Taking a break from downtown Charleston, we headed off on a quick twenty minute drive to nearby Mount Pleasant and spent the day at Boone Hall Plantation. After all, what’s more Southern than a plantation, sparkling white in the sunshine!
For $24 dollars, it was a day well spent. Unlike other plantations, the all-in price gives you plenty of activities to keep you busy. We began our day in the sun strolling through the quiet gardens at either side of the elegant house. The colors and shapes were heaven for a budding photographer like me! The quiet, peaceful breeze as we ambled around the curves and bends of the flower beds was just perfect.
Before our house tour – the only part of the trip that had to be booked – we had time for a ride around the estate acreage. The tractor-tram bumped around the land and despite a few near misses with low hanging branches, it was an informative ride through the history of the oldest, still-working plantation. We saw the cotton fields, the pecan trees, the eagle nest, the current onion crops, all narrated by a well-informed guide who began each sentence with ‘Well now…’
The house tour was less of a tour – we only saw three rooms – and more of a history lecture, but a history lecture of the best kind. Our guide was hilarious and I learned more in that thirty minutes than from any book I could read about the history of a Southern plantation. Oh, and I also now need to watch The Notebook again so I can scream excitedly ‘I’ve been there!’ during key scenes 😉
Of course, you can’t explore a plantation without forgetting that the beautiful houses were built by slaves. It’s a part of American history that always – as an outsider looking in – seems awkward to discuss. At Boone Hall, you can walk down ‘Slave Street’, a row of cabins that would have been home to the salves who worked the plantation. It’s a difficult but important journey to take, and as you listen to and watch the presentations in each hut, you learn more and more about all that they endured. I’m not ashamed to admit that tears were shed as I watched the final video in the cabin that brought the history to our current times.
Our final part of the plantation trip was to the Gullah Theater. The Gullah culture is something I had never heard of until I arrived in South Carolina and I am already fascinated. At the theater we were able to enjoy oral history, storytelling and the most hauntingly beautiful singing I have ever heard. It was my favorite part of our day.
What made the day truly perfect, though, was the unexpected meeting with a few horses. Behind the hospitality building, and hidden from obvious view, is a paddock where a handful of horses graze happily. As a girl who loves horses, I just couldn’t resist spending a little time with them, talking to them and snapping photographs as they posed for me.
All in all, a day well spent. And as we ended it with gelato in Waterfront Park, it was the perfect way to end the South Carolina portion of our road trip.