The Spring Breakers Guide to Charleston: A New & Improved Spring Break!

Ah – tis the season. Those happy spring colors are returning to the Holy City, as well as lots and lots of visitors with Festival season kicking off last month with a roar! Everything outside is colored a beautiful shade of mustard yellow as the pollen coats every surface. The sidewalks and green spaces will soon be buzzing with school groups of all ages – shoulders, legs and faces sporting bright pink sunburns after being bundled up for a cold winter and eager to explore Charleston. Very soon, the Spring Breakers for a vacation in Charleston will join the mix of all the other visitors descending on the Lowcountry to welcome Spring and put their toes in the sand again.

Planning Spring Break trips for kids these days has got to be a bit more challenging than years ago when my parents packed us all in the station wagon and we caravanned to the beach – visions of sand spurs, fried shrimp and putt putt in our little minds. Once or twice, when daddy was really interested in reliving his Florida days, we’d venture further south and see Mickey and Minnie – one year we even went to Daytona! I had an earache the whole trip but remember how loud and fast the cars were at that track!

Now, thanks to technology and savvy teachers, young people might not be satisfied with a rollicking round of putt putt and a day on the beach. Their young minds and bodies want to be challenged and your adult minds want to keep them busy all day so they’ll sleep at night and you can also enjoy spring break perhaps with a nice cold beverage! Trust us when we say that there are a ton of fun things to do in Charleston and here’s a quick list of some of our favorites!

If putt putt – or mini-golf as it’s now called – brings back your sentimental spring breaks then Frankie’s Fun Park is the place to be down here.  Frankie’s, in North Charleston, offers so much more than the vintage putt putt courses – remember those pesky windmills? A visit to Frankie’s might include a championship game of mini-golf but you can also hit the Batting Cage, jump on the Bumper Boats, hit the Road Course or teach your kids those old school Arcade games. One stop shopping for every adventure level in your family.

two people mini golfing at Frankie's Fun Park in Charleston SC

*Photo courtesy of Frankie’s Fun Park

To keep the adrenaline pumping and fine tune those hand–eye coordination skills, why not hit the Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park on James Island? With 72 suspended obstacles – high and low ropes courses, this locally owned, family operated adventure promises lots of laughs and family fun for you as you visit Charleston.

Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park in Charleston South Carolina

*Photo courtesy of Wild Blue Ropes Adventure Park

With all the games and green screens kids may find on line these days, why not take them to the places where history actually did take place – not the made up CG versions. Fort Sumter Tours will take you to the exact spot where the American Civil War started. A National Monument smack dab in the middle of the Charleston Harbor – only accessible by boat…..what’s not to interest a budding history minded young person?! Also, visit Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island and explore bunkers carved into sand dunes and learn just how important a solid military and defense were to the history of South Carolina – and how cool a well built Fort can be!

Fort Sumter Charleston South Carolina - looking at cannons and the Atlantic Ocean in the background

*Photo courtesy of National Park Planner

The Lowcountry is so named because we are the lower half of the state of South Carolina.  It is a very marshy, swampy area filled with all sorts of critters who love to make their homes in a marshy, swampy area – snakes, alligators, turtles – mosquitoes! Since 1931, guests to the Lowcountry have gotten up close and personal with these critters and our swamps by visiting Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner – just a few miles outside Charleston.

swamp lands at Cypress Gardens in Charleston South Carolina

*Photo courtesy of Cypress Gardens

Devastated by record flooding a little while ago, Cypress Gardens is scheduled to reopen on Saturday, April 13 with new and improved facilities and programs. What is a Swamparium you might ask?? Think snakes – lots and lots of snakes! How about a Swamp Boat tour through the 80 acre blackwater bald cypress and tupelo swamp? You might find some remnants of former movie sets back in those trees!

Now – I can’t in good faith not mention a day at the beach while you’re here for Spring Break.  Toes in the sand and that crunchy first sunburn of the year – salt for the soul of you cold weather dwellers. After a good dose of salt water and sand, some yummy fried shrimp and hushpuppies – you absolutely have to make a trip in town for a ghost tour with Bulldog Tours!

