Charleston Carriage Tours

Charleston Carriage Tours and Rides

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

This post compares and reviews all of the different Charleston carriage tour companies operating throughout this beautiful city.  Carriage tours are a relaxing way for visitors to learn more about the city’s rich history — all from the comfort of a beautiful horse-drawn carriage! There are many companies leading both group and private carriage tours of the area, as well as night tours and the occasional haunted carriage tour. We hope that this post encourages you to visit and helps you decide which carriage company to use! Don’t forget that you could also explore Charleston’s Historic District on one of our pay-what-you-wish walking tours.


Daytime Tours

Night Tours

Ghost Tours


 


DAYTIME TOURS

There are several different tour companies offering daytime carriage tours of the city. In order to avoid overcrowding of certain areas, the City of Charleston randomly awards one of four routes to each carriage operating in the historic district of Charleston. This means that the route that each tour takes is predetermined and selected by City officials, rather than the individual companies. In this sense, all of the carriage tour companies in Charleston are very similar. However, what distinguishes one company from another is the quality of their guides and the types of tours they offer. For example, in addition to their daytime tours, Palmetto Carriage Works and Old South Carriage Company also offer night tours of the historic district. Additionally, Classic Carriage Works is the only company to also offer a Civil War Tour and Slavery to Freedom Tour. For those planning on visiting other tourist attractions, consider buying your carriage tour ticket as part of a combo deal. Carolina Polo & Carriage and Old South Carriage Company both offer special discounts on combo packages. Finally, Old South Carriage Company also runs a Haunted Carriage Tour for those hoping to learn more about Charleston’s darker history. 

 


Palmetto Carriage Works

Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest carriage tour company in Charleston. During their 60 minute tour, you will visit 25-30 blocks in Charleston’s historic downtown district. Tours run continuously 9 am – 5 pm (17:00), typically departing every 15 minutes. As Palmetto Carriage Works offers several different tour routes which are assigned by lottery upon arrival, guests have the option of doing multiple tours with this company. All tours are family friendly and feature guides who are reputed for artfully blending humor with history. In addition to their day tours, this company also offers private tours and night tours. 

 

Palmetto Carriage Works

 

Reviews of Palmetto Carriage Works

Reviews for this company are extremely positive, with an average of 4.5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor (read some of the reviews), with most guests raving about the merit of the guides. As guests can choose from multiple routes, many are return customers happy to explore another part of Charleston – which in itself speaks volumes about the quality of these tours. The carriages themselves also receive excellent reviews for being very comfortable and clean. A handful of guests report being disappointed with their guide, however reviews such as these are uncommon. 

 


Carolina Polo & Carriage 

All Carolina Polo & Carriage’s public tours begin in the Historic City Market. Like Palmetto Carriage Works, this company also offers several different tour routes covering a wide range of sites. Each is approximately 1 hour and fully narrated by licensed guides who bring guests through the quaint and charming streets of Charleston. Tours depart every 30 minutes between 9:30 am – 5 pm (March – Nov) and 9:30 am-4 pm (Nov – Feb). Additionally, they also offer private tours and special combo deals. 

 

Carolina Polo & Carriage

 

Reviews of Carolina and Polo Carriage 

Carolina Polo & Carriage also receives extremely positive reviews from most guests, averaging 4.5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Several report that their experience was fun, interesting, and relaxing, thanks in large part to the wonderful guides who work for this company. The only common complaint comes from guests who did not enjoy their tour route. However, all carriage tour companies must adhere to whatever tour route the City of Charleston doles out to them, so it is not a fault of the company.  

 


Classic Carriage Works

Like the other companies, Classic Carriage Works also offers 1-hour narrated history tours of Charleston’s historic district. Their guides are especially highly reputed as each averages more than 10 years experience. Though Classic Carriage Works is one of the smallest carriage tour companies, they are the only one to offer both a Charleston History Tour as well as a Civil War Tour and Slavery to Freedom Tour. Tours depart every 30 minutes from 9 am – 5 pm. Additionally, they offer Adults-only and No Young Children (NYC) for those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere. Private tours are also available. 

  • Adults – $25
  • Children – $15
  • Early Bird Adults (9:30 am) – $20
  • Early Bird Children (9:30 am) – $13
  • More info or to book.

