Charleston, South Carolina is a lovely, historic place to visit — but you won’t be using public transportation to get around, because CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority) does not allow pet dogs on its buses, even in carriers.
Independent providers offer tours of the historic area, and organize trips to Fort Sumter and historic plantations outside the city, but most are not pet-friendly (including the ubiquitous Gray Line tour buses). One shining exception is “Doin’ The Charleston” Tours, which offers a 90-minute, air-conditioned, pet-friendly bus tour of downtown Charleston, including a stop at the Battery seawall for a leg-stretch.
Leashed dogs of any size are also allowed on board the Charleston Water Taxi, which travels back and forth between the Charleston Harbor Marina and Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant. Along the way, you get terrific views of the U.S.S. Yorktown, Ravenal Bridge, Fort Sumter — and lots of dolphins. Visitors rave about the trips, praising the friendliness and knowledgeability of the crew.
Happily, the historic area of downtown Charleston is small enough that walking makes perfect sense (though the air-conditioning alone may convince you to take the bus tour). For trips further afield — to Fort Moultrie (which allows leashed dogs on the grounds, unlike Fort Sumter) or to the plantations — you’ll likely want to rent a car.
Speaking of plantations, although Middleton Place and Cypress Gardens do not allow pet dogs on their grounds, Magnolia Plantation welcomes them with open arms. A customer service representative told me this morning that leashed dogs may visit the extensive grounds and gardens, take the Nature Train and the boat tour, and go on the From Slavery to Freedom tour. The only places dogs are not permitted are the house and the petting zoo. Leashed dogs are also welcome on the grounds of Drayton Hall, and on the grounds of the much-filmed Boone Hall Plantation (though not on the coach tour).
For other posts about traveling with dogs on public transit, take a look at Dog Jaunt’s handy guide!