The Best Charleston Ghost Tours Reviewed

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

This post compares several of the most popular ghost tours available in Charleston. Ghost tours are a great alternative to traditional history tours as they offer insight into the city’s darker history and supernatural legends. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not, ghost tours can be a fun way to explore Charleston’s city center.

There are several different companies that offer ghost tours in Charleston. Below, we’ve broken down the various types of ghost tours available in Charleston, and compared each by price and availability so that you can decide… which is the best ghost tour in Charleston?


Ghost Tours

Dark Side of History Tours

Paranormal Investigations

 


 


Ghost Tours

Ghost tours are a fun and informative way to learn more about a city’s history. There are many different companies offering ghost tours in Charleston. The tours listed under this section are more traditional ghost tours in the sense that they combine both history and ghoulish lore, but do not use any investigative technical equipment. They also differ from Dark Side of History Tours as these are more concerned with paranormal legends rather than prostitution, thievery, and other forms of debauchery.

There are 7 different companies offering these types of tours. Prices range from $17-$25 per adult for a 1-1.5 hour tour. The first 2 that are listed have the best reviews from customers, though each comes highly rated. All of the tours welcome families, though some (as we note) are scarier than others.


+ Old Charleston Walking Tours

Of all the ghost tours included on this list, the Pleasing Terrors Ghost Tour led by Old Charleston Walking Tours is rated the highest. Unlike the other tours, this one is led by a guide who has personal connections to every story he tells. Photographs accompany each tale, and the guide does an excellent job of mixing history with recent encounters. Also, unlike other tours, Pleasing Terrors Ghost Tour only led by one guide so you are guaranteed the same quality and experience described in the reviews.

Cost:

  • $20 per adult for 90 minute tour
  • $10 per child

Hours:

  • Everyday at 7:30pm and 9:30pm

Reviews:

As stated in the description above, this tour comes highly rated. Old Charleston Walking Company offers several different tours and has an average TripAdvisor rating of 5 stars with nearly 800 reviews. Their ghost tour is one of their most popular, as many guests comment that it is the best ghost tour they have ever been on.


+ Bulldog Tours

Bulldog Tours offer the widest selection of ghost tours in Charleston. Guests can choose between their Charleston Ghost and Graveyard tour, Haunted Jail tour, Charleston Ghost and Dungeon Walking tour, and Haunted Arsenal tour. Each introduces visitors to the haunted history of some of Charleston’s most famous buildings and neighbourhoods. Though many ghost stories are told throughout the evening, these tours are not intended to terrify guests. More so, Bulldog Tours aim to offer insight into the darker history of Charleston, with the added potential of encountering paranormal activity!

Cost:

  • Charleston Ghost and Graveyard: $25 per adult; $15 per child (7-12)
  • Haunted Jail: $25 per adult; $15 per child (7-12) for 45 minute tour
  • Charleston Ghost and Dungeon: $25 per adult; $15 per child (7-12)
  • Haunted Arsenal: $25 per adult; $15 per child (7-12)

Hours:

  • Charleston Ghost and Graveyard: 7:30pm and 9:30pm every night (though check availability)
  • Haunted Jail: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm every night (though check availability)
  • Charleston Ghost and Dungeon: 7pm and 9pm from Tuesday – Saturday (not available in December, January, or February)
  • Haunted Arsenal: 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays

Reviews:

Bulldog Tours come highly rated with a 4 star TripAdvisor rating with nearly 1,700 reviews. Though most of the reviews are for their historic or food tours (as the lead several different types!), there are also many positive reviews for their ghost tours. Families seem to be the ideal audience, as many adults praise the interesting history that was learned on the tour whilst their children enjoyed the spooky ghost tours. Some guests express their disappointment with the lack of paranormal experiences on the tour. However, those who are less interested in history and more concerned with interacting with ghosts should go on their Paranormal Investigations tour, which we also review below!


+ Ashley on the Cooper

Ashley on the Cooper is another popular tour company offering a ghost tour. Named the Macabre Ghost tour, this is perhaps one of the spookiest ghost tours on offer in Charleston. All the guides are firm believers in the afterlife and do an excellent job of weaving history with ghost stories.