Nothing screams Spring Break like spooky ghost stories in a Revolutionary War era Dungeon, pirate tales along the dark waterfront, and superstitions about people being buried alive in the oldest Graveyard in this Holy City. And for the very brave…….The Old City Jail tours and investigations!

The most important part of Spring Break is quality time with your family and friends so no matter what you chose to fill your days – have fun!

Valentine’s Day in Charleston

This Valentine’s Day, think outside that heart shaped box!

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! Yikes! Have you made that very expensive, very romantic, hardest reservation in town to get – reservation yet?? If not, well… bless your heart.

The pressure to have the most romantic date night ever is always so intense and often leads to arguments, tears, hangovers and sometimes even breakups!

So we’ve put together some suggestions that might just take that pressure off this year and give you one memorable Valentine’s Day.

 

The Valentine’s Day Food

Do you really need/want to get dressed up, rent a limo, spend the $$$$ on a lavish Five Course Dining experience with wine pairings? If so, Circa 1886 at the Wentworth Mansion (maybe a room reservation for the night?) is one romantic option out of the many awards winning fine dining options we have here in Charleston. That is if – there are reservations to still be had!

Photo courtesy of Circa 1886.

If however, you’d like to mix it up a bit – think outside that heart-shaped candy box – why not head out to Bowens Island and get messy shucking some briny, fresh local oysters. Jeans, sweaters, and boots highly recommended. How about an oyster knife monogrammed for your love? That sunset over the marsh with a cold beer and hushpuppies… ahhh.

Think you might need to fancy it up a bit more than shucking oysters? A two-hour sunset cruise on board The Carolina Girl might be the answer. Light hors-d’oeuvres, music and BYOB… and that sunset!

Photo courtesy of The Carolina Girl.

Or for something really outside that box, how about a reservation for one of our Food Tours? Savor the Flavors Downtown or Savor the Flavors Uptown – meet some new people, learn a bit of history and sample some of the food we’re known for down here in the Lowcountry. And if sweet treats really make you think of Cupid, our Dessert Tour will give you a sugar rush fit for the Gods!

 

The Gift

More pressure here… huh? Naughty nighties? Ravishing rubies or perfect pearls? Another new YETI product? Tee times? Didn’t we just go through all this during the holidays?

Mother Nature can be a very helpful relative to have as we live in one of the most beautiful places around – and she’s usually very mild mannered so an outdoor adventure this time of year is not out of the question.

How about a kayak adventure – anywhere! Shem Creek, Folly Marshes, along the Ashley. That sulfury smell of pluff mud is perfume to many who call this part of the world home. Coastal Expeditions can help with your outdoor adventures.

Photo courtesy of Charleston Outdoor Adventures.

If pluff mud isn’t your thing, why not see the marshes, oyster banks, islands from above with a private Helicopter tour of the Lowcountry. Holy City Helicopters offers daytime flights, sunset flights (with an optional champagne add-on) and even flight lessons. To see the Lowcountry from the water is one thing but viewing it from above… priceless.

Thinking of something a bit more leisurely, but no less romantic, consider a Charleston Stroll. Two hour history walk through the Holy City’s Historic District. Walk along Church Street, voted American’s Most Romantic Street. Delve into the Charleston Renaissance – a time when poets and artists were telling the stories of this sultry Southern place. The tea olive is blooming now and only enhances the romance this place we love so dearly.

If you really want to have something in a pretty box to unwrap – King Street should be your answer. Stop by Croghans Jewel Box and check out their Gold Bug Collection. Nothing says Lowcountry love better than a gilded palmetto bug! Or the beautifully chosen feathers of a Brackish Bow tie found at the Preservation Society Gift Shop on the corner of King and Queen. Feathers and bugs will be all the rage at the Dock Dogs competition during Southeastern Wildlife Expo, Feb. 15-17!