Reviews of Classic Carriage Works 

Classic Carriage Works also comes highly rated on TripAdvisor, average 4.5 of 5 stars, with many guests describing it as “amazing”, “entertaining”, and “a must-do.” Their most recent reviews are especially positive, which suggests that the company has worked out any kinks that were plaguing it. Though their Charleston History Tour is more popular, the Civil War and Slavery to Freedom Tours also come highly recommended. 

 


Old South Carriage Company

Perhaps the most well known of all the carriage tour companies, Old South Carriage Company offers a Historic Residential Tour which reveals 300 years of Charleston’s history in just 1 hour. Guests travel through 2.5 miles and 30 blocks of historic Charleston, learning about the city’s most significant sites. There are no booking fees and guests are required to arrive at least 10 minutes before departure. This company also offers night tours and combo deals

(save $2/Adult and $1.25/child through Trusted Tours)

Reviews of Old South Carriage

Like the other companies, Old South Carriage Company also boasts very positive reviews for their tours, averaging 4.5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Guests describe their experience as “fun” and “very informative.” History lovers seem especially impressed with the quality of their guides. Negative reviews are fairly rare, which suggests that any issues reported by guests were not reoccurring. 

 


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NIGHT CARRIAGE TOURS OF CHARLESTON

Evening tours are virtually the same as any of the daytime tours, however they have much more limited availability and typically only run for 30 minutes rather than a full hour. Many guests prefer night tours over day tours due to Charleston’s warm weather, especially during the summer months. Evening tours also prove to be popular with those hoping to explore the city as the sun is setting. 

 


Palmetto Carriage Works 

In addition to their daytime tours, Palmetto Carriage Works also offers at an Evening Tour of the Commercial District, which departs everyday at 5:45 pm and 6 pm. These tours typically sell out, so it’s best to book a spot well in advance. The tours visits many historic sites in the old Walled City, including the Old Exchange Building, Four Corners of Law, and the Waterfront Park on the Cooper River. Unlike their daytime tour, the evening tour is only 35 minutes long. 

 


Old South Carriage Company

The Old South Carriage Company also runs 30 minute tours through the Walled City. Evening tours start from 5:30 pm and are subject to availability. Like Palmetto Carriage Works’s Evening Tour of the Commercial District, this company’s night tours tend to sell out in advance so be sure to book ahead. They also offer a Haunted Charleston Tour which runs in the evenings and is featured in the ghost tours section. 

  • Adults – $15
  • Children – $10

 


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GHOST TOUR CARRIAGE RIDES

There are many ghost tours running in Charleston. However, only one company offers a Haunted Carriage Tour of the city.  Be sure to read our post comparing the various ghost tours in Charleston.


Old South Carriage Company

Old South Carriage Company’s ghost tour shares the darker history of Charleston. Tours last approximately 40 minutes and are available seasonally. All guides are licensed and eager to regale guests with eerie tales as they take you by haunted alleys, graveyards, churches, hotels, and even a dungeon! 

Reviews of the Haunted Carriage Tour 

Like their regular tours, the Haunted Carriage Tour offered by Old South Carriage Company also comes highly rated, averaging 4.5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Though their TripAdvisor Rating covers all the tours they offer, reviews written specifically about their ghost tour is almost unanimously positive. Guests describe their experience as “fun” and “spooky.”  This is a great option for families.

 


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PRIVATE CHARLESTON CARRIAGE TOURS

All of the companies listed above also offer private carriage tours around Charleston. Prices vary depending on the length of the tour and whether the guest requests a customized pick up location, but they typically start from approximately $135 – $150. Private tours are subject to guide availability and must adhere to the regulations imposed by the City of Charleston. Contact each individual company to learn more or we could create a package for you that would include our pay-what-you-wish tours. 

 


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COMBINATION TICKETS (Harbor/Walking/Plantation)

Several different cruise companies offer combo packages featuring other popular tourist attractions. Guests hoping to take a carriage tour of historic Charleston, as well as enjoy a cruise around Charleston Harbor, for example, should consider buying the two as a package to save money and avoid the extra hassle. Palmetto Carriage Works and Carolina Polo & Carriage both promote a wide range of package tour deals. 