Cost:

  • $20 per person for 90 minutes

Hours:

  • 7 days a week at 7pm and 9pm

Reviews:

Ashley on the Cooper also offers several different types of tours, though their ghost tour is one of their most popular. Most guests rate the tour with 5 stars, commenting on how much fun they had and on how engaging their guide was throughout. As is often the case with ghost tours, some reviewers were disappointed with the lack of actual paranormal activity. However, the general consensus seems to be that the tour is a great way to spend an evening exploring Charleston.


+ Walks of Charleston 

In addition to their several historic tours, Walks of Charleston also offer a Haunted History Tour, which reveals the darker side of the city’s past. Guests will visit several of Charleston’s eeriest places and learn the stories of why they are haunted today. Like many of the other tours included in this section, the Walks of Charleston ghost tour is a healthy mix of both ghost stories and history.

Cost:

  • Adults: $20 for 90 minute tour
  • Children 7-12: $10
  • Children 6 and under: free
  • Students and Military (Current ID Required): $15

Hours:

  • Every Friday and Saturday at 8pm

Reviews:

The ghost tour by Walks of Charleston is one of the most highly rated on TripAdvisor. The company averages 4.5 stars and nearly 200 reviews on TripAdvisor for all of their tours. Guests comment that their Haunted History Tour is “excellent” and a great way to learn about the “ghosts, pirates, and history of the city.” Compared to the other ghost tours included on our list, this tour is arguably the scariest.


+ Black Cat Tours

As the name might suggest, Black Cat Tours specialize in dark history and ghost tours. Their Haunted Charleston Tour is led by a guide with a lantern who brings guests to some of the scariest places in the city. In comparison to some of the other ghost tours, this one is much more theatrical and so suits guests who prefer that style of delivery.

Cost:

  • $17 per person

Hours:

  • 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays

Reviews:

As a smaller company, Black Cat Tours has fewer than 100 reviews on TripAdvisor. However, their current rating is very positive with 4.5 stars. Some guests found the guide for this particular tour to be too eccentric for their liking, though most thought the tour was excellent and entertaining.


+ Tour Charleston, LLC

The Ghosts of Charleston Tour led by Tours Charleston, LLC is another solid option for those keen to take a ghost tour in the city. This is the only company with night-time access to the haunted Unitarian Church Graveyard, which was established in 1772. Additionally, this is the oldest ghost tour offered in Charleston, which in itself is evidence of its popularity.

Cost: 

  • Adults: $22 for 80 minute tour
  • Senior/Military/AAA Member: $20
  • Students: $17
  • Children 7-12: $14
  • Under 7: Free

Hours:

  • Nightly at 7:30pm and 9:30pm

Reviews:

Tour Charleston, LLC boasts a 4 star TripAdvisor rating and nearly 200 reviews for all of their tours. Reviewers of the ghost tour praise the guides in particular, who they describe as “fab” and “informative.” An excellent way to learn a bit of Charleston’s history as well as a number of very entertaining ghost stories.


+ Walks in History 

Walks in History is another very popular tour company that offers a 90 minute Supernatural Ghost Tour of Charleston. This tour is also led by local authors who have extensive experience in researching the supernatural. However, what differentiates this tour from some of the others is the guides’ attention to historical facts and details.

Cost:

  • $18 per person

Hours:

  • Nightly at 8pm

Reviews:

The reviews for the Supernatural Ghosts of Charleston Tour are also very positive, with nearly 300 tours and a 5 star TripAdvisor rating. Guests with young children are particularly impressed as the guides make an extra effort to engage visitors of all ages. One reviewer commented “I feel like what I learned on that tour is what Charleston doesn’t want you to know”.


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Paranormal Investigations

Similar to ghost tours, paranormal investigations explore haunted areas with the use of technical equipment such as infrared cameras and audio devices. These investigative tours are for serious ghost hunters who want to do more than just learn about a haunted space… rather, they want to experience it!

The only company in Charleston that offers a Paranormal Investigation tour is Bulldog Tours, who runs them sporadically throughout the year. The tours are offered for 2 or 4 hours, and always begin at midnight. At $35 per person for the 2 hour tour, this option is slightly more expensive than other tours offered by this company. However, for the true paranormal enthusiast, it is worth every penny!


+ Bulldog Tours

Unlike their other ghost tours, the Paranormal Investigation offered by Bulldog Tours takes a much more serious approach to learning about Charleston’s haunted history. Guests will explore the Old City Jail with special equipment including a ghost meter, infrared camera, and special audio equipment. Beware… this tour is not for the faint of heart!

