Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: November 2021

Charleston is located in South Carolina on a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. It is reputed to be one of the most charming and romantic cities in the United States. It is known for its historic houses, plantations, moss-draped trees, cobblestone streets and ocean views.

Since we had another ambitious day planned, we woke up bright and early to make the most of the nice weather. We arrived at Middleton Place shortly after opening at 9a.m. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark and is home to the oldest landscaped garden in North America. It also has a unique history in that it remained under the same family stewardship for over 300 years.

Many of the Middletons played an important role in American history. Henry Middleton signed the Continental Association and was elected the second president in the First Continental Congress; Arthur Middleton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; the second Henry Middleton was Governor of South Carolina and Minister to Russia; and William Middleton was a signer of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession.

Since we had some time to kill before our tour of the Middleton Place House Museum, we took a short stroll through part of the grounds, passing the Reflection Pool, Butterfly Lakes, Mill Pond, Plantation Chapel and the Mill. The gardens were mostly empty at this time so we enjoyed the peace and quiet.

The estate once had three buildings, but during the Civil War, two of them, including the manor were destroyed. The south flanker was spared. It was built in 1755 and initially served as a gentleman’s guest wing and a business office. Today it is used for tours to showcase the rare Middleton family owned furniture, silver, porcelain, paintings, books and historic documents.

The house tour was semi-guided and there are two floors to explore the Middleton artifacts. There was a guide on each floor that gave a brief history of the estate, Middleton family and the enslaved Africans and African Americans who lived and worked here. We were then free to explore the rooms at our own pace.

After the tour, we explored the ruins of the main house and north flanker. We then strolled through the remainder of the gardens and visited the enclosed flooded rice field, which is located near the Ashley River, and the Stableyard.

Middleton Place also offers a number of talks and tours that look back in time to tell the stories of the estate and the people who lived and worked there. We attended one about the enslavement at Middleton Place.

After eating a quick lunch, we drove to the Boone Hall Plantation. It was founded in 1681 and is one of the oldest working plantations in the United States. For over three centuries, the plantation has been growing agricultural crops, including pecan trees. A few films have also been made at Boone Hall, most notably the Notebook.

One of the main features of the grounds is the Avenue of Oaks. The live oaks were first planted in 1743 and completed in 1843. There are 88 live oak trees in total that were planted in two evenly spaced rows for three quarters of a mile along the entrance of the plantation.

Entrance into Boone Hall also included a 25 minute tour of the main floor of the house. Our guide provided more information about the history of the plantation and the mansion that currently exists today. Unlike the Middleton Place, Boone Hall has changed ownership a few times throughout the years and the original house was torn down, rebuilt and renovated.

We then strolled through the gardens and grounds. There are a few historic structures on the estate, including the brick slave cabins, a brick smokehouse (which is the oldest building at Boone Hall) and the Cotton Gin House.

Boone Hall also offers a series of other talks and self-guided tours. We attended the John Boone and the Owners of Boone Hall History Talk to learn more about the families that have owned Boone Hall from its founding in 1681 to today.

Afterwards we drove to the historic downtown of Charleston and walked around. We parked near the Waterfront Park, which stretches 1,000 feet along the shoreline. Besides the nice views of the ocean, the most notable feature of the park is the Pineapple Fountain.

We continued to walk along the waterfront and followed the Battery, a defensive seawall and promenade that spans across the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula. We had views of the ocean on one side and views of historic homes on the other side.

We then strolled through White Point Garden, which is located at the tip of the peninsula. There were a number of military themed moments, memorials and structures scattered throughout the garden and along the path.

We continued meandering through the cobblestoned streets to admire many of the historic houses in downtown Charleston.

On the drive out of the city we made one last detour to visit the Angel Oak Tree, which is estimated to be 400 to 500 years old and is the oldest Southern live oak tree. By the time we arrived, the park was closed for the day. We instead peaked through the fence to see the tree and all its huge branches that were twisting and turning in every direction.

After taking a few pictures, we hopped back in the car and drove to Savannah. 


71 thoughts on “Charleston

  1. kagould17 says:

    Great post Linda. I have always wanted to visit this area. So genteel and refined on the surface, but with an undertone. Wonderful old buildings and some magnificent trees. Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday. ALlan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks, Allan. Charleston was an interesting place to visit with so much history and a complicated past. I was obsessed with those mossy oak trees. They are so beautiful. Take care. Linda

  2. wetanddustyroads says:

    Wow, love that photo of the big old tree in the garden at the beginning of your post! Not even to mention the Avenue of Oaks – stunning! And wow, what a beautiful sight is the Pineapple Fountain. It is just fitting to end with yet another big old tree – lovely post Linda!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I still can’t get over all those tall oak trees draped in moss. They looked like straight out of a fairy tale. The Pineapple Fountain was very nicely designed and it’s considered the focal point of the Charleston Waterfront Park. It’s apparently known as a symbol of hospitality.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed. It was interesting to see how (or whether) the plantations that we visited addressed their past. Those southern live oak trees look enchanting with all the moss draped everywhere. I couldn’t keep my eyes (or camera) off them.

