Charleston: Angel Oak + Middleton Plantation

29 August 2011

I have a whole week of Charleston posts planned for y’all! First up I thought we’d talk about two sights we saw, Angel Oak and Middleton Plantation. Later in the week I’ll give you a tour around Folly Beach (where we stayed), share my thoughts on the food we ate, and do some intense gushing over downtown. And on Friday, I’ll share the video John and I made!

First, though, Angel Oak. Angel Oak is a live oak tree that is believed to be more than 1,500 years old — making it the oldest living organism east of the Mississippi River.

It was quite massive and impressive in person. I liked that you could walk right up to it, though they discouraged visitors from touching the trunk and limbs.

Angel Oak is so old and shaded, there are ferns growing on some of its branches!

My verdict? Definitely worth a see. Angel Oak is located on Johns Island, and was about a 25-minute drive from our house in Folly Beach. It’s easy to find and just a short walk from the parking lot to the tree, and admission is free. You can find more information before your visit here and here.

Later in the week we visited Middleton Place.

The Charleston area is FILLED with plantations, including Middleton, Boone Hall, Magnolia, and Drayton Hall. We did our research, and chose Middleton because of its varied landscape and formal gardens. Though we had nothing to compare it with (since we only visited one plantation), I would say we were all happy with our choice.

We chose to talk the self-guided tour, and followed the route outlined in the packet almost to the letter, stopping and reading the descriptions and historical background at each marked point. I’m really glad we did that, because on top of giving us interesting information, it caused us to slow down and see everything with minimal back-tracking.

There was gorgeous Spanish moss everywhere. We visited in August, but we all agreed that it would be amazing to come back in the spring when the camellia allees would be in bloom. Can you imagine the smell??

One of the most interesting things I learned from the tour is the almost perfect symmetry on which the grounds were laid out. There are a few aerial photos on the Middleton Place website that really help you see it from above, but it was evident on the ground, too.

Another thing I liked about Middleton was how varied the grounds were. There was farmland, formal gardens, rice fields, and even a swamp! The swamp was actually really beautiful.

Last but not least, Middleton Place was full of wildlife! We saw alligators, peacocks, egrets, and many other water birds.

My verdict? Highly recommended, but try to get a break on the ticket price. Tickets normally go for $22 per adult, but we were able to go for free because John’s parents sat through a (unrelated) condo seminar earlier in the day (funny, but true!). I’m not sure it would have been worth it if we had paid the full fare for all six of us.

Middleton Place is on the outskirts of Charleston, about 40 minutes from where we were staying in Folly Beach. You can read more information about it here.

Thanks to John and other family members for most of these photos!

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