9 Best Carriage Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston Old South Carriage Rainbow Row Experience

Charleston, South Carolina is just a magical place. Between the clip-clop of hooves on cobblestones, the scenery of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, the historic French Quarter and its wrought-iron architecture, and the pastel shades of Rainbow Row, it’s sure to capture your heart.

Is there any better way to experience the sights of the city than with a traditional horse-drawn carriage ride? We think not. The best carriage tours in Charleston are a fun and informative way to mix a unique adventure with an interactive experience.

I must admit, my favorite part of any visit to Charleston is the sight of beautiful horses trotting down the road with a carriage in tow (and I’ve got the photos and exasperated travel companions to prove it). You might even forget that you’re learning about Charleston’s history as you cruise through the commercial district, downtown Charleston, and the French Quarter on these fun tours.

If you can’t go horseback riding in the Old West or don’t feel like driving around Charleston, a horse-drawn carriage across charming cobblestone streets might be the next best thing.

Plus, no saddle sores! There are several horse-drawn carriage companies in town. Most of the stables are located around the same area on Anson, Pinckney, and Guignard streets.

The next time you’re planning a vacation and searching for the best carriage tours in Charleston, check out our collection to find signature Southern hospitality and Lowcountry vibes. As with any travel destination, it’s always a good idea to look into insurance, so shop around on TravelInsurance.com before you book your flight or hit the road.

TL;DR – Our Top 3 Charleston Carriage Rides

Tour Landmarks Duration
Haunted Carriage Evening Tour Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, City Market 40 minutes
Downtown Evening Carriage Tour Four Corners of Law, the French Quarter 35 minutes
Old South Carriage Historic Tour William Aiken House, City Market 60 minutes

Best Carriage Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

1. Haunted Carriage Evening Tour

Charleston Haunted Carriage Experience
Old South Carriage Co / GetYourGuide

Enjoy a 40-minute haunted carriage evening tour. Be entertained, or freaked out, by spooky stories and paranormal tales about Charleston’s past as you roll along 15 blocks of historic cobblestone streets. Tours take you by the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Charleston City Market, and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church as knowledgeable guides regale with local lore about pirates, prisoners, and more than 300 years of history.

Tours start at the Old South Carriage Company’s stables at 14 Anson Street. Old South Carriage Company offers tours led by guides who are members of the Palmetto Guild, which means they’ve completed training and passed a comprehensive test on the history of Charleston.

Wondering where to stay in Charleston to complement a haunted carriage tour? Check out the 20 South Battery luxury boutique hotel. Built in 1894 as a grand single-family home, it was converted into an inn in the 1920s. It’s one of the most haunted hotels in South Carolina.

Ghostly encounters include a Civil War-era headless torso and a “gentleman ghost” who appears to walk through a closet. All of the spectral sightings have been peaceful, so it’s unlikely you’ll run screaming from your room. Unless you see a spider, because, well, we all know spiders can be worse than ghosts.

The 20 South Battery Hotel is located near the College of Charleston, the Citadel, and the Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal. Guest rooms have gorgeous hardwood floors, four-poster beds, and modern décor with a pop of color. Enjoy free continental breakfast, a garden, a terrace, and a cozy lobby with a fireplace.

2. Historical Downtown Tour

Charleston Old South Carriage Company Carriage Tour
Sandy Allen / ViaTravelers

Gather the whole family or group and take a historical downtown Charleston tour in a custom-built carriage. You’ll see Charleston’s historic downtown district and learn about its mansions, churches, gardens, and local landmarks from licensed and experienced guides.

Get your cameras ready to snap shots of Charleston Harbor, the Four Corners of Law, Rainbow Row, King Street, and the Charleston Battery. Rainbow Row may be my favorite.

Tours last about an hour and begin at the Old South Carriage Company at 14 Anson Street. For a fun bonus that both kids and adults love, the company offers free Meet the Horses tours that start 10 minutes before scheduled tour times. While this is free, you do need to book ahead for this experience.

After you’re done with your carriage ride, mix it up with other Charleston tours, such as a walking tour of historic landmarks, an excursion to Fort Sumter, top Charleston museums, or a visit to the best breweries in Charleston.

