I don't like to go on carriage tours because they usually make so much stuff up that it just makes me angry. However, my mom had two colleagues with her that had never visited Charleston, and it is an excellent, unique way to see such a beautiful city. I heard that you could rent private carriages for about $100, and since the big carriages that hold 18 people are about $20 a person anyway, it seemed totally worth it to just get a private one.
We asked the concierge at Charleston Place about it, and they said that Palmetto Carriage Works does one for $100 and picks you up at the hotel, so you don't even have to do anything. She also said that, after 6pm, the prices go up pretty dramatically, so we booked a 1-hour tour to pick us up at 5pm.
A little after 5pm, we saw a lovely grey carriage pulling up to Charleston Place pulled by an equally lovely grey draft horse called Millhouse. Our driver, Ed, an Ohio transplant, welcomed us aboard and we were off.
Routes for the carriage tours are a lottery. Since there are so many companies, they can't all go the same direction, so there are four different routes that go through the city. They use a bingo machine to determine who goes where, and you don't know until the tour starts. We lucked out and got to go down Church Street (my favorite), The Battery, and Meeting Street.
Ed was a really good tour guide. Not only did he not tell us any lies, but he actually pointed out the things that guides usually say that aren't true. Now, this was probably because when my mom got in the carriage, she told him that I was a licensed tour guide and that I would call him out, but I appreciated it all the same. There wasn't much he said that I didn't already know, but everyone else really enjoyed the tour. If nothing else, it was a really nice ride (and when you are a little higher up, you can see over some of the walls into the gardens, which I love).
If you are going to go on a carriage tour and have three, four, or five people in your group, it is worth it to go ahead and pay a little extra for a private carriage. That way, they pick you up and drop you off and you don't have to go into the war zone where all the carriage people try to get you to take their tour. I hate that!