Cost: 

  • $35 for 2 hours; $75 for 4 hours

Hours:

  • All tours start at midnight; call 843-722-TOUR to learn specific dates

Reviews:

Guests who have attended Bulldog Tours’ Paranormal Investigation rate it highly, with many commenting on the the supernatural experiences they had. Some guests even brought their own equipment to further enhance the experience. The company offers many different types of tours and boasts a 4 star rating on TripAdvisor with nearly 1,700 reviews. However, of their many tours, this is the one you truly want to take if you’re hoping to witness some serious paranormal activity!


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Dark Side of History Tours

Dark Side of History Tours are exactly what their name suggests. . . tours that introduce guests to the darker side of history! You will hear stories about of murder, prostitution, and infamous debauchery. There aren’t any ghost stories on these tours necessarily, but some of the tales are dark enough to give anyone a fright!

Each of these 3 tours target a mature audience and are unlikely to appeal to families. Prices range from $17-$25 per person, and each tour lasts between 1-1.5 hours. Unlike the darkside of history tours offered by Bulldog Tours and Black Cat Tours, the tour offered by Ashley on the Cooper is unique as it is an interactive murder mystery walk that prompts guests to determine the identity of a murderer after learning all of the clues of the crime.


+ Ashley on the Cooper

In addition to their Macabre Ghost Tour, Ashley on the Cooper also offers a Murder Walk — an incredibly engaging and interactive tour that asks guests to help solve a murder! It is unique because the guide reveals more clues about the crime at hand at each stop, and prompts guests to try and piece together the crime. This is an excellent tour for families with older children as it engages them but is not nearly as dark as some of the other tours of this variety.

Cost:

  • $20 per person for 60 minutes (ages 12 and up only)

Hours:

  • 8pm on certain nights (see their calendar for details)

Reviews:

Though their ghost tour is more popular, Ashley on the Cooper’s Murder Walk is even more highly rated. As the tour prompts guests to solve the murder mystery at hand, it is extremely engaging and entertaining throughout. Guests comment that the tour is “fun”, “energetic”, and “informative”.


+ Bulldog Tours

In addition to their ghost tour, Bulldog Tours also offers a Darkside of Charleston Tour for mature audiences. The tour “takes an uncensored look at history” as it tells tales of prostitution, crime, and other sordid affairs. Like the other darkside tours, this one is not a ghost tour, but rather a history tour that focuses on the more graphic and gruesome side of Charleston.

Cost:

  • $25 per person for 90 minute tour

Hours:

  • Nightly at 8pm and 10pm

Reviews:

The reviews for the darkside tour led by Bulldog Tours are generally very positive, though some of the guests found the commentary to be too crude and distasteful. It’s important to consider the content that is discussed during this tour, as it is designed to entertain a particular audience and therefore is not for everyone. However, the company is highly regarded and has a 4 star TripAdvisor rating with nearly 2000 reviews.


+ Black Cat Tours 

In addition to their ghost tour, Black Cat Tours also offers a Wicked Charleston Tour which is an adults-only tour that tells stories of murder, scandal, and sin! The tour itself is conducted by the author of Wicked Charleston, which is a book that specifically discloses much of Charleston’s unsavory history. If you were hoping to attend a dark history tour as a family, then this is not the tour for you.

Cost:

  • $17 per person

Hours:

  • 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays

Reviews:

As a smaller company, Black Cat Tours has fewer than 100 reviews on TripAdvisor. However, their current rating is very positive with 4.5 stars. Though this tour is not as popular as their traditional ghost tour, it still receives several positive reviews from guests.


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Ghost Carriage Tours

Haunted carriage tours are another alternative for those hoping to learn more about Charleston’s dark past without necessarily going on a walking tour. As carriage tours tend to be somewhat of a novelty, this is a great way to combine the experience of riding in a carriage with that of a ghost tour.

There is only one ghost carriage tour regularly offered in Charleston. Old South Carriage Ghost runs a seasonal carriage tour that lasts 40 minutes for $20 per person, making it slightly more expensive than the average walking tour which lasts 80-90 minutes for $20 per person. However, if you are set on riding around Charleston in a carriage whilst learning more about the city’s haunted history, then this is the tour for you!