3. One-Hour Tour of Historic District

Charleston Palmetto Carriage Works City Market Experience
Sandy Allen/Via Travelers

A one-hour historic district tour takes you by Charleston’s churches, elegant homes and mansions, and flowering gardens. Board your carriage and travel around the historic district while learning about the city’s pirate past, local landmarks, wrought iron architecture, and Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Reconstruction history.

Carriage rides begin at the Palmetto Carriage Works’ Big Red Barn at 8 Guignard Street. Family-owned and operated since 1971, the company is the largest and oldest carriage tour company in Charleston.

They have experienced staff and more than 40 specifically trained horses and mules. They’ve acquired a record for professional service and excellent animal care.

The best hotels in Charleston offer convenient access to carriage tours with Palmetto Carriage Works and other Charleston carriage tours. If you’re searching for a hotel from where to base your trip, HarbourView Inn is a terrific one to check out.

You can’t beat the location! It overlooks Charleston Harbor and Waterfront Park and offers quick access to the Gibbes Museum of Art, the South Carolina Aquarium, and some of the best restaurants in Charleston.

4. Downtown Evening Carriage Tour

Charleston Palmetto Carriage Tour Experience
Palmetto Carriage / GetYourGuide

A 35-minute evening downtown carriage tour is a great way to get a quick look at Charleston’s history and landmarks from the fun perspective of a mule or horse-drawn carriage. You’ll see sites like the historic market, the French Quarter, Waterfront Park, and the Four Corners of Law.

The Four Corners of Law is located at the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets. The landmarks include the 1761 St. Michaels Episcopal Church, the 1804 Charleston City Hall, the 1792 Charleston County Courthouse, and the 1896 U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse. 

Charleston carriage ride tours start at the Palmetto Carriage Works’ Big Red Barn at 8 Guignard Street. While you’re there, visit the animals and learn about the company’s world-class animal care program.

Palmetto Carriage Works also offers a Slavery to Freedom Tour if you’re interested in learning more about American history. This tour takes you by Laurens Street and the Ansonborough neighborhood, as well as historic sites like the Old Citadel, Mother Emanuel AME Church, and Marion Square.

The Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston is an excellent choice to base your Charleston vacation. Part of the Autograph Collection, this luxury hotel has a rooftop lounge, a fitness room, banquet facilities, and on-site dining. Enjoy opulent surroundings of gilded accents, antique furniture, and modern art. It is pet friendly. It’s within walking distance of Hyman’s Seafood and Hank’s Seafood.

See Related: Is Charleston Safe To Visit? Things To Know

5. Historic Residential Tour

Horse of Charleston Carriage Works
Charleston Carriage Works / Viator

Book a one-hour historic residential tour to learn about important moments in Charleston’s long and varied history. You’ll travel three to four miles around Charleston’s residential historic district aboard 16-passenger custom-built carriages.

This Charleston history tour is fully narrated by professional tour guides who have a deep knowledge of Charleston’s history, attractions, famous landmarks, and culture. They know how to turn informative sessions into entertaining experiences.

This makes a wonderful outing for families, couples, and groups of friends. Tours leave from Charleston Carriage Works stables at 20 Anson Street.

Looking for a vacation rental near the equestrian side of Charleston? This charming studio in the heart of downtown offers a full kitchen, free Wi-Fi, and outdoor seating space.

Enjoy the history of a 200-year-old building decorated with exposed brick walls, local art, and colorful accents all around. With one bedroom, it’s the perfect getaway for a honeymoon, anniversary, birthday, or other special occasion. This is an adults-only vacation rental.

6. Private Historic Carriage Tour

Charleston Carolina Polo Carriage Company Carriage  Experience
Charleston Carolina Polo Carriage Company / Viator

A private historic carriage tour is an excellent way to propose to your sweetie or enjoy a romantic night out in Charleston. Private carriages can accommodate one to four guests.

Private tours are around $300. It will be just your party and licensed guides/drivers, making for a personalized 50-minute sightseeing experience for a small family or couples.

On this private carriage tour, you’ll see and learn about sites like the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon and other local landmarks in historic downtown Charleston. Tours meet at 45 Pinckney Street at Carolina Polo and Carriage Company near the historic City Market. 

