5 Charleston Landmarks from the Notebook

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If you’re a female and are alive at this moment, there’s a good chance you’ve teared up while watching the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. While the story is certainly a tear-jerker, what we really love is the many Charleston moments from the film. Here are a few you’re sure to recognize:

Cypress Gardens  – 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner
Every resident and visitor, whether you love or hate the Notebook, should pay a visit to the other-worldly beautiful Cypress Gardens. Notebook fans: this is where the desperately romantic canoe scene went down, and YES, it IS always that beautiful. While we can’t promise a swarm of swans to greet you or a torrential downpour of rain to awaken your dormant passion for the love of your life, we CAN encourage you to board a canoe and take a breathtaking ride through the swamps and experience peace like you’ve never done before.

The American Theater – 446 King Street
That scene where Noah and Allie go on a double date to a movie, then lie in the middle of the street, then dance in the middle of the street? That’s at King Street’s iconic, art deco American Theater downtown. Even up until relatively recent years, the theater was still in the business of movies, but now it’s strictly an event space. Still, the marquee often displays romantic messages — Valentine’s Day, marriage proposals, anniversaries, etc — which is very The Notebook of them, yes?

Boone Hall Plantation  – 1235 Long Point Rd., Mt Pleasant
If you loved the scene with the Hamilton’s summer house, you should go experience Boone Hall Plantation. Lots of shows/movies have been shot at the antebellum-era plantation in Mount Pleasant, including the North and South mini series, Queen (the film), and, of course, The Notebook. Live oaks planted in 1743 line the drive, making for a breathtaking entrance that’s about as picturesque as you can get — they call it the Avenue of Oaks, and it’s nearly a mile long. Come the last weekend in January to kill two birds with one stone and attend the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, held every year here at Boone Hall.

High Cotton  – 199 E Bay Street, Downtown
Remember when Allie’s dining out and, after all these years, Noah walks by and spots here with her fiancé? That’s High Cotton, one of downtown Charleston’s most renowned restaurants. Peter Pierce, a local manager at sister restaurant across the street, Slightly North of Broad, plays the part of the maitre d’ who Allie approaches when she first enters the restaurant. If not for the food, you should at least have a drink at the bar, where there’s live music several nights a week.

College of Charleston  – 66 George Street, Downtown
Go for a stroll on George Street to behold the gorgeous grounds of the College of Charleston, which served as the backdrop for Allie’s college in the Notebook. Other films have taken place here, like the Patriot, and if you come in May during the Spoleto festival, chances are you’ll be able to catch a performance outside in the Cistern Yard.

Charleston on a Budget: 5 Must-Do’s that Cost Nearly Nothing

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A visit to Charleston can be daunting no matter your budget — so much to experience in so little time! So what should you prioritize and what’s — let’s be honest — free to see? We have a list of tried-and-true must-sees both on and off the peninsula that we recommend to any visitor! And it’s all for the cost of nada.

Meditate in a downtown graveyard – Walk to several gorgeous downtown graveyards and stroll through them in peaceful meditation — and they’re free! We love the historic Unitarian Church and St John’s Lutheran Church on Archdale Street with their beautiful, overgrown, flowery gardens. Also in walking distance are the Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street and St Michael’s Church on Meeting and Broad. Take a drive to downtown’s stunning Magnolia Cemetery off Morrison, on Cunnington Drive, for many a noble final resting place. If you have a few bucks to spend, though, let Bulldog Tours walk you through our Ghost and Graveyard Walking Tour so you can learn as you go!

2. Have a picnic at Angel Oak – It’s a sin to come and go from Charleston without getting a glance at one of our — literally — biggest treasures, the Angel Oak. Located on Johns Island (15-minute-or-so drive from downtown), the sprawling live oak is alive indeed after at least 400 to 500 years. The park is totally free, too, and there are several picnic tables there to provide shade aplenty for a picnic. Regardless, there are plenty of photo opps here, and you’ll never, ever forget this incredible sight for the rest of your days. We promise!

3. Take a beach stroll at the Morris Island Lighthouse – While you’re out at the Angel Oak, you may as well drive to the beach when you’re done with your picnic. Who could come and go from the coast without a glimpse of the sea? Regardless the time of year, you’ll love a stroll to the Morris Island Lighthouse, which is accessible from Folly Beach. Park at the end of East Ashley Avenue, and enjoy the relaxing quarter-mile walk to this peaceful pocket of the beach full of driftwood and a super-close-up view of the lighthouse. If you’re hungry when you leave, stop by the bohemian, amazingly casual Bowen’s Island Restaurant (between Folly and James Island) for another killer view and fresh, delicious seafood for a price you can definitely live with.

4. Get a sweetgrass rose – Those sweetgrass baskets sure are pretty, but not everyone has the budget for an expensive souvenir, though we do agree that the craftsmanship equals the price tag. To bring home a small souvenir that really says Charleston, why not grab yourself a super-reasonably priced sweetgrass rose to display in a skinny vase back home? Stroll through the market and take in all the excitement — the smells, buskers playing music, vendors selling local goods — which comes free, and remember your trip always with a darling memento. It’s the perfect, pretty reminder that you don’t need a big bank account when you can stop and smell the sweetgrass roses.

