Charleston, South Carolina, is a charming city, known for its rich history and its world-famous southern hospitality. There’s so much to see and do in this captivating locale, but make sure you budget in some time to venture out to one of the area’s premier attractions, Fort Sumter.
Fort Sumter is an island fortification located in Charleston Harbor, and is most famous for being the site where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. After South Carolina succeeded from the Union, they wanted the Union forces stationed there to leave. When they didn’t, Confederate cannons opened fire on the fort, forcing the Union troops to surrender. Today, Fort Sumter is a national monument, preserved and maintained by the National Parks Service. (Fort Sumter on Facebook.)
To get to Fort Sumter, you will need to board one of the tour boats stationed at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center in downtown Charleston or Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant (departure schedule and rates). The Visitor Education Center also has informative exhibits and knowledgeable rangers on hand to give you a better understanding of the Civil War, and the fascinating history of the fort. I really enjoyed the ride out to the fort; the three-level boats provide amazing views of downtown Charleston, the Ravenel Bridge, The USS Yorktown (also a nice day trip), and Charleston Harbor. Drinks and snacks are available for purchase.
Once you arrive at the fort, I would recommend you start with the brief ranger orientation before beginning your adventure. This will give you a better idea of what you’ll be experiencing on your self-guided tour. Please note that you only have an hour before the ferry leaves, so no dawdling! I had a great time exploring the fort, all the while imaging what it must have been like to have been the target of those cannons! If you can, make your way up to the top of the fort because the views from up there are incredible! Also, be sure to save some time to visit to the museum, which has some fascinating artifacts and displays, and the gift shop.
Fort Sumter is really a must-see destination, so the next time you visit “America’s Most Friendly City” (Travel + Leisure magazine), make sure it is at the top of your To-Do list!