After your carriage tour, take a romantic stroll through the French Quarter, share small plates at Stella’s, or take in a show at the Charleston Gaillard Center.

7. Old South Carriage Historic Tour

Charleston Old South Carriage Rainbow Row Experience
Sandy Allen /ViaTravelers

Enjoy a one-hour Old South carriage historic tour with family, friends, or your significant other. Tours cover 2.5 miles and approximately 30 blocks of historic Charleston scenery, landmarks, wrought iron fences, gardens, antebellum homes, and church steeple architecture.

Beautiful Belgian and Percheron draft horses pull these elegant carriages through town. Children ages three and younger are free as long as they’re sitting on a parent’s lap, making this a terrific family experience for all ages.

Tours meet at the Old South Carriage Company at 14 Anson Street. Your carriage ride starts near the historic City Market. From here, you’ll take off on a specially designed route.

For accommodations in the area, Hotel Emeline is nearby. Enjoy the use of free bikes, a fitness center, and a garden.

There’s an on-site restaurant and a bar at this pet-friendly hotel. St. Philip’s Church (circa 1838), the United States Custom House, and the Gibbes Museum of Art are nearby.

See Related: Day Trips from Charleston, South Carolina

8. Evening Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour of Downtown Charleston

Charleston Carriage Tour Big Red Barn Experience
Evening Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour / Viator

If you’re visiting Charleston in the summer months, you may want to consider an evening carriage tour. It gets hot in the South! An evening horse-drawn carriage tour of downtown Charleston is one of the best ways to avoid that Southern summer sun but still have a fun experience.

These 35-minute tours go through the commercial district and by Joe Riley Waterfront Park, the Cooper River waterfront, the City Market, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (which was visited by George Washington). Learn about the walled city and its historic structures and public buildings from knowledgeable guides. Tours meet at the home of Palmetto Carriage Works at the Big Red Barn.

The Ansonborough Inn is just a couple blocks away, as is the Port of Charleston if you happen to be in town before or after a cruise. There’s a rooftop terrace, a fitness room, and a bar/lounge. Enjoy free continental breakfast, a business center, and guest rooms decked out in antique furnishings, luxury linens, and Lowcountry-inspired art.

Church and Union is a super fun dining experience. It’s located in a former church, which is spectacular enough on its own, but you’ll need to look up to appreciate the uniqueness of this establishment (insider tip: it’s always a good idea to look up in the Holy City). The ceiling has hand-written inscriptions of the entire book The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I highly recommend conquering brunch.

9. Daytime Horse-Drawn Carriage Sightseeing Tour of Historic Charleston

Charleston Horse Drawn Carriage Tour Experience
Daytime Horse-Drawn Carriage Sightseeing Tour / Viator

Learn about local history while enjoying the sights of mansions, gardens, intricate architecture, and historic churches. One-hour day-time horse-drawn carriage sightseeing tours travel 25-30 blocks around the Holy City’s most historic spots.

Visit landmarks like Joe Riley Waterfront Park, Battery and White Point Gardens, the Georgian homes of Rainbow Row, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. Carriage tours meet at the Big Red Barn at 8 Guignard Street.

Most horse-drawn carriage tours take place in all types of weather conditions, so be sure to dress appropriately. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes, as some tours may allow guests to disembark and walk around. And, of course, bring plenty of water in the summer months.

FAQ

How much does a carriage ride cost in Charleston?

Horse-drawn carriage rides range in price from $40 to $50 per person. For a unique and romantic experience, private carriage rides are available for $300 (for one to four guests).

How long are Charleston carriage tours?

Charleston’s carriage tours typically last between 30 minutes and an hour.

What is the horseless carriage in Charleston?

The horseless carriage in Charleston is an all-electric carriage driven by a person (no horses are involved). It was introduced in 2022 as a green alternative to the traditional horse-powered carriage. With four rows of seats, it can fit up to 18 people (including the driver).

Related Resources

Sandy Allen
WRITTEN BY

Sandy Allen

Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and boating to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and fun attractions. She loves Nashville, Las Vegas, and Williamsburg, Virginia - but you're most likely to find her at the beach or on a boat somewhere. In addition to ViaTravelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.