Bulldog Tours is Charleston’s Choice

choice-thank-you

We are excited to announce we won the Charleston’s Choice contest in the category of Best Tour Company. The contest, sponsored by The Post and Courier, recognizes the Lowcountry’s top choices in more than 300 categories.

The contest consisted of three rounds of voting. The first round and naming of the nominees was in the spring. We asked our fans for their votes and they came through, pushing into the second round of voting over the summer. Winners were announced on Sept. 25 in a special edition of The Post and Courier.

This was the first year The Post and Courier held this contest, and we were honored to be named the first tour company to win. Other area businesses that took home Charleston’s Choice accolades were Hanks Seafood and Charleston Stage.

We are looking forward to celebrating with all the other winners at the Charleston’s Choice party at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29 at TD Arena in downtown Charleston. The event is open to the public; tickets are $75 per person. The party will feature food tastings, cocktails and live entertainment by DJ NattyHeavy and Ben Fagan and the Holy City Hooligans.

We can’t wait to participate in next year’s contest. Thank you to everyone who voted for us. Cheers to another great year of touring our wonderful City of Charleston!

 

5 Charleston Graveyards Worth a Wander

circular-church-graveyard-skull

Here in the Holy City, churches are simply part of Charleston’s makeup — and the city’s breathtaking skyline! And with that often comes the graveyards. Many of our downtown places of worship also have stunning, historical, and intriguing graveyards that visitors are always welcomed to have a meander through. We’ve narrowed down our favorite graveyards here, all of which are within walking distance to one another, with the exception of the churchless graveyard of Magnolia Cemetery.

Unitarian Church and Huguenot Church
Both of these places of worship are on Archdale Street, so we’ll combine them as one bullet point since their graveyards are adjacent. You’re actually able to meander through one and to the next as they’re also connected. We recommend accessing it from the somewhat secret walkway on King Street to get the full effect — the feeling that you’ve encountered a wondrous secret garden and a peaceful retreat from the bustle of King. This one’s particularly gorgeous as it’s overgrown with flowers, making it seem ever more seeped in mystery. If you’ve heard that in Charleston we refer to graveyards as “gardens,” well, once you step foot into these gardens, you’ll understand exactly why that is.

St Michael’s Episcopal Church
St. Michael’s, the oldest surviving religious structure in Charleston, sits at the four corners of law at the intersection of Meeting Street and Broad Street. Dating back to the 1750s, you can imagine the old graves that await in its graveyard, including that of John Rutledge.

gravestones at the Circular Congregational Church

gravestones at the Circular Congregational Church

Circular Congregational Church
Some of the most ancient gravestones in town are here at the beautiful Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street. Plan to stroll for a few minutes here, since there are over 500 gravestones to observe. In fact, the oldest one in the city is here and dates back to 1675. While you’re wandering, note the incredible gravestone art at work throughout these grounds, a common practice in the 1800s of using slate to create images and medallion portraits. From the skulls, a symbol dating back to the 1600s, to portraiture, a characteristic that hasn’t been located in any SC or Georgia graveyard.

st-phillip-graveyard

graveyard at St. Phillips Episcopal Church

St Philip’s Church
Only a block from King Street, St Philip’s Church is home to many important historical figures in Charleston, like John C. Calhoun, Edward Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, Christopher Gadsden, and Dubose Heyward, the latter of which immortalized Charleston forever with his Porgy and Bess.

Magnolia Cemetery
Off the beaten track and relatively far from the above walkable downtown cemeteries, Magnolia Cemetery is only a short car drive away on Morrison Drive (East Bay St. turns into Morrison as you drive farther north to the cusp of North Charleston) and it is certainly worth finding. Once there, enjoy a slow wander through the beautiful final resting place of people such as Langdon Cheves, Robert Barnwell Rhett, Horace L. Hunley, and Thomas Bennett and the many unique, grand graves of a very long list of notable figures.. Spanish moss-covered oaks make this spot especially stunning and so, so very Charleston.

To delve much deeper into the fascinating history of Charleston’s graveyards, go on one of Bulldog’s Ghost and Graveyard Tours.

