Charleston Place Hotel

charleston place hotel history

The History of Charleston Place

Any local will tell you there’s plenty of reasons for residents and travelers alike to find themselves at Charleston Place. From world-class dining to top-shelf shopping, it’s not just a grand hotel.

Opening its doors on September 2, 1986 (only partially finished), Charleston Place Hotel has undergone many transformations.

At the time, the city unemployment rate was around 15 percent, so Mayor Joe Riley was determined to improve it. Between its event catering, restaurants, spa, hotel, and shops, Charleston Place today meets a 550-worker payroll. Not only did the hotel create jobs, but it also drew more people into Charleston.

Today, the hotel welcomes about 17,000 guests in an average month. Located at the Market Street entrance, the Charleston Place fountain marks the epicenter of a local economy that considers tourism the number-one industry.

Before Charleston Place, it was common to see empty storefronts. Some sections of King Street fell to pre-1948 levels, and it was rare to see pedestrians walking around downtown, much less shopping and dining out.

An Atlanta magazine even stated in 1979 that Charleston was the epitome of the decaying American city, a difficult fact to fathom these days! Desperate for change, Mayor Riley turned to help. He sorted through countless books from a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, and it was suggested that a hotel be built on Charleston Place’s current location.

The project split the city down the middle, with people in disagreement with the plans. The project was called “Riley’s Folly,” and the lead investor threatened to sell it to a low-budget motel company.  On September 2, 1986, the hotel finally saw its opening as the Omni Hotel.  The hotel had a rough start when a man disguised as a valet stole two luxury cars from guests; and rainwater seeped into the buildings bricks and walls, costing $15 million in repairs.  The retail sales at the Charleston Place shops began to show hope for the hotel and the surrounding area.  The rooms have been remodeled numerous times and the hotel launched Charleston Place events which attracted even more guests.  Mayor Joe Riley’s effort allowed room for something new in Charleston, which it lacked.  Today, the hotel brings in guests from all around the world and has made a miraculous difference in Charleston’s success. Today, you can find Charleston Place in the same historical location, but with a new name; The Belmond Charleston Place.

Learn more about the The Belmond Charleston Place and other landmarks in Historic Charleston by taking a tour with us!

Old City Jail Charleston, SC

old city jail charleston sc

Old City Jail

In case you’ve wondered what that Medieval-esque castle is doing in the middle of the Charleston peninsula, well that’s the Old City Jail.

Slightly off the beaten path on Magazine Street, the jail was constructed in 1802, and thousands of its inmates died there, either from execution, injury, or illness, until its doors closed in 1939.

Before the jail was built, the land was served as a hospital, poor house, and workhouse for runaway slaves. Meant to house only 130 inmates, instead, the jail often held more than 300 at a time, making disease and violence a common occurrence.

A famous inmate

More than slaves, the jail also held pirates and even America’s first female serial killer, Lavinia Fisher. Fisher and her husband John are two of the most well-known inmates. They owned a Charleston hotel in the early 1800s, where they apparently murdered their own guests, proving that the city hasn’t always been so hospitable.

Some stories claim that the Fishers murdered the wealthy guests by first poisoning their tea and then dumping their bodies in a spiked pit beneath the floor, while other accounts insist the two were part of a gang that robbed and then murdered the travelers.

Their actions came to light when two men were assaulted at the hotel at separate times and managed to escape. The authorities arrested the couple and found them guilty of highway robbery, sentencing them to death.

Before Lavinia Fisher’s hanging, she screamed to the spectators, “If any of you has a message for the devil, tell me now, for I will be seeing him in a moment.”

Lavinia’s ghost still allegedly haunts the jail. On a 2011 episode of Ghost Adventures, the crew claimed to have recorded her ghost saying, “the devil,” in response to the fill-in-the-blank question, “Lavinia, you asked if anyone had a message for the…” (You can hear the recording yourself by viewing the episode on travelchannel.com).

Slightly Scary Even Today

Visitors and investigation teams claim to see objects move or disappear, hear voices in empty rooms and chains dragging across the floor, and witness the slamming of doors within the jail.

A police officer also stated that the alarm regularly goes off and residents across the street see shadows around the building. The dense history behind the frightening jail can be felt once you step onto the grounds.

Learn more about the Old City Jail on your next visit to Historic Charleston. Our guides at Bulldog Walking Tours can share even more spooky tales about this historic landmark!

Today, events are regularly held inside and around the jail, giving it a positive new life that often celebrates the local arts community.

Historic Charleston SC Hotels

historic charleston sc hotelsCharleston is a city known for its rich history and century-old buildings, many of which today serve as some of the city’s best hotels. From Queen to East Bay to Broad Streets, inns with charm, character, and a few stories to tell are nestled here and there, waiting to offer up their own uniqueness to those looking for a very Charleston experience.

Walk along Queen Street, and you’ll find the historic Elliot House, a quaint, pink three-story house dating back to 1861, a spot that has charm for days.

Continue on down to where Meeting and Queen Streets meet, and behold one of the most revered hotels in town, The Mills House Hotel. It first opened in 1853, and any local will tell you of its endearing, colorful history — from how it was erected again after the Great Fire of 1861 to when Robert E. Lee checked in.

