South Carolina

Charleston’s Plantations and Stately Homes

Immerse yourself in the uniquely American story of Charleston as you learn about plantation life, traditional cuisine, historic architecture and the Civil War.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19402RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
4 p.m. Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Activity note: Fresh sheets and towels will be in your room. Make up your beds and relax in your home away from home for the week! Hopefully there will be time for a brief beach walk on the beautiful Isle of Palms beach, located just across the street from Coastal Retreat.

Dinner: A delicious supper welcomes you to your new home away from home in the charming South Carolina Lowcountry.

Evening: Introductions and Orientation will start at 7:00 p.m. in our main gathering room, moving to the upstairs classroom for a Visitors Center video introducing Charleston. This session will give you an overview of your week ahead and a chance to meet your fellow explorers! After orientation and the optional hour long video about Charleston and the Lowcountry, come mingle with fellow scholars at a welcome reception.

Historic Charleston Bus Tour, Plantation, Architecture Intro
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Activity note: Today's schedule takes us via bus on a brief overview of the historic Charleston Peninsula, a comprehensive architectural tour of Drayton Hall Plantation, and an introduction to Architecture with an emphasis upon the Charleston area. This evening, the talented Dr. Gail Goudy shares her knowledge and expertise regarding Architecture and the international influence visible in the structure and style our historical buildings.

Breakfast: Breakfast is served today at 8:15 a.m. Self serve coffee will be available by 7:00 a.m. daily for early risers, and hot single serving available at all hours!

Morning: 9:00 a.m. We leave Coastal Retreat and enjoy the beautiful 25 minute drive across the incredible Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River. Heading through the Plantation District, our adventures begin at Drayton Hall Plantation. Walking through the amazing main home of the Drayton Hall, America's prime example of Palladian Architecture, will jump start our studies this week, as we view first hand plantation home life in a state of static preservation, allowing a genuine peek into the oldest and finest structure of its time.

Lunch: 12:30 p.m. Enjoy a lovely picnic lunch in the midst of the magnificent Magnolia Plantation Gardens. Our group will enjoy a private tour of the gardens and a delicious lunch in America's earliest private gardens opened for public tours.

Afternoon: Our afternoon excursion takes us to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870 to view the thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous gardens. You'll experience the beauty of its gardens along with its rich history with a guided tour.

Dinner: Enjoy a delicious supper when you return to Coastal Retreat. Toni Scott with Parish House Catering will delight your palate with Lowcountry favorites throughout the week!

Evening: Dr. Gayle Goudy from the College of Charleston joins us at 7:00 p.m. in the upstairs classroom. Come learn about the diversity of architecture we will encounter as we visit the plantations and stately homes of Charleston, and how the area's rich history influences the style of buildings and renovations even today.

Historic downtown homes, Walking Tour, Gullah Program
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Activity note: Walking Tour will last about 2 hours over uneven cobblestone streets and sidewalks of Historic Charleston, and house tours have several stair cases to climb. Wear comfy shoes and be ready for exercise as we explore!

Breakfast: Early bird coffee is always ready by 7:00 a.m., and at 8:15 a.m. guests can choose hot or cold breakfast, along with fresh fruit, juices, hot coffee, tea.

Morning: This morning allows us the opportunity to walk where history was made as we embark on a comprehensive walking tour of downtown Charleston. Next, enjoy the stately Nathaniel Russell House which is being fully restored to its former beauty and grandeur.

Lunch: Enjoy a light lunch at T-Bonz Gil and Grille, featuring local fare and Carolina Red Rice.

Afternoon: Enjoy the historic open air Market of Downtown Charleston on your own, before we all go to Aiken Rhett Home which features its authentic stables and slave quarters right in the heart of the City of Charleston. Begun circa 1818, this house reflects the changing tastes of the mid-nineteenth century through a series of spectacular remodeling. The home of one family from 1825 until the 1970's, it is kept in a state of static preservation with many of its original furnishings in place. With its dependencies, slave quarters and stables intact, the house offers a unique view of life in downtown Charleston. We will return to the Isle of Palms in time for an afternoon beach walk or a quick nap before supper.

Dinner: 6:00 p.m. Toni Scott and Parish House Catering will have another delicious meal prepared, featuring local cuisine to delight your palate!

Evening: Gullah Presentation with Ann Caldwell. Enjoy tales of growing up Gullah with renowned Jazz vocalist Ann Caldwell. The unique language is indigenous to the Coastal areas, having developed through slavery from a blend of African tongues combined with the English language.

