Kicking Off the ‘Busy’ Season

We are excited to begin another full spring season at Bulldog Tours! March officially begins the busy season here in Charleston as we welcome the Charleston Wine + Food, which brings many tourists and locals out to downtown Charleston to frequent the city’s multitude of restaurants, shops and attractions.

Of course, Easter is in April so we’ll be welcoming families for a week of fun in Charleston. College spring breaks are often before Easter, so we notice more college students visiting the city as early as March.

St. Patrick’s Day is another holiday that brings people to Charleston to visit some of our wonderful Irish Pubs, such as Tommy Condon’s. Visitors – and locals – love to celebrate this festive holiday, so make your plans early. Easter weekend is a big one in the Holy City. Services in one of our many churches on the peninsula will be packed.

Runners in town for the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 1 will fill downtown Charleston and Marion Square, which is the finish line for this annual race. Last year, close to 30,000 people ran or walked in the event. You’ll be sure to see many runners at the local brunch spots afterward. And if you aren’t a part of the race, watch out for traffic entering and exiting the city for hours before and after the race.

As May gets underway, Charleston gets ready for summer and, by Memorial Day Weekend, the area’s restaurants, shops and attractions will be in full swing, ready to accept all the summer vacationers.

So here’s to another busy season in Charleston! Cheers!

Looking for Another ‘Best Of’ Kind of Year

The presidential election year is over, but we sure hope you aren’t tired of voting because we have just one more vote for you to cast. Vote for Bulldog Tours as Best Tour Company. That’s right, folks! The Charleston City Paper’s “Best of Charleston” contest is back, and we need your vote by Feb. 24. Find us in the Attractions and City Living Category under Best Tour Company. We’ve won every year since 2010, but what can we say? We love to win, and we hope to bring home the honors once again in 2017. You do not have to vote in multiple categories for your vote to count. Just vote! It’s quick and easy.

Wondering if we deserve to take home the title another year? Check out the Top 10 Reasons Bulldog Tours is the Best Tour Company in Charleston. We showcase the best of Charleston everyday 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 this video if you need even more convincing.

If it’s been awhile since you experienced Bulldog’s hospitality, come join us for Free Night for Locals on Monday, Feb. 13. Pick from the Ghost and Graveyard Tour, the Dark Side of Charleston Tour or the Haunted Jail Tour at multiple times. These tours are for residents of Charleston, Dorchester or Berkeley counties – and you’ll need the ID to prove it. This offer is good for tours on Feb. 13 only; guests cannot reschedule to another night for free.

Groups of six or more must be booked under one reservation so the group can stay together. If you are touring with friends, make sure you let us know at the time of the reservation or we cannot guarantee the same tour. All groups will be called 48 hours in advance and numbers will have to be confirmed at that time. And, only one tour per person that night. Reservations are required. Call 843-722-8687 to reserve your spot. Space is limited and reservations go very fast.

We look forward to another great year touring our beautiful city with you!

Bulldog Tours is Charleston’s Choice

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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 Ways to Stay Cool on a 100-Degree Charleston Day

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Sometimes, when Charleston temperatures are in the double digits, it’s hard to motivate yourself to step outside your air-conditioned house or hotel room. But the Holy City really is too cool to avoid exploring, no matter the time of year. These are just a few things us locals like to do to outside when the heat is hard to beat.

Waterpark Perks

We can’t cry over the heat when we have not one but two waterparks here in Charleston: Splash Zone at James Island County Park and Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Waterpark at North Charleston Wannamaker Country Park. At Splash Zone you’ll find everything from 200-foot slides to a 500-foot lazy river complete with waterfalls, while Whirlin’ Waters features a six-lane racer slide, 27,000-square-feet wave pool, a multi-slide complex called the Tubular Twister, a Big Splash Tree House with 66 interactive play elements, an 870-foot lazy river, and fun, fun, fun.

Float On

Charleston locals love to take to the Edisto River in the dead of summer for the ultimate lazy river. To take advantage of Charleston’s ultimate lazy river experience, grab yourself a good floatation device and prepare yourself for at least a six-hour float during which all you do is drink a beverage of choice and relax. Yes, for six or so hours. How do we do it? Many floaters leave a car at Messervy Landing, then drive ten more minutes and get in at Givhan’s Ferry State Park in Ridgeville. Six hours later, get out at Messervy and begin the process of taxiing fellow floaters back to their cars at Givhan’s. Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

Beach It

We have nothing in Charleston if not plenty of beautiful beaches — like Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and Kiawah Island — on which you can relax in the sea breeze and let the ocean waves wash away any memory of the stifling heat everywhere else! Enjoy a frozen drink with that view at the beachfront bar behind the Tides Hotel or Banana Cabana on the Isle of Palms.

