John LaVerne started Bulldog Tours back in 2001 as a way to meet girls. Really. Of course, things have gotten a little more serious since then, with the company expanding to offer tours of all kinds, from culinary adventures to haunted ghost treks to LGBT-themed walking tours.
Just this year, Bulldog added a pretty cool new evening tour of Magnolia Cemetery — a beautiful, albeit spooky spot on the Cooper River downtown — which previously didn’t allow commercial tour companies to operate on the property. After years of asking, LaVerne scored that lucky role, and promised to help the Magnolia Trust preserve the property, which is always part of Bulldog’s mission. Since 2001, Bulldog Tours has raised over $3.7 million for the restoration and preservation of the Old City Jail, Circular Church’s graveyard, the Old Exchange Building, and the Powder Magazine. And all of that hard work has paid off for Bulldog Tours, which win Best Tour Company time and time again. Does a little ol’ Best of Charleston award matter to LaVerne? As he says, “I don’t care who wins the mayoral election or who wins Clemson vs. Carolina. This is my favorite contest to win.” There ya have it, folks. —Connelly Hardaway
Runner-up: Charleston Outdoor Adventures
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