5. Hide your car keys – We also advise you to, while exploring downtown, to leave the car parked. Walk around, and read about significant homes and sites by finding the historical markers. Rent a bike or bring your own, and navigate your way around the city’s one-way streets so beautifully shaded with live oaks and Spanish moss. Take your time admiring the wrought-iron work and peering through closed gates at the many gorgeous gardens and mansions. Take a rickshaw bike ride back to the hotel after dinner, and enjoy the shortcuts and back alleys taken by local drivers. Put your phone away, and get lost South of Broad. Walk along the battery, and let the sea breeze lighten your load. Whatever you do, don’t miss all the magical moments happening all around you that cost absolutely nothing.

5 Charleston Family-Friendly Day Trips Worth the Drive

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Staying in Charleston long enough for a little excursion? Or are you a local in need of an adventure? Whether you’re a visitor or resident, you should check out these amazing destinations that are too cool and close-by to pass up.

1. Old Sheldon Church Ruins, Sheldon, North Beaufort

The Old Sheldon Church ruins are absolutely stunning. Located a little over an hour south of Charleston in north Beaufort county, the church was built in the Greek Revival style around 1750, known then as Prince William’s Parish Church. In 1779, it was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War and rebuilt in 1826. However, as fate would have it, it was burned again about a century later by General Sherman’s army en route from Georgia. Today, the ruins make for a hauntingly beautiful scene, a picturesque structure standing amid majestic oaks with Spanish moss and old, forgotten graves scattered all around. Bring the dogs, the kids, and/or the one you love to behold this truly special sight.

2. Kazoo Museum and Drive-In Movie, Beaufort

While you’re in that neck of the woods, keep driving south to Beaufort if you’re the mood for some truly kitschy fun. Perfect for the whole family, the Kazoo Museum and Factory is located off Highway at 12 John Galt Road and is the only manufacturer of plastic kazoos in the country. Take the short tour to get a cool history lesson and see the factory in action. At the end of the tour, you get to make your own kazoo! Go late in the afternoon (it only takes 20 minutes or so to take the tour) just in case you can make an early movie at the Highway 21 Drive-In — or simply go to Beaufort just for a movie under the stars. This place is a treat that comes complete with an old-school concessions station. Bonus: you get to see two movies for the price of one. Yep, there are two different double features every night, so you get a lot of choice AND bang for your buck.

3. Hunting Island State Park, East Beaufort

Take a drive toward Edisto and stop at Hunting Island to get in touch with nature again. Every turn is like an other-worldy paradise full of tropical forests and washed-up driftwood, and there are miles of gorgeous trails and shore to walk with the family and dogs, too. There’s also a lighthouse you can go inside, a campground, and plenty of picnic tables on which to feast.

4. Teapot Museum, Elloree

Take a ride up I-26 for about an hour and a half to Elloree to check out a teapot museum that’s actually shaped like a teapot! Inside, thousands of every kind of teapot you could fathom await, along with a massive Noah’s ark replica that acts as one of the many imaginative displays for the precious pots. The museum is behind Boland’s Pharmacy, and visitation is by appointment only.

5. Bee City, Cottageville

You have to see this place to bee-lieve it! Located west of Charleston in Cottageville, Bee City is a wonderful honeybee farm, petting zoo, and nature center. Besides getting to learn a lot about bees, you get to hand-feed monkeys, ringtail lemurs, llamas, alpacas, deer, goat, and sheep. Pet adorable bunnies and check out everything from wallabies to miniature horses and donkeys. Admission is only $7 and you can stop by the cafe for lots of great, kid-approved goodies as well as the gift shop for locally produced honey, bee pollen, beeswax, skin cream, hand and body lotion, and lip balm — and so much more!

Top 20 Pictures in our Summer Photo Contest (So far)…

We are so excited about the amount of attention our Charleston Charm Photo Contest is getting this summer. At the end of June we asked our Facebook fans to share their best Charleston area photos. We got an overwhelming response and currently have over 500 photos submitted. We are now trying to focus on getting more “likes” for our photos. Our contest is based on likes, as the person who took the photo with the most likes will win a 2-night stay at Andrew Pinckney Inn, $50 to Smoke BBQ and tickets to our culinary, ghost and history tours. Who doesn’t want a free trip to Charleston? Second and third place winners will also get tickets to our tours. We are ending submissions and “likes” by 5pm on Aug. 4. We will announce the winner on Aug. 5 at around 5pm!

Check out our top 20 photos with the most likes right now! Please note that this could change at any minute!

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5 Amazing Churches in Charleston

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Charleston is nicknamed the Holy City for its beautiful, steepled skyline. But there’s a lot of history behind those holy walls, too. Here are five of downtown Charleston’s most storied, iconic churches.

Cathedral of St. John the BaptistThe Cathedral of St John the Baptist
120 Broad Street
The Cathedral of St John the Baptist, the mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, stands like a majestic giant on Broad Street. Built between 1890 and 1907, the breathtaking cathedral is active as ever. Although the first brownstone cathedral burned to the ground in the 1861 fire, today the church seats 720 people. The Cathedral is renowned for its stunning hand-painted stained-glass Stations of the Cross and neo-gothic architecture. You can attend Saturday vigil mass at 5:30 p.m., Sunday family mass at 9 a.m., Sunday solemn mass with a choir at 6 p.m., or daily mass Monday through Friday at 12:05 p.m.