 


+ Old South Carriage Ghost Tour

Old South Carriage Co. offers a range of carriage tours throughout Charleston, including a Haunted Carriage Tour that covers several historic landmarks. This is the only haunted carriage tour offered in Charleston, so those who wish to explore Charleston’s haunted history via a classic carriage should do so with Old South Carriage Co. As it is only 40 minutes long, the Haunted Carriage Tour is also the shortest of all ghost tours offered.

Cost:

  • Adults (12+): $20.00 for 40 minutes
  •  Children (4-11):  $15.00
  •  Infants (3 and under): Free

Hours:

  • Available seasonally

Reviews:

Like their many other types of carriage tours, the Haunted Carriage Tour by Old South Carriage Co. comes highly recommended with an average of 4.5 stars and nearly 2,300 reviews for all of their tours. Guests describe it as very entertaining and informative, and praise the guides for their in-depth knowledge.


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Pirate Ghost Tours 

Pirate ghost tours are another interesting alternative to the standard ghost tour experience. Charleston Harbor is the perfect setting in which to learn more about Charleston’s haunted history and maritime folklore.

There are currently 2 different companies offering pirate ghost tours in Charleston. The first is run my Charleston Pirate Tours who lead a daytime and evening walking tour of the area near Charleston Harbor. Additionally, Sandlapper Water Tours offers a pirate ghost tour on a boat that cruises around Charleston Harbor. Both are much more lighthearted than some of the other ghost tour options, though Charleston Pirate Tours tends to be a favorite with children, whilst Sandlappers Water Tours is preferred by adults.


+ Charleston Pirate Tours 

Charleston Pirate Tours offer 2 ghost tours: a daytime ghost tour and an evening pirate and ghost tour. The daytime tour visit sites that do not allow for nighttime entry, such as the Powder Magazine Museum. The evening tour, on the other hand, takes guests around the city to share some pirate and ghost lore. Guides dress up in period costumes for the evening tour, making it most suitable for guests who prefer a more theatrical ghost tour. This tour is more funny and entertaining than scary.

Cost:

  • Daytime Ghost Tour: Adults – $19.50; Children (4-12) – $13; Seniors/Military: $17.50
  • Evening Pirate and Ghost Tour: Adults – $19.50; Children (4-12) – $13; Seniors/Military: $17.50

Hours:

  • Daytime Ghost Tour: Daily at 1pm
  • Evening Pirate and Ghost Tour: Nightly at 7:30pm

Reviews:

Charleston Pirate Tours is a very popular tour company with an excellent reputation. They average a 5 star rating and nearly 400 reviews for all their different tours on TripAdvisor. Families are particularly fond of the Pirate and Ghost Tour, as it appeals to younger audiences.


+ Sandlapper Water Tours 

The Charleston Ghost and Pirate Harbor Tour offered by Sandlapper is the only pirate ghost tour to take place on the sea! Guests embark on a 90 minute cruise around Charleston Harbor whilst listening to the captain share some of Charleston’s spookiest ghost stories and pirate lore. There is a bar on the boat as well, which is another unique feature of this particular tour.

Cost:

  • Check the Sandlapper website for details

Hours:

  • Seasonal

Reviews:

Sandlapper Water Tours maintains a 4.5 star rating and nearly 300 reviews for all their tours on TripAdvisor. Guests who were looking for a fun night out and a lighthearted tour are especially complimentary of Sandlapper’s pirate ghost tour. On the other hand, those who wanted a scarier and more serious ghost tour commented that this one did not meet their expectations.


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Ghost Pub Crawl 

Ghost pubs crawls can be a fun and interactive way to discover Charleston’s haunted history, whilst also enjoying a few drinks at some of the city’s most popular pubs. Obviously this is an adults-only type of tour, so best for those who are not travelling with kids.

Bulldog Tours is the only company that offers a ghost pub crawl. Their tour takes guests to 3 different taverns in the city, whilst sharing several local ghost stories. Drinks are not included in the price of the tour, though guests are welcome to purchase some on their own. This tour is slightly more expensive than other ghost tours, but well worth it for guests hoping to combine the experience of going on a ghost tour with a pub crawl.

 


+ Bulldog Tours

In addition to their several other ghost tours, Bulldog Tours offers Haunted Pub Crawl of the Market — a ghost tour that doubles as a pub crawl! Guests hear stories about the many ghosts haunting Charleston whilst visiting several traditional pubs and taverns. Additionally, guides share the superstitious history behind certain late-night spirits like Plateyes and Boo Hags.