 

Carolina Polo & Carriage

Carolina Polo & Carriage has partnered with Walks of Charleston to offer a combo deal that saves guests $10 by buying the 2 together. The History Walking Tour is approximately 2 hours and begins from just outside City Hall. Sites featured during the tour include St Michael’s Church, the French Quarter, St Philip’s Church,Hayward Washington House, and the famous Battery. Guests can choose to take both tours on the same day or split them into 2 different days. 

 


Palmetto Carriage Works

Palmetto Carriage Works offers 2 different combo packages. In addition to their standard carriage tour of Charlesotn, each also features either a boat tour of Charleston Harbor or a plantation tour of Middleton Place. The Charleston Harbor Tour takes place aboard the 80-foot Carolina Belle, where guests are told local stories and ensured to see more than 75 landmarks. The Middleton Place Plantation Tour allows visitors to explore the 65 acre plantation and follow a complimentary walking tour of the garden. 

  • Carriage Tour + Charleston Harbor Tour: $44 per adult; $30 per child
  • Carriage Tour + Plantation Tour: $44 per adult; $30 per child

 


Old South Carriage Company

Old South Carriage Company offers 2 different package tour deals. The first combines their carriage tour with a tour of Charleston Harbor with SpiritLine Cruise, entertaining guests on both land and sea. The second package deal also takes guests on the water as it combines a ticket to visit Fort Sumter with their standard carriage tour. You are advised to first schedule your carriage tour, and then arrange your trip to Fort Sumter. 

  • Carriage Tour + SpiritLine Harbor Cruise: $43 per adult; $28 per child
  • Carriage Tour + Fort Sumter: $45 per adult; $27 per child

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Charleston Harbor Tours

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

This post compares and reviews all of the different cruise companies operating around Charleston Harbor. Boat tours offer guests a unique perspective of the city, as well as give visitors the chance to learn more about the famous sites dotting Charleston Harbor. There are many companies leading both group and private cruises of the area. We hope that this post encourages you to visit and helps you decide which cruise company to use! 


Fort Sumter Cruise

Charleston Harbor Tours/Sightseeing Cruises

Water Taxis


 

 

Fort Sumter Cruise

The very first shots of the Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces who were outraged by Abraham Lincoln’s successful candidacy. After a long night of carnage, Union soliders were forced to abandon their post the very next day, thus beginning the bloodiest war in American history. Today, guests can visit Fort Sumter to learn more about the incredible history of this tiny island. 


Fort Sumter Tours

Though most cruises and boat tours pass by Fort Sumter, there is only one company to actually dock at the island. Fort Sumter Tours, which is an authorized National Park Service concessioner, offers 7 daily departures and 1 evening departure. Guests enjoy a 30 minute boat ride out to the island, during which time a pre-recorded voice discusses various points of interest, including the history of Fort Sumter and Charleston harbor. Upon arrival, a National Park Ranger greets all guests and offers a 10 minute overview of the island. Then, guests are allowed 45-60 minutes to explore the fort and the museum on their own. Guests who opt for the Sunset at Fort Sumter Tour also get to enjoy tasty southern BBQ cuisine during the ride back. Though there is no guided tour around the fort, there are several signs labelling various points of interest. Additionally, those who would prefer a guided tour of the museum can request one through Fort Sumter Tours for no additional cost. Those who want to learn even more about Fort Sumter’s history should consider taking our Charleston Civil War Tour

Fort Sumter Tour (departs 7 times daily) 

  • Adults – $21 
  • Seniors/Military – $18.50 
  • Children – $13 
  • Children under 3 – FREE

Sunset at Fort Sumter (departs daily at 5pm) 

  • Adults – $42 
  • Seniors – $40 
  • Children – $30 
  • Children under 3 – FREE

Fort Sumter Tours also sells Combo Packages, which combine a ticket to Fort Sumter with another popular attraction or activity. Check out the Combos section of this page to learn more.

Reviews: History lovers all agree that this is a very worth while tour with beautiful views and lots of interesting commentary. The occasional negative review usually comes from a guest who either does not like history or who experienced poor weather. However, for the most part, guests write that they were very impressed with their experience with Fort Sumter Tours. TripAdvsior Rating: 4.5 stars. 