At The Embassy Suites’ current site on Meeting Street, city leaders discovered a plotted slave rebellion back in 1822, and the alleged conspirators were found guilty and hanged. In 1842, The Citadel,the city’s famed military school, opened there, and its turreted, castle-like original structure remains today as the grande hotel that overlooks Marion Square.

Across the way on King and Calhoun Streets is the towering Francis Marion Hotel, opened in 1924. Named after the Revolutionary war hero Francis Marion, it also overlooks Marion Square, where every Saturday during the warm season a farmer’s market keeps the park bustling with folks, food trucks, fresh produce, crafts, and live music. Sitting 12-stories high, the hotel received an award-winning restoration 20 years ago that refurbished every room and suite to the highest standards.

Built in 1853, Kings Courtyard Inn is one of King Street’s oldest buildings.  Designed in the Greek Revival style with Egyptian accents, it is one of Charleston’s finest antebellum hotels.  Each room is furnished with early 19th-century reproductions, making the rooms all stunningly beautiful.

Meanwhile, close to the market sits The Andrew Pinckney Inn on Pinckney Street. Named after the freed slave, the hotel was erected in the 1840s and originally used as a cotton warehouse. Today, its golden stucco exterior welcomes new generations to experience the modern amenities that mingle with sophisticated charm.

Closer to the Battery, you’ll find the epitome of Charleston’s southern hospitality at the John Rutledge House Inn located on Broad Street. Built in 1763 by owner John Rutledge, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, its beautiful, intricate steel iron-rod railings and gate are still admired and loved by passersby, both local and visiting.

No matter where you decide to rest your bones in Charleston, you’re sure to be mere footsteps away from some of the country’s most intriguing historical sites. Contact Bulldog Walking Tours to explore, and enjoy these beautiful, historic landmarks.

 

Fort Moultrie Charleston, South Carolina

history of fort moultrie charleton sc

Drive out to Sullivan’s Island and hang a right as you near the beach, and you’ll eventually find the series of citadels that is Fort Moultrie (on Middle Street). Quite a contrast to the rest of the island’s unassuming nature, the fort has come to be a significant symbol for the state. In fact, it will be pictured on 2016’s American the Beautiful quarter for South Carolina — an endorsement of its importance if there ever was one!

The first fort on Sullivan’s Island, Moultrie protected Charleston from British occupation in 1776. As the story goes, the original fort was built entirely of Palmetto logs, which is why South Carolina is now known as the Palmetto State. The fort itself was named after the famously resourceful commander in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, General William Moultrie.

Between 1776 and 1809, the fort continuously suffered destruction from war and neglect, until it was rebuilt with brick in 1809.  Today, the fort stands in its restored form, portraying different periods throughout its history.

Visit the fort and you’ll take a walk through time, from the Palmetto-log fort in 1776 to the World War II Harbor Control Entrance Post. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years), the fort welcomes members of America the Beautiful-National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass with free admission. Self-guided and guided tours are available, plus the visitor center and museum features an informative 20-minute film detailing the fort’s rich history. With videos, artifacts, and dioramas, the National Park Service has excelled in preserving and bringing the history of Fort Moultrie to life.

Like to learn more about Fort Moultrie and other Historic Charleston landmarks? Contact the experts at Bulldog Walking Tours today!

Historic Charleston City Hall

Historic City Hall Bulldog Tours

City Hall Charleston, South Carolina

In 1800, the City Council proposed the idea of erecting an elegant building for the federal government to serve as a branch of The First Bank of the United States. Local carpenters Joseph Nicholson, Edward Magrath, and Mason Andrew Gordon constructed the beautiful and unique Charleston’s City Hall between 1800 and 1804, its design encompassing the neoclassical Adamesque style.

The architect, Gabriel Manigault, introduced the Adamesque style to the city after studying in Europe. The semi-circular projection on the north side and the round windows in the basement are distinctive features of Manigault. The white marble trim was believed to have originated in Italy, and the original red brick walls contrasted well with the marble trim before the bricks were covered with stucco in 1882.

Charleston’s branch was one of eight in the country, which served as the Office of Discount and Deposit. After being revoked by Congress in 1811, the bank was returned to the City of Charleston and transformed into City Hall in 1818.

Originally set aside as a public market within the Civic Square of the Grand Model in the 17th-century plan of the city, a beef market stood at the site from 1739 until 1796, when it was destroyed by a fire.  The replacement is now the City Market at Meeting and Market Streets.

The intersection where City Hall sits now, Broad Street and Meeting, is now called the Four Corners of Law due to the presence of ecclesiastical, state, federal, and City Hall’s municipal law. Believe it or not, the term was coined in the 1930s by none other than Robert Ripley, creator of Ripley’s Believe it or Not!

Other than City Hall, there also stands St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Charleston County Courthouse, and the United States Post Office and Federal Courthouse, completing the famous Four Corners of Law. Today, visitors stroll through the beautiful garden of St. Michael’s graveyard, purchase sweetgrass baskets from one of the Gullah ladies creating them out front, or mail their vacation postcards at the grand post office. With the Battery and Waterfront Park steps away, the corner serves as a remarkable centerpiece to our steepled city.

