the island boasts numerous nature programs and conservancy efforts to preserve Kiawah’s natural beauty.

Make a Splash with Water-Related Activities

If you don’t get out on the water, you’re missing half the experience of Charleston’s great outdoors. In addition to the water activities we’ve already mentioned, here are other ways to explore the Lowcountry’s plentiful waterways:

  • Paddleboard—Kayaking and canoeing along the city’s waterways and hearing dolphins come up for air beside you is a truly remarkable experience. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and weave through brackish waters, blackwater swamps, creeks and rivers teeming with wildlife.
  • Dragon Boat Racing—It takes incredible mental and physical power to propel a massive boat through the water. Even if you don’t partake in dragon boat racing yourself, Charleston’s Dragon Boat Festival is something you don’t want to miss!
  • Crabbing—Ready to give crabbing a try? Head to Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, S.C. and give it a shot. Be sure that you’re familiar with the rules first and to get your crabbing license in advance. Once you’ve got that taken care of, drop a line and plan to spend a relaxing day on the water.
  • Fishing—If you’re looking to relax with a fishing pole in hand, Charleston won’t disappoint. King Mackerel, Amberjack and Bull Redfish are all prevalent in the coastal waters, and there are plenty of helpful guides who will take you out on the water to reel in your first big catch of the day.
  • Water Fountains—Need something for the kiddos to do? There are free water fountains scattered around Charleston that are perfect for the kids. Visit the Waterfront Park for a variety of fun fountains that will help everyone cool off during the summer.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Charleston, S.C.

Breathtaking beauty and natural wonder are mere minutes from downtown Charleston, and yet, many don’t take advantage of what awaits them just beyond city limits. Don’t let the Lowcountry’s stunning beauty pass you by! From aquatic experiences to relaxing on the beach with a book in hand, there is something for every outdoor enthusiast to enjoy.

Beating the Heat on Charleston’s Waterways

10 Ways to Get on the Water in the Holy City, Part One

There are so many ways to take advantage of Charleston’s waterways, and the end of August is a good time. From cruising to Bulls Island via ferry to paddling to a remote island via kayak, the adventures are many. We’ve compiled a list so good we’re breaking it up into two posts, so check back next month for the next installment and start planning your next adventure.

Charleston Waterways, Schooner Pride

Photo: Insta User @schoonerpridecharleston

Tall Ship Sunset Cruise
Mingle with dolphins, pelicans, and gulls aboard the only three-sail tall ship in Charleston! Schooner Pride sails during the day, daily, but we recommend the sunset cruise to really beat the Holy City heat and take in the view of downtown with a magnificent backdrop of the multi-colored skies. Board at the Aquarium Wharf and float past the Battery, Fort Sumter, the USS Yorktown and Castle Pinckney.

Charleston Waterways, Coastal Expeditions

Photo: Insta User @coastalexpeditions

Bulls Island Ferry
Boarding on the Isle of Palms, the Bulls Island Ferry is a naturalist-guided tour through the estuary to Bulls Island, where you have a chance to explore some 16 miles of trails and seven miles of undeveloped shoreline to discover bald eagles, dolphins, alligators, bobcats, otters, and more across the 66,000-acre Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Sound like your cup of tea? Check out for more info and to book your tickets. PS: Coastal Expeditions was named Best Coastal Detour by Southern Living.

Charleston Waterways, @natureadventureschs

Photo: Insta User @natureadventureschs

Overnight Expedition
Kayak Charleston SC takes the kayaking tour of the Lowcountry a step further by leading overnight black water and saltwater expeditions. For the black water expedition, for example, kayakers work their way down the Santee River, exploring canals, black water creeks, brackish water marshes, and fresh water islands along the way and camp out on an island or riverbank. Expect to see bald eagles, sallow-tailed kites, hawks, wetland birds, alligators, river otter, deer, wild boar, and more while absorbing the surreal history of waters once paddled by the Santee Indians.

Charleston Waterways, @chasharbortours

Photo: Insta User @chasharbortours

Jam on the Water
There are plenty of great harbor tours out there, but this one‘s a little more rock ‘n’ roll than most. Jam on the Water features local bands taking on the catalogs of legendary acts, like Led Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. It runs on various Friday evenings throughout the summer and fall, with the final show with 54 Bicycles performing songs by Widespread Panic, happening on Fri. Nov. 17, 2017. Board the Carolina Queen at the City Marina on Lockwood Drive at 6:30, grab a Sweetwater brew, and sail from 7 until 9 p.m.

