This post is part of a series about things to do with kids in Charleston, SC.
Boone Hall Plantation and Farms
While Magnolia Plantation & Gardens was overall a more kid-friendly plantation experience (mainly due to the petting zoo), Boone Hall Plantation and Farms should not be overlooked. In particular, the u-pick produce at Boone Farms is definitely worth a stop if the season is right.
Boone Hall is actually not in Charleston, but rather just north in Mt. Pleasant, SC. It’s an easy drive from the city though, and includes the opportunity to pass over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge – an imposing cable-stayed structure (the kids referred to the towers as “castles” and were pretty thrilled to drive beneath them).
The experience at Boone Hall focuses more on education and providing a sense of plantation life, compared to the garden-focused Magnolia Plantation. From the moment you enter the tunnel of live oaks on the main road into the plantation, you begin to feel transported to a different time. The row of slave cottages on the left side of the road as you enter – called “slave street” – is a stark reminder of the plantation’s history.
On the lighter side – behind the snack stand is a fun butterfly garden that our kids absolutely loved. It’s full of beautiful flowers and delicate butterflies flitting here and there between them.
There are several tours and presentations around the plantation throughout the day. Highlights include:
- “Exploring the Gullah Culture” shows take place in a shaded outdoor theater at the end of “slave street”. The live show includes music, stories, history, and some audience interaction. The kids love singing so it was a hit with them and it was short enough to hold their attention (and it’s outside so a quick exit, if necessary, is no problem).
- House tours are given on a regular schedule (you must reserve your slot a the reception building) and are worth doing if you have time, though the house is relatively new (built in 1936) so if your interest is primarily the antebellum period you may be disappointed. The tour is brief, under 30 minutes, so even fidgety kids should be able to make it through.
- There’s a “coach tour” which is a tour of the plantation grounds on a shaded open air vehicle. These tours also leave on a regular schedule, though you can’t make reservations like you do for the house tour. A large focus of the coach tour is the current “plasticulture” farming going on at the plantation, where they are growing a variety of fruits and vegetables in raised beds covered with plastic sheets to control weeds and water use. This tour is a great way to learn about how the plantation has evolved over the last 300+ years. It’s a bit longer than some of the other tours and presentations at 45 minutes, but it’s fast-moving and with the aid of some snacks our kids made it through fine. Tip: sit in one of the seats at the front/right of the vehicle to better hear the driver/guide.
U-Pick at Boone Hall Farms
An interesting aspect of Boone Hall Plantation is the variety of crops and products produced over the years, including cotton, bricks, indigo, cattle, timber, pecans, and a large variety of fruits and vegetables. These days they’re focusing on fruits and vegetables and one of the crops ready for harvest during our visit was the strawberries.
When you arrive you pick up baskets or buckets (depending on your anticipated haul) from an attendant and head off to the field. There was an entire enormous field of strawberry plants all bursting with red ripe strawberries. Certain rows were identified for picking on the day of our visit, though the staff didn’t seem to mind when folks strayed from the identified rows. After picking (and sampling of course) as many as you want you bring the berries back to the attendant to get weighed. The cost is an incredibly reasonable $1.49/lb.
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Boone Hall Plantation and Farm Logistics
- Boone Hall Plantation Website | Boone Hall Farm Website
- Hours: Plantation: generally 9am – 5pm, with late opening (noon) on Sunday and longer hours in summer; U-pick: 9am – 6pm. Check the website for details.
- Getting There: The plantation entrance is off Long Point Road and well marked by signs. The strawberry fields are located on the Boone Hall Plantation property and the entrance is just before the main entrance to the plantation itself.
- Cost: General admission is $20 for adults ($18 with AAA) and $10 for kids 6-12; 5 and under are free. U-pick strawberries are $1.49/lb