Charleston’s James Beard Award Winners

James Beard Awards Charleston SC

Charleston James Beard Award Winners

The James Beard Awards, also known as JBF Awards are the highest honor for food and beverage professionals in North America. The awards are presented each Spring and cover all aspects of the hospitality industry including best chefs, cookbook authors, food journalists, restaurant designers, architects, and more.

The JBF Awards were established in 1990 to recognize culinary professionals for their success and achievements. The Foundation’s mission is “to celebrate, preserve, and nurture America’s culinary heritage and diversity.”

No cash prizes are offered, but all winners receive a certificate and an engraved medallion with the James Beard Foundation Awards insignia — not to mention global recognition and bragging rights!

Back in March 2013, a special Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner was held in Charleston, where culinary experts joined together to create an amazing dinner at Sullivans Island’s Fort Moultrie.

The star-studded crew was made up of a talented group of Charleston chefs, JBF Award winners and nominees who worked together to create a memorable dinner. Team Brock included JBF Award Winner Sean Brock from McCrady’s, Jeremy Holst from Anson Restaurant, and Nico Romo from Fish. Team Deihl consisted of Craig Deihl from Cypress, Graham Dailey from Peninsula Grill, and Ken Vedrinski from Trattoria Lucca.  As for Team Lata, the crew included JBF Award Winner Mike Lata from FIG and The Ordinary, Daniel Doyle from Poogan’s Porch, and Frank McMahon from Hank’s Seafood Restaurant.  Meanwhile, Team Stehling consisted of JBF Award Winner Robert Stehling from Hominy Grill, Jeremiah Bacon from The Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse, and Marc Collins from Circa 1886.  Baked goods were created by Lauren Mitterer of Wildflour Pastry, and the sommelier for the evening was none other than Brad Ball of Social Wine Bar.

But you don’t have to be on a fancy dinner’s guest list to enjoy the best eats in town. Lucky for us, anyone can cozy up to the bar or dine all evening at one of the many world-renowned restaurants our beautiful city is so well-known for!

 

Charleston Tea Plantation

charleston tea plantation

Travel down the long, winding road of Maybank Highway, through a canopy of oak trees and Spanish moss, and you’ll eventually arrive at the Charleston Tea Plantation in the picturesque Wadmalaw Island. Producing the only tea completely grown in America, the plantation has a rich history dating back to 1888 when Dr. Charles Shepard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation.

Originally located in Summerville, South Carolina, the plantation grew incredible tea until Dr. Shepard’s death in 1915, and the tea plants grew wild at the plantation for the next 48 years. In 1963, the tea plants were transplanted from Pinehurst Tea Plantation to Wadmalaw Island and researched for 24 years until 1987 when the land was purchased by William Barclay Hall.

Being a third-generation tea-taster, Hall converted the plantation into a commercial development. In 2003, the Bigelow Family purchased the plantation from William Barclay Hall.

Situated on one of Charleston’s most unspoiled islands, the plantation’s surroundings of Wadmalaw has remained mostly untouched, and its natural beauty is enjoyed by visitors today.  Open seven days a week, the plantation has so much to offer for all its guests!

Every Tuesday and Thursday, The Island Sip and See Trolley will swing by and pick you up at the Charleston Visitors Center as well as hotels in the area by reservation. On the trolley, you can be taken to not only the Charleston Tea Plantation but also to Irvin-House Vineyards, which also operates as as Firefly distillery, makers of delicious sweet tea vodka, among other spirits.

View acres upon acres of tea fields by taking a trolley rid,e and once at the site, learn all about how tea is made during a factory tour. Pack a picnic, bring the family, and enjoy the plantation’s beauty and history while you drink all the iced tea you please!

Charleston Slave Museum

Charleston SC Slave Museum

Old Slave Mart in Historic Charleston, SC

Situated downtown on Chalmers Street is the Charleston Slave Museum. Housed inside the original building, it was constructed back in 1859, when slave auctions were regularly held inside.

The building was open on both sides, so it was referred to as a shed. The exterior was mighty and grand with its high arch, octagonal pillars, and a large iron gate at the entrance. Inside, stunning ceilings stretch 20-feet high.

Charleston served as the center of commercial activity for the Southern plantation economy during the antebellum period. Originally, slaves were sold on the north side of the Exchange Building, but in 1856, the city prohibited the practice of public sales, therefore many sales rooms were constructed. During auctions, the slaves would stand on tables so the slave owners could pass by and evaluate the slaves who up for sale.

Known as the Slave Mart, the Chalmers Street building was owned by former sheriff Thomas Ryan, and the mart contained three additional buildings. One was a holding place for the slaves before sales, plus there was a kitchen and a morgue. After the defeat of the South in the Civil War, the Slave Mart was renovated into a two-story tenement dwelling.

The property was purchased in 1938 and converted into a museum of African-American history. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for visitors to experience and learn about an important chapter in Charleston’s evocative history.

Charleston Real Estate Market 2015

What's Hot in Charleston Real Estate?

Charleston, SC Real Estate 2015

Condé Nast Traveler readers have named Charleston the No. 1 city in the U.S. and fourth-best city in the world for the past four years, so it’s no secret that this is a great place to live. The local real estate market grows stronger every day, because who wouldn’t want to live where the beaches are beautiful, the dining is spectacular, and the locals are welcoming and friendly?