Photo courtesy of Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

Not attached at the moment?

So, this year you just want to spend time with your friends – some are using the expression “galentines” day – you just want to laugh and plan and toast each other and the beautiful “tribe” you’ve assembled.

You can still have pretty flowers and dance at Republic Garden & Lounge on King Street. They’ve joined Fetes de Fleurs for a Flower Crown making party! Ticket includes a beautiful flower crown bar (and experts) to help you craft your own unique floral crown – to celebrate you! A glass of bubbles might help those creative juices!

Perhaps wear your Flower Crown, Saturday, February 16th for a very special Chocolate Tasting at Bar & Cocoa, Mt. Pleasant. This chocolate tasting adventure with chocolate experts – I want to be a chocolate expert but I digress – will teach you how to recognize good chocolate – bonus – this exceptional chocolate will be paired with sparking wines! Day drinking at its finest! (Remember to schedule your Uber/Lyft!).

Photo courtesy of Bar and Cocoa

And if flower crowns and chocolate tasting just aren’t your idea of romance – February 15-18, there will be a Paranormal Investigation at the Old City Jail to mark the anniversary of the hanging of Charleston’s most beautiful, most notorious serial killer, Lavinia Fisher! Join our ghost hunters as we commune with the dead and reach out to the other wolds to perhaps chat with or bump into those lost souls from the past. Reservations required for this witching hour midnight to 3 am investigation. Legend says her husband John was so in love with her he gave up his freedom to rescue her from this prison. After all, isn’t the true story of Valentine’s Day a bit darker than our present day celebration?!!

So, this year – take the pressure off. There is still plenty of time to come up with the perfect plan to dazzle that special someone. Take up Mother Nature on her offer to help. Grab your girlfriends and dance. Let Bulldog Tours make all this easy for you! And Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

Charleston’s Top 5 Most Haunted, Terrifying, Creepy, Eerie Locations

For a city so steeped in history, it is no surprise Charleston, SC is known as one of the most haunted cities in America.  Founded in 1670, Charleston has survived fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and war.  With such an eerie and dark past, it should no surprise that almost every building in Charleston has a ghost story. Some of the places are obvious, others are not.  Below is a list of the top 5 places you don’t want to find yourself alone at night.  Even our tour guides are scared to be alone in some of these places.

Old City Jail – 21 Magazine Street

Built in 1802, Denmark Vesey is believed to have spent his final days locked in one of jail's towers before his execution in 1822.
Built in 1802, Denmark Vesey is believed to have spent his final days locked in one of the jail’s towers before his execution in 1822. 

Another famously haunted location is the Old City Jail on Magazine Street where it is said that over 13000 people lost their lives. Home of Charleston’s most notorious criminals during the 1800s and early 1900s, the Old Jail is now said to be haunted by prisoners who were executed on site.  The Old City Jail has been featured on every major ghost program on TV and is considered the most haunted building in Charleston.

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon – East Bay Street at Broad Street

Now a National Historic Landmark, the Exchange and Provost served as a British prison during the Revolutionary War.
The Exchange and Provost served as a British prison during the Revolutionary War. 

Built in 1767, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon is one of the most haunted locations in Charleston. The dungeon housed Revolutionary War POWs and pirates (Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet) and it is said that their spirits remain tethered to the building.  Underground, the dungeon kept pirates, slaves, and war criminals shackled in abominable conditions. Many prisoners are said to have suffered terrible deaths while locked in their chains.

Poogan’s Porch – 72 Queen Street

Legend goes the building's former homeowner continues to haunt the Queen Street building long after her death. (Photo credit: Bulldog Tours)
The building’s former homeowner is believed to haunt the premises long after her death. 

Another well-known haunt is Poogan’s Porch restaurant.  The legend goes, Poogan’s Porch is haunted by Zoe St. Amand, a school teacher who called the building home until her death in 1954. Witnesses have seen her creeping along the restaurant’s porch and sneaking up behind guests in the ladies bathroom, revealing herself in the mirror.