circular-churchCircular Congregational Church
150 Meeting Street
The Circular Congregational Church is one of the most iconic in the city, with its gorgeous Greek Revival architecture, seven great doors, and 26 windows. The congregation of the church was founded with Charles Town between 1680 and 1685. The current structure was constructed in 1890 after its previous form, built in 1804, was destroyed in the fire of 1861. Though the church and congregation has gone through tremendous challenges and changes, it thrives today as one of the most liberal places of worship in the city, championing the progressive, inclusive values of United Church of Christ, like civil and LGBT rights. All are welcome for worship services on Sundays at 10 a.m. Join them at any one of their many calendar events as well, including Buddhist meditation groups, film discussions, and theology book groups.

strolls-St-michaelsSt Michael’s Church
80 Meeting Street
A few steps away on Broad Street, at the Four Corners of Law, is St Michael’s Church, representing ecclesiastical law. It’s the oldest surviving religious structure in Charleston and certainly one of the most iconic. The national landmark was built between 1751 and 1761 on the site of St Philip’s original structure, which was ruined by a hurricane in 1710 and demolished in 1727. Its picturesque two-story portico featuring Tuscan columns was the first of its size in colonial America. Visitors are welcome inside for Sunday services or in the graveyard, where two signers of the US Constitution are buried along with many other historical figures. When you hear the bells chime, know that both the bells and the clock date back to colonial times, and that St Michael’s is the oldest tower clock in North America.

unitarian-churchUnitarian Church
8 Archdale Street
Another beautiful graveyard to wander through is located on Archdale, parallel to King Street in the antique district, at the Unitarian Church. The second-oldest church in the city, the perpendicular gothic-style church was constructed in 1772, designed by Francis Lee — though it has seen a lot of damage and reconstruction due to hurricanes as recent as 1989′s Hurricane Hugo. Its stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling with fan tracery make the sanctuary hands-down the most beautiful and awe-inspiring  one in the city. Services are on Sundays at 11 a.m., though in June through September they begin at 10 a.m.. Visiting hours are often held on Saturdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit the graveyard 8 a.m.-6 p.m. in the summer and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the winter.

steeple-emanuel-methodist-churchMother Emanuel AME
110 Calhoun Street
Infamous for last summer’s tragic events inside the church, Mother Emanuel AME is the oldest, most storied AME in the south. The Free African Society formed the Bethel Circuit in 1791 and reorganized in 1865 to erect the present structure in 1891. It was the first independent black denomination in America and one of the oldest black congregations south of Baltimore. Mother Emanuel has survived unimaginable pain, discrimination, and physical damage throughout its existence, including numerous raids by local officials. In 1822, it was burned to the ground by angry whites and again destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. Dr Martin Luther King Jr spoke at the church in 1962, and in 1969, King’s widow Coretta Scott King led a march of 1,500 demonstrators to the church in support of local hospital workers on strike. Today, the church is a symbol of resilience, strength, grace, and kindness. All are welcome to worship there on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

The Wild Blue Ropes and Ghost Adventure Package

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@HunterMcCrae

We are excited to announce our partnership with Wild Blue Ropes. Tickets are now on sale for guests to sign up for one of our night tours and a Wild Blue Ropes course.

Wild Blue Ropes is a premier high climbing ropes and outdoor adventure park, featuring 72 suspended obstacles, up to 35 feet in the air. There are four difficulty levels ranging from beginner to expert. Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park is located just off Folly Road, less than 10 minutes from downtown Charleston. Wild Blue Ropes is a perfect outing with family, friends or coworkers. There are night climbs and other celebrations.

This package includes tickets to Wild Blue Ropes and tickets to one of our night tours. That means that guests could go on the Ghost and Dungeon, the Ghost and Graveyard, the Dark Side of Charleston or the Haunted Jail Tour. The total for the package is $58. That’s a savings of $9 total.

If you are interested in adventure and our ghost tours, sign up for this package. You’ll get to enjoy a relaxing night tour and a physical challenge during the day – the best of both worlds. Call 843-722-8687 for more information or visit http://bulldogtours.com/wild-blue-ropes-combo/.

Charleston’s Choice with The Post and Courier

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We are so excited about a new contest from The Post and Courier called Charleston’s Choice. This contest is similar to the Best of Charleston contest put out by the City Paper. Local businesses are nominated in a number of categories, and the public will be asked to vote for their favorite under each category.

Nominees are being accepted through June 19. Then, the top 10 nominees in each category will be the finalists. The public will vote for their favorite finalists from June 23 to July 17. Assuming we’re a finalist (and we feel confident about our chances), we’ll ask everyone to vote again.

The top 3 winners in each category will be named online and in the newspaper on Sept. 25. The public is asked to vote in the process going on now and in the second phase with the finalists from June 23 to July 17. Voting can be done one time with an email address.

Bulldog Tours is nominated under the Recreation, Leisure and Outdoor heading. We are named under the category for best tour company/guide. Please vote for us. We would very much appreciate it!

This is going to be a great contest, and we look forward to seeing all the nominees as well as supporting other companies in other categories. Thank you all in advance for your continued support.

Mother’s Day in Charleston

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Here at Bulldog Tours, we love moms! In appreciation of all moms do for us, we’re offering them half off for tours on Mother’s Day. Call to book your reservation on one of our history or ghost tours on Sunday, May 8. Call 843-722-8687 for reservations.

There is so much to do in Charleston on Mother’s Day and it’s certainly one of the busiest days for Sunday brunch, so make your reservations early. Need ideas for Mother’s Day brunch? Some of our favorite Charleston brunch locations are Magnolia’s, 5 Church, Eli’s Table, Swamp Fox, Vincent Chicco’s and Virginia’s on King.