5 Charleston Landmarks from the Notebook

high-cotton-sign

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 Wins “Best Looking Tourists” Award ! !

Charleston SC VisitorOn the heels ofCharleston being voted “Top City in the U.S.” in the 2011 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, we have been bestowed with another equally impressive award, “The Most Attractive Tourists in America”.  Voted by the readers of Beautiful People Illustrated, Charleston edged out numerous fashionable cities including Omaha, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Myrtle Beach. 

Long regarded as one of the South’s most cosmopolitan cities, Charlestonians have always taken pride in how they look.  Apparently, our guests share this pride when they vacation in Charleston.  

Charleston SC Traveler

We caught up with Charleston native and celebrity fashion designer, Robert Pilch, that commented, “Our guests are redefining the meaning of ‘travel wardrobes’ and they are just looking fab-u-lous.  We are just lovin’ all the folks with perfectly symmetrical facial features, high cheekbones, spectacular hair, darling accessories, all paired with the latest in haute couture fashion.  Nothing like a beautiful man on vacation with tailored clothes, swimmer’s build, bronzed skin, and . . . Please excuse me, I’m feeling a little woozy and need to get a glass of water“.

Myrtle Beach Tourists

This highly coveted award has been a yearly source of frustration for Myrtle Beach, our neighbor just 100 miles up the coast.  Their 2011 ranking dropped to # 739 from last years’ # 688 (out of 740 mentioned U.S. vacation spots).  Fashion insiders believe the Grand Strand’s downfall was due to their recent marketing campaign, “Visit Myrtle Beach, Where Half Shirts and Cut-Offs are Still Cool”.

Myrtle Beach’s Convention and Visitors Bureau could not be reached for comment.

SC Aquarium Finally Hosting a Fishing Tournament

Charleston SC AquariumExcited local fisherman gathered at the State House last night after the South Carolina General Assembly finally approved a fishing tournament at the SC Aquarium in Charleston.  Anglers from all over the region have been pushing for this event since the Lowcountry attraction opened in May of 2000. 

Intended to inspire conservation and to be used as an educational tool, the Aquarium is home to a variety of fish species, exotic plants, rare birds, reptiles, mammals, insects, and other wildlife creatures.

Aquarium spokesman Walter Capps hopes the event will bring an awareness of our delicate ecosystem and regional fish habitat. Charleston resident and fishing enthusiast Jamie Catoe hopes the event will bring him a freezer full of tasty fish.  “We have a 70 million dollar fishing tank and they expect me to pay them money to walk around and just look at the fish?  Yeah . . . . that ain’t gonna happen.   But I will pay them $20 to fish.  Hell, I’ll pay em $50 for a shot at that albino alligator” said Mr. Catoe.  Aquarium officials claim they have no plans to have any organized hunts since many of the animals are rare and very popular with visitors.

Organizers of the fishing tournament hope to have the event scheduled by the end of the month.  Aquarium officials plan to limit the fishing to just the Great Ocean Tank, a two story, 385,000 gallon saltwater “fishing hole”.  Proceeds of the tournament will benefit local conservation organizations, specifically ones that preserve nature so that people can kill more animals.  Further details will be available very soon.

Visitor Tired of Only Seeing Old Stuff in Charleston

Charleston VisitorA recent visitor is tired of only seeing old stuff in Charleston, and is demanding we get some “new stuff”.  Christopher Vincent of Boca Raton, Florida will not be one of our repeat visitors.  During his vacation last weekend, Mr. Vincent was very dismayed with the concentration of old, historical buildings in Charleston.  Mr. Vincent commented, “What’s up with all this old crap?  Would it kill ya to get a strip mall and maybe some fast food joints around here?  We got em in Florida, it’s not that difficult.

Mr. Vincent vowed to never return to Charleston unless we get rid of our historical homes and buildings.  He was obviously not aware that Charlestonians take a lot of pride in the preservation of these treasures.  We realize we may not be as architecturally “progressive” as Los Angeles or New York City, but most of us are OK with that. 

