Fort Sumter National Monument

#14 in Best Things To Do in Charleston, SC
Fort Sumter National Monument picture
Courtesy ExploreCharleston.com

Key Info

1214 Middle Street

Details

Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
3.6scorecard
  • 3.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 3.5Atmosphere

You probably remember Fort Sumter as the place where the first shot of the Civil War was fired, back in 1861. Today, you can see for yourself where all the action happened by taking a ferry to the actual fort. Take your time exploring the thick stone caverns, which still house several Civil War-era cannons. You should also stop by Fort Sumter's small yet informative museum, which provides more in-depth information about the fort's role in the war. According to most Charleston visitors, Fort Sumter is a must-see, especially for kids and history buffs.

Fort Sumter National Monument is perched on a small island in Charleston Harbor several miles southwest of the city. Ferries to the monument depart from the Liberty Square Visitors Center and from Patriot's Point, which sits just opposite of the harbor in USS Yorktown State Park (parking is available at both departure points). Though the ferry ride is not the main attraction, most enjoyed it, calling it relaxing and a great way to see some of the area's dolphins. Ferries to the fort and ranger talks take place daily, but hours vary depending on the season. Guided tours aren't available at Fort Sumter, but you can listen to a 10-minute, ranger-led history discussion before heading out on your own self-guided tour; rangers and volunteers are available to answer any questions you may have.

While it is free to explore Sumter itself, the ferry ride costs $21 for adults and $13 for children ages 4 to 11. The National Park Service highly recommends purchasing your ferry ride tickets in advance, which you can do at the Fort Sumter Tours website. For more information about the history of the fort, visit the National Park Service website.

See all Hotels in Charleston, SC »

More Best Things To Do in Charleston, SC

The Battery1 of 17
Charleston Boat Tours2 of 17
Type
Time to Spend
#1 The Battery

Many visitors say you can't leave Charleston without seeing this stretch along the city's southern tip. This row of Southern-style mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor was formerly the heart and soul of the city's maritime activity. Today, the area attracts camera-toting tourists from all over the country.

As you explore this picturesque neighborhood, make sure to also spend some time in the nearby White Point Gardens, where several Civil War relics and memorials commemorate the city's role in the battle. Start your tour of the Battery at the 12-acre Waterfront Park (home to the giant pineapple fountain featured on many Charleston postcards), then follow the walking paths on East Battery Street for the nearly mile-long stroll to White Point Gardens. If you're staying at one of the hotels or bed-and-breakfasts located downtown, you can easily walk along the Battery from your digs. If you're driving to the Battery, you'll find some limited street parking, and some lots closer to Waterfront Park. Bus route No. 211 provides service to Waterfront Park and East Bay Street.

Read more
ClimberJAK/Shutterstock
See full list of Best Things To Do in Charleston, SC »

Explore More of Charleston, SC

Recommended

The 12 Top Florida Keys Beaches

Relax on the sandy shorelines from Key West to Key Largo.

Gwen PratesiJuly 15, 2019

The 15 Best New Orleans Walking Tours

Take on the Big Easy with a stroll through its streets.

Lyn MettlerJuly 15, 2019

The 8 Best Charleston Ghost Tours

Experience the Holy City's history and haunts on one of these excursions.

Holly JohnsonJuly 12, 2019

The 5 Best Oahu Helicopter Tours

Tour this picturesque island from the air on one of these excursions.

John RodwanJuly 11, 2019

The 15 Best Los Angeles Tours

Maximize your time in Los Angeles with the insider tips and historical context provided by the best local tours.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 3, 2019

The 15 Best Las Vegas Tours

See a different side of Sin City – its attractions go beyond gambling.

John RodwanJuly 2, 2019

The 10 Best San Diego Boat Tours

Explore this coastal city's sights with a relaxing boat excursion.

John RodwanJuly 1, 2019

The 15 Best Nashville Tours

Engage with the city's country roots on one of these tours.

Lyn MettlerJune 28, 2019

14 Top Finger Lakes Wineries to Visit

Head to upstate New York's winemaking region for scenery, history and lots of vino.

Kyle McCarthyJune 27, 2019

The World's 30 Best Places to Visit in 2019-20

Using reader input and expert analysis, U.S. News identified the latest can't-miss vacations.

Tilly PeckerJune 25, 2019