 


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Charleston Harbor Tours / Sightseeing Cruises

Though there are several different companies offering sightseeing cruises of Charleston Harbor, the 3 biggest are Charleston Harbor Tours, SpiritLine Cruises, and Adventure Harbor Tours. Two of these companies, Charleston Harbor Tours and SpiritLine Cruises, offer standard tours of Charleston Harbor departing several times daily. Charleston Harbor Tours is most well known for their packages, as they are partnered with several other tourist attractions and therefore can offer great combo deals. SpiritLine Cruises, on the other hand, offers a very highly reputed Dinner Cruise. The third company, Adventure Harbor Tours, is the most highly rated outdoor activity on TripAdvisor and allows guests to bring their own booze on board, which attracts younger visitors. 

 


Charleston Harbor Tours 

Charleston Harbor Tours offers a daily tour of the harbor and surrounding area on their Carolina Belle. The tour is 90 minutes long and features guided commentary by a professional USCG licensed captain. Depending on the time of year, tours run 2-4 times per day. Sites include Fort Sumter, St. Michael’s Church, stately homes on the Battery, and the occasional dolphin, among other things! 

  • Adults – $25 
  • Seniors/Military – $23
  • Children – $18 
  • Children under 4 – FREE
  • More info and to book.

Charleston Harbor Tours also sells Combo Packages, which combine a ticket to their Charleston Harbor Tour with another popular attraction or activity. Check out the Combos section of this page to learn more.

Reviews of Charleston Harbor Tours

Charleston Harbor Tours is an extremely popular company with many positive reviews, averaging 4.5 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor (read some of the reviews). Guests write that their experience was “well worth the time and money” and “a fun time on the water.” Several reviewers are especially impressed with the staff, who are praised for being personable and well organized. The only common complaint seems to be in regards to the food on board. However, this issue can be easily avoided by eating before or after the cruise. 

 


Adventure Harbor Tours 

Though Adventure Harbor Cruise specializes in private tours, they also offer a handful of public tours that run on the weekends. The Morris Island Boat Tour is a 3 hour adventure that brings guests to an island that is “unspoiled, undeveloped and undeniably the ecological jewel of Charleston Harbor.” The entire tour lasts 3 hours, including 90 minutes on the island itself. Alternatively, guests can choose one of the “Mild” or “Wild” Sunset Cocktail Cruises. These 2 tours were originally one and the same, but when the company began allowing guests to bring personal coolers of adult beverages, the atmosphere on the cruise dramatically changed. To help keep a balance between family friendliness and fun, Adventure Harbor Cruise created the Mild and Wild Sunset Cocktail Cruises. The first caters primarily to families and does not allow guests to bring their own booze, while the second is BYOB friendly and entertains younger crowds (including many bachelorette parties!). Children are welcomed on both, though the Mild Sunset Cocktail Cruise is typically much more popular with families. 

Morris Island Boat Tour (departs Fri-Sun at 9:30am) 

  • Adults – $55
  • Children – $30 
  • Children under 3 – FREE

“Wild” Sunset Cocktail Cruise (departs Thurs-Sun at 6pm) 

  • Adults – $33
  • Children – $25
  • Children under 3 – FREE

“Mild” Sunset Cocktail Cruise (departs Fri & Sat at 6pm) 

  • Adults – $33
  • Children – $25
  • Children under 3 – FREE

Reviews: Adventure Harbor Tours receives excellent reviews and maintains an impressive 5 out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor. In fact, of their nearly 1,000 reviews, less than 10 rate the company at 3 or less stars. Some even describe the tour as “the best thing ever” and “absolutely outstanding.” Thanks to the diversity of options, this company appeals to a wide range of audiences, which is reflected in the reviews themselves. Definitely a top option for those looking for a Charleston Harbor tour. 

 


SpiritLine Cruises (GrayLine)

Though most of the other tour companies feature recorded commentary or guided narration by the captain, SpiritLine Cruises is the only company to offer guests live narration by a licensed city tour guide. This means that guests receive very detailed information about the surrounding areas and visible attractions. Included in these are “notable American landmarks, such as Fort Sumter, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, The Battery, the Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney,” as well as several other sites. Tour depart 3-5 times daily, depending on the season. No tours run from December – February. 

