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Charleston's top 5 city tours

By Jennifer Cole, SouthernLiving.com
Visitors to historic downtown Charleston can get the most out of their stay by taking a range of interesting city tours.
Visitors to historic downtown Charleston can get the most out of their stay by taking a range of interesting city tours.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Explore historic downtown Charleston by taking a city tour
  • Palmetto Carriage Works offers a nice overview for first-timers
  • Chai Y'all and Gullah Tours offer two very different cultural immersion experiences
RELATED TOPICS
  • Charleston

(SouthernLiving.com) -- We went on 19 tours -- that's a lot of Charleston -- and then worked up this list of the five best ways to explore historic downtown.

Palmetto Carriage Works

Who it's for: First-time visitors who want a 101 overview of downtown Charleston -- or anyone looking for a refresher course.

Why we picked it: After we tried every carriage company in town, Palmetto stood out for its guides' wit and historic accuracy.

Southern Living tip: Palmetto offers free downtown parking. Take advantage of it: Arrive early and wander around the Market.

Take a scenic carriage ride through Charleston for a nice overview.
Take a scenic carriage ride through Charleston for a nice overview.

Palmetto Carriage Works: carriagetour.com or (843) 723-8145; $21

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Culinary Tours of Charleston

Who it's for: Food Network addicts who dream of going behind-the-scenes and want to sample the dishes on Iron Chef.

Why we picked it: The 2½-hour overview of Lowcountry dining combines tastings and chats with some of the city's top chefs.

Southern Living tip: The Chef's Kitchen Tour is given Friday mornings. Plan it as a weekend kick-off--it may inspire a reservation.

Culinary Tours of Charleston: culinarytoursofcharleston.com or (843) 722-8687; $42

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Tommy Dew's Walking History Tour

Who it's for: History buffs who prefer edu-tainment over lectures. Get some exercise and make your history professor proud.

Why we picked it: Tommy's uniquely Southern view: "It's called the War Between the States; there was nothing civil about it."

Southern Living tip: If you can't join Tommy live (the tour regularly sells out), download his "Charleston City Slicker" iPhone app.

Tommy Dew's Walking History Tour: onthemarkettours.com or (843) 853-8687; $20

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Gullah Tours with Alphonso Brown

Who it's for: Anyone who's interested in the African American perspective and a snapshot view of the Gullah culture.

Why we picked it: Because Alphonso grew up in the Gullah community, he provides an invaluable insider's perspective.

Southern Living tip: Have cash ready to purchase samples of ironwork by the late renowned Gullah blacksmith Philip Simmons.

Gullah Tours with Alphonso Brown: gullahtours.com or (843) 763-7551; $18

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Chai Y'all Tours with Janice Kahn

Who it's for: Those who don't know a shiksa from a yenta. Or those who want an immersion in local Jewish heritage.

Why we picked it: Janice offers visits to such sites as Beth Elohim, the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the country.

Southern Living tip: Talk to Janice beforehand about your specific interests. Her shtick is all about tailoring stops to your whims.

Chai Y'all Tours with Janice Kahn: (843) 556-0664; call for prices (two-person minimum)

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