Circular Graveyard – 150 Meeting Street

The graveyard at the Circular Congregational Church is said to be haunted by ghosts of the Revolutionary War. (Photo credit: Bulldog Tours)
The graveyard at the Circular Congregational Church is believed to be haunted by the ghosts of the Revolutionary War. 

Located next to the Circular Congregation Church, the graveyard was built in 1681.  Many visitors have seen a ghostly figure walking through the graveyard before disappearing in the shadows.

Unitarian Graveyard – 8 Archdale Street

Construction began on the Unitarian Church in 1772, making it the oldest Unitarian church in the South. (Photo credit: Bulldog Tours)
The Unitarian Church dates back to 1772, making it the oldest Unitarian church in the South.

The graveyard at the Unitarian Church is one of those places that look terrifying, even in the daylight. Many claim the Unitarian Graveyard is haunted by the ghost of Annabel Lee, a Charleston woman who is said to be the subject of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “Annabel Lee.”

Not-So-Famous Locations
Some haunted locations will surprise you, though.  Places that are seemingly harmless, including the Dock Street Theatre on Church Street, City Hall, and The Library Society building on King Street.

The Library Society is haunted by a man in a bulky coat. Several staffers report seeing him, plain as day, before he disappears from sight, he also reportedly plays with the microfilm during the day.

The Dock Street Theatre on Church Street was originally the Planters Hotel.  There are several ghosts said to haunt the Dock Street, but Nettie is the most frequently spotted. Nettie lived in the 1800s and was a prostitute who frequented the Planters Hotel. She is usually seen floating on the second floor of the theater wearing a red dress.

Charleston City Hall, located at 80 Broad Street, is said to be haunted by General P.G.T. Beauregard. Beauregard was a General in the Confederate army during the attacks on Fort Sumter. Many have reported seeing the General’s ghost overlooking the city council chambers from a second-floor balcony.

Join Bulldog Tours for one of our many Charleston Ghost Tours…if you dare!

Show Us Your Squad Photo Contest

Welcome to the 2018 Bulldog Tours “Show Us Your Squad” Summer Photo Contest!

Here’s how it works:
• Take a picture of your family or friends at a Charleston location. This includes the surrounding beaches and plantations.
• Send your photos to us via Facebook Messenger only.  You can submit up to 3 photos.  We will move photos sent to us via Messenger into the Facebook album called “Bulldog Tours Show Us Your Squad.”
• Use the hashtag, #showusyoursquad2018 when sharing your pictures to get “likes.” PLEASE DO NOT POST PHOTOS IN THE COMMENTS OF THE POST!

The photo with the most “likes” will win a FREE trip to Charleston, which includes:
• Two nights at the HarbourView Inn.
• Dinner at Lowcountry Bistro ($50 gift card).
• Two FREE Tickets to each of our walking tours (Food, History and Ghost Tours).

The 2nd and 3rd place winners will also receive free tickets to one of our walking tours.

The voting will end at 8pm on August 13th and winner will be announced at 8pm on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

For more information, call 843-722-8687 or email theresa@bulldogtours.com.

DISCLAIMER:  Winners must adhere to the details on the gift cards for the hotel and the restaurant, including expiration dates and black-out dates.  This promotion is for a limited time and is in no way sponsored by Facebook. We reserve the right to refuse a photo for any reason and we reserve the right to use your photo for one year after the contest.

Don’t forget to vote for us as Charleston’s Best Tour Company in the Post and Courier’s Charleston’s Choice Contest.  Voting end July 25th. 

 CLICK TO VOTE!

Bulldog Tours Launches a New Heyward-Washington Tour!

Introducing the newest historic Charleston walking tour, the Heyward-Washington House.  This 2.5-hour combo walking tour takes you through Charleston’s charming historic district where cars and carriages can’t go. The tour also includes a 30-minute guided tour of the Heyward-Washington House.