Today, the median list price for a house that’s approximately 2,000 square feet is $350,000. Local real estate agents can assist as you research a particular area, its market statistics, neighborhood reviews, living costs, and reports on nearby schools. But the first thing you should do is decide on which neighborhood suits you best.

Getting Geographical

Often referred to as the Lowcountry, the Charleston area consists of Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties. Each county maintains strong housing communities and developments, with the cost of living varying in each community. For example, it’s become increasingly popular to buy homes in North Charleston areas like Hanahan as prices significantly rise in hip new neighborhoods, including the Old Village(Mt. Pleasant), Avondale (West Ashley), and Park Circle (North Charleston).

West Ashley sits west of the Ashley River, which connects to the downtown Charleston peninsula, while Mt Pleasant is over the Cooper River to the east. Other popular neighborhoods with close proximity to beaches include Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, James Island, Johns Island, and Folly Beach, with each community consisting of its own character and a multitude of varying qualities.

With an abundance of nice neighborhoods, relatively low housing costs, attractive scenery, and friendly faces, the Lowcountry maintains a steady stream of buyers eager to make Charleston their permanent home. Won’t you be our  neighbor, too?

Charleston on the Luxury

charleston sc luxury hotels shopping and dining

Charleston, SC Luxury

Charleston is a luxurious city to visit. The countless high-end stores, grand hotels, and top-rated restaurants have created a charming yet extravagant place to explore.

The key to an upscale trip begins with your stay. Many hotels in Charleston have gone above and beyond to make sure your experience is an extra-special one not to be forgotten.

Luxury Hotels We Love:

In the heart of downtown Charleston is the Belmond Charleston Place. With an Italian-marbled lobby, health center, spa, swimming pool, ornate spiral staircase, and a dramatic twelve-foot chandelier, the hotel has become the first choice among many celebrities. With Southern hospitality in spades, the Belmond also shares the same building as one of the most notable restaurants in the city, Charleston Grill, as well as high-end shops like Godiva, Kate Spade, Brookstone, Chico’s, and Tommy Bahama.

The French Quarter Inn in historic downtown Charleston provides guests with complimentary champagne and lady fingers at check-in, afternoon wine and cheese, and a gourmet breakfast in the lobby or delivered to your room. Some guest rooms also have fireplaces, private balconies, and hot tubs.

The HarbourView Inn is mere steps away from Waterfront Park.  Why not wake up to a beautiful view of the harbor every morning during your stay in Charleston? Private balconies can complement breathtaking sunsets on the water, and the rooftop terrace provides panoramic views of the Holy City and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. The hotel is a short walk from the famous Charleston City Market as well as renowned restaurants like Magnolia and Slightly North of Broad.

In Charleston, there are countless upscale restaurants that offer top-notch food, wine, and staff.

  • Husk Restaurant on Queen Street truly captures and transforms the spirit of Southern food.

  • High Cotton on East Bay Street provides its guests with expertly prepared cuisine — from charcuterie plates to fresh local fish — as well as wonderful wines and knowledgeable servers.

  • Located in a stunning castle-like building on Wentworth Street, Circa 1886 Restaurant is known for its freshest local ingredients and old-world romance and charm.

  • Grill 225, one of Charleston’s premiere steakhouses, serves hand-picked USDA prime beef and fresh seafood, like Maine lobster. Featuring Charleston’s only cocktail infused with liquid nitrogen, the Nitrotini, Grill 225 and its rooftop bar, The Pavillion, are top spots for top-shelf drinkers.

Between the hotels, fine restaurants and exquisite stores in downtown Charleston, your visit can be as luxurious as you please.

Bulldog Tours Adds Another Culinary Tour Option

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Bulldog Tours is excited to announce it will start another culinary tour on April 17. The new “Dessert Tour” will feature some of the sweetest and most delectable treats in Charleston. Only available from 4-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, the tour stops at Dixie Supply Bakery and Café, Market Street Sweets, Carmella’s and Christophe’s. Christophe’s specializes in gourmet chocolates, and Carmella’s is a dessert bar so anything goes – even dessert cocktails. Market Street Sweets has been a staple in Charleston for many years and is also featured on our Savor the Flavors of Charleston Tour. Dixie Supply Bakery and Café is also featured on our Savor the Flavors of Charleston Tour and is known for its down-home southern cooking and one-of-a-kind desserts.

Space is limited on the tour, so reservations are required. Visit our culinary tours website at Culinary Tours of Charleston for more information or call 843-722-8687. Come and experience the sweeter side of Charleston!

Bulldog Tours wins Best Tour Company

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We are excited to announce for the sixth year in a row that we have won the Charleston City Paper’s Best of Charleston competition. We credit our fans and supporters for this sixth feather in our cap. So thank you!

In January and early February, the Charleston City Paper launches an online ballot with multiple categories, including local restaurants, businesses, hotels, attractions and more. Voters are asked to choose their favorite. The “best tour company” category had some stiff competition, but we were happy to once again pull out a win. We would also like to congratulate Spoleto for winning best festival, the Circular Congregational Church for winning best church, and best outdoor event was the Charleston Farmers Market (to name just a few).

We would like to thank our fans for taking the time to vote for us once again. We are very proud to be known as the best tour company in Charleston, and we look forward to providing you with the best tours this city has to offer.

