Charleston (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 (4.75)
Program No. 19402RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

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

Evening: Introductions and Orientation. This session will give you an overview of your week of learning ahead and give you a chance to meet your fellow explorers! After orientation you are invited to watch an optional hour long video about Charleston and the Lowcountry.

Architecture, Historic Charleston & Plantation
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at 8:00 am. Self serve coffee will be available for early risers!

Morning: Interactive Lecture series on Charleston Architecture begins. Presenter is an architectural historian who previously worked for the Historic Charleston Foundation and directed the Charleston Museum Homes. Next, we'll leave the center and receive a comprehensive overview of historic Charleston by a licensed guide. During this narrated bus trip, you'll learn about the history behind the stately homes found on the downtown penisula. Group will disembark the bus to explore the Charleston Visitors Ceneter. This excursion will whet your appetite for sights to see during free periods.

Lunch: Enjoy a light picnic lunch when we arrive at the plantation.

Afternoon: Excursion 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 plantation house tour, a narrated nature tram of the Audubon Swamp, guided tour of the gardens, slave cabins, and other outlying areas.

Dinner: Enjoy a delicious dinner when you return to the retreat center. Participants are given the option of a seafood or non-seafood entrée. Delicious meals are catered by a local restaurant known for their superb seafood selection.

Evening: Interactive lecture series begin on Slave Community on a Lowcountry Plantation. Local historian will guide you through the work and home life of the slave population in SC. These lectures reveal a behind the scenes look at the work and labor intensity needed to create the luxurious lifestyles in which plantations are known for.

Architecture, Angel Oak, Tea Plantation, Vineyards
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Breakfast: You can choose hot or cold breakfast, along with fresh fruit, juices, hot coffee, tea.

Morning: Architectural historian will help you "see" colonial and antebellum homes with "new eyes" with your morning lecture. Next, we will depart for a day full of adventure! Our first stop will be the famous Angel Oak Tree, 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. Second, we will explore the Charleston Tea Plantation! This modern day plantation is thriving in the lowcountry and is America’s only tea garden. Plantation tour and tea tasting included.

Lunch: Enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking a picturesque setting at the Charleston Tea Plantation.

Afternoon: Our last stop of our trip will be Irvin House Vineyards. This modern day vineyard produces SC Muscadine Wine and also Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka. Plantation tour, wine and liquor tasting and souvenir wine glass included.

Dinner: Return to the Coastal Retreat Center for dinner. After an adventurous day, you'll be ready for a tasty meal.

Evening: Sweetgrass Basket Demonstration. Learn about the Gullah tradition of making sweetgrass baskets, a practice brought directly from the west coast of Africa by enslaved people.

Architecture, Slave Community, Drayton Hall
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Breakfast: Start your day out right with a complete breakfast with a variety of offerings.

Morning: Architectural historian discusses historic and cultural influences on architecture in Charleston. This guy is brilliant, and uses appropriate humor, so his topic is not dry but very interesting and enjoyable. After, the Slave Community on Lowcounty Plantation series continues. Learn about the unique experience slaves had in this part of the country due to climate conditions and complex crop harvesting.

Lunch: Enjoy a light lunch at the Coastal Retreat Center catered by a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Drayton Hall Plantation. This 18th century Plantation is the oldest original Plantation home along the Ashley River. A property of the National Trust, Drayton Hall is shown unfurnished in a state of preservation, highlighting its magnificent architectural details. Included will be an extended guided house tour, plantation exploration and slavery presentation. A fantastic experience that brings plantation culture to life.

Dinner: Return to Coastal Retreat Center and our chef will have your meal prepared!

Evening: After dinner, view a video on the recovery of the HL Hunley, the first submarine to sink an opposing vessel in wartime. On February 17, 1864, the Hunley sank the USS Houssatonic off the Carolina Coast just a few miles out from the Isle of Palms. After its rediscovery in the 1990's, the Friends of the Hunley raised the craft and are working on its conservation in North Charleston. This video documents the recovery efforts through National Geographic.

Architectural Walk, Historic Houses, Free Time, Social
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC
Coastal Retreat Center

Breakfast: Breakfast is served at 8:00 am to get you ready for your day of adventure!

Morning: Travel downtown for a guided walk of Charleston’s Historic Battery viewing the exteriors of stately homes built before, during, and after the Civil War. 45 minute architectural walking lecture brings together all the knowledge learned in classroom lectures, and reveals greater details about the families who built and lived in these homes. Next, explore the historic Nathanial Russell House. This beautifully restored 19th century Charleston House illustrates the grandeur of Charleston at the height of its wealth. Furnishings and the beautiful interiors speak to the elegant nature of 19th century Charleston Homes. Also, this property exhibits beautiful gardens.

Lunch: Experience a picnic lunch overlooking the Cooper River at Waterfront Park in Mt. Pleasant.

Afternoon: Aiken Rhett House. Though begun circa 1818, this house reflects the changing tastes of the mid-nineteenth century through a series of spectacular remodelings. The home of one family from 1825 until the 1970's, the house is kept in a state of 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 Charleston. After the tour, enjoy some free time in downtown Charleston. We'll drop you off near the market area in the heart of the historic district.

Dinner: Enjoy another great meal at the Retreat Center.

Evening: "Graduation Celebration" brings us together for fun and fellowship.

Architecture, DVD, Program Concludes
Isle of Palms, Charleston County, SC

Breakfast: A full breakfast bar offered up with lots of variety.

Morning: A final hour long installment of the Charleston Architecture series. Next, you will have an hour to pack up your rooms, remove used linens, and gather your belongings for departure. At 10:30am there will be a showing of "God's Gonna Trouble the Water," a documentary released by South Carolina Educational Television about the Gullah/Geechee people, decendants of the enslaved West Africans. Learn about how these descendants carry on the culture today through their daily lives and special demonstrations to educate the public.

Lunch: Program concludes with Lunch served at 11:30 AM. Safe Travels everyone!