  • Adults – $24 
  • Seniors/Military – $22
  • Children – $14
  • Children under 4 – FREE

Reviews: Though not quite as highly rated as their Dinner Cruise, the Charleston Harbor Tour by SpiritLine also receives positive reviews, averaging 4 of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Most guests praise the interesting commentary and beautiful sites, though some write that they found the narration to be dry. However, these comments are infrequent, indicating that this is not opinion of most visitors. 

 


Additional Charleston Harbor Tours 

Sandlapper – Sandlapper is another company offering tours around Charleston Harbor. Though their schedule is fairly limited, they do run a History Tour, Nature Tour, Cocktail Cruise, and Haunted Harbor Ghost Tour seasonally. Check their website for more details.   


 


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Water Taxis

Looking to enjoy beautiful views of Charleston from the water, but not interested in the guided commentary and price tag that comes with a traditional boat tour? Why not take advantage of Charleston’s Water Taxi! The Water Taxi service 4 different locations: Aquarium Wharf/Maritime Center, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, and Waterfront Park/Market St/Historic District. Guests simply pay a flat fee of $12, which gives you an all day pass to travel from any departure point as many times as you wish. In addition to easy transportation to each of these amazing sites, as well as beautiful views of the city, the Water Taxi also promises guests the possibility of seeing dolphins along the way! Keep in mind, there is not guided commentary available with these rides. The seasonal schedule is as follows: 

  • Mid-March to Mid-November: 9am-8pm daily
  • Mid- November to December 26: Saturdays only 10am-6pm
  • December 26-January 2 : 10am-6pm  daily
  • Jan 3 –Mid-March : Saturdays only 10am-6pm.


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Dinner Cruises

Those looking for a more luxurious experience should consider taking a dinner cruise of Charleston Harbor. Currently, SpiritLine Cruises is the only company offering this service.

SpiritLine Cruises (GrayLine)

In addition to their standard Charleston Harbor Tours, SpiritLine Cruises also offers a daily dinner cruise. Included in the price of a ticket is a 3 or 4 course dinner, live nightly music, and a 2.5 hour cruise with spectacular views of Charleston. Guests can choose between Captain Seating, which is the normal arrangement with 4-6 people per table, or a private table, which seats 2. There is also a full service bar and additional amenities (such as flowers or sparkling wine), all of which is available for purchase. 

  • Captain Seating (Sunday – Thursday) -$54.53 per person
  • Captain Seating (Friday – Saturday) – $59.53 per person
  • Private Seating (Sunday – Thursday)  – $139.06 per couple
  • Private Seating (Friday – Saturday) – $149.06 per couple

Reviews: SpiritLine’s Dinner Cruise is especially highly regarded, with a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Guests describe the experience as “amazing”, “wonderful”, and “romantic.” The food also receives high marks, which is certainly not always the case with most dinner cruises. Some guests write that they were unhappy with the lack of guided narration on board. However, SpirtLine’s Dinner Cruise is not a tour, per se, and so guests who would prefer on board commentary should opt for the company’s day tour of Charleston Harbor instead. TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5 stars. 


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Sailing Tours

If a traditional boat cruise around Charleston Harbor doesn’t strike your fancy, you can opt to take a sailing tour instead. There are a handful of companies offering sailing tours of the area, ranging from 90 minute public tours to multi-day private and fully customized trips. The public tours tend to be upwards of $50 per person, making them slightly more expensive than other boat cruises but not astronomical. Private sailing tours, on the other hand, typically cost several hundred dollars, if not more.

 


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Combos

Several different cruise companies offer combo packages featuring other popular tourist attractions. Guests hoping to go on cruise of Charleston Harbor, as well as visit the South Caroline Aquarium, for example, should consider buying the two as a package to save money and avoid the extra hassle. Fort Sumter Tours and Charleston Harbor Tour both promote a wide range of package tour deals. 


Fort Sumter Tours (GrayLine)

Fort Sumter Tours offers 4 different combo packages. In addition to their standard cruise to Fort Sumter, each also features an Old South Carriage Tour, USS Yorktown Tour, Gray Line Tour, or a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium. The first is a 60 minute tour that brings guests to all of the most famous sites in Charleston via carriage. Similarly, the Gray Line Tour also takes guests around historic Charleston, though this tour is in a bus and 90 minutes long. Combo packages to USS Yorktown and the South Carolina Aquarium include, as expected, entrance tickets to either attraction. 