Charleston on the Cheap

Visiting charleston, sc on a budget

Affordable Ways to See Historic Charleston, SC

A visit to Charleston isn’t cheap, unless you’re in the know. The cost between lodging, eating out, and exploring the city can become costly, but there are lots of ways to experience the city in style without depleting your piggy bank.

To start your stay off a little more economically, follow these simple tips:

  • When making reservations, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re offering any specials.

  • If you’re planning on visiting Charleston in the winter, many places offer special winter packages that may include free admission to the SC Aquarium, free tours, and even free carriage rides.

  • If your vacation schedule is flexible, keep in mind that weekday rates are sometimes significantly cheaper than weekend rates.

  • Last-minute internet specials can offer big savings, too, so be sure to check out the websites for hotels, car rentals, tours, and restaurants.

Staying downtown?

The centrally located Days Inn is reasonably priced, and it’s steps away from the market and other must-see Charleston sights. The hotel is also around the corner from renowned restaurants on Queen Street like 82 Queen, Husk, and Poogan’s Porch, so you can easily eat your way through Charleston’s best kitchens.

Also easy on the wallet, but with more of a Charleston feel, is the Andrew Pinckney Inn. Nestled in the heart of Charleston, the hotel exudes charm with its golden stucco exterior,  elegant interior, sunshine-filled rooftop terrace.

The Hampton Inn on Meeting Street also offers a great deal with an elegant feel.  Located across from the Charleston Museum and the Visitors Center, the hotel’s winter special includes a carriage ride, an essential activity for any Charleston vacation.

Dining out?

Dining out can add up, but experiencing the varied culinary greatness that abounds in Charleston should not be avoided; there are ways to work around any budget.

Some of our favorite budget-conscious restaurants include  Hyman’s Seafood, Charleston Crab House, Poogan’s Porch, Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe and Kitchen 208.  From coupons for appetizers to happy hour deals, there’s no reason to go broke on your Charleston vacation. Stay up-to-date on good deals by checking area restaurants’ websites and social media pages as well as the local Visitor’s Center.

The Gullah Culture of Charleston, SC

gullah culture of sc by bulldog tours

Lowcountry Gullah Culture

Charleston is well-known and loved for its Gullah heritage, a culture still very much alive in and around the Lowcountry. Although the Gullah people predominantly live and thrive amongst the sea islands in and around Charleston, their influence is everywhere , especially in the arts — be it culinary, musical, or visual.

A little history:

Originally brought to America for slave work, the Gullah people are made up of African-Americans who live in small communities on the sea islands of Georgia and South Carolina. Slaves were often purchased and then taken to isolated communities where their African culture was preserved and remains a beautiful and important part of Charleston’s cultural makeup.

Rice is one aspect of their culture that still has significant importance. The Gullah people have common links to the “Rice Coast” of West Africa, such as their incredible ability to cultivate rice,  and that skill made them extremely valuable for slave trading. With the growth of rice and cotton cultivation, slaves quickly outnumbered the masters on the sea islands, enabling them to continue to thrive as they wished. Today, the hot, muggy climate infamous in Georgia and South Carolina’s sea islands continues to make it the perfect place for producing the grain still so beloved in South.

Though time and distance separates them, West Africans and the Gullah people still share a similar language (here, it’s known as Geechee or Gullah) and beliefs. They also share the same approach to art forms like crafts — like basket-making, net-making, and pottery — as well as food, music, folklore, and architecture. Isolated from outside influence, the Gullah people have retained more of their heritage than any other African-Americans, making the Lowcountry such a culturally rich utopia today.

St. Patrick’s in Charleston

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St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many in downtown Charleston, not just the Irish. Tommy Condon’s is one of the most popular Irish bars in the city. Molly Darcy’s is also a great Irish spot. Bag pipes rang throughout the city in the early evening and green shirts were everywhere walking around the streets, especially in the Market area. Mac’s Place on East Bay Street is another Irish hot spot that many tourists and locals frequent.

There were also some men in tuxedos – complete with green bow ties – spotted walking around Meeting Street. Granted, this isn’t your typical St. Patrick’s Day attire, but these men were on their way to celebrate at Hibernian Hall. The men at Hibernian Hall are part of an elite group granted membership that was passed down to them from generation to generation.

A parade was held earlier in the day along King Street where Mayor Joe Riley made an appearance. Another successful St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone in the Holy City leaving a glimpse of spring that is getting closer and closer.

Charleston, SC Historic Graveyards

Charleston, SC historic graveyards

Charleston, SC Has Several Historic Graveyards Open to the Public

The graveyards throughout Charleston serve as the final resting place for many people famous in Charleston.  St. Philips Church is home to the graves of John C. Calhoun, Edward Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, Christopher Gadsden and Dubose Heyward; and Magnolia Cemetery is the final resting place of Thomas Bennett, Langton Cheves, Horace L. Hunley and Robert Barnwell Rhett.  The Circular Congregational Churchyard is teeming with history with some of the oldest gravestones in Charleston.  The graveyard contains over five hundred gravestones, the oldest dating back to 1675 which is the oldest known grave in Charleston as well as the oldest surviving tomb structure composed of a round-topped brick burial vault covered in stucco and negated of any markings.  Many wealthy Charleston families kept up their lavishing taste with the gravestone art imported from New England.  The gravestones in the Charleston display beautiful decorations and art influenced by the Puritan ways in New England with symbolic images of plants such as weeping willows, pomegranate, figs and acanthus. Other common gravestone decorations include the hourglass and a common inscription of the Latin phrase “Memento Mori” which means remember, you must die.  Another popular symbol amongst the gravestones is the skull which symbolizes death.  One of the rarest symbols that appears on two gravestones at St. Philip’s is the complete skeleton.  The gravestones in the Charleston graveyards still bear the thin rule-lines used by the artisans to keep the lettering straight which can be seen with close inspection.  The Charleston graveyards are a quiet and beautiful place to stroll around and reflect upon the rich history of Charleston.       