Other fun ways to celebrate with mom on Mother’s Day include a harbor tour with Charleston Harbor Tours or spending a day at Fort Sumter with Fort Sumter Tours. Relax on the beach soaking up the sunshine at Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island or the Isle of Palms.

Restaurants are also busy for dinner on Mother’s Day so book your table now at one of Charleston’s endlessly delicious restaurants.

Happy Mother’s Day to all our moms!

Bulldog is Best Tour Company 7 Years Running

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We are excited to announce we won the Charleston City Paper’s Best Of Charleston contest as best tour company in the city for the seventh year in a row. Thank you to our loyal fans for their support and votes. We are honored to have been nominated with the other great tour companies and congratulate Palmetto Carriage Works as the runner-up. We look forward to serving our guests this year and encourage them to share feedback and leave reviews so we can continue to improve.

Congratulations to all our hospitality cohorts who also won Best Of awards, including The Dock Street Theatre, Spoleto, Cooper River Bridge Run, Charleston Riverdogs, Halls Chophouse, Fleet Landing, Tattooed Moose, Fat Hen, Hanks Seafood, Pearlz, 82 Queen, Minero, Kudu Coffee and The Alley.

Again, thank you for your support and we hope to see all our fans in the coming year!

St. Patrick’s Day in Charleston

tommy-condons-st-patricks-dayGood ole St. Patrick’s Day is one day that doesn’t get overlooked in Charleston. Sure, there are plenty of parties and celebrations but check out these few that really know how to do it up right on March 17.

Of course, Tommy Condon’s comes to mind as one of the most popular Irish pubs in the city. Located at 160 Church St., this Charleston staple hosts a day-long celebration with lots of spirits flowing.

Molly Darcy’s is another great Irish spot in the heart of downtown. Located on East Bay Street near the corner of North Market Street, Molly Darcy’s celebrates with a bagpipe procession, and the patio is packed as people celebrate with music and Irish eats.

tommy-condons-st-patricks-day-2Mac’s Place on East Bay Street is another Irish hot spot many tourists and locals frequent. It is located on East Bay Street, right near the corner of South Market Street. Mac’s Place is a Chicago-inspired pub where the beer is flowing and the TVs are tuned to the NCAA basketball games.

Lastly, the tradition of Hibernian Hall cannot be missed on St. Patrick’s Day here in Charleston. Men decked out in tuxedos and green bow ties will celebrate the holiday in this elite society. The all-male members of the Hibernian Society were granted membership by having it passed down from generation to generation.

St. Patrick’s Day is definitely a great holiday to celebrate in the Holy City where the city is transformed into a sea of green!

Closing Out the Voting

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As we close another a year of Best of Charleston voting for the Charleston City Paper we would like to thank everyone who voted for us as best tour company for the seventh year in a row. We have had another great year and we couldn’t have done it without our incredible guests, tour guides and staff.

We hope we won again this year! Our fingers are crossed until mid-March when the winners are announced. But winning or losing a contest will not take away from our desire to give our guests the best tour experience possible in our great city.

As we look to the beginning of another busy spring season, we welcome your feedback on how we can improve. We want to deliver the best culinary, ghost and history tour experience and your comments and suggestions help in that effort.

Our free night for locals on Feb. 8 was a huge success, and we hope to see everyone back at some point during the year with a friend or family who’s visiting. Again, we want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us this year and everyone who toured with us recently. It has been a pleasure!

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 2016! Cast your vote by Feb. 20. 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 Monday, 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!

Shem Creek Mt. Pleasant, SC

shem creek dining and lodging charleston sc

If you love seafood and water, then you’ll find that Shem Creek is a little piece of paradise! The address is Shrimp Boat Lane: need we say more?

Well, OK. For starters, the view of Shem Creek alone is absolutely stunning. There is no better place to place to really absorb the local beauty in a local atmosphere amongst local deliciousness. At night, the view is spectacular with the lights reflecting off the water, and each restaurant features patio dining so you can soak in a sunset that comes complete with a sea breeze.

The food: Considered one of the best stops in Charleston for seafood, the area has multiple restaurants all within walking distance, all right on the water. Daily, fresh seafood is delivered by the locally-parked shrimp boats, so it’s the perfect place to park and partake in your favorite sea creatures: from shrimp to crab to oysters! A few to try include RB’s Seafood, Shem Creek Bar and Grill, and Water’s Edge. Vickery’s is a big local favorite, with its award-winning oyster stew and bloody Marys, while Red’s Icehouse is a great spot to sip a cold one and take in some local music on the deck.

Where to sleep: You can really experience the area with a stay at Shem Creek Inn, where every room has a private balcony.

Shem Creek also has multiple marinas, plus a public boat landing to provide access to the water for kayaks, paddle boards, and jet skis.  With Shem Creek being a tidal creek, dolphins and occasionally sea turtles often venture into the creek and can be seen up close. There’s also a boardwalk with benches and a sheltered area at the end where you can take a stroll and enjoy the natural surroundings before or after your waterfront drinks! Oh and if you have too many and need a taxi, a water taxi can take you across the Cooper River to downtown.

What do you love the most about Shem Creek?

Rainbow Row Charleston, SC

Rainbow Row Historic Charleston, SC

You’ve seen it on Charleston postcards and on many Charleston souvenirs but why are the buildings of so colorful?  Believe it or not, Rainbow Row has not always been so bright and beautiful.

Constructed in the mid-18th century on 83-107 East Bay Street, it was originally a commerce center on the waterfront built to serve the wharfs and docks of the port of Charleston.