  • Fort Sumter + Old South Carriage Tour: $42 per adult; $25 per child 
  • Fort Sumter + USS Yorktown Tour: $39 per adult; $24 per child 
  • Fort Sumter + Gray Line Tour: $32 per adult 
  • Fort Sumter + South Carolina Aquarium: $42 per adult; $28 per child  

 


Charleston Harbor Tours 

Though Charleston Harbor Tours only runs 1 type of tour, they offer many different combination packages. Like Fort Sumter Tours, they sell packages that feature Old South Carriage Tour and South Carolina Aquarium. Additionally, they also offer a combo Plantation Tour and Haunted Jail/Ghosts & Graveyards Tour, in addition to a very popular tri-combo tour that features Charleston Harbor Tours, Old South Carriage, and the Plantation Tour. 

  • Charleston Harbor Tours + Old South Carriage Tour + Plantation Tour: $65 per adult; $43 per child
  • Charleston Harbor Tours + Old South Carriage Tour: $44 per adult; $33 per child 
  • Charleston Harbor Tours + Plantation Tour: $43.50 per adult; $28 per child
  • Charleston Harbor Tours + South Carolina Aquarium: $45 per adult; $33 per child  
  • Charleston Harbor Tours + Haunted Jail/Ghosts & Graveyards Tour: $43.50 per adult; $38 per child

 


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Reviews of Best Charleston Food Tours

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

This post reviews and compares the various Charleston culinary tours to help you decide which one is best for you. Recently rated as one of the top 10 foodie cities in the country, Charleston, SC is a mecca of delicious Lowcountry cuisine and experimental flavors. Visitors can choose from a wide selection of food tours, including traditional food tours and dessert tours to increasingly popular pub crawls and chef’s kitchen tours – the latter of which introduces guests to the chef’s behind some of the best cuisine in Charleston! Food tours are a great way to learn more about a city’s history and culture while also enjoying several delicious samples along the way!

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


General Culinary Tours

Chef’s Kitchen Tours

Deals and Discounts


 

GENERAL CULINARY TOURS

Food tours are a fun and informative way to learn more about a city. There are 3 different companies offering general culinary tours in Charleston. Each runs for 2-3 hours and includes stops at 3-6 popular restaurants. At each stop, guests are given samples of Lowcountry specialities and local favorites. Every tour is priced at approximately $60 per person, so guests must base their decision according to which food tour menu most piques their interest. 

As noted below, Bulldog Tours, Charleston Culinary Tours, and Chow-Down Charleston each offer food tours of downtown Charleston, while the former two also offer food tours of Upper King Street as well.  Guests hoping to take a food tour during their time in Charleston are really spoiled for choice, as all of these companies come very highly rated. Be advised that guests should bring extra cash with them in case they wish to purchase additional samples. Additionally, those foodies who want to make the most out of their time in Charleston should consider taking a food tour at the very start of their trip so that they will have the opportunity to go back to some of the restaurants that were visited. 

 


Bulldog Tours – Savor the Flavors of Charleston / Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street

Bulldog Tours offer 2 different types of traditional food tours: Savor the Flavors of Charleston Tour and Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Tour. Both tours introduce guests to classic Lowcountry dishes such as grits, southern pralines, sweet tea, and collard greens. As Bulldog Tours really make an effort to promote local South Carolina culture, these tour are ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the city’s culinary history.

Cost + Hours:

  • Savor the Flavors of Charleston Tour – $60 per person for 2.5 hours
    • Daily at 9:30am & 2pm
  • Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street – $60 per person for 2.5 hours
    • Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 3pm
  • More info, calendar and to book.

Reviews of Bulldog Tours:

Bulldog Tours is a very popular tour company that offers several different types of tours. They have a 4 star rating on TripAdvisor. Though the reviews cover all of their tours on offer, their culinary tours are particularly highly rated. Guests refer to it as “absolutely fantastic” and “excellent”. Some guests complain that all of the samples were made with relatively cheap ingredients such as a rice and beans, however that’s largely the beauty of Lowcountry cooking – delicious food made with affordable ingredients! 