It’s Officially Spring!

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jailparty-2015-12Spring has sprung officially with Bulldog Tours. The Spring Kickoff Party last week was a rousing success, and we would like to thank Harbor Breeze, Hyman’s, Dixie Supply Bakery and Café and the Charleston Crab House/AW Shucks for supporting the party and providing great food. DJ Trevor Donovan also got us grooving and the cardboard cutouts of Beyonce, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift were a hit with our guests.

jailparty-2015-8Thank you also to our fearless leader, John LaVerne, for another great party. We are so excited to be starting the 2015 tourism season with a bang. If you’re interested in booking a group tour, call us soon as the spring season has filled up fast with reservations. It’s a sure sign of a busy spring and summer season here in Charleston. Thank you to all our partners in the Charleston hospitality field for supporting us, especially the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Here’s to a stellar year for all of us!

History of Carolina Gold Rice

history of carolina gold rice

Carolina Gold Rice is Considered the Grandfather of Long Grain Rice in the Americas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History of Carolina Gold Rice

Originating from Africa and Indonesia, Carolina Gold Rice is considered the grandfather of long-grain rice in the Americas, making it the basis of the colonial economy of Carolina.

By 1685, Carolina Gold Rice was a commercial staple grain in the coastal lands of Charleston. The exquisite rice influenced the culture and cuisine of the city of Charleston,  and its deliciousness can sampled all over the Lowcountry still today.

The rice’s unique flavor, texture, and aroma set quality standards for long-grain rice. However, Carolina Gold rice had a single flaw: it was so fragile that only about 70 percent of the harvested grains would remain whole. The whole grains were saved for export, while the remaining broken grains, referred to as middlins, became the local population’s preference due to its acceptance of flavors.

Through its popularity, the names “long grain” and “Carolina Rice” became interchangeable throughout the world. After the Great Depression, new varieties of rice arose, causing Carolina Gold rice to almost become extinct.

In the 1980s, eye surgeon and plantation owner Dr. Richard Schulz from Savannah collected Carolina Gold from a USDA seed bank and returned the rice to the coastal wetlands around Charleston.  By 1986, he produced enough rice to sell.

Carolina Gold rice’s historical appeal has always been the way it was milled. The African slave women would hand-pound the grains with mortar, pestle, and fanner baskets before scrubbing the white grains with germ and flecks of bran, creating a fine flavor and texture.

Thanks to Carolina Gold rice, South Carolina was the leading rice producer in the United States for 200 years.  Today, many work to preserve the history of Carolina Gold rice, and it can be sampled on menus from spots like 82 Queen, Husk, Hominy Grill, and Poogan’s Porch.

Contact Bulldog Walking Tours on your next visit to the Lowcountry of South Carolina to learn more about the fascinating history and cultural diversity of this unique region.

What are the Best Golf Courses in Charleston?

Charleston SC golf courses

Charleston, SC Offers World Class Golf Courses

Considered to be the birthplace of American golf by many, it comes as no surprise that Charleston has many courses worth visiting.  Charleston and the surrounding areas have many options to offer to any visitors looking to play a few rounds on some world class courses.  The first course we’ll preview, located in Mt. Pleasant, is the Charleston National Country Club.  With the average green fee between $40-$80, Charleston National remains one of the more challenging and scenic layouts the Lowcountry has to offer.  Charleston National welcomes members as well as non-members, making it a perfect place to play a round or two while on vacation.  The next golf course Charleston has to offer is Coosaw Creek Country Club, located just a short drive from downtown Charleston.  With an average green fee between $40-$70, the course may be considered the most deceptive challenge in the Charleston area.  Also, just down the road from Coosaw Creek Country Club is The Golf Club at Wescott Plantation with an average green fee of $35-$65.  Another golf course located in Mt. Pleasant is the Dunes West Golf Club.  The average green fee is $40-$75. The land with which Dunes West Golf Club sits is part of a 1696 land grant.

The Charleston area also offers one of the finest golf and beach resorts on the east coast.  Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers multiple golf clubs including Cougar Point, Oak Point, Osprey Point, Turtle Point the well-known Ocean Course.  The average green fees vary depending on the course, but they range from $90-$390.  The Kiawah Island Golf Resort courses are located on Kiawah Island with one located on Johns Island.  Many tournaments are hosted at Kiawah Island each year and the courses are one of a kind.  The PGA tournament was held there just a couple of years ago. The courses stretch across the beautiful coasts of the Lowcountry as well as offer spectacular views of the marsh and surrounding ecosystem.