Once the home of Thomas Heyward, one of South Carolina’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, the house also played host to President George Washington during his week-long stay in 1791 in the “Holy City.”  The house has since become known as the “Heyward-Washington House.”

Built in 1772, this Georgian-style double house features a superb collection of historic Charleston-made furniture including the priceless Holmes Bookcase, considered one of the finest examples of American-made colonial furniture.  The property features the only 1740s kitchen building open to the public in Charleston as well as formal gardens featuring plants commonly used in the South Carolina Lowcountry in the late 18th century.

The Heyward-Washington House is Charleston’s first historic house museum, and was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

Tours Available Friday and Saturday
9:30am – 12pm
$45 per person

Top 7 Cocktails You Must Try When in Charleston, SC

In anticipation of Kentucky Derby weekend, we have compiled a list of the top 7 southern cocktails.  Try one of these iconic drinks while cheering for your horse, on your next dinner date, or on a Tuesday.

Mint Julep
Perhaps the most recognizable Southern cocktail, the Mint Julep conjures images of seersucker suits and outrageous Kentucky Derby hats. Made with muddled mint, sweet bourbon and simple syrup, packed with crushed ice, this thirst-quenching drink will give you reprise from the heat in no time. The Mint Julep is easily the most popular cocktail at Churchill Downs.

Beleive it or not, for the past 13 years, Woodford Reserve has sold $1,000 mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby.  These cocktails are served in highly-coveted limited-edition cups, raising money for charity.

Sazerac
This drink is a combination of cognac or rye whiskey, absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters, and sugar, although bourbon whiskey or Herbsaint are sometimes substituted. Some claim it is the oldest known American cocktail, with origins dating back to pre-Civil War New Orleans.

Ramos Gin Fizz
The Ramos Gin Fizz is the ultimate shaken, not stirred cocktail.  No cocktail inspires more ire from bartenders than the labor-intensive Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires dry shaking for a full 12 minutes to create a pillowy blanket of egg white froth.  Be patient when you order this drink and be sure to thank your bartender.  Its worth the effort and the wait.

Hurricane
The Hurricane is made of a mix of dark rum, passion fruit syrup, fresh lemon juice and a sprig of mint for garnish.  The punch-red drink was a necessary creation in the ’40s when more desired liquors, like whiskey and bourbon, were hard to come by and bar owners were forced to load up on cases of rum to get their hands on the brown stuff.  

Grasshopper
A Grasshopper is a sweet, mint-flavored, after-dinner drink. The name derives from its green color, which comes from crème de menthe.  This cocktail consists of equal parts green crème de menthe, white crème de cacao, and cream—shaken with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

Rum Runner
This cocktail was invented in the Florida Keys in the 1950s. The bartender had some extra inventory lying around and wanted to make room for new bottles on the shelves. He mixed together everything he had and the Rum Runner was born.  It was named after the bootleggers, “Rum Runners”, who smuggled booze during Prohibition.

The recipe is meant to be flexible to suit your individual taste, but the main ingredients should remain the same.

  • Dark rum, blackberry liqueur, crème de banana liqueur, orange juice, grenadine, and crushed ice in a blender.
  • Blend until slushy and pour into glass.
  • Kick back and enjoy a sip paradise.

Seelbach Cocktail
Mixed on a base of bourbon with a little Cointreau, a healthy dose of bitters and an indulgent splash of Champagne.

A Guide To Your First Charleston Food Tour Experience

You’ve just booked your first food tour.  Now what? Here’s what you need to know to act like a pro.

bulldog-tours-of-charleston-scOn our walking food tour, you will walk, talk, and taste your way through historic downtown Charleston, SC.  You will enjoy new dishes at new restaurants and make new friends along the way.  Use this quick guide to make the most out of your first tour.  You’ll be a foodie in no time.