Merchants lived on the second floor and had their stores on the first floor of the buildings.  Unfortunately, after the Civil War and until the early 1900s, Rainbow Row was considered a slum and was a very run-down area of Charleston.

A woman named Dorothy Porcher Legge owned houses 99 through 101.  To improve the homes, she painted them a bright and beautiful pastel pink, which was from the colonial Caribbean color scheme at the time. Others in the area began following in her footsteps by painting their houses beautiful pastel colors to improve the overall appearance of the neighborhood.  But the coloring was not just for aesthetics: Light colors helped keep the interior of the houses cooler. (Or you could choose to believe one of the urban legends, like the one about painting the homes differing colors in order to help lead drunken sailors back to the proper house!)

Today, Rainbow Row consists of 13 private residences that all together make up one of the more famous, and certainly most painted, landmarks in Charleston.  Stroll down Broad, Market, or Church Street, and you’ll notice many of the local art in the windows is inspired by this particular cluster of homes on East Bay — not to mention countless postcards, T-shirts, mugs, and more. The city’s ordinances protect the color of each house on Rainbow Row, keeping it as one of the most recognizable and photographed sights in Charleston.

Powder Magazine Charleston, SC

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Dating back to colonial times, The Powder Magazine on 79 Cumberland Street, Charleston is a major part of the city’s history. And if you’re a colonial times or war buff, this attraction should be on your to-do list!

It’s one of the two surviving fortified structures of its kind from the original 13 colonies and was completed in 1713. The structure is associated with the siege of Charleston in 1780 by the British and is the oldest public building in the Carolinas.

During Charleston’s first settlement, gunpowder storage was a difficult business.  Gunpowder was originally stored in separate locations, but in 1703, the Commons House of Assembly constructed a brick building where all the gunpowder could be safely stored together. When the British invaded, the doors and windows were bricked up, and the Brits never discovered the secret powder.

The ingenuity that went into constructing the building in 1713 is remarkable. For example, each wall is arched. These walls start at about three feet in thickness at the bottom and get thinner and thinner as they reach the top of the arch, only measuring a few inches in thickness at the top. In the event of an explosion, most of the force would exit the building through the roof and travel up instead of out: the arched walls could act as a funnel. Sand was also stored in the roof to smother the fire if an explosion occurred.

In the 19th century, the Powder Magazine was converted into a print shop, stable, blacksmith shop, horse carriage house, and a wine cellar. By 1902 the building was saved from destruction when, the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of South Carolina purchased, restored it, and turned it into the museum you may visit today.

4 Stunning Charleston Plantations You Need to Experience

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Preserving Charleston’s history for many years, the various plantations in the Lowcountry take visitors back in time to better understand how Charlestonians lived several hundred years ago.

Filled with landscaped gardens and magnificent plantation houses that are extraordinarily furnished, the plantations have survived through centuries of history and allow visitors to witness the beauty that the South maintains.

  1. Boone Hall Plantation perfectly preserves the historic south and can be experienced through its educational tours. Get a taste of the old South at one of the plantation events, like the Taste of Charleston, the Oyster Festival, or one of the many concerts (Loretta Lynn performed here in 2014!).

  2. Middleton Place, home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens, is a massive, impressive work of art. Get lost in the garden’s gorgeous maze overlooking the Ashley River, or say hello to the plantation’s pets, like peacocks, pigs, and cows. The Spoleto finale complete with a concert and fireworks are held on the picture-perfect field here every year, too, while countless weddings take advantage of the plantation’s breathtaking backdrops.

  3. Also on the Ashley and just a moment away down Ashley River Road is Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. You could spend the day surrounded by the beauty of Magnolia, especially with so many activities at your disposal the whole family will adore. Try one or all of these: garden tour, nature train, rice field boat tour, zoo and nature center, and swamp garden.

  4. Also on Ashley River Road and overlooking the Ashley is Drayton Hall, established in 1676 by the Drayton family. The massive brick structure is a shining example of Palladian architecture and is the only plantation house on the Ashley to remain intact throughout both the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. A National Landmark, Drayton is the oldest tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public garden in America. Its thousands of gorgeous flowers and plants became open to the public in 1870.

Which plantation will you visit first? For more information, ask one of our helpful, local walking tour guides!

Patriots Point – Mt. Pleasant SC

patriots point naval museum charlston sc

Located in Mount Pleasant, just over the Ravenel Bridge from Charleston is a Naval and Maritime museum that honors the history of America.

At Patriots Point, visitors can explore the USS Yorktown, multiple aircraft and tours and exhibits, the USS Clamagore, the USS Laffey, a Medal of Honor Museum, a Vietnam Support Base, and a Cold War Museum.  General admission tickets allow you to visit and explore all the above attractions.

Pass the popcorn: With your visit to Patriots Point, you’ll learn the rich history behind this nation’s military, and there’s even a movie theater that regularly shows the 1944 Academy-Award winning movie, The Fighting Lady.

Fly away: Also offered is a flight simulator, which is a multi-sensory experience that combines high-definition  audio, visual, and motion to create a realistic experience.

Camp out: The USS Yorktown is also one of the nation’s top education adventures, because educational groups are allowed to camp overnight on the ship! Campers sleep in the berthing areas, which is where sailors once slept. The camping package provides those with self-guided tours, entertainment, meals, and an on-site educational program.

Climb up: Additionally, a 34-ft climbing wall of adventure is there too and all yours for only $5, which is good for two recreational climbs.