If you want a course with impressive views, then the Patriots Point Links on Charleston Harbor is worth checking out.  With an average green fee between $45-$85, you can spot Fort Sumter as well as cruise ships coming into the Charleston Harbor from the course.  Shrimp boats are also a common sight from the course.  Perhaps you are looking for a more laid-back golf course to check out during your stay in Charleston?  Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club can offer just that.  Located in Charleston and with an average green fee of $35-$55, you can enjoy a golf course that is a favorite among many locals and visitors.  Whether you are a regular or a first-time guest, you will feel right at home in the clubhouse and on the course.

The last popular place to play golf in the Charleston area is Wild Dunes Resort.  With two courses available, The Harbor Course and the Links Course have an average green fee of $75-$190.  You can play golf just off the Atlantic Ocean.  Both located on Isle of Palms, it is just a short drive from downtown Charleston.  Regardless of your skill level or what kind of course you want to play, you can find it among all the golf courses the Charleston area has to offer.

Celebrities That Have Visited Charleston

celebrities that visit charleston sc

Charleston Native Mr. Stephen Colbert

Charleston is a city that captures the heart of many, locals and visitors alike.  It is no surprise that it is a popular vacation destination for many celebrities.  The shade of the palmetto trees offer a break and some relaxation from their often hectic schedules.  Charleston has many things to offer; the beaches, shopping and of course world-class dining.  Celebrities often check out the gorgeous Lowcountry beaches, dine at the fine Charleston restaurants and shop at high-end designer shops that Charleston has to offer.  One restaurant in particular that has seen many celebrities is Hymans Seafood. There you can spot the brass plaques on the tables and signed plates hanging on the walls of celebrities who have dined there.

Among the many hotels in Charleston, one popular hotel that has attracted many celebrities is Charleston Place.  Some celebrities that have stayed at Charleston Place include Prince Charles, members of Fortune 500 companies, Governors and prime ministers from all around the world, as well as Mel Gibson, Ted Turner, Barbra Streisand, Richard Gere, Bruce Willis, Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Melanie Griffith, Julia Roberts and many others.  The luxurious five star hotel offers the perfect location in the heart of downtown Charleston as well as many amenities.  Charleston is a unique place that offers a break from the everyday lives of celebrities.  With all that Charleston has to offer, it places fourth in the top ten best vacation spots for celebrity run-ins.  Who knows, you may run into a celebrity while strolling around Historic Charleston!

Where Are the Best Places for Antiquing in Charleston?

Charleston SC Antiquing Tour Guide

Historic Charleston, SC Offers Some of the Finest Antique Shopping in America

With a beautiful, historic city like Charleston, SC you can find great antique shops all over!  In the heart of downtown Charleston, King Street is the perfect place to start exploring the variety of antique shops the Lowcountry has to offer.  The first place on historic King Street is Geo. C. Birlant & Co which has been operating in Charleston for over 90 years!.  There you can find a variety of fine English antiques and reproductions.  With three locations on King Street, the next antique shop has a lot to offer.  At John Gibson Inc. you can find amazing antique furniture and decorative pieces.  Perhaps you’re looking for imported antiques.  Jacque’s Antiques on King Street specializes in 17th, 18th, and 19th century French antiques.  All the pieces in the store’s inventory are personally selected by store owner Jacques Lemoine.  Also on King Street, you can find Alexandra French Antiques.  Among many other antique shops on King Street is Golden & Associates Antiques.  They have been dealing with the finest antiques for generations.  Featured on the 3,500-square-foot showroom is their well-known period lighting and 18th and 19th century Caribbean furniture.

Heading north on U.S. 17 to Mt. Pleasant you can also check out Page’s Thieves Market on Ben Sawyer Boulevard.  There you can explore a wide range of prices and interesting items.  Not too far from downtown Charleston you can also explore Roumillat’s Antiques and Auctions on Savannah Highway.  The 14,000-square-foot showroom is filled with antiques from all over the world.  Monthly buying trips take place throughout the U.S. and Europe to give the store a base for American, British and French antiques.  Auctions also take place twice a month where you have an opportunity to snag antique and modern furniture, art, clocks, toys and much more for a great price.  With the rich history that Charleston bestows, antique shops in the Holy City are filled with one-of-a-kind pieces that may catch your eye.

How old is the Angel Oak in Charleston, SC?

Angel Oak Tree Charleston, SC

Angel Oak located on John’s Island near Historic Charleston, SC

Reportedly the oldest living thing east of the Rockies, the Angel Oak, also called The Tree, is located on John’s Island just outside of Charleston.  It is estimated to be between 500 and 1500 years old. There is such a wide range because Oak trees are known to develop heart rot making it difficult to extract accurate core samples to determine the age.  Due to the forceful winds of the coast, maritime trees have evolved to be strong and shorter vertically rather than horizontally.  The Angel Oak has survived countless hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and human interference. Damaged severely during Hurricane Hugo, the beautiful tree has since recovered.  While the Angel Oak stands only 65 feet tall, its stretches to cover nearly 2,000 square yards!  The limbs of the tree are so massive that many of them rest on the ground due to their weight.  In 1991, the land with which the tree sits was acquired by the City of Charleston from the original owners, Martha and Justis Angel.  The name Angel Oak derived from the original owners.  The tree has also been recognized as a 2000 Millennium Tree and as the 2004 South Carolina Heritage Tree.  The park also includes a gift shop as well as picnic areas for visitors.  If you are planning a trip to Charleston, Angel Oak is a must see.  With free admission and just a short drive from Charleston, Angel Oak is the perfect stop along your trip.  It is an unforgettable and gorgeous sight.