  3. salsaworldtraveler says:

    Love the photo of the lane lined with huge oak trees draped in moss with the sun peeking through. I hope you were able to try some low-country cooking. Charleston has some amazing restaurants.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The Avenue of Oaks was gorgeous and I can see why it’s a popular spot to hold weddings. We unfortunately didn’t eat out too much during our road trip through the US since we were still concerned about COVID. We didn’t want to take any chances and risk having to quarantine here for an additional two weeks.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Charleston was such an amazing place to visit with all its historic buildings and beautiful mossy oak trees. There sure is a lot of history here, good and bad, but it was interesting to take it all in.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      A few people have commented on how the food was amazing. It sounds like we missed out. We didn’t really eat out during our road trip as we were still concerned about COVID. We didn’t want to risk having to quarantine here for another two weeks. I have a feeling we’ll be back someday though.

  4. Third Culture Kid says:

    I admit, even though there is some stuff in Southern States celebrating racist history, I have to admit, it is still worth seeing. That’s one thing I hope to explore when I go see the eclipse in 2024

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s important to learn about our past, even the bad stuff, otherwise how else will we learn. It was interesting to see how or even the extent to which some of the plantations addressed their history of slavery. Some did a better job than others.

      • Third Culture Kid says:

        That’s so true! Have you read the book In The Shadow of Statues? It examines closely the signifcance of these Confederate statues on the Black population. Of course, I understand why Black and Indigenous people are defacing or ripping down statues of oppressors. But at the same time, there is too much of a celebration of oppression, like people having weddings at former plantations. Those places should be museums, not event centres

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. Charleston is very charming, but has a dark past. It was interesting to visit some of the different plantations and to see the extent to which this was incorporated into their talks and tours. Some did a better job of it than others, but there’s always room for improvement. Thanks for reading. Take care. Linda

  5. leightontravels says:

    A wonderful post, Linda. Charleston is a place I would very much like to visit. Love your descriptions of the city, but the trees really capture my imagination in this post. From the tree that drapes over the small building at Middleton Place to the majestic Avenue of Oaks and that beautiful ancient oak at the end.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Those southern live oak trees were very captivating with all their long twisting branches draped in moss. I couldn’t keep my eyes (or camera) off them. They really are beautiful trees.

  6. Ab says:

    What a wonderful day you all had and enjoyed together! Charleston has never even registered on my radar as a place to visit but I enjoyed seeing all the charming photos and learning about the history.

    The House Museum and grounds were lovely and it looks like you had a gorgeous day for a tour.

    Did you and K recreate the rainfall scene from The Notebook at Boone Hall? πŸ˜†

    The Oak Angel Tree is awesome. Makes you wonder how much more beautiful our world can be if we just let nature grow uninterrupted by nature.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Charleston is very charming and there’s a lot to take in and learn about. I wish we could have stayed for another day. Maybe then we could have recreated that scene from the Notebook. I guess we would also have needed some rain too.

      Agreed, it is pretty amazing to see what the landscape looks like when left alone and how big some of the trees can get. If only we would stop cutting them all down or paving everything over!

  7. Lookoom says:

    What a blue sky, it makes me envious, great for pictures! I passed through Charleston without having the time to visit the Great Houses around, but they are interesting for their grandeur and the reminder of the history of the last centuries. Thank you for the presentation. I had more time to visit the plantations in Louisiana which seem to have a similar historical background.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had fabulous weather when visiting Charleston. It was a little chilly outside, which was great for walking around. It was interesting to visit a couple of the plantations to learn more about their history. It was also nice to stroll through the grounds and gardens and admire the different types of trees and plants that grow down south. I haven’t visited Louisiana yet, but it’s on my (neverending) list.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      A few people have mentioned that the food in Charleston is fantastic. I feel like we really missed out. Travel restrictions were still in place in Canada and we were concerned about getting COVID and having to quarantine here for an additional two weeks, so we didn’t take any chances with eating out. I guess this means that we’ll just have to return!

  8. Bama says:

    The entire Middleton Place compound looks so serene and beautiful. I could almost feel gentle breezes on my face when I looked at those hanging mosses gently blown by the wind.

    I watched the Notebook but didn’t realize that it was filmed at Boone Hall. Such a picturesque place! And the Avenue of Oaks does look impressive. I can imagine myself walking down that long straight road on a clear day like the day you went. It must be really nice.

    Charleston really looks like a very charming place.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The nice thing about visiting in the offseason was that we mostly had Middleton Place and Boone Hall all to ourselves. And it was such a lovely day to just stroll through the grounds and admire all the large live oak trees. All the moss hanging from the branches was very enchanting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s too bad that we couldn’t see the gardens in their full glory when all the flowers are blooming, but the real advantage of visiting in the offseason was that we had the place mostly all to ourselves.

