After we had our breakfast at the Holiday Inn, we decided it was time to hit the road and visit a plantation. We had narrowed our choices down to three – Magnolia, Middleton Place and Drayton. It was difficult to narrow down which one we wanted to pay to visit but we finally chose Middleton Place. Nevertheless, we wanted to stop in and see what we could of the other two plantations. We first arrived at the closed gate of Drayton. It was a beautiful entrance and the historical signage gave us some background:
With the gate closed, we drove down a little further to Magnolia Plantation. We would have paid to visit this plantation but it had no period furniture in the plantation.
We were able to park, walk around, see the dazzling azaleas in full bloom.
We were also able to see, from a distance, the manor home. On the grounds is the Audubon Swamp Garden, which we didn’t visit. If we had more time, we would have walked through the Swamp Garden.
We continued down the road to Middleton Place:
We opted to purchase admission to the grounds ($24), a horse drawn carriage ride and commentary ($16) and admission to the home with a guided tour ($15). As soon as our tickets were purchased, we went over to wait for our carriage ride. You are assigned times and we had a wait of about 15 minutes. We enjoyed getting an overview of the lands and gardens and hearing some of the history of the plantation. When that was over, it was lunch time. We chose to eat at their restaurant. The choices were either their buffet ($18) or choices of salads. We both chose the buffet and it was a very good choice, one we kept thinking about for a few days. They served fried chicken, corn casserole, squash casserole, hopping johns, fresh salad with homemade salad dressing and a few more items that I have forgotten. The chicken was lightly floured and not greasy and it was totally prepared on site.
The house was furnished in period furnishings, many from the family. This home has survived three major hurricanes in three different centuries, close to the epicenter of the famous earthquake of 1886 as well as being the staging grounds for both the northern and southern armies during the Civil War. There are rice fields (different from rice paddies) on this property and we learned what hard work it was – much more difficult than any other work that was done on plantations.
The tour guides were so knowledgeable that they added immensely to our time at Middleton. All in all we had a great time there but now it was time to drive in Charleston and find our hotel, Embassy Suites.
Took us less than thirty minutes to make the drive. The hotel is in the block next to the Visitors Center, which for us, was a great location. It was also a pinkish-coral color hotel and the former site of the Citadel, which explains its architecture.
The service was outstanding. As soon as we pulled up in our car, a bellman was there to unpack our car as well as to valet park it. We were in awe of the central atrium within the hotel. It seems as though the rooms are in a ring around the atrium – we didn’t see any hallway although I am sure there were probably a few rooms that were in a hallway.
Unfortunately for me, the room didn’t live up to the usual Embassy Suites that I have stayed in. The bedroom had two queen size beds and they were basically against the wall. Our room had two windows but with the architecture, only one window had a view and since there was only a few inches between the bed and the window, we could never enjoy the view. The furnishings appeared to be dated though that didn’t prevent us from having a good nights sleep. In the atrium, there were beautiful fountains, couches and chairs and had a very open feeling. When I go again, I might look at the Hampton Inn or the Marriott and compare them to the Embassy Suites.
Next blog – carriage ride, harbor cruise, city market, dinner