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10 places to take mom in Charleston this spring to celebrate Mother's Day all season long

Magnolia Plantation and Garden’s Ladybug Release (copy)

Magnolia Gardens features flowers abloom for springtime. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

If you're scrambling to plan a last-minute excursion for mom on Mother's Day, consider giving her an IOU to one of these locations around the Lowcountry to redeem later this spring. 

As the pollen clears out and weather grows warmer, take advantage of the sunny afternoons before it's scorching with a May outing to soak in some of Charleston's prettiest places. 

Whether you're looking for an indoor activity or to explore nature, here are 10 ideas of where to take mom this month.

Get a weekly list of tips on pop-ups, last minute tickets and little-known experiences hand-selected by our newsroom in your inbox each Thursday.


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Twenty Six Divine offers afternoon tea service. Provided

Twenty Six Divine

If your mom likes dressing up to sip afternoon tea and snack on delicious pastries, then this downtown tearoom is the perfect place to take her. 

Twenty Six Divine takes advance reservations, which book up fast so you might be looking at a weekend afternoon a month out. 

The afternoon tea service includes a porcelain set along with an arrangement of savory finger sandwiches, petite desserts and fresh-baked pastries. Parmesan and truffle deviled eggs, chicken salad on rye, caramel ganache tartlets, pecan coconut bars and vanilla bean scones make the menu. 

May's featured tea is green mint. 

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The beauty of blooming azaleas among the large live oaks at Magnolia Gardens. File/Tonya McGue/Provided

Magnolia Gardens

If your mom's a gardener like mine, she might appreciate America's last large-scale romantic-style garden, which just so happens to be right here in the Lowcountry. 

Magnolia Gardens features azaleas in all shades of pink, butterfly bushes dotted with monarchs and swallowtails, dusty blue and lilac hydrangeas, and bright yellow and orange lantanas. 

In addition to those colorful blossoms, oleanders, roses and Southern magnolias are in bloom this May.

The tranquil garden has drawn tourists since it first opened to the public in the early 1870s, however, some sections are much older, hailing back 325 years. 

Find a full list of budding spring flowers at magnoliaplantation.com/bloom_list_may. Admission to the gardens, along with the conservatory, nature center and peacock cafe, is $20 per adult

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For a cultural outing with mom, try visiting the latest exhibits at the Gibbes Museum of Art. May 8, a punch needle workshop is planned to create a 9-inch circular work. All materials are included. File

Gibbes Museum of Art

For a cultural outing with mom, try one of downtown Charleston's premier art museums. The Gibbes has been at its current location since 1905 and hosts a permanent collection in addition to rotating gallery exhibits. 

Currently on exhibit through August is a fantasy and witchcraft collection of Northern Renaissance art. Japanese prints and a Japonisme in Charleston gallery collection just opened in April and will be on display until October. 

Other permanent exhibits include a modern and contemporary gallery, American paintings and sculptures, miniature portraits and the local Charleston Renaissance. 

Admission for adults is $12. 

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Belmond Charleston Place and its grand staircase lobby. File/Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

Charleston Place spa and shopping

spa day at Charleston Place would be a real treat, if you can swing it. Pair a nice, relaxing massage or facial with a retail therapy splurge at the shops within the grand lobby or along King Street if you're looking for a way to really indulge mom. 

Massages and facials start at $145. 

If that's a little out of your price range, then some bath bombs from Motherland Essentials might make a gift package for an at-home spa experience. The Eucalyptus mint and oatmeal honey are just $6. And the turmeric and kombucha bar soap is $7. 

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Charleston Harbor cruises take place aboard the Carolina Belle. File/Staff

Charleston Harbor Tours

Take mom out on the water for a cruise with Charleston Harbor Tours. Let her sit back, relax and perhaps sip a glass of wine or two while enjoying some of the Lowcountry's best views on the Carolina Belle. 

You might spot some dolphins on the ride, along with sites like the aircraft carrier Yorktown, Fort Sumter and The Battery. Themed cruises, like the Blues & BBQ Cruise and Brunch Cruise, are still out of commission, but the 90-minute daily harbor tour is back with limited capacity. 

Tickets cost $33.50 for adults and are available to purchase at charlestonharbortours.com/tours-cruises/daily-harbor-tours.

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The grand Angel Oak tree on Johns Island is a must-see. File/Michael Ver Sprill/Dreamstime

Angel Oak

Enter into a fairytale when you take in the draping, moss-laden branches of one of the oldest oak trees east of the Mississippi River. The Angel Oak on Johns Island is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old, standing 66.5 feet tall and measuring 28 feet in circumference.

The tree is free to visit, but you might want to treat mom to lunch after your trip. The farm-to-table Angel Oak Restaurant on Savannah Highway offers a menu that includes crab cakes, fried green tomatoes and housemade pimento cheese. 

Or extend your visit with a day trip to Seabrook or Kiawah islands, which you'll be on route toward. 

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The Seabrook Island Equestrian Center offers beachfront horseback rides. Provided

Seabrook Island Equestrian Center

Horseback riding on the beach? Get mom to saddle up for a seaside ride with a tour guide from the Seabrook Island Equestrian Center

Choose the oceanside horseback ride or opt for the scenic trail ride, which features views of the woods, marsh and tidal creeks on the island. 

Beach rides for beginners are $150 per adult, while scenic trail rides are $75. Reservations must be made over the phone by calling 843-768-7541.

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The Avian Conservation Center hosts flight demonstrations with birds of prey. File/Staff

Avian Conservation Center

My mom is a longtime bird lover. She has feeders all over the yard, a bluebird house that just hosted a nest this spring and a meal worm station for the babies.

If your mom is anything like her, she will love a trip to the Avian Conservation Center and Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw. 

The center hosts weekly tours and flight demonstrations and virtually guided walking tours around the grounds with chances to see all kind of bird species up close. 

Tickets to the flight demonstrations, which are $20 per adult, must be purchased ahead online at thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/visit.

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A grit flight — four varieties of grits including- pimento cheese, blueberry, peaches and cream, and Brussels sprout and pesto flavors — served at Grace & Grit. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Belated brunch

Brunch may be booked for Mother's Day weekend, but go ahead and snag some reservations for later this month once you confirm a date with mom. 

Mimosas and bloody marys are always a nice way to celebrate, especially when joined with some delicious Lowcountry dishes, like chicken and waffles, biscuits, and shrimp and grits. 

A few local brunch options with a patio space include Frannie & The Fox, The Mill Street Tavern, The Junction Kitchen & Provisions and Grace & Grit.  

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A few of the wines available at Stems & Skins on display on the bar. File

Wine bar of choice

Charleston has some divine wine bars, some with intimate interiors and others with sunlit window nooks and outdoor patios. If your mom loves wine, and maybe some charcuterie to go with a bottle, then there are plenty of options to try together later this month. 

Don't bother making reservations for Mother's Day weekend, but instead treat your mom to a less crowded day for a wine outing, maybe a happy hour after a hectic workday or a night cap after dinner. 

Some of my personal favorites are goat.sheep.cow, Avondale Wine & Cheese, Graft and Stems & Skins

Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Kalyn Oyer is a Charleston native who covers arts & entertainment and food & bev for The Post and Courier. She's a music festival & concert photographer and used to write about music for the Charleston City Paper, among other publications.