Don’t Eat a Big Lunch or Snack Prior to the Tour
You’ll want to leave room for as much delicious food as your stomach can hold. And if your stomach is growling prior to the tour, it will make everything taste that much better.

bulldog-tours-food-tours-of-charleston-sc

A Charleston Walking Tour = Blister Potential (just kidding)

But seriously, you should wear comfortable shoes, clothes, etc and leave large bags/purses at home.  This is not a formal event and whoever has the highest heels is not the winner.  Remember, you will be walking everywhere, and each tour will visit a variety of restaurants and specialty shops, so make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Don’t Drink Too Much During the Food Tour
The focus of our food tours is the food but feel free to order an alcoholic drink if you like.  Might not want to get sloshed on the tour because alcohol will dull the taste of everything and fill you up.  If sport drinking sounds like more fun than food, check out our amazing Pub Tour.

Prepare Your Hashtag Game
We all love taking photos of beautifully prepared dishes and posting to social media. Do some research beforehand and find a few popular foodie hashtags, either locally, nationally, or tour company specific (#bulldogtours). Always take a photo before you eat (see photo below). No one wants to see a pile of half eaten food on your plate. Don’t forget to bring your phone fully charged.

walking-food-tours-of-charleston-south-carolinaFood Allergies
Please let us know the day before your tour if you have any food allergies or mobility issues.  We will do our best to accommodate all requests.

A Charleston Food Tour IS a Social Event
Most folks bring a partner on a food tour, but food brings people together, even strangers.  Casual conversation around the dinner table will make fast friends.

Lowcountry-Food-tour-of-Charleston-South-CarolinaTipping Etiquette is Important
We take pride in having the best trained, most knowledgeable and friendliest tour guides in town.  If you loved your tour, a gratuity is always appreciated (but not required).

And last but not least, you are going to have more fun you and thought possible. Food tours are a great date night activity and you didn’t have to lift a finger.

Bon Appetit!

Charleston’s Top 10 Instagram Posts of 2017

With fall approaching, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year in Charleston. We poured over thousands of posts to compile the 10 Top Instagram Posts from 2017, ranked by the number of likes. Warning: You may become very hungry. Enjoy! #bestofcharleston

#10.
A donut for a bun? Yes please!

#9.
Spero restaurant

#8.
More from Spero restaurant

#7.
Charleston’s favorite resident

A post shared by RutledgeCabCo (@rutledgecabco) on

#6.
Who doesn’t love a good group photo?

#5.
Friday happy hour. Time to unwind with Charleston’s newest bartender.

A post shared by RutledgeCabCo (@rutledgecabco) on

#4.
“Sitting on the dock of the bay…”

#3.
Santi’s Restaurante Mexicano

A post shared by Foodcoma843 (@foodcoma843) on

#2.
You can’t find a better sunset.

#1.
Classic architecture from the iconic Queen Street.

We Take You There!

Meet us at Charleston’s most haunted building, the controversial Old City Jail on Magazine Street, where ruthless criminals, pirates, murderers, rebellious slaves and Union prisoners of war were incarcerated. It is said that over 10,000 men, women, and even children suffered horrible deaths inside its decrepit walls before its federally mandated closure in 1939. Our Haunted Jail Tour will take you among these tabby walls that held some of the city’s most notorious convicts. None have been vindicated by history, but rather remembered as monsters. For some, like Lavinia Fisher, their guilt is subject to debate even today.

Backed by over 140 years of evil history, locals believe that spirits roam the halls at night, falsely declaring their innocence and demanding release from its torments.

Backed by over 140 years of evil history, locals believe that spirits roam the halls at night, falsely declaring their innocence and demanding release from its torments. Our unique tour gives you exclusive night time access to this American horror story, where you will discover the hidden tales of the Holy City’s most infamous landmark. This place has a dark history off the hook!

