For those who want to experience Charleston in a private carriage, our elegant vis-a-vis carriages offer small groups the wonderful opportunity to see the city in a more intimate setting with their own personal tour guide. These carriages are available for groups up to 4 adults and children, and up to 2 lap children.
During this private, 45-minute, evening tour, you will learn about buildings, history, architecture, flora, and people that make up the “Holy City,” all while avoiding Charleston's blistering sun and enjoying a cool evening breeze in the city. These tours cover parts of the old walled city including:
- The Old Exchange Building where George Washington visited
- Historic churches and public buildings such as the Four Corners of Law
- Waterfront Park on the Cooper River
From the ground crew that assists in the carriage loading to the guide that leads your tour, our personnel is the most experienced in the industry.
See the FAQs tab above to learn about the Palmetto Guarantee!
- Do I have to buy my tickets in advance?
- Advance purchase is available and highly recommended. When you buy your ticket in advance you get free evening parking from 5pm - 12am (an $8 value!). To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please buy your tickets well in advance. Advance tickets can only be purchased online or over the phone using a Visa, Mastercard or American Express. If you are looking to book a tour after 8am the day of, tickets can only be purchased in person (and not online or over the phone) using cash or credit cards. Same day tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis and subject to availability.
- Is my group alone on the carriage? How many people fit in one carriage?
- Yes, this carriage ride is for private groups of up to 4 seated passengers (adults and children ages of 2 and older) and up to 2 children under the age of 2 years old who can be seated on an adult's lap.
- What happens if it rains?
- Unless we consider conditions to be dangerous, we give tours in the rain. The covers can be raised on the carriages depending on passenger preference, but this must be done before leaving the barn. Keep in mind that this is an outdoor activity and even when the carriages are covered, if it rains you will get wet. Please dress appropriately!
- What is the Palmetto Guarantee?
- If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with your Palmetto experience, your fare will be cheerfully refunded. That's the Palmetto Guarantee!
- When do these tours run?
- These tours run during the summer months, approximately from Memorial Day until Labor Day. The specific schedule is posted every couple of weeks as it becomes available so if there are currently no dates scheduled for the day you are interested in, please check back closer to that day to find out the available tour times.
- Where should I park?
- We have a parking lot located one block away from the Red Barn, just steps away. Parking is free all evening with your advance purchase, from 5pm to 12am. Please note that parking can be tight and we encourage people to carpool.
- Are there public restrooms available?
- Yes, we have 2 restrooms in our barn. There will be no opportunity to stop to use the restroom during the 45 minute tour.
- Is getting into the carriage difficult? What if I'm in a wheelchair?
- Getting into the carriage requires walking up several steps. Therefore, it may be difficult for someone in a wheelchair to board the carriage. However, please note that we will do everything we can to offer assistance in helping someone to their seat.
- Which tour route will I will take?
- On this tour, the carriage travels through the commercial district of Charleston on which you will see parts of the old walled city, historic buildings of Charleston, and the Cooper River waterfront. To ensure the privacy of our residents, tours do not operate in the residential areas in the evenings. All tours are fully narrated. The route is not scripted and each tour guide gives a unique and personalized tour.
- When should I arrive for my carriage tour?
- The time slot you have selected for your private carriage tour is the time your carriage is scheduled to leave the Red Barn. Please arrive at the barn 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
- Where does the carriage ride end?
- Evening private carriage tours begin and end at the Red Barn.
- Can I bring food and drinks aboard the carriage?
- You may bring food and drink on the carriage. We have a shop in the barn where drinks and snacks are available for purchase with credit cards or cash. The shop closes at 6 pm. Alcohol is not allowed on the carriage.
- Can I bring personal items with me onto the carriage? How much room is there?
- Items such as purses, backpacks, or small shopping bags will fit on the floor at your feet or in your lap. Larger items, such as umbrellas, wheelchairs, crutches, scooters, bikes, or strollers will not fit on the carriage. We have ample storage space in the barn to leave these larger items during the tour. However, please note this is not a secured storage location, so it's best not to leave valuables here.