Charleston Waterways, Charleston SUP Safaris

Photo: Insta User @charlestonsupsafaris

No matter how you slice it, paddleboarding is one of the coolest ways to explore Charleston’s waterways. There are several places that do tours, and you can rent out paddleboards should you want to be the master of your own destiny. Charleston SUP Safaris lets you rent a board for a few hours or several days if needed, or they’ll lead you on a two-hour marsh tour through remote creeks, marsh fields, and saltwater wilderness behind Folly Beach, where they’ll point out local ecosystems, wildlife, and flora. Charleston SUP Safaris was voted #1 Stand Up Paddle Co. by the Charleston City Paper

Charleston has no shortage of amazing waterways, and there is just as much variety in the ways you can enjoy them. Next week we’ll bring you part two, but in the meantime, get on the water this weekend and cool off!

Charleston Sweetgrass Baskets and Weavers

You’ve seen them — African-American women, men, and children sitting on corners of the City Market, or at Saint Michael’s Church on Broad and Meeting streets, or along Highway 17. No matter the season, 100-degree sun be damned, these folks remain steadfastly focused on their craft: sweetgrass baskets.
Sweetgrass baskets
An intricate work of art, the sweetgrass basket is a sought-after piece of memorabilia. Tourists visiting the Lowcountry see the baskets woven before their own eyes and are given a glimpse of the history behind them. It’s impossible to come away thinking these sweet-smelling masterpieces (think fresh hay) are anything less than special.

The History

The sweetgrass basket wasn’t always a piece of art – they were made out of necessity. Today, the folks you see crafting them are Gullah, descendants of slaves taken from West Africa and brought to the coast of South Carolina and Georgia in the 1700s to work on plantations. In addition to free labor, plantation owners gained a wealth of knowledge and skills, such as basketry.

The Materials

So what are the baskets made from? Nowadays, sweetgrass. But the skill was honed in the early days using marsh grass, or also known as bulrush. Using the needly marsh grass, slaves were able to coil extremely sturdy work baskets that came to be known as fanners. Fanners were used in the rice fields for winnowing, the process of tossing hulls about so that the chaff could separate from the rice. Work baskets also held veggies, shellfish, and cotton.

It was in the early 1900s that sweetgrass was employed to weave with, in addition to pine needles and palmetto fronds, which added flexibility and bend to the creations and allowed for more intricate designs, such as loops.

The Evolution of a Basket

You can find sweetgrass grown wild in moist, sandy soils near the sea, hence the aplenty supply in the Lowcountry. In the fall, the grass is a beautiful purple before fading to white.

When it’s time to collect the grass, you simply grab the green grass by the handful, with one foot on the root, and pull it from the ground. Then it’s time to lay the grass out in the sun to dry for three to five days, which is when it shrinks and becomes a more beige color.

Sweetgrass baskets

On average, a good-sized basket takes 10 hours to weave, not including the time it takes to source and dry the materials. The price on a larger piece? About $350, which isn’t a lot considering the labor that went into creating it. You can also find simpler designs for $40, or elaborate ones for thousands. However if you’re really on a budget, you can always also find a sweetgrass rose, which are not only below $5 but also simply gorgeous little works of art — just like the baskets.


To learn more about this incredible tradition passed down through so many generations and to have a chance to weave a basket yourself, follow basket maker Sarah Edwards-Hammond on Facebook. She frequently conducts basket classes for both adults and children.

Where have you spotted sweetgrass weavers in the Lowcountry?

Visiting Dewees Island

Dewees Island - the beach @dunesproperties

Photo credit: Instagram user @dunesproperties (that’s us!)

Dewees Island is a hidden gem located about 11 miles north of Charleston, where some people live and where others, including our fellow Charlestonians, love to visit. And simply put, it is where peace and solitude reign supreme.

On this small, secluded barrier island, there are no paved roads, no cars, no restaurants, and most importantly, no stress. Technology, computer screens, and phones can be ignored for the duration of your stay in favor of outdoor fun and relaxation. It is two-and-a-half miles of pure nature: beaches, dunes, an undisturbed maritime forest — a private paradise.

