Image Credit: Groupon
What do temperature drops, less humidity, and rooting for your favorite football team have in common? They all mean fall has finally arrived in SC! And there is no better time to visit the Holy City. Charleston has routinely been named one of the best cities not only in the U.S., but in the world. There are an overwhelming number of tours, for both tourists and locals to enjoy, that capture just how the Holy City earned those bragging rights. From amazing food to historical significance, here are just a few tours that truly capture the Charleston experience.
- City Tours – $20-26
For Charleston first-timers, it’s likely you’ll want to start by exploring the charming streets Charleston is known for. This can be done by foot, carriage horse or boat. A few options are the Historic Charleston Walking Tour, Charleston’s Hidden Alleys and Passageways or the Charleston Harbor Tour. Carriage horse companies are aplenty in Charleston, two of the best are Palmetto Carriage Works and Charleston Carriage Works. If you want to get candid, take the Say Charleston! Photo Walking Tour and have professional photographers capture the best moments of your tour. These tours feature highlights such as Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter and the Charleston Battery.
Book one of these tours below:
- Downtown Charleston Culinary Tour – $65
This 2.5 hour walking tour of Charleston’s food scene shows off the city’s Historic French Quarter with four locally-owned restaurants. This classic tour offers the chance to explore some of the finest cuisine alongside the historic streets and architecture Charleston is famous for. Each tour is unique, as restaurants rotate based on availability. The curator of this tour, Charleston Culinary Tours, also offers four other options including farm-to-table and mixology choices.
Book a tour here: Charleston Culinary Tours
- Brews Cruise Day Drinking Bus Tour – $65 ($25 if you have a teetotaler tagging along)
If you’re over 21 and looking to day drink with a purpose, hop on this magic brew bus and check out some of Charleston’s breweries. Varying day-to-day, this four-hour tour focuses on the craft in craft brewing. You’ll learn about the history, process and styles of each brew you sample. Oh, and you’ll get to try five to six generous pours at each location. Charleston Brews Cruise also offers a 2.5 hour, happy hour option.
Book a tour here: Charleston Brews Cruise
- Plantation Tours – $20-60
There are far more reasons to visit Charleston’s beautiful plantations other than for the pumpkin patches and beautiful wedding venues they offer. Four of the most well-known are Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, Drayton Hall and Boone Hall Plantation (better known as that one featured in The Notebook). Each offers tours unique to the history and significance that makes each plantation special and will likely be a full-day commitment.
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- Kayak and Paddle Boarding Tours – $45-65
In a city surrounded by water and connected by bridges, it would be a shame not to dip a toe, or your entire body, into a water-based tour. If you’re feeling sporty, Charleston offers kayak and paddle boarding tours. Coastal Expeditions offers a three or six hour kayak tour and a two hour paddle boarding tour, on both the Shem Creek and Folly Beach. Depending on which bridge you cross and how much time you have, you can paddle your way through Charleston’s beautiful scenery, saltwater estuaries and maybe even make friends with some of the local wildlife.
Book a tour here: Coastal Expeditions Kayak and Paddle Boarding Tours
- Gullah Tours – $20
One of the most important derivatives of Charleston’s culture, is the Gullah community, the area’s first African-American inhabitants. You may be familiar with the sweetgrass baskets these artists offer at the local markets, but their history goes much deeper than that. The Gullah tour explores their contributions in great depth with sites, music, stories, language and culture led by SC native and fluent Gullah speaker, Alphonso Brown.
Book a tour here: Gullah Tours
- Haunted Jail Ghost Tour – $28 ($18 for children under 12)
In a city as old and well-preserved as Charleston, it’s only fitting that the city be home to a few haunted houses. With Halloween coming up, the Haunted Jail Tour, offered by Bulldog Tours, is worth a visit for a good scare. Located on Magazine St. and originally in operation from 1802 until 1939, the tour takes its guests through the cells, hallways and warden’s quarters, which have all remained in tact. The storyteller guides have tales of the criminals who lived and died there, such as that of Lavinia and John Fisher, hotel owners who allegedly poisoned their guests.
Book a tour here: Haunted Jail Ghost Tour