Tickets vary in price from $12 to $20. Military personnel with a Military ID ticktes are $17. Military personnel in uniform and children under six get in for free. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., except on Christmas day.

5 Charming Charleston Museum Homes

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Charleston is a city filled with homes that belonged to wealthy Charlestonians throughout history, all of which beautifully demonstrate Southern heritage and Lowcountry history.

Museum home tours are the perfect way to spend some extra time in Charleston. The best historic houses are located right in the heart of downtown Charleston.

  1. Built in 1818, the Aiken-Rhett House, located on Elizabeth Street, showcases life in antebellum Charleston with its luxurious furniture and magnificent artwork displayed throughout the house. Many objects throughout the home are in the same rooms in which they were originally placed.

  2. Another historic house, the Calhoun Mansion is located on Meeting Street. This Victorian Baronial Manor House was built by the wealthy banker George Walton Williams. Within the house you’ll find a magnificient staircase that reaches to a seventy-five foot domed ceiling. The 24,000-square-foot mansion is decorated with ornate chandeliers, molding, and a ballroom with a glass skylight.

  3. Located on East Battery is the awe-inspiring Edmondston-Alston House. Built in 1825, the house was one of the first constructed on Charleston’s High Battery. The sophisticated house is a classic example of Charleston taste.

  4. The Heyward-Washington House on Church Street was built in 1772 and is as magnificent now as it was 250 years ago. Built by rice planter Daniel Heyward, the city rented it for George Washington’s use during his stay in Charleston. It was acquired by the Charleston Museum in 1929 and recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

  5. The Joseph Manigault House, located on Meeting Street, is a remarkable example of Adam-style designed by architect Gabriel Manigault. The home was restored to their original color schemes, and a stunning staircase dominates the central hall. Outside, visitors can find the period garden, kitchen and slave quarters, stable, and privy.

  6. Also located on Meeting Street is the Nathaniel Russell House, which is a National Historic Landmark. The elaborate details within the house make it a remarkable house worth seeing.

Tours and rates can be viewed through The Charleston Museum and some tour companies that visit the museum homes.

Movies Made in Charleston, SC

Movies and TV Shows Made in Charleston

Charleston is not only a popular place for vacations, but it is also a popular place for movies to be filmed.

Action!
Some of the most popular movies filmed in Charleston include Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, The Lords of Discipline, The Patriot, The Prince of Tides, Swamp Thing, The Notebook, Dear John, North and South, and A Special Friendship.

Popular television shows filmed in Charleston include Army Wives, Reckless, Southern Charm, and Vice Principals.

Sparks!
The popular Nicholas Sparks book-turned-movie, Dear John, was filmed in various locations in the Charleston area. The pier where they met was the Isle of Palms fishing pier, and the College of Charleston’s Randolph Hall was where Savannah would read and write letters. The Citadel’s infirmary was also used as a hospital in the movie, while John and Savannah’s date was filmed at Bowens Island Restaurant.

Another popular Nicholas Sparks book-turned-movie, The Notebook, was filmed all over Charleston, like at the College of Charleston (backdrop for Allie’s college), Boone Hall Plantation (the Hamiltons’ summer house scenes), Cypress Gardens (the beautiful canoe scene!), and the restaurant High Cotton (the scene where Allie dines with her fiance and Noah happens to pass by and see her inside). Plus, on Upper King you’ll find the American Theatre — you know, the backdrop for the scene where Noah and Allie lie in the middle of the street!

Nearly 40 films have been shot in the Charleston area, with the first being Peg of the Pirates, released in 1918. Charleston has not only won over its visitors’ hearts, but Hollywood’s heart, too.

Morris Island Lighthouse Charleston, SC

morris island lighthouse preservation

Just off the northeast end of Folly Island stands the first Charleston lighthouse. Once surrounded with numerous buildings and land, the Morris Island lighthouse is now completely surrounded by water.

Design:
Designed by Samuel Cardy and built by Adam Miller and Thomas Young, the tower was cylindrical with a height of 102 feet. A revolving lamp in the lantern room had a range of about 12 miles, but a Fresnel lens was installed in 1858.

Three become one:
Although the current lighthouse was completed in 1876, its history dates back to the 1700s. Back then, three islands existed between Folly Island and Sullivan’s Island: Middle Bay Island, Morrison Island, and Cummings Point. It was in 1767 that Charleston’s first lighthouse was built on Middle Bay Island.

Problems arose in the early 1800s when the channel leading to Charleston began to shift, causing tidal currents. The sand began to build up and the three islands merged into a single island. Since the middle island was called Morrison Island, the single island took on the name and was later shortened to Morris Island.

Former uses:
The lighthouse was utilized until the Civil War in 1861 when it was blown up by the fleeing Confederate soldiers so the northern troops could not use it. After the Civil War in 1873, Congress allowed the rebuilding of the lighthouse, then called the Charleston Main Light. Completed in 1876, the lighthouse stood 400 yards away from the original one and was built 161-feet tall with a pattern based off the Bodie Light off the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

The island contained 15 buildings, including the keeper’s quarters, various outbuildings, and a one-room schoolhouse. Each week the teacher came from the mainland on Monday and stayed on the island to teach until Friday before returning to the mainland.

Down to nothing:
Problems arose again when the channel shifted toward the end of the 1800’s, threatening the Charleston Harbor. In order to save the channel, several jetties had to be built, which changed the tidal currents, causing severe erosion on Morris Island.

