Which Charleston Tourist Pass is Best?
This post will provide details about each of the tourist passes that are available in Charleston, South Carolina.
We will also compare and contrast all of the services they offer to help you make a decision about which one to purchase.
- Charleston Tour Pass
- Personal Tips for Using the Charleston Tour Pass
- Charleston Heritage Passport
- Things to Do in Charleston
- Plantation Tours
If you’re looking for one easy pass you can use to enter several historic and notable sites in Charleston, this service is definitely worth considering.
The Charleston Tour Pass provides free access to 40 popular attractions and activities in the city, giving you the opportunity to save a lot of money on general admission prices.
In addition to plantations and tours, they also offer free tastings at a few restaurants in the area. Here are just a few places you can expect to visit with the help of this tourist pass.
We will include the average price you can expect to pay for each activity without the pass.
- Charleston Speedboat Adventures |
- Palmetto Carriage Works Tours |
- Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour |
- Nathaniel Russell House Museum |
- Haunted USS Yorktown Tour |
- Harbor Tour by SpiritLine |
- Aiken Rhett House Museum |
- Charleston Tea Plantation |
- Gray Line City Bus Tour |
- Charleston Harbor Tour |
- Boone Hall Plantation |
- McLeod Plantation |
- Fort Sumter Tour |
- Drayton Hall |
Free Drinks & Meals
- Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts | One free doughnut
- Revelry Brewery Co. | Free Pint
- Palmetto Brewing Co. | Free flight
- Deep Water Vineyard | Free tasting
- The Grit Counter | $7 Voucher
- 1-Day Pass: $72/Adults | $42/Children
- 2-Day Pass: $117/Adults | $64/Children
- 3-Day Pass: $148/Adults | $84/Children
- 4-Day Pass: $179/Adults | $102/Children
- 5-Day Pass: $204/Adults | $116/Children
There is a lot of potential value behind this tourist pass.
It would be almost impossible to see and do everything they offer – even if you choose the 5-day pass – but you can still save a lot of money with this service.
The Charleston Tour Pass includes admission to several locations that would normally cost $24-$26 per person.
If you used the pass for just three of these attractions per day, you’d more than pay for its cost.
Add in a few of the free drinks and meals and you’ll end up saving a lot of money while taking in the atmosphere of this historic city!
Here’s an example of how you could use the 3-day pass to save money:
- Charleston Speedboat Adventures | $79
- Palmetto Carriage Tour | $28
- Aiken Rhett House Museum | $12
- Charleston Fun Park | $20
- 1 Free Pint at Revelry Brewing | $7
- Harbor Tour | $30
- McLeod Plantation | $15
- Charleston Tea Plantation | $12
- Deep Water Vineyard Tasting | $7
- Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour | $30.74
- Nathaniel Russell House Museum | $12
- Palmetto Brewing Co. Free Flight | $10
- Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon | $10
- Slave Mart Museum | $8
Total Value: $280.74
Total Price: $148
Total Savings: $132.74 (around 47% off)
As you can see, it’s actually not too difficult to save a lot of money with the Charleston tour pass. You could potentially add a few extra activities to the itinerary we have listed above, making your total savings over 50% off!
CANDEN’S TIPS FOR USING THE CHARLESTON TOUR PASS
Canden is a Washington DC tour guide and manager of Free Tours by Foot. She has travelled all over the world and lived in 3 different countries. To provide expert content and make on the ground videos for our YouTube Channel, Canden spends time in all of our cities – usually combining tour research trips with family vacations. Her two kids, both under the age of 3, have passport stamps and frequent flier miles already.
I had a whirlwind trip to Charleston from DC, where I was going to be in town for basically 36 hours. I wanted to get the most out of the trip and since I was travelling by myself and knew I could handle a heavy loaded day, I decided the 2 Day Charleston Tour Pass was the best match to get in as many attractions as possible.
- Tip #1: Download the App
I downloaded the pass to my phone prior to my trip. You can access all the features and information right away but it doesn’t activate until you use it at your first attraction.
The app has lots of advice in addition to helping you plan what the see, when. My favorite feature was that there was a map that let me see what was nearby. This came in handy as I was planning, but also on the ground – for example, when I was walking from one of the morning tours, I saw on the map that there was a discount at a bakery included and it was only one block out of the way. It made the walk much more enjoyable.
When you arrive at your chosen site, you’ll show the pass on your phone and the vendor will log in on your app to check you in. For this reason, you will NEED to make sure your phone is charged. A portable battery for your phone will come in handy. I use this one from Amazon (affiliate link)
- Tip #2: Write down your pass number
There is ONLY a mobile option, which does require data to use, but if you don’t want to use data and cannot access free WiFi during the day (or your phone dies), you can access any of the walk in sites just by showing them your pass number. Featured attractions that require reservations must be booked through the pass but you can do this at your hotel or wherever you can connect in advance.
- Tip #3: Note which attractions require reservations ahead of time.
You must book featured attractions that require reservations ahead of time on the pass (hotel WiFi is a good option), but for walk-in attractions, you can present your Pass ID (located on the main page of the app). Attractions like the Harbor Tour and Ghost Tours require advanced reservations.
I booked a Ghost Tour for my first (and only) night. Walking Tours are limited in size so they can sell out fast. I booked a time that was available and then went a little early to see if they had room on the earlier tour, which they did!
- Tip #4: Just ask for help!
The customer service and communication with the Charleston Tour Pass representatives and the vendors is phenomenal!
Questions were quickly answered and during my personal use of the Charleston Pass (and you’d think I’d get this right since I work in the tourism industry) the wrong date was booked but the Charleston Harbor Tour desk was able to right then and there quickly and easily change my reservation to the boat tour I wanted.
The Charleston Heritage Passport focuses primarily on providing admission to historic sites around the city.
Although they don’t offer access to as many attractions, they do provide three pass options depending on how deeply you want to dig into the history of this city.
To top it off, this service is also much more affordable and provides entry to sites not included by their competitors.
Each version of the passport is valid for 3 days and provides one-time admission to several notable locations in the city.
Here is a list of each historic site included with each level of the Charleston Heritage Passport:
Explorer Passport | Included Attractions
- The Charleston Museum
- The Gibbes Museum of Art
- Nathaniel Russell House Museum
- Heyward-Washington House Museum
- Aiken-Rhett House Museum
- Joseph Manigault House Museum
- Edmondston-Alston House Museum
- SC Historical Society Museum
Enthusiast Passport | Included Attractions
- All sites included on the Explorer Passport
- PLUS admission to ONE of the following:
- Drayton Hall OR Middleton Place
Connoisseur Passport | Included Attractions
- All sites included on the Explorer Passport
- PLUS admission to BOTH of the following:
- Drayton Hall OR Middleton Place
- Explorer Passport: $49.99 per person
- Enthusiast Passport: $69.99 per person
- Connoisseur Passport: $89.99 per person
Although it might be difficult to see all of these places in just 3 days, you’ll still be saving quite a bit of money on admission by purchasing the Explorer Pass.
If you were to pay for individual tickets to each location, you would end up spending a total of $96.
The Charleston Heritage Passport allows you to save up to 48% on everything. Travelers who have an interest in seeing all of these sites will definitely get a lot of value out of this tourist pass.