- Can I bring a pet with me on the carriage?
- Service animals and small, well behaved pets are able to sit on the floor of the carriage. Pets must remain leashed and under the control of their owners at all times.
- Is the ride safe?
- Yes! Carriage tours are a safe way to enjoy the city at a slower pace than by bus or car. Our animals are trained to work in a city environment and are comfortable working here.
- What kind of animals do you use?
- We use single mules or horses on our smaller carriages which are used for private tours, and mule teams on our larger carriages used for public tours.
- If the animals are sweating, is that bad?
- No, that's actually good! Sweating is the animal's way of cooling itself. We add a Vitamin E supplement to the animals' feed to promote sweating and also add electrolytes to their feed to replace necessary elements lost through sweating. Additionally, you'll notice plenty of fans around the barn, including a misting fan that sprays a fine mist over the animals to keep them cool.
- Does it ever get too hot for the animals to work?
- Yes. When the temperature reaches 98 degrees or the heat index reaches 125 degrees, we stop our carriage tours. Each animal has its temperature checked after every tour, and if an animal's temperature ever exceeds 103 degrees it is pulled from service. Charleston is the only city in the world where the animals' temperatures are individually monitored.
- What other animals are in the barn?
- The barn is also home to chickens, goats, a miniature horse, and a miniature donkey. Our miniature animals go the the farm for some rest and relaxation on a rotational basis. Feel free to interact with our animals as you wait for your tour to depart.
- Can I book a carriage as part of my wedding?
- Sure! There's nothing more romantic than including a carriage in your wedding plans. Palmetto Carriage Works has beautiful private carriages available for wedding transportation from area churches, reception halls, and hotels. To inquire about a wedding package, please click on the "Contact Palmetto" link and let us know what you have in mind.
- Can I do a custom tour with a private carriage?
- You may choose to board the carriage at our Red Barn or arrangements can be made to pick you up at your hotel. We also specialize in group transportation and can take you to your restaurant of choice and give you a tour along the way. Whatever your needs may be, we can fashion a carriage experience to fit them. Please click on the "Contact Palmetto" link to inquire further.
- Are gift certificates available for the carriage tours?
- Yes, gift certificates are available for purchase and are the perfect present for a birthday, honeymoon, anniversary, special getaway package or any other occasion. To purchase a gift certificate please click on the "Gift Certificates: Purchase" link in the box above.
- Non-refundable, cannot be rescheduled.
- Once purchased, tickets cannot be refunded and cannot be rescheduled because your space is being guaranteed at the event.
- Tours take place rain or shine and may be delayed in extreme heat.
- These tours run regardless of weather conditions. In the rare case where we are forced to cancel the event, ticket-holders will be allowed to reschedule to another time (subject to availability). Also note for the safety of the animals, tours may be delayed during extremely hot temperatures to allow animals additional rest time or suspended if the temperature or heat index reaches an unsafe level.
- Limited number of passengers allowed on carriage.
- These carriages can hold private groups of up to 4 seated passengers which include adults and any children 2 years old and older, as well as up to 2 children under the age of 2 years old who can be seated on an adult's lap.
In addition to the knowledgeable and professional employees, the animals at Palmetto Carriage Works are specifically trained and well equipped to handle carriage tours in the city. With over 40 horses and mules, Palmetto Carriage Works takes pride in its excellent animal care record. Animals receive ample pasture time throughout the year in addition to working downtown. Our farrier has over 35 years experience shoeing animals and examines them once a week, and animals are seen by a veterinarian twice a year for regular checkups.
The popularity of the tour has grown out of the Red Barn. The quality and longevity of the staff, the remarkable record of animal care, and the thousands of satisfied customers all stand testament to an outstanding product; a product that we stand behind 100% - providing customers with the greatest carriage experience in the city.
"After we tried every carriage company in town, Palmetto stood out for its guides' wit and historic accuracy."
-Southern Living Magazine
"Not the automatic monologue you might expect, but the serious historical commentary he clearly felt his city deserved."
-London Daily Telegraph