As you enter the jail, dimly lit halls will pull you headlong into perdition. You will mount stairs to the second floor and, on glancing back, just as you enter one of the gang cells of the main block, you will be overcome with the undeniable feeling that you have been watched the whole time. Winding passages will lead you up to the third floor where you will pass through grated doors secured with heavy bolts. Then, on the ground floor you will pass by the morgue, rooms set aside for solitary confinement and torture, and finally, a place guides call the “Dark Room” known for its heightened paranormal activity, including encounters with an insane inmate known only as “Animal”.

In 1820, Lavinia Fisher had been imprisoned here along with her husband John. According to legend, she was America’s first female serial killer. In a city that prides itself on firsts, Charleston proudly claims this gorgeous innkeeper and tavern owner as its own homegrown mass killer, accused of murdering countless wagon men traveling to Charleston to trade their furs. Tales of the Fishers include poisonous oleander tea, trap doors, multiple stabbings and burial of victims’ bodies around Six Mile Wayfarers Inn. According to legend, Lavinia was hanged in February 1822 wearing a white wedding dress. And her last words to the citizens of Charleston; “If any of you have a message for the devil, tell me now because in a moment I’ll be seeing him.”

In 1822, another notorious inmate, Denmark Vesey, a freeman who purchased his freedom from a Dutch slave trader after winning the local lottery, was held in the tower of the jail after unsuccessfully staging a slave rebellion. Afterward, free black seamen were incarcerated here, locked away until their ship set sail because such sailors, even if foreign born, were considered a threat by Charleston’s plantation elite.

During the Civil War, captured soldiers from the famed 54th Massachusetts Infantry were quartered in the jail after the failed attack on Battery Wagner in July 1863, along with hundreds of other Union soldiers. During its use as a POW camp, mosquitos, ticks, flies and lice took turns piercing the flesh of Union soldiers, who said that the ground around the jail visibly seethed with vermin.

George Rogers Clark Todd, the brother-in-law of Abraham Lincoln, served as a Confederate surgeon and treating physician to the Union soldiers. He was regarded by both sides as a profane, obscene and brutal man, torturing them by having them buckled and gagged until they died.

William Marcus was imprisoned here in 1906 and hanged in the yard shortly thereafter. Marcus was a railroad worker who stabbed his wife 42 times with an ice pick, leaving her body on a nearby beach.

Daniel Duncan was hanged in the yard in the summer of 1911 after being convicted of the murder of a King Street merchant, Max Lubelsky. Duncan allegedly crushed his skull with a board, but he maintained his innocence to the very end.

In 1913, a ten-year-old boy named Alonzo Small was imprisoned among the general inmate population for murder. Small and a group of his friends had commandeered a parked trolley car for a joy ride before colliding with another trolley, killing a passenger.

Sgt. Charles Long was held here until his execution in 1932. While serving at Ft. Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, he hacked his wife and children to death with a hatchet, and then attempted suicide by slashing his throat and wrists.

Both on regular tours and during paranormal investigations conducted after midnight, guides as well as visitors have claimed that they were touched.

Do the dead prowl its halls and cells? Are apparitions visible in the dimly lit hallways? Do specters reveal themselves as circles of light in photographs? Do the dead create cold spots, make eerie noises and leave footprints in the dust on the jail’s floor? Both on regular tours and during paranormal investigations conducted after midnight, guides as well as visitors have claimed that they were touched. Some were tapped on the shoulder. Others claimed that two hands pressed against the sides of their faces as if someone were trying to keep them from entering a room. Doors close on their own accord, followed by footsteps. Some have seen a jailer with a rifle on the third floor, passing through the walls and heading towards them before vanishing in the shadows. Others have heard a mechanical dumbwaiter passing from floor to floor, even though it has not been operational for nearly a hundred years. For some, jewelry has vanished and then mysteriously reappeared before they leave the building. Unseen forces have knocked glasses off their faces. Cell phones call unknown numbers and batteries drain only to immediately and inexplicably recharge. A few have even experienced choking and shortness of breath. This tour is not for the lighthearted. It is definitely NOT recommended for children.

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

chas-on-a-budget

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.

1. 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.