Two Tour Offerings, one by car, and the other on foot.

Tour Private Gardens in historic Charleston

1. Charleston Tea Party Private Tour

This tour is for the discerning visitor who wishes to experience Old Charleston as a guest, not a tourist. Laura Wichmann Hipp and June McKnight are your knowledgeable and charming guides. Natives who love and know well their city, Laura and June take visitors to their friends’ private homes and gardens, in fact cater each tour to the special interests of their visitors. This is the ultimate insider experience and a rare chance for a visitor to see the “real Charleston.” Both ladies are Licensed City Guides of Charleston who have taken the written and oral exam.

Call June at 843-276-9644 for reservations.

Your hostess serves tea following lunch

Tours are weekdays at 9:00 AM.  The private tour is in and out of a car that seats four guests, or a van that seats six, and goes into private homes and gardens.


2. Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour

This on your feet tour is for the discriminating visitor who wants to be off the beaten track. This new tour is for those who love to walk and also want to visit private historic gardens. Two are designed by noted Charlestonian, Dr. Eugene Gaillard Johnson. Another boxwood and rose garden with a dovecote overlooks the glistening waters of the recent 2016 multi-million dollar restoration of Colonial Lake. We also peak into the garden and piazza of Dubose Heyward, who lived in this classic Charleston Single House as a boy and grew up to write the novel, Porgy. Dubose Heyward and George Gershwin collaborated to compose Porgy and Bess, the first American opera, set in Charleston.

Charleston Tea Party Walking Tour starts at 9 a.m. week days for a two hour tour.  You will see Laura’s front flower garden and “citrus grove,” and back garden fruiting trees and raised vegetable beds, from which her family and friends enjoy her homemade Calamondin Marmalade. The Silver Tea Service is used at the end of                 The Walking Tour for four to twelve people.

Call Laura at 843-708-2228 for reservations.

Charleston: Gershwin, Gullah and Tea

The Charleston Tea Party Private Tour sounds about as genteel as it gets. The brochure features a photo of guide Laura Wichmann Hipp (“married to G. Preston Hipp of Charleston”) in a broad-brimmed hat, looking ready to snatch Rhett Butler away from an unsuspecting Scarlett O’Hara. It promises to emphasize architecture and preservation in the city’s historic district, with a grand finale of tea served in the guide’s private home.

-The Washington Post



Filed under 2016 in Charleston, Charleston Tea, Dubose Heyward's home, new tour, Porgy and Bess, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Two Tour Offerings, one by car, and the other on foot.

  1. A group of girlfriends recently spent a 4 day weekend in Charleston. I arranged for a Charleston Tea Party tour for 6 of us with Laura Wichmann Hipp.

    Laura I cannot begin to tell you how much we enjoyed our time with you that morning. We all came away with a nice balance of Charleston history, Charleston homes and Charleston charm. Thank you for taking so much time with us, answering all our questions, and making us feel like one of your Charleston friends. It is a trip our group will long remember and your tour will be a highlight. Martha Davis

  2. I am planning a tour to England and Scotland either early July or early August 2013. This will be my second tour I have led. I am going to try to contact HRH Prince Charles about a tour of the garden of Highgrove, his English Country House in the Cotswolds. The dates will depend on the availability of this garden. Let me know if you are interested. I did not make any money last time. I just try to cover expenses.–LWH

  3. Gigi McCollum

    Laura, our time with you was just delightful. I loved hearing all of the facts about your city told with a real love for your native town. Being able to go into real homes was such fun and then going back to your own home to enjoy your delicious tea with your warm Southern hospitality was very special. I think we could be really good friends if I lived in Charleston, as we share many common values. Thanks so much for making Charleston and its history come alive. It was also fun being in a small group and getting to know a few new people. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Gigi McCollum, December 21, 2011

  4. I really like Charleston Tea Party Tours, because you get to share great moments with the few other people or your relatives with you on the tour. It’s an awesome experience.

  5. Laura, I had to write and tell you that in all my travels, the afternoon we spent with you is one of the highlights. You are so charming and informative and knowledgeable! I felt it was very special. The gazpacho aspic was divine! I am going to try to reproduce it at home. Thanks for reminding us what true Southern hospitality is. You are definitely doing your calling. Cathy Schwartz, Mclean, Virginia

  6. Dr. James F. Faron

    Recently, my wife and I and two of our physician friends from Illinois had the pleasure of enjoying a great day with Laura Wichamnn Hipp on the Charleston Tea Party Private Tour. It far exceeded our expectations!! The weather was perfect, and we began our tour at Laura’s private home in Historic Charleston, wandering in her lovely citrus and flower garden and getting an orientation to Charleston with her insights on the early history of the city. One of the highlights was then a breakfast at an historic home overlooking the harbor, with Fort Sumter in the distance. Imagine open windows, a slight breeze, sun, a table by the front balcony facing the water, and a homemade Southern style array of grits, bacon, eggs, and other breakfast choices…..what a way to start a day in Charleston! From there we had the chance after Breakfast on the Battery to visit other private homes and gardens, all with access only because we were on the tour with Laura.

    We have a second home in Charleston; consequently, we have visited other historic homes and have been on other more commercial tours. But truly, this was a special day with such a personal touch and information that we would not have gleaned otherwise about the history and culture of the low country and Charleston. Our tour ended back at Laura’s home with a lunch that included fresh shrimp (caught the day before) and more stimulating conversation and comraderie. We have already told friends back home about this unique opportunity….a gem not to be missed.