The homeowners of Dewees, ever aware of the conservation needs and uniqueness of the island, strive to leave the tiniest of footprints. The island is truly among the last of untouched places around, where all is unspoiled by the developed world. Since the island is full of Lowcountry wildlife, and it is not uncommon to share your visit with dolphins, turtles, eagles, and an enormous variety of sea and marsh birds.

Dewees Island morning on the ferry @reggiefairchild

Early morning on the Dewees Island ferry Photo credit: Instagram user @reggiefairchild

The ferry
The island is accessible via a ferry that leaves from 43 41st Street on the Isle of Palms. The ride lasts around 20 minutes, and you must personally know a current Dewees owner in order to board. If you are traveling to the island to look at property for sale, contact our Dewees Island expert Judy Fairchild beforehand to arrange ferry travel.  There are two boats- one smaller and faster, and one a bit larger for holding more people, luggage, groceries, and other deliveries. They decide which one to take based on the number of folks signed up to ride and the amount of stuff that’s going over. The ferry is often escorted by dolphins or a variety of seafaring birds and offers curious views all around. Even if you didn’t have the beauty and adventure of the island waiting for you, the ferry ride alone would be worth it. Be sure to call 30 minutes before leaving the island to make sure you get a spot on a returning boat.

Dewees Island Turtle and Shell @judyondewees

Photo credit: Instagram user @judyondewees

Dewees is a wildlife preserve, so as we said before, you’ll encounter a variety of living creatures. Our resident Dewees Island expert, Judy Fairchild, is a naturalist who loves to show and tell all about Dewees Island, and especially the wildlife. A short cart ride around the island with Judy feels like a master class. It’s not uncommon to see a few baby raccoons, a basking alligator, or perhaps even an otter or bald eagle on a quick jaunt.  While it is truly a thrill to be close to so much undisturbed nature, but there are some critters – like mosquitoes – you’ll want to prepare for in advance. Make sure you pack your bug spray. And, although this should go without saying, don’t feed the wildlife – including those pesky mosquitoes!

Getting around
Once you step off the ferry and onto the tranquil island, don’t be surprised if you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders as your troubles subside. The roads are made of dirt and your only vehicles are your feet, a bike, or a golf cart. If you’re renting through Dewees Rentals, you’ll find a cart clearly marked for you when you exit the ferry.  If you’re visiting friends, do what I do, and hitch a ride on one of their carts and then rely on your own two feet to get you around while exploring  We think the best way to travel the length of the island is by foot on the sandy beach! The paths are clearly marked and the beachwalks extend through the maritime forest all the way to the sand.

What to do on Dewees
Fishing spots abound at Dewees, and there’s even a crabbing dock — but only take what you can eat in a single meal. Remember, conservation is key on Dewees. Other fun outdoor activities include kayaking, golfing, birding, beach walking, swimming, biking and golf carting. Lounging around with a good book is always a good idea, and you’ll find more one perfect spot on Dewees Island.

Dewees Island - the impoundment @deweesrealestate

View over the impoundment Photo credit: Instagram user @deweesrealestate


At every turn, there’s a breathtaking marsh or beach view and there are unparalleled sunrises on the beach and sunsets on the marsh. Views over the Impoundment, the old diked wetlands that can be flooded or drained as necessary, are amazingly serene. The shores are pristine, expansive, and gloriously empty, allowing Dewees to offer an almost private experience unlike any other on the Charleston Coast.

Check out what is currently on the market on Dewees Island or contact Judy Fairchild to talk about making the Dewees dream a reality for you and your family.

Family Visits Equal Falling in Love With Charleston, Again

With all there is to do in Charleston, South Carolina, it’s easy sometimes to just keep from getting overwhelmed and stay home. It can be exhausting deciding from your upteenth favorite restaurants, landmarks, stores, parks, activities, and more! But when the family comes visiting, you have to do some choosing.

When we loaded up the car with my sister and her two teenage sons, I started seeing Charleston through fresh eyes as we drove around. The beautiful points of the Ravenel Bridge among the fluffy clouds and blue sky, the excitement of seeing pelicans roosting or their vertical dive into the water for food, and witnessing a pod of dolphins swimming their way through the wake of a boat. I forget how clear the air is and that you can see for miles from nearly any point. Everywhere we went I remember saying “There’s the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, the flags from Fort Sumter, the Ravenel Bridge, the spire from St. Philip’s Church downtown,” etc.

