Top 7 Things to do in Charleston during Thanksgiving

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King Street Shopping – Proven Fact: You can do all your holiday shopping in one day on Charleston’s renowned King Street. This shopping district has a wide variety of stores selling everything from clothes, jewelry, household goods, cookware, and shoes. Be sure you don’t miss Croghan’s Jewel Box, 308 King, a Charleston institution for over 100 years and M. Dumas & Sons, 294 King, an iconic men’s clothing store.

Eating – Downtown Charleston is known for its decadent Southern cuisine. For an Uptown take on Down South ingredients, give Magnolia’s on East Bay St. a try. Another option, Virginia’s on King, is located in the heart of the upper King St. area. Guests will enjoy old family recipes and regional favorites. Reservations are always a good idea, especially for Thanksgiving Day.

Charleston Food Tour – Thanksgiving weekend is a great time for family and friends to enjoy just being together. A Charleston Food Tour bonds people over something that everyone can relate to – food! Four different food tour options and all are a great way to walk, talk, and taste Charleston! Reservations Required

Charleston Strolls – Get the family out of the house by joining some of Charleston’s best and most experienced guides on a lively overview of the city’s history. Tours depart daily from the Mills House Hotel at 10am and 2pm. Reservations Required.

Holiday Festival of Lights – Adults and children alike, come to take in the award winning light show at James Island County Park. A Victorian Carousel, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, marshmallow roasting and Holiday Train Ride are also on hand to delight visitors. November 10 – January 1st.

Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble 5K – If you are looking for a way to burn some holiday calories and help local charities, this is it! The race course winds through the historic district, before ending with post-race festivities at Marion Square. Sign up in advance to claim your spot.

Ghost Tours – Bulldog Tours’ ghost tours are another great way to bring families together for fun and a little spooky story telling. Voted “Best Ghost Tour in the US” by USA Today, Bulldog Tours offers a variety of entertaining tour options. You can visit a Pre-Revolutionary Dungeon, the oldest graveyard in Charleston, or the Old City Jail which many believe is the most haunted building in town. Reservations are required.

The Haunted History of Charleston

The historical backdrop of Charleston, SC, is one of the longest and most differing of any group in the United States, spreading over many years. It was founded in 1670 and, although the city has had its low points, it is still thriving today and is currently one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S. Charleston was the leading city in the South from the time it was founded up to the Civil War. The city has survived fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and war. There are several buildings that were important during these events, one of which is The Old Exchange Building, which has been standing since 1767. The Old Exchange is the home to a dungeon that was used to hold prisoners of war during the British siege in the Revolutionary War, and later housed pirates such as Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet. When you factor in the age of the city, and the number of people who died either from war or natural disaster, it’s no wonder that Charleston is considered one of the most haunted cities in the US. The best part about this haunted history is that Bulldog Tours specializes in Charleston Ghost Tours and will take you to visit these places…if you dare.Dungeons Charleston South Carolina With such an eerie and dark past, it should not surprise you to know that almost every major building in Charleston has a ghost story. Some of the places are obvious. The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, for example, is one of the most haunted locations. As previously stated the dungeon housed POWs and pirates and it is said that their spirits remain tethered to the building. Another famously haunted location is the Old City Jail on Magazine Street where it is said that over 13000 people lost their lives. The Old City Jail has been featured on every major ghost program on TV and is considered the most haunted building in Charleston. Another well-known establishment is Poogan’s Porch restaurant, which is named after Poogan – the dog that still haunts the restaurant. Poogan will, according to some sources, rub against diners legs while they eat.Jail Tour Charleston South Carolina