Cost:

  • $25 per person

Hours:

  • 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays

Reviews:

Though reviews of Bulldog Tours’ Haunted Pub Crawl Tour from a few years ago were not very positive, recent reviewers praise the tour as “fantastic” and “a must,” which suggests that the tour has been recently redesigned in some way. Guests also highly rate the pubs that are visited during the tour, saying that they in themselves were “awesome.”


Discounts 

Discounts


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Where to Stay in Charleston

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

The following is our guide to finding accommodation in Charleston. We have included a range of hotels and hostels with the hope that you will be able to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.  


Luxury Hotels1024px-broadstreetcharleston

Mid-Range Hotels

Hostels

Air Bnb


Luxury Hotels

+ Wentworth Mansion — 149 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Ideal location; wonderful service; luxurious experience
  • Cons: Pricey
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Wentworth Mansion OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ French Quarter Inn — 166 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Very elegant; excellent breakfast; prime location
  • Cons: Expensive
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars
  • BOOK directly with French Quarter Inn OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Harbourview Inn — 2 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Excellent location; great food
  • Cons: Very Expensive
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Harbourview Inn OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Market Pavilion Hotel — 225 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Excellent location; beautiful pool; great customer service
  • Cons: Expensive
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Market Pavilion Hotel OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Planters Inn — 112 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Upscale boutique hotel; charming
  • Cons: Pricey
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Planters Inn OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Belmond Charleston Place — 205 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Elegany; ideal location
  • Cons: Very expensive
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Belmond Charleston Place OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ The Vendue Charleston’s Art Hotel — 19 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Beautiful rooftop bar; great location800px-pink-house-charleston-sc1
  • Cons: Some rooms don’t have windows and can be noisy
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with The Vendue Charleston’s Art Hotel OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel — 115 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Beautiful rooftop bar; great location
  • Cons: Some rooms don’t have windows and can be noisy
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

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Mid-Range Hotels

+ Holiday Inn Historic Charleston Downtown —425 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403

  • Pros: Conveniently located on outskirts of historic district
  • Cons: Poor customer service; valet parking is expensive and required
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Holiday Inn Historic Charleston Downtown OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview — 301 Savannah Highway, U.S. Highway 17, Charleston, SC 29407

  • Pros: Best distance to downtown/price value; beautiful view; excellent service
  • Cons: Dated facilities; no breakfast included
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 3.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Staybridge Suites North Charleston — 7329 Mazyck Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406

  • Pros: Excellent value; great service
  • Cons: Not located in downtown Charleston; 15 minute drive to downtown
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Staybridge Suites North Charleston OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Indigo Inn — 1 Maiden Ln, Charleston, SC 29401charleston

  • Pros: Excellent value; great service
  • Cons: Not located in downtown Charleston; 15 minute drive to downtown
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Indigo Inn OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Town & Country Inn and Suites — 2008 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29407

  • Pros: Good value; spacious rooms
  • Cons: On the outskirts of historic district; mediocre housekeeping
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with Town & Country Inn and Suites OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ King Charles Inn — 237 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401

  • Pros: Convenient location; excellent service
  • Cons: Very expensive valet service; disappointing menu
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars
  • BOOK directly with King Charles Inn OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

+ Francis Marion Hotel — 387 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403

  • Pros: Great location; historic and charming appearance
  • Cons: Poor service
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars
  • BOOK directly with Charleston’s NotSo Hostel OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

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Hostels

+ Charleston’s NotSo Hostel — 156 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403

  • Pros: Excellent location; very affordable
  • Cons: Strict quiet-time rules; lacking cleanliness
  • TripAdvisor Rating: 4 stars
  • BOOK directly with Charleston’s NotSo Hostel OR with Hotels.com to compare deals.

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Air BnB

Airbnb is a great option where you’ll find additional rooming options come on the market just for Inauguration as residents rent out spare bedrooms or entire house for the events. Check out their website for more information!

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Historic Charleston | A Self-Guided Tour

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

Originally named Charles Town, after the reigning English King Charles, Charleston’s history dates back more than 300 years. Travel and history enthusiasts consistently rank Charleston in the top 5 most historic cities in the United States. With houses and buildings that have remained intact since before the American Revolution, Charleston allows your imagination to travel back in time to the when stately horse-drawn carriages rode down quaint cobblestone streets. It also is a reminder of America’s darker past when slavery was legal and Charleston was one of the biggest hubs of the slave trade.