The island shrank more and more until 1938 when many of the buildings were either destroyed or moved. In 1938, the lighthouse was automated and the Fresnel lens was removed. Since that date, the land has eroded away to nothing, leaving the lighthouse completely surrounded by water.

Recent history:
The Sullivan’s Island lighthouse replaced the Morris Island lighthouse in 1962 and the Morris Island lighthouse was decommissioned.

The U.S. Coast Guard planned to demolish the lighthouse in recent years, but members of the community petitioned to save the structure.

To protect it from further erosion, the Coast Guard built an underground steel wall around the lighthouse to protect it from further erosion.

Today the lighthouse is now privately owned and efforts are made to preserve the historical lighthouse. You can help the cause and learn more about the project by visiting the Morris Island Lighthouse Project. To see the lighthouse, you can take a left onto East Ashley Avenue from Center Street/Folly Road and continue until the street ends, where you can park and walk about a quarter of a mile to the beach.

Historic King Street Shopping Charleston, SC

King Street Shopping Charleston SC

Bustling King Street has developed into a top-notch shopping area where you can find anything and everything your heart desires.

The central Charleston street has three distinctive areas: Upper King Street Design-and-Dining District, Middle King Street Fashion District, and Lower King Street Antiques District.

Lower: Among the many shops, you can find various things that are unique to Charleston. As a historic city, the shopping district wouldn’t be complete without antiques. A visit to George C. Birlant & Co. is a must during your trip. It is one of the largest and oldest antiques establishments in the southeast. The founder, George Birlant is one of the most highly respected antiques dealers in the nation and is also a well-known auctioneer of fine estates.

Middle: If you the type to shop ‘til you drop, you’re destined for Middle King. From big chains like H&M to name brands like Laura Ashley to independent boutiques, there’s plenty to put a dent in your bank account. Don’t forget to stop into the shops at Charleston Place and grab some Godiva chocolate, or get some first-class casual wear at Charleston’s Madewell, or a pair of shoes at the local institutions that is Bob Ellis.

Upper: Upper King is the more recently developed area of town that lends itself to a hip and trendy feel. Experience a Hollywood 1960s diner feel at Rarebit (get the chicken and waffles and a Moscow Mule!) or cozy up to a house full of locals in love with the Thai offerings at Basil. (Hint: the red curry duck may change your life). Grab a fancy, vintage-style cocktail or a good Scotch at the Belmont, or sling back a few bottles of champagne (a.k.a. Miller High Life) at the long-adored local dive bar, AC’s.

What part of King Street do you want to hit up first? Looking for a particular item or souvenir? Ask our helpful tour guides and they will be happy to point you in the right direction!

JFK’s Ties to Historic Charleston, SC

John F Kennedy Charleston SC

Here’s a tidbit not many locals are even in on: One of the most well-known and iconic presidents has a connection to the Holy City.

John F. Kennedy’s first experience with Charleston was when he was stationed here for the Navy and worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence. At the time, Charleston was so overwhelmed with Navy personnel that Charleston’s mayor asked the residents to help out by opening their homes to them.

Social butterfly:
Kennedy was taken in by a local family, the Middletons, and he lived on the Battery on Murray Boulevard for several months. During his stay, Kennedy attended house parties in the area and enjoyed all that Charleston had to offer. He often talked about how much he enjoyed the city and how the hospitality was like no other. Specifically, the would-be president attended a cocktail party next door, and even some 20 years later he was still retelling a story about how, as a prank, someone started up a boat motor inside the house. The characters he encountered here obviously left an impression on the young man.

Scandalous:
As far as matters of the heart go, Kennedy was romantically involved with Inga Arvad while in Charleston. But as this was during World War II, the FBI worried that the lady who stole Kennedy’s heart may be a spy and so they closely monitored their every move. During their intimate phone calls, the FBI listened and secretly recorded their conversations, and during her frequent visits to see the president, the authorities bugged her room and observed the two wherever they were. JFK’s Charleston stay was memorable, and he made many friends, but unfortunately those relationships were terminated due to the scandalous affair.

Don’t forget:
The Dark Side of Charleston adult history tour is a great opportunity to learn more about JFK’s stay as well as numerous other Charleston secrets. Learn more about the many fascinatiing historical tidbits on your next tour of historic Charleston.

Kiawah Island Resort – Charleston, SC

Kiawah Island SC

Kiawah Island is more than a place where the Legend of Bagger Vance was filmed. It’s a world-class resort with championship golf courses so other-worldly beautiful, you’ll swear you’re in a another land altogether.

Golf: With six courses and 90 holes of championship golf to play, the island is a golfer’s dream. The resort offers many services to make it a perfect golf experience, including the Golf Learning Center, Caddie Services, Club-Fitting Services, Tips from the Golf Pros, and the Annual Friendship Cup.

Tennis: If golf’s not your game, the tennis courts should keep you busy.  You can make reservations for private instruction or rent equipment and a court upon request.

Go wild: But Kiawah’s also more than a island full of gorgeous greens.  Families interested in wildlife will love the walking tours, junior naturalist program, turtles’ nest art studio, paddling tours, fishing tours, nature program, and motorboat tours. Visitors have been known to spot anything from gators to deer, and as of June 2014, the island had logged 47 Loggerhead sea island turtle nests. You can even go on an alligator-spotting adventure, back-island bird-spotting, butterfly walk,  historical sunset cycle, a nature photography tour — and so much more, y’all! Kiawah is truly a naturalist’s paradise.

