Carolina Polo and Carriage Company operates horse-drawn carriage tours of the Historic District. It is owned and operated, and tours are guided by, Charleston natives. Carriage tours afford you a different perspective than that you will get either from an automobile or on foot. You can sit back and really take in the sights as you you enjoy a relaxing buggy ride over the city streets. Tours are guided by thoroughly trained professionals who really know their Charleston history, many because they have lived some of it. Rides will take you through some of the most beautiful and scenic routes the city has to offer. You will also hear stories of some of the city's residents and about the beautiful homes that they created.
The tour guide was great and he was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Our tour horse was named Cooper, after the Cooper River. He has a brother named Ashley, named after the Ashley River. At one time, I had the impression that a carriage tour was simply one of those tourist things that wasn't worth the money. I stand corrected, or should I say, sit corrected? I really had not anticipated the difference of seeing the city architecture from a slightly elevated perspective versus walking. My feet also thanked me for the break. We were extremely lucky to get Zone 1, which went down East Bay Street, into The Battery and back up Church and Tradd Streets. There is an elaborate system that includes a dispatcher who tells the tour guide where to take his carriage. We also learned a little about the process of becoming a tour guide. Each guide must memorize a large book and pass an exam, before being granted a license. There is also a police enforced law that requires a carriages pull to the curb when, I believe it was 4 or 5 cars are behind them. So yes, I am not telling people that a carriage tour is very much worth the expense. You can see a part of the city and relax at the same time.
Our tour guide was a very nice guy, a native of Charleston who really knew the stories. He told us that in order to be a carriage operator, you had to pass a stringent examination of Charleston history, and he really did a great job of showing off his knowledge. We got to see things from angles that you do not get to see on foot, nor from inside a car.
If you are a first-time visitor, or only have a short time in the city, I really recommend a carriage tour as a great relaxing way to see the city, as well as hear some of its history. Even if you have been visiting Charleston for some time, you are sure to hear a new story from your tour guide.