We caught up with Mr. Vincent after he returned home on Tuesday. We asked if he would perhaps give us a second chance and revisit our historical hometown. He replied, “Hell No I’m not coming back to that place!  It’s all…old this…historical that, antique shops, cobblestone streets, antebellum houses, blah, blah, blah.  Las Vegas got the message that new stuff is better than old, why can’t you people?” Then the phone line went dead, he hung up on us.

We contacted the resident expert tour company, Charleston Stroll’s, wanting to inquire if they have noticed a trend in new visitors wanting to see new stuff rather than old.  Tour guide John LaVerne commented, “We have explored the possibility of a ‘Charleston Outlet Mall Tour‘ as well as a ‘Charleston Mobile Home & Garden Tour’, but our research shows they wouldn’t be very popular. Our guests tend to enjoy history, 18th century architecture, historical churches, and our quaint alleyways.”  

Perhaps Charleston Strolls and the rest of our hospitality community are not listening to the needs of some of our visitors.  There is obviously a type of visitor that could care less about our historical homes and would prefer to see us add some modern touches.  Maybe the new wave of tourism should embrace something like, “Charleston, out with the old, in with the new”.

Mayor Thrilled with City Hall’s New Waterslide

Charleston’s acclaimed 19th century architect Gabriel Manigault  is credited with some of our most treasured historical buildings; the Joseph Manigault House, The William Blacklock House, and of course his crowning achievement, Charleston’s City Hall (circa 1801).  19th century architecture insiders are claiming that Gabriel Manigault would be very intrigued by the latest addition to his masterpiece, two 35 foot waterslides leading from the front stoop of City Hall down to Broad Street.

Joseph P. Riley, Charleston’s long standing mayor (since 1975), is considered by many to be responsible for countless local preservation efforts and as well as this Southern town’s ultimate visionary.  His recent vision obviously included a whimsical amusement ride that would help him beat the summer heat. 

We tried to catch up with Mayor Riley during yesterday’s inaugural launch of the new amusement, but he was too caught up in the moment to make a statement.  During his lunch break, the Mayor made 47 trips down the slide, undoubtedly having a wonderful time with his new recreational amenity.  Refusing to talk with reporters, all we could hear were the sounds of running water, shrieks of laughter, and the Mayor repeatedly shouting, “Weeeeeeee, just havin’ fun!!!”.

City Hall’s new amusement ride is currently available to only the Mayor but there are rumored discussions about opening it up to locals and visitors next summer.

“Weather Victim” sues Mother Nature

The Bulldog Buzz unveiled court documents regarding a recent lawsuit filed by a tourist against Mother Nature.  The visitor, Angie Martin of Franklin, TN, claims Mother Nature ruined her visit to Charleston.  Ms. Martin nor her attorney returned our phone calls.

Read the following “Plaintiff Statement” for further details regarding Ms. Martin’s charges:

Mother Nature’s spokesperson Bill Sharp, out of their Washington DC office, commented, “We are very sorry Ms. Martin was unhappy with her experience in Charleston.  We try to provide a variety of weather conditions but it’s impossible to please everybody all the time.  And FYI, tell the folks down there in ‘Our Favorite City” that there’s no need to sweat hurricane season this year.  With the economy in such bad shape, our storm budget is shot all to hell and we just don’t have the resources to make it happen this year.  We know how y’all love to throw those ‘Hurricane Parties’ but you’ll just have to come up with another reason for a social event this September.”

Courtroom Exhibit A – Photograph of the ‘Malicious Winds at Waterfront Park’

 

 

Bulldog Tours launches “Bulldog Buzz”

Greetings from Charleston’s best tour company, Bulldog Tours.  We offer a variety of history, ghost, & culinary walking tours.  We have been featured in numerous publications and television shows, including Southern Living, New York Times, The Travel Channel, A&E, Bon Appetit, Food Network, & USA Today.

We are located at 40 North Market Street in the heart of the historical district.  Come by and meet our wonderful staff, they will be glad to help you make the most of your visit. Also available by phone 843-722-8687 or visit our website for more details.

While all our tours are based on historical facts, this blog is not.  It’s purely entertainment and will hopefully provide you with a few laughs. The blog’s author is a product of the SC public education system so please do not pay attention to any grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Thanks for reading this and have a great time in Charleston.