You've probably heard it all before, thinking that this is what the tour companies tell you just to sell you their tour packages, but a carriage tour really IS an amazing way to learn about a city. Maybe it's not true of every city or even every carriage tour within that city, but I can tell you that our experience with Palmetto Carriage Company was a great one.
Today our family took a tour in a city we already know quite well, thank you very much, and we all learned a lot from our very well-informed guide. I fluctuated between being impressed and slightly freaked out as our guide deftly navigated the narrow streets between parked cars, moving cars and other carriages, all the while looking at his passengers. This means he was not looking ahead. At the road. Ever. Like I said, it was borderline freaky. But I figured he did this all the time and our adorable mules "Hit" and "Run" were smart enough to know where to go anyway. I also knew that carriage wrecks in downtown Charleston are infrequent no matter which way the driver is looking.
The pace of a carriage, combined with the expanded viewing area that you don't get in a car, topped off with the fact that you're not walking the whole way, make a carriage ride worth it. I saw architectural elements on buildings that I've walked or driven by for years without noticing. And the stories are fun, of course. Every guide is different, but tour guides operating in Charleston are licensed and trained, so they all know quite a bit.
I came away from our carriage tour adventure today thinking 2 things: 1) Has anyone ever thought of doing an "Earthquake Tour" to discuss the 'Quake of 1886?
~~The result of having read City of Heroes: The Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886 recently~~
and 2) Wow, there is just SO much to learn about this city!!! I guess when you've been settled since 1670, there's a lot of history to toss around.
There are plenty of ways to tour Charleston, and plenty of things to see. Take it from this local--Palmetto Carriage is a winner.