Concierge’s Top Hidden Things to do in Charleston

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Maybe your idea of the perfect vacation is charting the open seas on a 49-foot yacht with friends and family. Or perhaps challenging your culinary skills and spending an evening with a famous local chef is more your forte. Whatever it is that you wish to do during your stay in Charleston, the concierge team at Belmond Charleston Place is here to make it happen for you.

Our concierge are well-versed in all things Charleston and can offer recommendations on where to find the most savory Lowcountry cuisine, provide directions to Charleston’s grandest attractions and open doors to activities not typically offered to Charleston visitors. Here at Belmond Charleston Place, we would like to make your stay with us an unforgettable experience by helping you discover the charming, hidden parts of Charleston that are typically not otherwise open to the public. All you have to do is ask!

Below is a list of excursions we can arrange that guests may not find on their own.

For the gardener: Exclusive private walking tour of Charleston’s private gardens in the historic district, by native author and expert, Louisa Pringle Cameron.

For the golfer: Tee time at either the Seabrook Island or Daniel Island Clubs, both of which are closed to the public.

For the sailor: Charter of the sailing yacht, The Fate, which is a privately owned 49-foot Beneteau that sleeps up to six people.

For the theologist: A private driving tour of “Little Jerusalem” by Fran Bennett, including Temple Beth Elohim, the oldest reform synagogue in the world.

For the architectural enthusiast: An exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Calhoun Mansion.

For the romantic: A morning or afternoon of horseback riding along the beach at Seabrook Island.

For the adventurer: A private flying tour, either by Cessna or helicopter.

For the historian: Explore African-American history in the Lowcountry and the surrounding sea islands with a private Gullah driving tour.

For the foodie: Enjoy the top culinary destination in the nation with a personalized culinary walking tour of local restaurants and neighborhoods.

For a special occasion: Savor a private dinner in a historic home with a famous local chef.

Whether you’re the type of traveler to follow an adventurous itinerary or if your ideal vacation only requires a few beach chairs and catching up on some R&R, the concierge team at Belmond Charleston Place wants to make your stay in Charleston a journey like no other. Download our Concierge’s Top Hidden things to do in Charleston list here, see our sample itineraries for Charleston here, or call us at 843 722 4900 today to start planning your next unforgettable trip to Charleston!

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Hollywood in the Holy City

Perhaps it is the dreamy backdrop of a Lowcountry landscape or the history that prevails in the architecture of its remarkable buildings. Whatever it may be, there is simply something about Charleston that seems to capture the attention of Hollywood directors and viewers across America. From popular love stories to iconic war movies and even new television series, Charleston has become a Hollywood hot spot for storytelling on the big screen. The next time you’re in Charleston, see if you recognize any of the backdrops from these famous films.

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1. The Notebook (2004):

The Notebook, a 1940’s romantic drama based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, gained much appraisal after its release ten years ago and is still considered a classic and timeless film. Most of us are familiar with the complicated love story of Allie and Noah, but did you know that nearly the entire movie was filmed in South Carolina? Many parts of downtown Charleston and surrounding areas can be seen in The Notebook, with some of its most memorable scenes taking place right on King Street.

Notable Filming Locations: The American Theatre, Upper King Street, Seabrook Island, The College of Charleston Campus, Boone Hall Plantation (shown above and below), the Calhoun Mansion, Old Village and Cypress Gardens.

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2. Dear John (2010):

The charming streets of Charleston and the beachy, laid-back vibe of Sullivan’s Island creates the perfect scenery for Dear John, another popular romance movie based off of a novel by Nicholas Sparks. Though parts of the movie were filmed on nearby Edisto Island, SC and Oak Island, NC, a majority of the scenes were shot right here in Charleston.

Notable Filming Locations: Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Bowen’s Island Restaurant, The College of Charleston Campus and Cassina Point Plantation.

3. The Patriot (2000):

While Charleston does serve as quite the romantic setting, movies such as The Patriot showcase the Holy City in a much different light, utilizing the historic backdrop to bring historic war battles to life. Many of the characters in this American Revolutionary War film were based on real heroes of the war, including Andrew Pickens, Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan and Thomas Sumter.

Notable Filming Locations: The College of Charleston Campus, Cypress Gardens and Middleton Place (shown below).

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4. Cold Mountain (2003):

Cold Mountain, another popular war film, is based on the bestselling novel by Charles Frazier and follows a wounded soldier’s treacherous journey home. The star-studded cast includes big names such as Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Philip Seymour Hoffman and uses Charleston as a “town hall” setting.

Notable filming locations: Downtown Charleston, The College of Charleston Campus (shown below).

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5. Army Wives (TV Series, 2007-2013)

This popular Lifetime series was initially based off of a novel by Tanya Blank titled “Army Wives: the Unwritten Code of Military Marriage.” The television series acquired such a loyal following that it amounted to seven seasons, with the series ending last September.

Notable filming locations: Charleston Air Force Base in North Charleston, River Front Park in North Charleston and the Charleston Naval Base.

6. Reckless (TV Series, 2014-present )

The cast from CBS’s newest drama, Reckless, have been spotted on many occasions around downtown Charleston. The series premiered in June and uses Charleston’s sultry scenery and charm to complement the scandalous storyline.

Notable Filming locations: The “Four Corners of Law” at the intersection of Broad Street and Meeting Street (Charleston City Hall shown below), South Battery homes and The College of Charleston Campus.

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Concierge Tip: Take a day trip to Cypress Gardens, Boone Hall Plantation, or Middleton Place to learn more about the historic settings that have recently acquired fame thanks to these star-studded films. Looking to stay in the Peninsula? Our concierge team has provide a map here with the sites that have been featured in movies and TV shows listed above, without stepping a foot outside of downtown Charleston!

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Haint Blue and its Historic Ties

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If you have ever strolled through the charming streets of downtown Charleston, it is likely that you’ve caught a glimpse of the soft blue paint that graces the ceilings of the Holy City’s most iconic porches. From some of the most historic houses in the Lowcountry to modern single family homes, ceilings splashed with shades of “haint blue” have become increasingly prevalent throughout the years. While some believe the purpose behind the colorful accent is simply to create a charming appearance and a relaxing ambiance, others believe the baby blue ceilings represent an anecdote of historical (and spooky) significance.

 Now mimicked by paint companies, the first ever haint blue color is said to have originated from Gullah Culture in the Carolinas hundreds of years ago. The Gullah people created the faded blue color using a mixture of milk, indigo dye, lime, and other pigments on hand. Although there is no real evidence to support it, many Southerners claim that haint blue also has the ability to banish bugs, a reputation likely stemming from the original integration of lime, a natural insect repellent.

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Legend has it that painting porch ceilings, door frames, and window frames with a coat of the light blue color will protect homeowners by chasing away haints, or evil, restless spirits who have yet to move on from the physical world. While this might sound far-fetched, don’t be too quick to rule it out as a myth. In a historically haunted city such as Charleston, many local homeowners still believe there to be some truth in this longstanding tradition.

Superstitions aside, many people opt for the calming blue color on porch ceilings as a way to imitate the sky, extend daylight hours, and create a tranquil setting for an area often intended for rest and relaxation. Whatever the true purpose behind it may be, it is Southern traditions such as this that make Charleston so extraordinary!

Concierge Tip: Stop into the Calhoun Mansion on 16 Meeting Street between 11am and 5pm for a tour of the largest private residence in Charleston. Learn more about the home and its haint blue porch ceilings or follow this walking route to see more examples.

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