  9. ourcrossings says:

    Wow, what a lovely place to visit, Linda πŸ™‚ Waterfront Park looks particularly scenic with its unique water fountain, but I am more in awe of its trees! One of the reasons why I would love to visit Charleston is to see the famous Angel Oak Tree and Edisto Island Tree Tunnel. Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It was neat to wander around Charleston and to see how different the trees and plants are from back home in Canada. The southern live oak trees were mesmerizing and looked so enchanting with all the moss. The Angel Oak Tree is very impressive. I loved how there are even supports built to help hold up some of large branches. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend. Linda

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We pretty much planned our road trip around visiting Charleston and Savannah. We were lucky and had fabulous weather and (finally) no rain!! It always helps to have blues skies and sun when spending time outdoors. Charleston was definitely a lot of fun.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Lovely post and the oaks! We have areas around here with live oaks and they fascinate me. I really enjoyed your oldest southern oak tree photo even if it was from the fence.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’d say Charleston lived up to its reputation for being one of the most charming cities in the US. The mossy oak trees looked very enchanting and straight out of a fairy tale. We had a wonderful day (and weather) for exploring the area.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The oak trees were incredibly beautiful. I had mixed feelings about visiting the plantations, but figured it was part of the city’s history and it shouldn’t be forgotten. It was interesting to see the approach they took with dealing with their past. Some did a better job than others.

  11. rkrontheroad says:

    My son lived there for a few years and I never did visit the plantations. You made a deep dive into the history of the area and I commend you for it. The historic houses are so lovely though, and I loved the weeping trees.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      One of my favourite things about Charleston was just strolling downtown and seeing all the historic houses and mossy oak trees. It was very picturesque. We had mixed feelings about visiting some of the plantations, but thought we should give it a whirl since they are a part of Charleston’s history and it could be used as a good learning opportunity. Some did a better job of acknowledging their past than others.

  12. BrittnyLee says:

    I absolutely love refection pools. We went to a place in Virginia called Williamsburg to stay. It was so peaceful. The katydids were so loud when we walked at night. They were drowning out all other sounds. It was so nice. It was hot but not super humid, except the last night we were there . I would definitely recommend visiting there πŸ™‚

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I just looked up some pictures of Williamsburg, Virginia and it looks very charming with all the historic buildings. I can see why you found it peaceful. I’ll have to add this to the list for the next time we’re in the area.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        It’s definitely worth it . You’ll love it. W got lucky because we happened to see the cicadas coming out of their shell, too. That’s a rarity. πŸ™‚ You would love the little shops too.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Sounds like the timing of your trip worked out perfectly. That’s neat that you even got to see the cicadas coming out of their shell. Talk about a unique experience.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        Right ?! At the time, I didn’t have my camera or phone on me because they were charging. I would’ve taken pictures for sure . It’s beautiful watching things come to life or out of their shell. Both πŸ™‚ I love insects, particularly the noise making ones. I don’t like pest insects though, like mosquitos and fleas and such.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure. That’s too bad that you didn’t have your camera with you, but at the same time, it must have been nice to see it in person rather than behind the lense of your camera. I know I’m guilty of doing that too much and forget to just be in the moment and appreciate what I’m actually seeing.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        Yes!! That’s very true !! I’ve been guilty of that, too. That’s why I try not to record too much at concerts so I could be in the moment . It’s so much better . When I went to see Billie Eilish and Florence and the Machine, I cried so much because both shows made me feel so happy and weightless. I barely recorded anything. I was just enjoying the vibe and music. It’s hard when you love to take photos to stop yourself. I’m like that a lot on walks. It drives my poor brother nuts haha 🀣 I stop to photograph the sky a lot .

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I can relate. I love taking pictures as well, which drives my husband crazy sometimes. It’s hard to find that right balance between wanting to capture what you see around you and being present in the moment.

      • BrittnyLee says:

        It is very hard and it’s especially hard for the people around you who don’t share the same passion haha πŸ€£πŸ˜‚ I’m glad I’m not the only one lol

      • BrittnyLee says:

        Right ?! I definitely have when it comes to sky photos haha . I wish I could share some on here in comments. A lot of phones these days have great night time features. I love photographing the sky at night. It’s so beautiful and dazzling with the constellations and wisps of clouds. It’s wild stuff. I’m sure you have mastered walking and photographing well. I can tell by your photos. You do a great job with detail πŸ™‚

      • BrittnyLee says:

        Aw I will have to do that πŸ™‚ thanks for the suggestion girl. You should definitely do the night photography. You have a good eye. I’m sure you’d get killer photos !

  13. Oh, the Places We See says:

    You’ve captured the essence of Charleston: elegant homes and trees dripping with Spanish moss. It’s a lovely place to visit, and we try to go there after our beach trip every other year or so. The food’s good as well!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Charleston is very charming. A few people have commenting about how the food is delicious. We were a bit concerned about catching COVID while visiting so we didn’t go to any restaurants. I guess that means we’ll just have to return to get the full experience. And next time we’ll have to plan a beach trip as well.

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