If you find yourself walking around downtown Charleston  soon after dark, you’ll almost invariably come across a walking tour in progress, with a small cluster of people gathered around a tour guide. There are too many walking tours to list them all, but here are the best.
For more than 10 years, Ed Grimball’s Walking Tours (306 Yates Ave., 843/762-0056, www.edgrimballtours.com , $16 adults, $8 children) has run two-hour tours on Friday and Saturday mornings, courtesy of the knowledgeable and still-sprightly Ed himself, a native Charlestonian. All of Ed’s walks start from the big Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park  and reservations are a must.
A much newer addition is the Pat Conroy South of Broad Tour (843/568-0473, www.southofbroadwalkingtour.com , Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m., $25), a two-hour walking tour which came out with the launch of Conroy’s new book by the same name. While it understandably deals with some of the characters from the book, it’s also a good all-around tour for this historically pivotal area of town. It meets in the lobby of the Mills House Hotel at 115 Meeting St. Price includes admission to the nearby Gibbes Museum of Art  (which is where the tour ends) and a cocktail at Slightly North of Broad restaurant. Advance reservations for the tour are required.
Original Charleston Walks (45 Broad St., 800/729-3420, www.charlestonwalks.com , daily 8:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., $18.50 adults, $10.50 children) has received much national TV exposure. They leave from the corner of Market and State Streets. They have a full slate of tours, including a popular adults-only pub crawl.
Charleston Strolls Walk with History (843/766-2080, www.charlestonstrolls.com , $18 adults, $10 children) is another popular tour good for a historical overview and tidbits. They have three daily embarkation points: Charleston Place (9:30 a.m.), the Days Inn (9:40 a.m.), and the Mills House (10 a.m.).
Architectural Walking Tours (173 Meeting St., 800/931-7761, www.architecturalwalkingtoursofcharleston.com , $20) offers an 18th-century tour at 10 a.m. and a 19th-century tour at 2 p.m., daily except Tuesdays and Sundays, which are geared more toward historic preservation. They leave from the Meeting Street Inn (173 Meeting St.).
A relatively new special interest tour is Charleston Art Tours (53 Broad St., 843/860-3327, www.charlestonarttours.com , $49). The brainchild of local artists Karen Hagan and Martha Sharp, this tour is led by a professional artist guide and includes refreshments and a gift bag from one of the featured galleries. It leaves Tuesday–Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from 53 Broad Street. They also run a Charleston Renaissance tour, which includes a visit to the Gibbes Museum of Art  (Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m., leaving from the Gibbes, $55).
As in Savannah , ghost tours are very popular in Charleston . Bulldog Tours (40 N. Market St., 843/722-8687, www.bulldogtours.com ) has exclusive access to the Old City Jail, which features prominently in most of their tours. Their most popular tour, the Haunted Jail Tour ($18 adults, $10 children) leaves daily at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m.; meet at the Old City Jail. The Ghosts and Dungeons tour (not available Dec.–Feb., $18) leaves Tuesday–Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m. from 40 North Market Street. Other tours include the Ghosts and Graveyard Tour (7:30 and 9:30 p.m., $18) and the adults-only Dark Side of Charleston (daily 8 and 10 p.m., $18).
Tour Charleston (184 E. Bay St., 843/723-1670, www.tourcharleston.com , $18) offers two paranormal tours, Ghosts of Charleston I, which leaves daily at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. from Waterfront Park , and Ghosts of Charleston II, which leaves at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. from Marion Square .