Some haunted locations will surprise you, though; Places that are seemingly harmless. A few examples that come to mind include the Dock Street Theatre on Church Street, City Hall, and The Library Society building on King Street. I know what you’re thinking, “what’s the worst that can happen at a library?!” Well, the library society is haunted by a man in a bulky period 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 and has nearly 350 years of history to it. 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 native of Louisiana and a General in the confederate army charged with the city’s defense during the attacks on Fort Sumter. Multiple guides, employees, and councilmen have reported seeing the General’s ghost overlooking the city council chambers from a second-floor balcony.Dock Street Theater, Charleston South Carolina
If you want to see a ghost the best way to go about it is to take photographs. There are professionals out there and a lot of recommendations on how to take the perfect ghost photo, but realistically any camera at any time can pick up a ghost. You do not have to be an expert. Ghosts are said to leave behind their energy which is almost thermodynamic and allows them to show up in photos. One expert recommends that you not use a flash when you take pictures as that will tend to create strange light reflections and give a “flash bounce” that could easily be mistaken as a ghostly image. If you do not have a steady hand you can use a tripod to steady the camera. If you suspect that a ghost is present, take 3-5 photos of the same spot and check for differences, subtle as they may be. Ghosts will show up as anything from orbs, to streaks of light (usually their energy in motion) to full figures or shadows.

Here is an example of a ghost photo:

Haunted Jail Charleston South Carolina

12 Must See Attractions In Charleston, SC

Charleston is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, and for good reason.  The history, scenic landscapes, and amazing food are just a small part of what makes this city so charming. There are so many activities and places to see that it’s hard to condense everything into one trip but we at Bulldog Tours are here to help! We have compiled the 12 best must-see attractions and activities for a trip to Charleston to help you with your planning. (more…)

6 Ways to Do New Year’s Eve in Charleston

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For many, 2016 has been less than favorable — but regardless of what fortunes or misfortunes you encountered, ushering in the new year should be an event to remember. Whether that means partying all night with a killer view of the harbor while on an aircraft carrier built during WWII or steering clear of booze in favor of good, clean family fun, there’s a New Year’s Eve celebration in Charleston designed just for you and your crew. So bid goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017 at one of these lively, local events.

Yorktown Countdown, Patriot’s Point
Claiming to the Charleston’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration, the Yorktown Countdown loads up the historical aircraft carrier built during WWII with partygoers and gets down until the countdown. Party bands and DJs will be aboard playing dance, funk, rock, hip-hop, 80s, and Top 40 hits. First Aboard packages include full bar, snacks and access to the indoor airplane hangar and outdoor fantail area. Captain packages get you all that plus access to the rooftop flight deck (tented and heated).

Circa 1886 – New Year’s Eve Dinner
Surprise your special someone with an evening of romance, luxury and indulgence so grand it’s usually found only in novels. Enjoy gracious accommodations for two in a Mansion Room, a 3 course dinner (excluding beverages and gratuity) at Circa 1886, a stunning floral arrangement, a bottle of champagne, and candlelight turndown service with chocolate-covered strawberries.

Holiday Magic, Marion Square
If you’re looking for a free and family-friendly affair this New Year’s Eve, look no further than Marion Square. It’s a non-alcoholic event, so don’t expect a toast but what you will find is a something for everyone, including live music and activities for the wee ones. The family fun starts at 4 p.m. and winds down at 10:30 p.m., so you can ring in 2017 in the comfort of home after a full day of high-energy celebration.

Spiritline Cruise, Patriot’s Point
How would you like to sail into the New Year on a Spiritline Cruise? This unique event gets you a four-course dinner created by Chef Shawn Eustace onboard the elegantly decorated vessel of Spirit of Carolina. Possibly the most romantic way to ring in 2017, the NYE cruise takes you through the harbor with sparkling views of the city and the Ravenel Bridge. Boarding time is 9:30 p.m. at Patriot’s Point and the boat lands again at 12:30, moments after the champagne toast.

Snyder New Year’s Eve Grand Ball
It’s a ball, y’all. This one’s for anyone who wants to break out their black tie and gown. Not only is Snyder holding their annual New Year’s Eve Grand Ball, they’re doing it at the South Carolina Aquarium. Entertainment includes piano pop and the soothing, killer croons of David Higgins Band plus award-winning local DJ Natty Heavy spinning in the Great Ocean Room. Tickets are only for adults 21 years of age and older and they get you open bar access plus hors d’oeuvres and a champagne toast, of course.

The Rose Ball
At the Rose Ball, you won’t find any football but rather fancy-than-thou attire and a lot of partying down at the Johnson Hagood Stadium, home of the Citadel Bulldogs. This uber-upscale New Year’s Eve show includes light hors d’oeuvres and open bar plus music from DJ Cato K from Miami plus the soulful funk of one of Charleston’s best voices, Quiana Parler & Friends. VIP table service is also available.

