Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table located in the meeting room off the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Transportation will be provided primarily by motorcoach unless specified otherwise. This necessitates going up/down a few steps when boarding and getting off the motorcoach. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: The remainder of the evening is at leisure for you to continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead. We are about to embark on a very special learning adventure to see first-hand how history lives on in the present, from stately homes in historic Charleston to extraordinary Lowcountry plantations. Charleston is and always has been a place of spectacular contradictions. Known as the “Holy City” because of its many houses of worship, this was one of the few cities in colonial America to protect religious diversity. Yet, it was also part of an ante-bellum society that benefited from slavery and became wealthy as a result. You’ll have opportunities to ponder these contradictions as we explore and learn about magnificent dwellings, often adorned with graceful gardens, and the lives of the people who lived and worked there.
Activity note: Walking up to a ½ mile at the Battery over uneven terrain. Driving about 11 miles from Mt. Pleasant to downtown Charleston, approximately ½ an hour.
Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll start our day off right with a hearty and nutritious breakfast buffet that will include a wide range of freshly baked goods, organic whole-grain cereals, fresh fruit, creamy yogurts, freshly squeezed juices, fresh eggs and bacon or sausage. Coffee, tea, and water are also included.
Morning: A local historian will join us at the hotel to provide an introduction to Charleston and the Carolina Lowcountry. This prefatory history of Charleston will prepare us for the field trips we will take during our stay, beginning with our first field trip through historic downtown Charleston this afternoon.
Lunch: Transferring by motorcoach to a popular restaurant in the City Market Place in downtown Charleston, we will enjoy a plated meal from a select menu featuring regional specialties with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Boarding our motorcoach, we’ll carry onward to the Charleston Historic District where we will become more familiar with the interior city of Charleston. Our expert historian will lead us on a mixed walking and riding exploration of great houses and gardens. Among those we will visit is the Palmer Home on the Battery—one of Charleston's most famous houses— which was built in 1848 by John Ravenel, whose son designed the "Little David," the first semi-submersible vessel. This private home is now operated as a bed-and-breakfast by 3rd-generation owner, Frances Palmer. The house is furnished and decorated with antiques dating back 200 years. In addition to learning about all this fascinating history from a local expert, we will be treated to some light refreshments. We'll also see the private garden Palmer House along with other private gardens as we continue our walk through the historic area.
Dinner: Hotel buffet.
Evening: The Gullah people, descendants of slaves, are a distinctive group of African-Americans living in the Coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. Because of their isolated community life, the Gullah have retained more of their African cultural heritage than many other groups and speak an English-based Creole language that has maintained many elements of African language and culture. We’ll enjoy an informative presentation and selection of songs performed by our instructor that will entertain and delight us while providing insights into Gullah culture.
Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile at both plantations is over dirt paths and uneven terrain. Middleton covers a large area that takes approximately 2 hours to walk and standing for lecture. Magnolia involves walking up approximately 15 steps to the home. Getting on/off a tram for a 4 mile ride around the plantation. Garden walk is optional. Driving about 17 miles, approximately 1/2 an hour.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark situated on the Ashley River, is a carefully preserved 18th-century plantation that has survived revolution, Civil War, and an earthquake. During our field trip, we'll learn that it was the home of 4 important generations of Middletons beginning with Henry Middleton, President of the First Continental Congress; Arthur, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; Henry, Governor of South Carolina and an American Minister to Russia; and William, a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. Together with our local historian, we'll explore the gardens, the plantation stableyards, domestic life at Eliza’s House, labor at the Rice Mill, and the Spring House.
Lunch: At Middleton Place Plantation, we’ll enjoy a delicious buffet featuring Lowcountry cuisine.
Afternoon: Magnolia Plantation, founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public site open to visitors in the Lowcountry with the oldest public gardens in America. Originally opening its doors to visitors in 1872, those who wished to view the thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous gardens now could enjoy the spectacle. We’ll learn about its rich history from the expert staff at Magnolia as we experience the beauty of the house and gardens on a nature tram ride around the property with commentary.
Dinner: Hotel buffet.
Evening: In our meeting room at the hotel with a local expert, we’ll learn about the history and techniques that have birthed Charleston's unique Sweetgrass Baskets through a demonstration. Brought to the area by slaves who came from the west coast of Africa, basket making is an ancient African art form in this country, which has been passed on from generation to generation. Skilled craftsmanship and long hours are involved in making these baskets. Even for the most experienced basket maker, a simple design can take as long as 12 hours whereas a larger, more complex design can take as long as 2 to 3 months.
Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile to historic homes within the Battery area on mostly even terrain.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: The motorcoach will leave the hotel and drive to a centrally located area in downtown Charleston. Participants will be given vouchers for entry to the Edmondston-Alston Home and the Nathaniel Russell Home; they also will quality each of us for a docent-led field trip. They are valid all day so participants may explore independently and schedule activities for their day autonomously. Both locations are within a short walk from the drop-off stop and one another. Built for shipping merchant Charles Edmondston c.1825, this house on Charleston's High Battery was acquired in 1838 by Charles Alston, owner of three rice plantations on the fertile Waccamaw Neck. It is an outstanding example of a planter's town house, where the Alstons enjoyed the social season and summer breezes of the city, avoiding the malarial rice plantations. Since it has never passed out of the family's ownership, it is richly appointed with original furniture, tableware, and even Charles Alston's library and gun. The second-story piazza affords a breathtaking view of Charleston Harbor. The second home to view this morning is the Nathaniel Russell Home. Since 1808, visitors have admired the grand Federal townhouse of Charleston merchant Nathaniel Russell. Set amid spacious formal gardens, the Nathaniel Russell House is a National Historic Landmark and is widely recognized as one of America’s most important neoclassical dwellings. The graceful interior with elaborate plasterwork ornamentation, geometrically shaped rooms and a magnificent free-flying staircase are among the most exuberant ever created in early America. At the end of the day, participants will be picked up at a designated point and transported back to the hotel in Mt. Pleasant.
Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Explore some of the wonderful cuisine available in the many different restaurants in downtown Charleston.
Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. In the early afternoon, the motorcoach will gather participants who want to go back to the hotel from downtown Charleston to Mt. Pleasant. For participants wanting to remain in downtown Charleston and sight-see, you will be on your own. The motorcoach will return to downtown Charleston again in the late afternoon.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like from one of the many delicious local restaurants.
Evening: At the historic Circular Congregational Church located in the heart of the Historic District, we’ll experience the unique sounds that define Charleston's rich musical heritage (gospel, Gershwin, music of the Civil War, light classics, & jazz) all presented by professional artists in a live and unforgettable concert. We’ll then return to the hotel via motorcoach.
Activity note: Driving about 25 miles, approximately ½ an hour, one way. Getting on/off a tram for about a ½ hour ride, walking through the production building.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: A truly unique experience for the country, we’ll then embark on a field trip to the only tea plantation in the United States: The Charleston Tea Plantation. The home of American Classic Tea, tea grown in America, it is located on picturesque Wadmalaw Island in the heart of South Carolina's Lowcountry. Its grounds include 127 acres of Camellia Sinensis tea plants, a working Tea Factory and a charming Plantation Gift Shoppe. While here, we will embark on a trolley ride with a local expert to explore the many acres of tea bushes while learning more about tea the enterprise through on board commentary. A stop at the greenhouse will afford us the opportunity to see up close what it takes to care for young tea bushes and grow them healthily. Furthermore, we’ll walk the length of the tea production building where we will see all the equipment it takes to process tea from the field and prepare it for shipment. Large TV screens along the glassed-in gallery will illustrate the entire process.
Lunch: At the Tomato Shed Cafe located on Wadmalaw Island, we’ll have a scrumptious and fresh plated meal. The small café specializes in making delicious regional dishes from fresh vegetables grown on the Ambrose family farm, fresh local meat from partnership farms and, since Farmer Pete was a shrimper before he was a farmer, the freshest shrimp right from the trawler that is kept their dock on Adams Creek in Rockville.
Afternoon: Afterwards, we will visit the Angel Oak tree with our Group Leader who will speak about its long history. The Angel Oak is a Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) that is a native species found throughout the Lowcountry (Coastal Carolina) and it is believed to be in excess of 1,500 years old with its massive, draping limbs and wide spreading canopy presenting the aura of an angel. However, the naming of this tree was actually implemented by the tree's previous owners, Martha and Justin Angel.
Dinner: At a popular restaurant near the hotel, we will explore some of the area's distinctive coastal cuisine with a plated meal featuring signature Lowcountry dishes. Share favorite memories and toast to new Road Scholar friends over our special farewell dinner, with coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: We will continue our fun into the night at the local restaurant recounting fun experiences and enjoying the group camaraderie. We’ll then return to the hotel via motorcoach. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: A guest speaker from the Charleston Preservation will join us at the hotel to speak about the ongoing efforts to preserve Charleston. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!