Angel Oak, Tea Plantation, Private Reception, Free Evening
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Activity note: We will venture to the Angel Oak Tree plus the Charleston Tea Plantation. Not much walking, and instead enjoy the beautiful ride across the peninsula as we enjoy North America's ONLY tea plantation! This evening, Scholars may choose stay downtown for supper on their own or to return to Coastal Retreat for another Parish House Catering supper. For those staying downtown, you are invited to a concert at the Circular Congregation Church called “The Sounds Of Charleston” at a reduced rate.

Breakfast: Start your day out right with a complete breakfast with a variety of offerings at 8:15 a.m., including fresh fruit, juices, hot coffee, tea. Early Bird Coffee is always ready by 7:00 a.m., and a Keurig is available at all hours. Room Refreshing is available today for guests desiring fresh sheets and towels.

Morning: Today, we will depart for a day full of adventure! At 9:15 a.m., our luxurious Coastal Coach allows us to comfortably enjoy the beauty of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers as we cross the Charleston Peninsula to behold the famous Angel Oak Tree, deemed the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River. The Angel Oak is believed to be over 1,500 years old and stands 65 ft. high with a canopy providing 17,000 sq. feet of shade. Following the Angel Oak, we will head over to North America's only Tea Plantation, located moments away on Wadamalaw Island.

Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch under the gorgeous oaks while overlooking a picturesque setting at the Charleston Tea Plantation.

Afternoon: Exploring, tasting, and learning at the Charleston Tea Plantation will be the early afternoon adventure! This modern day plantation is thriving in the lowcountry and is the only place tea is grown in North America. After a beautiful ride back into downtown, you are personally invited into the Single House of Dr. Biemann and Janelle Othersen as they share typical Charleston afternoon treats along with tales of working with the Board of Architectural Review of the City Charleston.

Dinner: A light supper at an island restaurant will restore our energy for the evening video.

Evening: After supper scholars will enjoy a delightful a video depicting the journey from Africa to America told through the eyes of Gullah descendants.

Boone Hall Plantation, Charles Pinckney Home, Social
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Activity note: Boone Hall will feature a presentation in the outdoor Gullah Theater, an up close look at Authentic Slave Cabins, plus a private tour of the beautiful plantation home. We will picnic on the grounds of the Charles Pinckney Home (subject to US Park staffing) and take a peak at what used to be historic Snee Farms.

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at 8:15 am to get you ready for your day of adventure!

Morning: Our morning outing takes us nearby to the working plantation of Boone Hall, right in Mount Pleasant, SC. The Authentic Slave Cabins and beautiful gardens along with the Gullah Theater add to the splendor of the plantation where produce is actively cultivated and the community comes together for multiple events hosted at the plantation.

Lunch: Experience a picnic lunch together at the Historic Charles Pinckney Home. An 1828 historic Lowcountry cottage house serves as the park's visitor center. Visitors can enjoy museum exhibits, film options, Jr. Ranger program, and obtain park and local area information. On occasion, this park is closed due to staffing issues or other occurrences, in which case we will picnic on the Isle of Palms State Park, weather permitting.

Afternoon: After the busy morning and a brief stop at the Boone Hall Country Store, enjoy some free time on your own. You may relax, walk the beach, or venture on your own to local sites.

Dinner: Tonight's final evening meal together will feature local fare served with lowcountry style and hospitality, a highlight of the week! Tea, coffee and infused water will be available and guests are welcome to bring alternate beverages of their choice.

Evening: At 7:30 p.m. our Closing Celebration brings us together for fun and fellowship with a local folk musician and delicious ice cream!

Turtle Team Volunteer Presentation, 11 a.m. Check Out
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC

Activity note: As we bid farewell today, take with you the memories of the week together, new friendships, and the plight of the loggerhead turtles who utilize the coastal region to overcome near extinction, thanks to the efforts of expert volunteers we celebrate as “The Turtle Team”.

Breakfast: A full breakfast bar offered up with lots of variety. Coffee, hot tea, juice and infused water available.

Morning: After a break to allow guests to prepare their belongings for departure, a visit from volunteers with the South Carolina Turtle Teams shares with you the efforts to preserve the nesting habitats of the Loggerhead Turtle.

Lunch: Program concludes after the presentation by the Island Turtle Rescue Team. Check out at Coastal Retreat is at 11:00 a.m. Please leave your sheets and towels just outside of your door and your door propped open so that Housekeeping knows it is okay to begin cleaning your room for the next guests. We hope our Coastal Retreat has surpassed your experiences at other retreat centers! Safe Travels everyone!

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