Follow me as I take you on a tour of Middleton Place Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. We were saving the plantations for the end of our trip, yet the weather dictated otherwise. Because it was supposed to storm (floods and even a tornado warning) for the majority of our trip, we knew that Sunday was going to be our best day to see our top sights. We moved the plantations and downtown Charleston to the top of our to-do list and we were so happy we did! Middleton Place Plantation was a dream; gardens, bridges, horses, horse carriage rides, animal friends, and a lovely little restaurant where I tried the “Southern Sampler.”
There are so many plantations in Charleston and we knew that we had to visit at least two to soak in the history of the city. We chose The McLeod Plantation and Middleton Place. When we return one day we will definitely add Magnolia Plantation, Boone Hall, and the Charleston Tea Plantation (the only tea plantation still running in the US!) to our to-see list, as we have heard incredible things about each of them. Visiting that plantations can get a little expensive. Thankfully, Matthew had a student discount, but it still cost us $45 to get in. Our turtle friend was the first animal we met on our journey while we waited for our table to be ready at the restaurant. Middleton Place is also a lovely venue for some southern bird watching. Right to the left of the main building is the restaurant, shaded by these beautiful trees. The Plantation house and guest house were built in the 1770s. For extra cash you can add a tour of the large furnished home to your visit or a carriage ride. Because it was so hot and we spent a bit already we decided to skip the tour to explore on our own. Edna Lewis is the chef that created the foodie trend from-farm-to-table. The Middleton Place restaurant features foods from local places, including organic vegetables from their very own gardens. For lunch we decided to do the Southern Sampler so we could try some southern cooking favorites. The sampler is a buffet style meal with drinks included for $20 per person. It was a very good value and the food was delicious. Southern style comfort food at its finest. The Hoppin’ John was a rice and bean dish that Matthew and I really enjoyed. Yes, we even tried the Carolina Catfish. I heard it is a southern staple, kind of like how fish n’ chips are known for being a British food, pizza for Italy, and Poutine for Montreal. We always make it a point to try new things and local foods more than qualify as a new experience. Live like a local is how I like to travel. My first bite of catfish. We have catfish at home, especially large ones on the lake I grew up on, but up north we typically don’t eat them. In fact, I have never seen catfish on the menu. In was a good white fish and had a texture similar to alligator meat. Up north we also take the skin off, but this fish was friend skin and all. Overall, I give it a 6.5 as it was good and I would eat it again, but I wasn’t crazy about it. The homestyle mac n’ cheese and greens on the other hand, I could eat all day. Their fresh cornbread was also wonderful. I did go up for seconds. The south really does know how to make a good iced tea, in their words, “sweet tea.” It comes in “sweet,” “very sweet,” and “upper sweet” varieties. A word of caution: sweet is sweet enough already. I made a new friend over lunch. A waitress referred to him as “Mr. P” and he stayed with me throughout our entire meal. Other restaurant guests walked over for a photo op with my new friend. Apparently, there used to be more on the property, but Mr. P is all alone because of the gators. “Circle of life here at the Middleton Place,” our waitress said. Stay safe, Mr. P. If it was not so hot, we would have gladly spent our lunch hour in the courtyard.
The cats of Charleston. This is Arthur. He is one cool cat.The Middleton Place Plantation was known for its rice production, the “yellow gold” of the south. The wooden grinding tools on the photo to the right were used to remove the rice from their casings. A gentleman in period costume told us how rice came to the south, particularly at the plantation. He told us how crops were suffering in the area, but slaves would grow rice (that they had brought with them from Africa) in their own gardens. The plantation owners were amazed how well their crops were doing and they forced them to grow rice for the plantation. It became a winning crop for South Carolina. I have nicknamed Charleston the “land of benches” because lovely little benches are all over the city. Everywhere you go you can find a scenic place to sit. “An alligator definitely lives there,” I said to Matthew.
“Yes, and it’s right there!” He replied immediately, pulling on my arm to keep me from getting too close.
“Very funny. I’m not falling for that.”
“No, really, it’s right there!” I honestly thought he was joking. Let’s see if you can spot him:
Get closer:Hey there, alligator!
We met six alligators on our trip to Middleton Place. This one is a little guy, but we saw a couple of large ones that we kept a safe distance from. On your next trip to Charleston, we highly recommend that you stop by at Middleton Place. There is also a sweet plantation market right near the entrance of the plantation.
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