This self-guided tour takes you through a section of the city with a large density of 18th century sites, including those open to the public for free and some that that charge admissions.  Note: It’s best to only cross the streets when you have the WALK signal.  Vehicular traffic can be very busy in this district, especially first thing in the morning and at lunch.

Self-Guided Tour

History

 

This short video details the history of slavery in Charleston and includes a visit inside the Old Slave Market Museum, included on this tour.

SELF-GUIDED TOUR

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Free Tours by Foot Blog

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Boston, Charleston, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot is more than just a guided walking tour company for your sightseeing visit. Consider us the best resource for your trip – from how to get tickets to top tourist attractions, where to stay, and how to get around the city. Our guides are experts in the city and here to help you plan your weekend or sightseeing trips.

Which City Are You Visiting?

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Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

Charleston for Christmas and the HolidaysIf you’re visiting Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays in December and looking for something festive to do (other than our walking tours!), you’re in luck!

Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays

Marion Square is always a beautiful photo op place over the holiday season. The middle of the square has a tree made all of lights that you can walk in and around. Your kids can meet Santa and the Holiday Market is fun, too. You’ll find performances throughout the season and a Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting.

The Holiday Market Hours are on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am – 3pm through the weekend before Christmas.

Another tradition is the Charleston Parade of Boats. Starting in Mount Pleasant and cruising across the harbor through the Cooper River and into the Ashley River the boat parade is an annual tradition put on by the Rotary Club. Locals decorate their boats with lights and the parade sails the harbor. No boat? No worries! You can catch the show by heading to Waterfront Park or the Battery (if you’re downtown) or get a ticket for the official Viewing Party at the Maritime Center.

If you find yourself in Mount Pleasant, check it out from Patriots Point or see if a local will invite you onto their boat at the marina. The parade is December 10th from 5pm – 8pm.

Got a car? Head to the James Island County Park and enjoy the Festival of Lights. Every night from November through January you can see over 700 light displays from the comfort of your car. You can always get out and walk around the park and enjoy some other gifts of the season, too. It is a local holiday tradition and has received several awards and honors from all over the world.

Charleston for Christmas and the HolidaysFor 2016, The Holiday Festival of Lights is open every evening – “rain or shine” – from November 11 – January 1, 2017:

Hours

  • Sunday – Thursday: 5:30 – 10 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 5:30 – 11 p.m.

Admission

  •   1-15 guests: $20 per vehicle, $15 per vehicle Monday-Thursday with donation*
  •   16-30 guests: $40 Monday-Thursday, $50 Friday-Sunday
  •   31+ guests: $100 Monday-Thursday, $150 Friday-Sunday
Monday – Thursday, get into the festival for only $15 per vehicle (1-15 guests) with the donation of a canned food item or dog/cat food to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.

If you’re looking for some holiday entertainment, nothing beats the Christmas Special production! For a taste of Broadway in the low-country, visit our post on the Charleston Christmas Special.

Charleston for Christmas and the HolidaysAs you can see, Charleston gets into the spirit of the season. We hope you enjoy your time here over the holidays! We will be open and running tours every day through the month – even on Christmas day. Let us take you on a stroll through the city where you can learn about our history while admiring the beautiful decorations adorning our world famous architecture.

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A Travel Guide for Charleston on a Budget

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

Welcome to Charleston, a city known for its southern charm, fabulous food, and historic significance. To ensure that you leave this city loving it as much as we do, we have create a detailed travel guide for Charleston on a budget. Learn the tips and tricks of the locals to help plan the perfect trip!

Planning Your Trip

Charleston Fort SumterBefore coming to Charleston, check out our posts on the 10 best places to visit in Charleston and the top 5 free things to do in and around the city. If you’re only only around for a few days, then refer our guide on planning a weekend trip instead. And of course, don’t forget to check out a few of our walking tours of Charleston.

Regardless of what you opt to do, don’t forget to consider getting the Charleston Heritage Passport as it could potentially save you quite a bit.

Lastly, learn what will be in bloom while you’re visiting! Charleston is famous for its incredible greenery.

