While planning our Charleston trip, many people recommended that we visit one of the historic plantations around the city. Since Mr. Q and I love learning about history, I started researching the different options. The most visited plantations seem to be Middleton Place, which boasts 65 acres of landscaped gardens, a house built in 1755, and costumed interpreters, Magnolia Plantation, which features a house tour, America's largest Romantic-style garden, and an Audubon Swamp Garden, Drayton Hall, preserved by the National Trust, and Boone Hall, which is still a working farm. Want to hear my educated, intelligent, sophisticated reason for choosing Boone Hall as our destination?
It was used as Allie's family's summer home in The Notebook.
Not only is Boone Hall still a working farm, the owners, the McRae family, also own and operate a Farm Market and cafe on Route 17 near the plantation. We planned to visit the cafe for brunch before touring the plantation, and were so impressed by how clean and cozy the market and cafe were. I chose the signature sandwich and most Southern thing on the menu, a crab and pimento cheese melt with fried green tomatoes on whole wheat bread served with homemade kettle chips. Mr. Q had the barbecue sandwich, which he said was great, but I don't think you can beat the combo of shredded crab meat, spicy pimento cheese, and a fried green tomato with a glass of sweet tea!
Dressing for the heat at Boone Hall in my LOFT palm print tee (similar),
basic denim bermudas, my Old Navy bucket bag (similar), BareTraps
The Avenue of Oaks, planted in 1743 by Major John Boone's son, was the inspiration for the road to Twelve Oaks in Gone With the Wind. Driving down this famous road really was a dreamy experience.
A list of all available activities for the day is posted at the plantation's entrance gate and there is a radio station visitors can tune to. It was nice to hear some introductory information as we drove down the Avenue of Oaks to the parking lot. We visited the Hospitality Center first, where a staff member signed us up for a 12:30 house tour and pointed out that a presentation about African-American Gullah culture, unique to the Lowcountry, begin at 1:15. We headed up to the house for our tour - right through the gate Ryan Gosling crashed his car into as Noah Calhoun!
We toured the gardens before our house tour, which was led by a very knowledgeable guide in period costume. Although the house is not the original plantation house, it was constructed to help visitors learn about life in a planter family's house in Charleston during the the pre-Civil War period and the McRae family have been hosting tours since the 1950's. Since the house is still a private residence, only the first floor is open to the public and photography is not allowed indoors. The tour included the library, dining room, patio, and gun room, and our guide was a delightful young lady.
After our house tour, we toured the original slave cabins on the property -- there was a brickworks on the grounds so the nine "cabins" are actually brick houses -- and attended the Gullah Culture presentation. I appreciated that Boone Hall does not gloss over the history of slavery and that the slaves' stories are actually told by their descendants.
Afterward, we visited the polo ponies in their paddock, then headed over to the Butterfly Pavilion to see the flowers and butterflies and to board the motorized carriage for a tour of the Plantation and farm. Although at times the carriage tour felt like an extended commercial (Eat Boone Hall Farms produce! Visit the Boone Hall Farms Restaurant! Come in October for the corn maze! Have your wedding here!), we learned quite a bit about South Carolina history and agriculture.
The property is beautifully maintained, even the farm fields, and the staff is very helpful and friendly. We really enjoyed our visit to Boone Hall Plantation.
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