Sail Away

How can you get a better breeze than going to the beach? By taking a boat there, that’s how! Rent a small motor boat from the marina at Patriot’s Point, Mt. Pleasant, and go island hopping with the Ravenel Bridge at your back. See downtown’s steepled skyline from the water, and venture all the way to Morris Island Lighthouse. Or try your hand at sailing by chartering a sailboat at the City Marina (17 Lockwood Drive).

If you’re downtown for a stroll on a super-hot day, there’s little you can do to avoid sweating through your clothes a few times over, but we you can try these little things to keep cool. We recommend 1. running through the fountain at Waterfront Park, regardless of how old you are! 2. grabbing a gelato at Paolo’s on John Street or Belgian Gelato on Vendue Range, next to Waterfront Park 3. trying a craft popsicle from the King of Pops, a cart you can find at the Farmer’s Market on Marion Square on Saturdays, and 4. taking a break inside the Children’s Museum, Charleston Museum, or the South Carolina Aquarium.

Where will you get up to when you need to cool down in Charleston?

Charleston First Friday Art Walk: How to do it right

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Each season, the Charleston Gallery Association holds an art walk in downtown’s French Quarter and beyond, a now long-time tradition and an event the city holds close to its heart. It’s not only a great way for tourists to see the city and all the art it has to offer, but it’s a chance for local art lovers and collectors as well to congregate, socialize over sips of wine, and check out each studio’s seasonal collections. The walk is held the first Friday every March, May, October, and December, so if you’re in town during one of those weekends, it’s probably a sign that you’re meant to make your way through the city’s best art galleries!

So how does the art walk work? As tried-and-true veterans, we have some advice on how to do it right.

1. Plan Ahead

The next walk is set for Fri. Oct. 7 and Fri. Dec. 2, 2016 from 5 until 8 p.m. There is a lot of ground to cover during these walks, so you need to do a little bit of homework prior to take-off. Plan before you go by grabbing a downloadable/printable map from charlestongalleryassociation.com. Browse the association’s site to see the sort of art each gallery has to offer, so you can tailor your own walk to your specific taste.

2. Make a Dinner Reservation

While some galleries serve snacks, most serve wine — and that means you’re going to need some sustenance come 8 o’clock. Good thing you’re in the best city in the States for insanely wonderful food, right? Some great spots near Broad Street include Husk, Slightly North of Broad, Magnolias, Cypress, Oak, and High Cotton — to name a few. On Meeting Street, we love F.I.G. And if you wind up on Upper King Street (the great Mitchell Hill Gallery is up that way), you can’t go wrong at Rarebit, Rue de Jean, Fish, or The Grocery.

3. Bring cash

You can’t plan love, can you? Meandering through some of the Southeast’s most stunning art galleries may make you fall head over heels for anything from a piece of jewelry to a grand piece of one-of-a-kind wall art. So plan ahead — and plan on the possibility of taking home some pretty unique souvenirs.

4. Wander Away

Simply start at any of downtown’s galleries, have a wander through the space, and mosey on through the city’s historical streets and to as many studios as you please. With galleries everywhere from Broad to Church to East Bay to State to King to Queen, you have your work cut out for you, but don’t ponder for too long at one spot or you’ll miss out on so much more. Some names to look for along the way include Ann Long Fine Art, Birds I View, Atelier Gallery, Courtyard Art Gallery, Grand Bohemian Gallery, LePrince Fine Art, John Carroll Doyle Art Gallery, the Audubon Gallery, and the aforementioned Mitchell Hill Gallery, which is further up King Street.

5. Take a Rickshaw

So you’ve done the walk and gone to your dinner reservation, right? Finish the night off right with a rickshaw to your final destination. There is nothing like a late-night rickshaw journey to top off an exhilarating night out in Charleston, South Carolina.

Will you make it down for a First Friday Art Walk?

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.

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

@HunterMcCrae

@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/.