Other helpful resources include:

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Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Is Travel insurance worth it?Travel insurance is often the last thing you have on your mind when planning your next trip for just yourself, with your family or with friends. We look forward to a well-earned and long-desired vacation and we know deep down, however, that travelling brings about the unexpected (mostly in good ways). For the hopefully rare bad case scenarios, where you need to cancel a trip due to hazardous weather, sickness, the death of a family member, or any accidents during your trip, stolen or lost luggage/passports/wallets, and even worse injury or death of a travel mate, you want to be covered. Instead of overthinking the many things that might happen, travel insurance can help to put your mind at ease for the many what-ifs, so you can get back to planning and enjoying the fun things about your next trip.  So, is travel insurance worth it?

Be sure to read our post on purchasing a SIM Card for the US.

Travel insurance – what to look for:

Most travel insurance plans cover 2 main things: travel benefits and medical benefits. Those usually entail:

  • a refund when you need to cancel your trip due to emergency
  • covered expenses when a flight is delayed or cancelled or when you miss your flight
  • compensation of expenses if your carrier loses or delays your luggage
  • Coverage of expenses for any medical or dental emergency during your trip
  • Coverage of cost for medical emergency evacuation or accidental death or dismemberment
  • Optional benefits include car rental insurance

Depending on the provider benefits may differ in cost and range, so make sure you read the small print. Read more »

Charleston Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter Tours | How To Get There

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

This post covers how to take a Fort Sumter tour, how to reach the boats and a visitors guide for when you are on the island.  Be sure to check out this combination Fort Sumter and Historic Charleston Tour.

Fort Sumter is a legendary name in our history books. It is one of those few important locations that actually had a hand in shaping the history of this nation.  On that infamous day in April 1861, when Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War on Federal Troops, the destiny of this country would forever be changed. Over 150 years later, Fort Sumter continues to be a major point of interest for a number of reasons.  A visit to this National Monument tells you the stories of the many people who had an impact on this country during those years.

Yet this traditional historic site has much more to offer than a few history lessons. Whether you’re a true nature lover or one that wants to walk in the footsteps of those who’ve passed before us there will be plenty to do when you visit Fort Sumter.

TOURS OF FORT SUMTER 

Tours on Fort Sumter are very limited. Fort Sumter Tours, a local tour company, is the only authorized concessionaire of Fort Sumter. They offer 1 – 3 tours per day, depending on the time of year. The tours include a 30 minute ferry ride to and from the fort, and 60 minutes on the island. The total length of the tour is just under 2.5 hours.

During the 30 minute boat ride out to the island, a pre-recorded voice discusses various points of interest, including the history of Fort Sumter and Charleston harbor. Since you won’t be allowed to bring your own snacks with you there is a snack bar available on-board the ferry.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a National Park Ranger who provides a 10 minute overview of the island. Guests are then given 45-60 minutes to explore the fort and the museum on their own. Save some time and listen to the NPS ranger talk here.

There is no guided tour around Fort Sumter. However, signs label different points of interests, and if interested, the Fort Sumter Tours can arrange a guided tour through the museum for an additional cost.

If you would like a more in-depth tour of the history and significance of Fort Sumter, consider taking our Charleston Civil War Tour. The tour is a nice complement for those planning a trip out to the island. It details the Fort Sumter Battle, as well as many other sites around Charleston that were significant during the Civil War.

 


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Fort Sumter Museum

The museum exhibits at Fort Sumter detail the story of how the fort was constructed and a blow-by-blow recount of the events and Fort Sumter Museumdecisions that lead up to that infamous battle. The exhibit will bring you slowly from times past when America’s future lay in the balance all the way up to our present day where you will see how it has influenced our lives now. Understanding the importance of Fort Sumter as a key part of this developing nation is clearly explained in the exhibits on display.  (Image to right is of Fort Sumter flag – on display in the museum)

 


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Getting There

Fort Sumter is on an island and is only accessible by boat.  Tours have ferries that leave from Liberty Square and Patriots Point in Charleston. It is suggested that guests book reservations in advance. Again, Fort Sumter Tours is the only concessioner of Fort Sumter.

 

Fort Sumter Ferry

 

 


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Cost

There is no charge for visiting Fort Sumter, the museum, or Exhibit Hall in Charleston. However, there is a fee for the transportation to and from the island.

With Fort Sumter Tours, adults are $19, seniors are $17, children are $12, and kids 3 and under are free.

 


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Additional Fort Sumter Resources

In downtown Charleston, you’ll find a free museum that details the history of the fort and its evolution up until the time of the Civil War. The museum has exhibits that illustrate the problems that lead to an instrumental commercial decline in the area that became a leading cause of the rising conflicts with the north.