    Dr. James F. Faron
    Champaign, Illinois

  7. Pamela Boling

    September 2011: My husband, my brother, and I had a wonderful time on our tour with Miss Laura! My brother, Tim and I had been on one of her tours a year ago, and I can honestly say the second time around was as fun, informative, and special as the first tour! The lunch was delicious, especially the homemade peach cobbler and homemade elderflower ice cream! Mrs. Laura Wichmann Hipp, a beautiful person inside and out, knows and loves her city and it shows in her tour! You will see and hear the history of a more personal Charleston that you won’t get on the ‘tourists’ tours. It is worth the time and price! Thank you so much, Miss Laura! — Pam Boling

    PS Also, if she has any copies of her nephew’s book,From Folly, buy a copy! Very inspirational!

  8. Brenda Harris

    My sister and I visited Charleston @ spring break time in late March and early April this year. We have been coming to Charleston the last several years and have taken multiple tours. Laura’s was by far the greatest ! We learned so much during this tour and appreciated all the time and love Laura devoted to us. She added her personal touch when she opened her house to new guests. We enjoyed the meal and garden salad so very much. We enjoyed that beautiful view of the bay from her dining room window. This helped me to imagine living and enjoying this beautiful area. It’s a tour everyone should enjoy!! Laura thank you so very much. Brenda Harris and Pamela Harris Huff.

  9. Rachel Sparks

    Dear Laura,
    I was recently cleaning and found several pictures of my sisters wedding in Charleston June 2010. I remembered the memories your tour created with my sisters, mother and bridal party. We still talk about how much we learned about Charleston, the fun we had on your tour and the food (yum, shrimp!). We drove around Charleston to homes/ places that we never would have seen on a typical tour. I was the matron of honor and in charge of the bachelorette party. I wanted a gathering that all of us would remember in a good way (not with a hangover) and the traditional bachlorette party just wasn’t what I was looking for. Your tour exceeded my expectations! Thank you so much for the memories and your genuine Charleston charm and hospitality!

    Rachel Sparks
    Memphis, TN.

  10. Kris Nilsson

    Laura –
    Connie and I are back in the Pacific Northwest, but Charleston is a golden memory I will treasure forever! How gracious you are and what a treat to see inside the historic homes and gardens! You truly made history come alive and helped this northerner appreciate the heart of South Carolinians. There were many moments I will never forget, among them – breakfast at East Battery in front of the bright bay window overlooking Fort Sumter; strolling through the lovingly designed and tended gardens; sharing lively conversation with you and Olivia over tea, scones, and calamordin marmalade. Thank you so much for your graciousness and for sharing Charleston history with us! I hope to be back with more friends and family and to share your tour with them some day.

  11. Johanna Evenson

    Dear Laura,
    I want to thank you again for including my sister and me from Finland in your wonderful tour. Laura, you are a wealth of information and you clothed houses, gardens and churches in ancient stories that made them come alive. “She is so passionate about Charleston and its history” was my sister’s comment and I had to agree, your were not only sharing your knowledge but also your love for this most wonderful of cities. And if that had been all, it would have been enough, but then you also invited us to your own home and treated us to a feast fit for a kings. The next day when I, at home, tasted your exquisite homemade marmalade I bought from you, I recognized the flavor, the same distinct ingredient that permeated your tour. It was the unmistakable spice called Charleston hospitality.

  12. Pam Boling

    Dear Laura,
    Thank you for your phone message after our tour. We enjoyed the Aiken Rhett House you gave us a ride to after our tour with you and the walk back to the Lodge Alley Inn on East Bay. We love to walk.
    Your tour was exceptional. We enjoyed ourselves so muck. The lunch was delicious, and it was delightful to meet one of your daughters. My brother Tim said it was the best birthday gift he has received in ages.
    My husband Johnny wanted you to have some of his tomatoes we brought with us to eat. Ours in Lancaster have done very well this year. His plants are 8 ft tall! The yellow tomatoes have less acid and great taste. I left them hanging from your front door knob. I hope your family enjoys them. I left the others reading and resting while I walked them over to you.
    Hope to see you again.
    God bless,
    Pam Boling

  13. Bette Sirianni

    For anyone who loves all things Southern Charleston does not disappoint. The ULTIMATE tour of Charleston is Laura’s Tea Party Tour. Within minutes of meeting Laura you know this is a special tour because she takes you where other tours are not allowed. The gardens are magnificant, the stories are wonderful and the dining experience is like no other………Laura calls her home the “Happiest House in Charleston” and once you see it you have no doubt…….The dining experience alone is worth the cost of the tour. I promise by the time you leave you will feel like a member of the family. My friend and I spent four days in Charleston and we toured 2 museums, 7 homes, 2 plantations and Ft. Sumter but Laura was that icing on the cake……………

  14. Joyce Smith

    I’m new to Charleston and have the zest and zeal to learn as much as I can in one year!!! A girlfriend ,visiting from Calif., and I took Laura Wichmann Hipp’s lovely Charleston Tea Party Private Tour recently and fell further in love with the “Magical” Charleston that Laura imparts so well with her shining grace and knowledge! We were afforded entry into her friends houses and gardens ending with a lovely homemade meal at her private house. She even treated us to a taste of her homemade Calamordin marmalade! Topnotch experience!

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