In springtime, it seems as if you can’t turn a corner in Charleston’s historic district without seeing a horse or pair of mules pulling a carriage filled with tourists.
There are 80 licensed carriages in Charleston, operated by several companies, with 20 allowed on the streets at one time. You’ll see the carriages from various companies lined up on Market Street, and the drivers will tell you what to expect and where to go if you want to take a tour.
It’s a great way to get an overview of the peninsula, and pick up a few tidbits of history.
Our family hopped on the carriage at Palmetto Carriage Works on a recent Saturday. Palmetto operates out of a large red barn just off Market Street. While you wait in the barn, you can see where and how the mules are cared for. (You also can drop a quarter in a machine to get a handful of food for the two goats who live there. The goats seemed to love it; kids, too.)
Once on the carriage, the driver will fill you in on your transportation. Our mules were Run and Battery. Their usual partners (Hit and Assault), were on a week’s vacation, so these two teamed up to pull a carriage of families from New York, Ohio, North Carolina and South Carolina.
It’s an hour-long trip on one of three routes through the historic district. Our guide, a lifelong Charlestonian, kept it interesting for the kids (including stories about ghosts and pirates and duels) and the adults (with information on the asking prices on some of the houses for sale). In between he filled the tour with compelling storytelling and facts about architecture, horticulture and history.
Palmetto Carriage Works tours are $20 for adults, $10 for kids 4-11. Kids 3 and younger are free on their parent’s laps. Check out palmettocarriageworks.com.
Other carriage companies offer similar tours and rates. Some of the other carriage tour companies include:
Olde Towne Carriage Co., 20 Anson St., (843) 722-1315, see www.oldetownecarriage.com
Classic Carriage, 10 Guignard St., (843) 853-3747, see www.classiccarriage.com
Old South Carriage Co., 14 Anson St., (843)723-9712, see www.oldsouthcarriagetours.com