There is a view from almost every corner of something you want to take a photo of. There is so much American history (my sister put it so eloquently “Man, a lot of stuff happened in Charleston”) and  a feeling of “anything can happen here!” And the simplest, best, and free pleasure here is the beach. The beach kept us all, children and adults, entertained for hours three sunny days straight.

For a week straight I was overwhelmed with awe over all that is contained in this city that is really fairly small. The picture perfect beauty, the different characters walking the streets in the footsteps of history, and just all that Charleston ecompasses. The palmetto trees, the wildlife, the water, and the marshes. So much is here that is not found elsewhere. I guess you can say the same about almost every city, that there is something about it that makes it wonderful. But it’s more than wonderful. Charleston is magical. A gateway where the past, the present and future coexist and inspire.

After a week of eating copious amounts of awesome food, lounging on the beach, driving around  scoping out Army Wives filming locations, going on ghost tours, wandering around the alleys of downtown, visiting historical landmarks and more we were beat. But as my sister and the boys got into their car after a final goodbye, my husband and I thought to ourselves “We really need to do [all of that] more often.” But not after a week of long recuperative naps!

Flower box on Queen St. dowtown

Waterfront Park downtown Charleston  (beautiful on even a stormy day)

Pitt Street bridge park in Mt. Pleasant

-Rebecca Narkiewicz

On the Charleston Coast

If you are on the Charleston Coast, all kinds of beautiful!

Charleston Working to Improve Colonial Lake

Colonial Lake in Downtown Charleston has been written about time and again and enjoyed by many.  It’s a place for fishing, festivals, kayaking (once a year), birds, walkers, joggers, baby strollers, the old and the young.  That’s why I was pleased to read recently that Charleston has plans to improve the park.

As reported by The Post and Courier, the immediate plans include restoring the quality of the water.  They will then be restoring the seawalls and walking paths, adding flower beds, and planting more than 90 trees.  What beautiful and exciting improvements these will be.  Below is a link to further explain what the city will be doing.

Charleston Working to Improve Colonial Lake

Here are just a few beautiful shots taken.

Colonial Lake Charleston, SC dunes properties  Colonial Lake Charleston, SC dunes properties

Colonial Lake Charleston, SC dunes properties  Colonial Lake Charleston, SC dunes properties

Historic Plantations In South Carolina

Did you know that South Carolina still has plantations? A plantation by definition is an estate on which crops such as coffee, sugar, and tobacco are cultivated by resident labor, or usually a large farm in tropical or semitropical climates. Plantations were developed and established long before the Civil War and are still around.

In today’s society plantations exist for many different purposes. Most are simply residential, used as family houses, vacation homes, or converted into inns for guests and visitors to reside. A few are open to the public as historic sites, used for tours, event use such as weddings or formal affairs, and in a few rare cases, some have petting zoos.

A handful of these plantations, however, are still functional today producing fruits and vegetables instead of the cotton or tobacco that helped shape their purpose hundreds of years ago. Original slave houses still stand on several plantations and offer a vast amount of history to those willing to learn.

Harriet McLeod, of the Chicago Tribune explains that finding buyers for these “antebellum plantations that one grew the indigo, rice and cotton that made South Carolina rich can prove quite the challenge.” In fact, ten plantations are up for sale in South Carolina according to Heavy with history from colonial times through the Civil War,these Southern plantations were almost impossible to maintain without slave labor and most have fallen to decay.

As in the past, South Carolina looks to the North for help. ChipHall, real estate broker, claims, “An infusion of ‘Yankee money’ after the Civil War saved and preserved many historic Southern plantation houses and land.” His assumptions about Northern help are correct as most modern buyers do indeed come from the Eastern and Northern areas of the country.

Max “Macky” Hill III, whose family has owned Middleburg Plantation (built in 1697) for more than 30 years supposes that recent plantation buyers are looking for an investment, an area to hunt, or just a family vacation home. “Some are looking for the rarity of a surviving period house as if it were agigantic piece of antique furniture,” he said.

Plantations do cost at least $500,000 a year to maintain and those that are open to the public must charge an entrance fee to help maintain the property. It is normally a reasonable price to pay and well worth the history and experience. Four of the largest functioning plantations open to the public are Boone Hall, Magnolia, Drayton Hall and Middleton Place.