Dip: And if it’s too hot for activities such as golf and tennis and wildlife tours, then take a dip in any of the four pools the resort has to offer, including killer ones with slides to thrill the young and young at heart. The resort also offers a luxury spa perfect for kicking back after an active day on the course or courts.

Eat: After a long day of activities, sit down to an elegant dinner at any of the 12 restaurants on the island, including Jasmine Porch, Loggerhead Grill, the Ocean Room, and Night Heron Grill.  Bon appetit!

 

Why is Charleston, SC so Haunted?

Haunted Charleston, SC and Ghost Stories

It is said that Charleston has more ghosts than any other city in America. Why is that so?

Centuries old, Charleston’s countless tragic events have left restless spirits roaming the city. The very trees that stand at the Battery were once used to hang Pirates; and it is rumored that the ghosts of Pirates can be seen walking and screaming there from time to time.

Folly: Folly Island is haunted by the ghost of Blackbeard. Blackbeard once blockaded Charleston and threatened to burn the city. He used Folly Island as his hideout and even had a house there, which has since been destroyed by a hurricane. Civil War soldiers as well as a confederate officer have reportedly been spotted at and around the Morris Island lighthouse on the edge of Folly. The police and Coast Guard have also been called out there for over 100 years, because people have spotted a woman in a white dress and apron standing in the doorway of the lighthouse.

Old City Jail: Built in 1802, it not only housed but is responsible for the deaths of many criminals, which are said to still haunt the jail today. One of these criminals was the first female serial killer in the United States, while others involve pirates and slaves.

Battery Carriage House Inn: At the Battery Carriage Inn, a headless torso has often appeared in peoples’ rooms. Reportedly, the figure is from the Civil War when a large battery of guns blew up in the area. In another legend dating to the 1930s, a man was working on the roof of the Inn when the headless torso appeared. He was so frightened that he jumped off the roof and was killed, and his ghost is also said to roam about on the roof and in the yard below.

Poogan’s: On Queen Street in downtown Charleston is the restaurant, Poogan’s Porch. Zoe St Amand died in the house in 1954, and it is said that she still haunts the restaurant, often playing tricks by moving things and slapping things off tables when she’s angry. A friendlier ghost is rumored to live there too: the dog after which the restaurant is named! If you faintly feel something licking your legs, it just maybe Poogan, the pooch.

Have you sensed a spirit in Charleston before? Learn more about Charleston’s haunted past on our Ghost and Graveyard Tour or the popular Ghost and Dungeon Tour!

Top 10 Things to do in Charleston on a Rainy Day

Top 10 Things on Rainy Day in Charleston

1. South Carolina Aquarium

Featuring 60 fascinating habitats, the South Carolina Aquarium is a great place to visit on a rainy day for all ages. Visitors also have the opportunity to visit South Carolina’s only hospital for sick and injured sea turtles at the aquarium. During the tour, visitors learn about the turtles as well as the care these endangered animals need.

2. USS Yorktown

Stretching an astonishing 888 feet, the USS Yorktown is the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. You can embark on a self-guided tour of the many exhibits throughout the ship with arrows to follow so you can view the ship without confusion. Delicious, hot lunch is also served in the aircraft carrier’s C.P.O. mess for only $8.50.

3. Charleston Restaurants

Charleston offers delicious Southern food that is served in countless restaurants throughout the peninsula. Fresh, local seafood is Charleston’s forte, like shrimp and grits and crab cakes. Coast, Fleet Landing, and Hank’s Seafood are just a few examples of places serving up specialties fresh from the sea. Charleston also offers up incredible dessert venues like Kaminsky’s Baking Company and Charleston’s Candy Kitchen.

4. Bay Street Biergarten

Supplied with 24 beers on tap behind the bar, 60 taps in the building, tap tables and booths and a beer wall, you are guaranteed to have an incredible, and tipsy, experience at the Bay Street Biergarten. Executive Chef Jason Walker also prepares Bavarian-inspired Southern food.

5. Historic Houses

Founded as a colonial seaport and growing to become a wealthy city, Charleston is covered head to toe with magnificent historic houses worth visiting. The wonderfully preserved houses, furnished with pieces from the eras gone by, perfectly demonstrate Charleston’s history and bring it to life. Some houses to tour include the Joseph Manigualt House, the Aiken-Rhett House, the Nathaniel Russell House, and the Heyward-Washington House.

6. Firefly Distillery

Located on Wadmalaw Island, the Firefly Distillery is the perfect place to relax and get away from the faster-paced city. Being the largest micro-distillery in South Carolina, Firefly Distillery also has a tasting room where you can taste and buy Firefly products. Head to the distillery to experience where the world’s first hand-crafted sweet tea-flavored vodka is made. We recommend mixing it with lemonade!

7. The Charleston Museum

Found in the heart of America’s most historic city is the Charleston Museum, America’s first museum. Founded in 1773, the museum is dedicated to preserving and displaying the history of the Lowcountry.

8. Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

Head over to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry and let the kids explore the museum’s nine interactive exhibits. The museum provides the wee ones with endless hours of fun while also serving as a cool learning experience for all.

9. Dock Street Theatre

The first building in America built exclusively to be used for theatrical performances, the Dock Street Theatre is home to many of the city’s finest cultural institutions. Charleston Stage, the resident professional theatre, produces over 120 performances each season.

10. Gibbes Museum of Art

Located in Charleston’s historic district, the Gibbes is the city’s premier art museum. The museum presents seven exhibits each year and offers lectures, classes, tours, and events for all ages.