Kicking Off the Year Right!

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Once again it’s time to vote for Bulldog Tours in the Best of Charleston Awards sponsored by the Charleston City Paper. We are up for Best Tour Company in the Attractions and City Living Category. We have won every year since 2010 and we aim to take home the top honors again in 2015! Cast your vote by Feb. 17. You do not have to vote in multiple categories in order for your vote to count. Once a vote is cast it is automatically saved. There is no submit button.

We truly believe we are the city’s best tour company. Check out the top 10 reasons Bulldog Tours is the best tour company in Charleston. We showcase the best of Charleston every day as we give tours to visitors from around the world. It’s our specialty and we take pride in our tours and our tour guides – some of the most experienced in the city.

Check out the video we made if you need more convincing.

If it’s been awhile since you experienced Bulldog’s brand of hospitality, come join us for a free tour night for locals on Sunday, Feb. 8. Pick from the Ghost and Graveyard Tour, the Haunted Jail Tour or the Dark Side of Charleston Tour. Locals have to be from Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley counties and must show ID at check-in. The free tours are offered on Feb. 8 only and guests will not be able to reschedule to another night for free. Reservations are required by calling 843-722-8687.

We look forward to another great year and kicking it off with an award and free night for locals sounds great to us!

Year-End Review for 2014

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What a ride 2014 was! Let’s start with the beginning of the year when Charleston faced record breaking freezing temperatures. Did we stop our tours? Nope! Some brave souls who were on vacation during that time didn’t want to cancel, so we didn’t either. We still ran our Culinary Tours, Charleston Strolls and the ghost tours, especially the Haunted Jail, despite extremely low temperatures in January and February.

We held our annual hospitality party at the Old City Jail on March 5. Yes, it was a cold and wet day, but we had a great turn-out. Our DJ’s were great and we had the Charleston Party Booth there again to help us celebrate the beginning of a great tourism season for 2014.

In April, we saw lots of large groups pass through. We took them all out around the city successfully. There were days in this month that we took out over 10 groups in one day. From school and corporate groups to church groups and reunions, we saw them all. April is always the busiest month for group tours as the spring weather is always so nice in Charleston.

The summer came upon us quickly. July was a very busy month. The ghost tours pick up the most in the summer as we welcome families on vacation. Every year, we will sell out of our tours in July. July 4th was on a Friday in 2014 so that whole weekend was busy. It was hot and buggy, but we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

new-bulldog-homeIn September we moved to 18 Anson Street after being in the Rainbow Market for 14 years. The move was a big one, but not far (just across a parking lot). We moved into a Charleston single house dating back to 1894. There is so much history here so it is only fitting to be here. Everyone who works for Bulldog Tours loves the new house. Our great leader, John LaVerne, did a fantastic job on the renovation.

Halloween was a success in October (another very busy month). The ghost tours did great and on Halloween night we managed to sell out of pretty much every tour, despite our attempt to add more times for tours to go out. We were able to see how a busy night would go in our new house and luckily everything went smoothly. The winner of our employee costume contest was a new tour guide named Jesse. He was a Civil War ghost.

December has been great too. We started it out in the Charleston Christmas Parade, followed by our annual employee Christmas party. This year we held our party on the Charleston Harbor Tours’ Carolina Queen. The Charleston Christmas Parade was a success too and the employees who participated had a ton of fun.

2015 will be another great year. We just know it! We want to thank all our customers and fans. We want to hear from you and welcome any suggestions. Happy New Year!

Patriots Point Offers Adventure and Excitement

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Located in Mount Pleasant, just over the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston is a Naval and Maritime museum that honors the history of this nation. Open daily from 9am to 6:30pm except on Christmas day, visitors can explore the USS Yorktown, multiple aircraft and tours and exhibits, the USS Clamagore, the USS Laffey, a Metal of Honor Museum, a Vietnam Support Base and a Cold War Museum! The general admission tickets allow you to visit and explore all the above attractions. You can purchase and print the tickets off the Patriots Point website, or you can purchase the tickets at the ticket window upon arrival. The tickets vary in price from $12 to $20. For military personnel with a Military ID, their entry is $17, and for military personnel in Uniform, their entry is free as well as children under six. With your visit to Patriots Point, you will learn the rich history behind this nation’s military. You are guaranteed to learn quite a bit with all the tours that are offered. There is even a movie theater that regularly shows an Academy-Award winning movie from 1944 called “The Fighting Lady.”  Also offered is a flight simulator!  The flight simulator is a multi-sensory experience that combines high-definition, movie-like audiovisual and motion to create a realistic experience. The USS Yorktown is also one of the nation’s top education adventures with one very special feature. Educational groups are allowed to camp overnight on the ship!  Those camping overnight sleep in the berthing areas is where the sailors of the ship once slept. The camping package provides those with self-guided tours, entertainment, meals and an On-site Educational Program. Patriots Point offers something for everyone. It even has a 34-ft climbing wall and for only $5 you are allowed two recreational climbs. The options are endless and no matter your interests, Patriots Point is worth checking out during your stay in Charleston.