 


Charleston Culinary Tours – Downtown Charleston / Upper King Street 

Charleston Culinary Tours is a local tour company that exclusively offers food and drink tours around Charleston. Similar to Bulldog Tours, they have 2 standard food tours: Downtown Charleston and Upper King Street. Each visits 3-4 restaurants and promises enough samples to satisfy most appetites.

 


 
Cost + Hours:

Reviews of Charleston Culinary Tours:

Charleston Culinary Tours has an excellent reputation with a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Guests praise the guides for their passion and knowledge, particularly Hoon who is a bit of a local celebrity. The food itself is also highly recommended, and many commentators suggest that future guests do this tour on their first day in Charleston so that they will have the opportunity to return to some of the featured restaurants.

 


Chow-Down Charleston – Downtown’s Local Flavors

Chow-Down Charleston is a small food tour company that offer 1 standard culinary tour in the city. Their Downtown’s Local Flavors Tour specializes in Lowcountry cuisine and visits 6 different locations. This company does a particularly good job of introducing guests to a wide range of flavors. Additionally, a guide shares interesting details about the history and culture of Charleston.

Cost: 

  • $58 per person for 3 hours

Hours: 

  • 11AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays

Reviews of Chow-Down Charleston: 

Though this is a relatively new company, Chow-Down Charleston has already garnered a highly respected reputation. It boasts an impressive 5 star ranking on TripAdvisor. In fact, the company has no 1 or 2 star reviews, only one 3 star review, and the rest are all 4 or 5 star reviews. Guests describe the tour as “perfect” and a “wonderful experience”.

 


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CHEF’S KITCHEN TOURS

Aimed at serious foodies, chef’s kitchen tours are a popular alternative to traditional food tours. These introduce guests to the culinary masterminds running the kitchens at some of the most reputable restaurants in Charleston. Guests will have the opportunity to ask the chefs about their cooking methods, as well as about the history of their restaurant.

Bulldog Tours and Charleston Culinary Tours both regularly offer chef’s kitchen tours for $60 per person. Additionally, Charleston Culinary Tours also run their Chef’s Farm-to-Table Challenge, which is a seasonal tour in which a chef accompanies guests and a tour guide to the Charleston Market, and helps them select fresh ingredients before making everyone a delicious meal with them. Guests seem particularly impressed with the chefs featured on these types of tours, as they welcome several questions and provide lots of insider information. 

 


Bulldog Tours – Chef’s Kitchen

In addition to their general culinary tours, Bulldog Tours also offer Chef’s Kitchen Tour which is equally highly rated. This tour introduces guests to some of the best restaurants and chefs in Charleston. At each stop, chefs will share more about the history of the restaurants and how each he or she has developed their menu. Though guests are told to not expect any food on this tour, samples are often given at the various restaurants. This tour is ideal for people hoping to improve their culinary skills and get cooking tips from professional chefs.

Cost and Schedule: 

Reviews of Bulldog Tours:

As stated above, Bulldog Tours maintain an overall good rating of 4 stars on TripAdvisor. Though the reviews cover all of their tours on offer, their Chef’s Kitchen Tours are particularly highly rated. Several guests refer to this tour as the highlight of their time in Charleston and an absolute must for any foodie. If you are genuinely interested in improving your cooking skills, then this is the ideal food tour to take!

 


Charleston Culinary Tours – Chef’s Kitchen Tour

In addition to their standard food tours, Charleston Culinary Tours also offer 2 chef’s kitchen tours: Chef’s Farm-to-Table Challenge and Chef’s Kitchen Tour. The Chef’s Farm-to-Table Challenge is a unique experience in which guests explore the Charleston Market with their guide and chef, buying their favorite fresh ingredients from the different stalls. After their selection, the guests are then taken for a tour around the market with their guide while the chef prepares a unique and delicious meal for everyone to eat at the end of the tour. The Chef’s Kitchen Tour, on the other hand, is a more traditional Chef’s Tour as guests are brought to several restaurants, introduced to local chefs, and told about their professional cooking techniques.

Costs and Schedules:

Reviews:

Like their other tours, both of their chef’s table tours are also highly rated with a 5 star TripAdvisor rating. Guests seem particularly impressed with Coon, the company’s most popular tour guide. Many reviewers also praise the chefs, whom they guests are encouraged to question and engage. Highly recommended! 