Boone Hall Plantation, located in Charleston County, is open daily for tours, special events, school field trips, and U-Pick season, where visitors can pick their own fruits and vegetables that the plantation produces. Their tour times and prices can be viewed at their website, and tickets purchased ahead of timeonline if desired.

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, founded in 1676, is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in America. This diverse property houses varieties of gardens, the plantation home, a nature train, boat tours, standing slave houses, a petting zoo and hold several weddings and events a season. Admission and tour costs can be found on their website with all children 6 and under free.

Drayton Hall Plantation is a historic home located in Charleston Countypreserved since its building in 1738 by the Drayton family. It is the oldest surviving example of Georgian Palladian architecture in the United States and remains close to its original condition today. Tours include the main house with readings from diary entries and photos of the family, an African American history with a walk through the cemetery on the grounds, and toursof the land and creeks that run through it. Prices are available on the website.

Middleton Place is 65 acres of gardens with something in bloom all year round, a house museum that was built in 1755 that still holds the family’s possessions, and plantation stableyards where costumed interpreters demonstrate life on a Lowcountry rice plantation. Special events are held regularly in the mansionand around the gardens, self-guided tours are available along with general tours and a restaurant is located on the grounds and open to all. Guests are also welcome to stay at the inn in one of the 55 spacious rooms. Tickets and admission information are available at the plantation’s website.

Whether you come to South Carolina to buy, stay in, or simply visit a historic plantation, it will be an experience you will never forget!

– Amanda Graham

Take a Hike!

It seems every other day Charleston, SC shows up in some travel article’s top something or other list.   This time it’s USA Today’s and their 51 Great Places to Hike feature.  Local treasure Magnolia Plantation is featured as a place to hike in South Carolina.

About Magnolia Plantation USA Today says “Hiking boardwalks through eerie cypress swamps is not your typical walk in the woods. But Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is a journey through South Carolina history in a heavenly setting.”

The Plantation was founded in 1697 and is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in America, having opened their doors to the public in 1870.  They’ve won several awards for their restoration and  preservation of former slave cabins located on the grounds.

It’s hard to be partial when there is so much beauty, education, history and importance in all of the area’s plantations. But if a family can only visit one, I usually would recommend Magnolia.  From the Audobon Swam Garden , the petting zoo and nature center and a miniature horse ranch (I am a sucker for the  animals), a nature train tour, a boat tour, a house tour- they’ve got it all to the keep the young and old alike equally entertained.

I once spent a good hour stationed in one spot in the swamp garden watching an alligator. Living in the Lowcountry has definitely made me even more aware of the awesomeness of nature than I was before.

What’s Your Favorite Local Blog, Charleston?

While reading Kristin Walker’s blog last night I just thought of all the most excellent blogs out there in the internet world.  What a wonderful way to meet people you would never otherwise, to learn about other places, and you can even learn about where you live.  In this fast pace, quick bite (byte) world of internet communicating with Twitter, Facebook- sometimes you just want to actually read something with substance and emotion.   These are a few of my favorite local bloggers/websites who feature articles about Charleston and other things as well.

Eat Well Charleston by Melissa Ohlson who is  a registered dietician and all about cardiovascular health and feeding her two sons and husband healthy family meals. She shares recipes, tips, healthy choices at area restaurants and more.

The Digitel – All about Charleston- what is going on and what you should be doing.  An easy to follow and eye catching format.  Hip, cool and all that jazz. A little more than a blog but still. And readers can plant “seeds” and start their own stories.  Truly a community site.

Read Charlie– Art, fashion, music, etc. If it’s social, if it’s happening- it’s on Charlie.

Seersucker & Stilettos – Mostly devoted to fashion and shops- great pictures and recommendations. You’ll  probably find a little shop you never heard of before.

The Party Scene – This is the photo equivalent of a social calendar- but after the events have occurred.  It’s just fun to look through their pictures- you always end up seeing someone you know and  regretting you opted to not go to a certain event because it just looked so beautiful and fun afterthefact.

And finally….

Two Doors Down is a newly created blog by Kari Kim and Liz Ryan to share tips on living locally and simply.  Although it is just starting out, it already includes some wonderful posts and promises to be one to read daily.  The ladies spotlight local artisans, offer reading suggestions, recipes, organizational and decorating tips, and give some serious love to worthy local businesses. We suggest you subscribe!

How about you? What are we missing? What’s your favorite local blog?