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.

Join Bulldog Tours for a fun and informative walking tour of Charleston to visit these spots and many more throughout the city.

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!

Powder Magazine Charleston, SC

powder magazine historic charleston

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.

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.

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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.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Charleston, SC

St. Philips Church, Charleston, SC

St Philip’s Episcopal Church sits footsteps from a bustling King Street today but is steeped in hundreds of years of history.

A little history
Founded in 1680, St. Philip’s was built only ten years after the colony was settled.  In 1708, Gideon Johnston was sent from England as a first commissary to the church but later drowned in the Charleston harbor. To replace him,  Alexander Garden was sent by the Bishop of London to be the commissary. Garden died in 1756 and is buried still in the churchyard. After Gardens death, Richard Clarke served as rector and Robert Smith as assistant rector.  During the Revolutionary Period, the city fell to the British (in 1780), and Robert Smith was exiled. Smith later returned and was active in the formation of a new church, and in 1795 consecrated as the first bishop of South Carolina.

Disasters
In 1710, the church was badly damaged by a hurricane and was in the process of being rebuilt in 1713 when it was nearly destroyed by yet another hurricane. Though it had been through enough disasters, in 1835, it burned to the ground.

Other little-known facts about St Philip’s

  • John C. Calhoun was buried in the west church yard, but during the Civil War his body was moved to the east church yard in fear that the federal troops would desecrate it.  Calhoun’s massive tomb was erected by the state legislature in 1880.

  • During the war, a chime of eleven bells was contributed to the confederate army to be melted down and re-cast for ammunition and weapons. Four bells were replaced in 1976, which can still be heard today.

  • William Bell White served as rector and then Bishop of South Carolina, and in 1897 the white marble baptismal font in the nave was given in his memory in by the Chanel Guild.

  • In 1870, St. Philip’s home was dedicated and used as a home for widows and elderly ladies.

  • A beacon located in the steeple was used to guide ships into the harbor.

Like St Michael’s, St Philip’s was one of the city’s many churches that participated in #ChimeWithCharleston on Sun., June 21, 2015. In response to the tragic shootings at Mother Emanuel AME four days before, every church bell in the Holy City rang simultaneously at 10 a.m. in honor of the nine lives our community lost.

Celebrities Who Visit Charleston, SC

celebrities in Charleston

Charleston is a city that captures the heart of many, locals and visitors alike,  so it’s no surprise that celebrities love the city, too. Not only is it a great place for anyone to get away, but a lot of films and television shows are made here as well. The Lowcountry landscape is so picturesque, it’s hard for filmmakers to resist.

At Kiawah, celebrities and professional golfers flock to enjoy the outdoor ambiance the island has to offer. From Will Smith and George Clooney to Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Matt Damon, and Conan O’Brian, Kiawah Island has hosted many a famous folk at its resort facilities.

With Bill Murray as the owner of the Charleston Riverdogs, a Murray spotting is highly likely, especially during baseball season. The Ghostbusters star and his sons live in town, and so Murray has been spotted not only at baseball games but at spots like King Street Grille, the Faculty Lounge, Piggly Wiggly, and simply walking along King Street. Apparently his famous catchphrase with locals is, “Nobody will believe you.”

Mel Gibson was in town years ago filming the Patriot, while the Notebook was shot here with actors Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling.  Cuba Gooding, Jr made his way around a few Market Street bars a few years back, and Sandra Bullock was seen dining at Jestine’s Kitchen on Meeting Street. Other sightings include southern girl Reese Witherspoon, and Blake Lively famously married Ryan Reynolds at a surprise ceremony in the Holy City.

At Hymans Seafood, there are 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, which has accommodated Prince Charles, governors and prime ministers, Mel Gibson, Ted Turner, Barbra Streisand, Richard Gere, Bruce Willis, Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, Melanie Griffith, Julia Roberts, and many others.

TV shows are filmed in town, including Southern Charm, Reckless, Army Wives, and Vice Principals, so an actor spotting is highly common when you’re out and about town.

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 during your next tour of the Holy City!