 


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DESSERT TOURS

Similar to traditional food tours, dessert tours are a sweet way to see the city and learn more about the area’s culinary culture. Guests visit several restaurants and shops around Charleston, sampling a selection of treats. As past visitors note, be sure to eat at least a small lunch before the tour as all the sweets on an empty stomach can certainly give you a sugar rush. However, overall several reviewers offer high praise for the informative and delicious dessert tour. Currently, Bulldog Tours is the only company regularly offering a dessert tour in Charleston.


Bulldog Tours 

This Dessert Tour brings guests to some of the best dessert places that are frequented by Charleston locals. The tour includes samples of Huguenot tort, lemon bar, coconut cake, Southern pralines, chocolate truffles, and petit fours. 

Cost and Schedule:

Reviews of Bulldog Tours:

Like all of their tours, the Bulldog Tours’ dessert tour is also highly recommended. The company maintains an overall good rating of 4 stars. This is a relatively new tour and so there are fewer reviews of it, but commenters on their dessert tour call it amazing.

 


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CHARLESTON PUB CRAWLS/MIXOLOGY TOURS

Additionally, pub crawls and mixology tours are a great way for visitors to have a bit of grown-up fun while exploring the area. Though some pub crawls strictly aim to entertain and provide a wild night out, the tour listed below cater to people of all ages who are hoping to learn about the history and culture of an area by sampling 3 different craft cocktails from some of the nicest bars in the city.

Currently, Charleston Culinary Tours is the only company offering a mixology tour of Charleston. The tour runs every Friday and Saturday evening, and at $40 per person, it is actually much more affordable than any of the other food tours.

 


Charleston Culinary Tours – Mixology Tour

In addition to their several food tours, Charleston Culinary Tours also offer a mixology tour, which they refer to as a “mobile cocktail party in beautiful Charleston”. The tour is 1.5 hours and visits 3 different popular watering holes in the city. Guests learn about the methodology behind each mixologist’s favorite craft cocktail, and then sample their creation.

Cost:

Hours:

  • Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30 pm

Reviews of Charleston Culinary Tours:

Like all their other tours, the Mixology Tour offered by Charleston Culinary Tours is very highly rated. The company has an overall 5 star reputation on TripAdvisor. Some guests describe this tour as the highlight of their time in Charleston, saying it was “perfect” and a “must do”.


Bulldog Tours — Upper King Street Pub Tour 

In addition to their general culinary tours, Bulldog Tours also offer a pub crawl of Upper King Street. Guests will learn about prohibition laws, tales of piracy and the rum trade, and all about speakeasies and bootleggers. Furthermore, a cocktail will be included at each stop so that visitors can really have a taste of what Charleston’s finest taverns have to offer. 

Cost: 

  • $25 per person 

Hours: 

  • Fridays and Saturdays at 4pm

Reviews of Bulldog Tours: 

Bulldog Tours maintain an overall good rating of 4 stars on TripAdvisor. Though the reviews cover all of their tours on offer, theirBulldog Tours maintain an overall good rating of 4 stars on TripAdvisor. Previous guests have referred to the pub crawl tour as Guests refer to it as “absolutely fantastic” and “excellent”. 


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GUIDES TO FOODS OF CHARLESTON

Charleston is highly regarded for its incredible food culture and Lowcountry cuisine. There are several different dishes unique to Charleston that true foodies should seek to experience before leaving. 

Below is a list of several blog posts or articles that cover some of the best dishes to try, recipes to replicate, and places to eat. 

Lowcountry Foods to Try in Charleston

Everything You Need to Eat in Charleston  

Top 10 Must-Try Restaurants in Charleston

The 38 Charleston Restaurants

40 Very Charleston Dishes

Charleston Soul Food Recipes

 


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Charleston Ghost Tours

The Best Charleston Ghost Tours Reviewed

Posted by & filed under Charleston.

This post reviews and compares the various Charleston ghost tours to help you decide which one is best for you.  You have many choices, including walking tours, but also carriage, prison, pirate the true crime tours.  For the over 21 crowd, there are even ghost pub crawls.  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

Deals and 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!

Charleston Main Image

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.

Charleston top 10 Things to do

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 »