Any architecture buff will love Charleston.  There has been a major historic preservation effort in Charleston, and there are many fine examples of colonial architecture remaining in this city alive with history.  A number of excellent walking tours are offered, or you can simply explore on your own.  Notable spots include "Rainbow Row,"  Nathaniel Russell House, Aiken-Rhett House, and the Heyward Washington House.

A book that is a wealth of information about many of Charleston's houses – private homes as well as those open to the public. is “Charleston, South Carolina: A Historic Walking Tour”.  Walking tours, whether guided or self-guided, are the best way to see this city as you can peek through gates and around corners to learn a little more about the Holy City (Charleston is called the Holy City because there are more than 100 houses of worship on the peninsula alone).  Here’s a tip: it's a myth that if the gate to a garden is open, you are welcome to come in and stroll around.

 There are several large plantation houses within an easy drive of Charleston as well, including Drayton Hall ,   Middleton Place, Boone Hall, and Magnolia Plantation.  Each is unique in its own way.


Drayton Hall is a favorite destination as the house is has been preserved rather than restored.  The house has been kept in its original state (for the most part) with no furnishing, electricity or plumbing - only fire safety features have been wired into this charming old plantation home.   Drayton Hall is part of The National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Mr. Drayton kept an extensive diary of the daily accounts of the plantation and there is also a lot of information from archeological digs, however, one of the major advantages that Drayton Hall has over some of the other plantations is they also have personal accounts from the grandson of a former slave.  The Draytons, like many plantation owners, hired their freed slaves and provided housing for them.  This freed slave stayed on the plantation with his son until his death.  His grandson left for a while and them came back and told the folks at The National Trust that “ I grew up around here and would love to work here.” He was the plantation’s gate keep for years and helped the archeologists in their digs and answered many of their questions.  A definite must see!

Middleton Place is an enormous piece of property near Drayton Hall and Magnolia Plantation.  A unique feature of Middleton is that you can purchase plants in the nursery on the property.  The grounds are beautiful and there is a nice walking trail with sites marked alonog the way.  One can expect to see alligators in the ponds or shunning themselves on the banks, and for an additional fee one can take a tour of the home.  Though the original home was severely damaged, a decendent of the Middletons decided long ago that it was too important to let go to rubble, and restored the home.  In the home hang original paintings that were taken out of their frames and rolled up and hidden away as the war erupted.   

Magnolia Plantation is a site for the nature buff.  There are several gardens, some large and some small, with hidden courtyards with statues, herb gardens, etc.  Part of the gardens flow along the river, and there is a riverboat ride that can be taken from the boat landing.  A petting zoo is available with various pigs, deer, ducks, etc. and some snakes are available for viewing in a separate "hut" within the petting zoo.  In yet another part of Magnolia Plantation there is a swamp tour - a boardwalk winds through the swamp and provides beautiful scenery and nature.

Boone Hall, which is in Mount Pleasant, has one of the most photographed lane of old oaks anywhere in the country.  Many scenes from major motion pictures were filmed here.  The house is a 1936 romantic interpretation of a plantation house, but you will see original slave cabins, a butterfly garden, and a restaurant.  Boone Hall is the site of many annual events, the largest of which is the Lowcountry Oyster Festival.