This Exhibit Hall is open from 8:30AM – 5:00PM every day of the year.

 


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Tour Guide Spotlight: Washington, DC’s Kara

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought yo u should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


Born and raised in Hawaii, Kara is a former beach bum who loves D.C.’s history and humidity. After an extended stint as a professional globetrotter and mapquest extraordinaire, she decided to ditch the backpack and turn touring into a career. When not guiding, Kara spends her days reading 20th century prose, perfecting her headstand, and occasionally talking about herself in the third person.

  •  Why did I become a guide?1de4113

I took a really fantastic walking tour in Berlin, and was keen on the profession ever since. I love history, traveling, and being outside so it seemed like the perfect fit. And so far, it has been!

  • Best tour I’ve ever taken?

A buggy tour along the northeast coast of Brazil. We saved a turtle, went zip-lining into a lagoon, and drove up and down some steep sand dunes after dark — does it get any better?!

  • Places I want friends/family be sure to see in DC?

My neighborhood! DC’s local history is just as important as its national history so I always try and persuade guests to get out and explore beyond the National Mall.

  • Favorite tour group memory?

I’ve had a lot of really great groups, but a personal highlight was the time I was with a school group at the Marine Corps Memorial and we met a veteran who was actually on Iwo Jima the day the flag was raised! He was kind enough to share his haunting story of watching the flag go up on Mount Suribachi. We were all in tears by the end!

  • If I wasn’t a tour guide?

Probably teaching abroad. I love traveling and learning, so it’d need to be something that let me incorporate both!

Guide Spotlight: New York City’s Garrett

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington DC.

Free Tours by Foot thought yo u should know more about who we are! Our tours would not be so highly rated if it weren’t for our guides – the passion, knowledge and fun they bring to our tours. We’ll be featuring more information about our great guides in each city over the coming months.


As a photographer, Garrett notices things. As a guide, Garrett earns a living from noticing things. One might say that Garrett is a professional noticer of things. A lifelong New Yorker, he brings an innate curiosity for the order and origins of things to his tours and conducts them in such a way that you come to view new york as a great big puzzle with clues scattered about on every block. Together you will examine those clues, trace the DNA of the city, and come to know it as if it were your own home. He is expert at finding the patterns, and articulating how the city’s identity is shaped both locally and by the world around it. Most visitors leave his tours with a better understanding of what New York is than many who live here. The conversational nature of Garrett’s tours create an experience where your questions and interactions augment the experience. Feel free to check out Garrett’s photo blog, where you can follow his urban explorations. http://garrettshore.tumblr.com/

  • Why did you decide to become a tour guide?gtssummerhat2 copy

I became a tour guide in my mid 20s when it became clear that I knew way more about where things were and the history behind them than most people. When people would ask me directions, I would usually throw in a detail about something they might notice on the way. A few friends of mine told me that I would be a good guide. I took the exam on a lark and I took to the industry like a duck to a pond. I responded to industry similarly to Cinderella fitting into the glass slipper. It was quite obvious that this is an industry that my personality matches.

  • What is the best tour you’ve ever taken – anywhere in the world?

The best tour I’ve ever taken is life. That may sound like an evasive answer but we sort of discover ourselves through our travels. I conduct the tour in a way that allows people to discover things more so than simply noticing them. The sense of discovery is most important.

  • When you have friends/family visit, what’s the one place you make sure they see/thing to do?

If a friend were coming from out of town and hadn’t been in town for a while, I wouldn’t be able to take them to old haunts mostly because so much of that New York we grew up with has or is disappearing. But one thing I know will be here long after the apocalypse is Coney Island. I would especially take them there in the winter months, when its desolate and barren. Or maybe Times Sq. at sunrise.

  • Do you have a favorite tour group memory?

I remember on a tour once there was this kid who knew exactly what I was talking about. Sometimes its easy to assume kids aren’t interested in architecture or early American history. One time I had this kid on the tour who I thought was gonna be glued to a cell phone but instead was asking questions that only a kid who reads up on the related subjects would know. I was astonished. I mean, seriously. The kid knew the difference between Doric and Corinthian columns.

  • If you weren’t a tour guide, what would you be doing?

If I were not a tour guide i would be break-dancing on the subway. Badly.