Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston

Explore the site where the Union and Confederate armies clashed for the first time in the American Civil War. Your visit to Fort Sumter National Monument begins at the education center, where you can study exhibits on the war and purchase ferry tickets to the sea fort. Once you arrive, a park ranger will give a short talk about the conflict between the North and South that led to the firing of the first shots. As you walk the area, examine the defenses and imagine the Confederates’ 34-hour bombardment until the Union forces surrendered. For more information, visit the fort’s onsite museum. Refreshments are available on the ferry, but it is a good idea to bring water. Use Inspirock's suggestions to plan your Charleston trip and find the best activities and attractions for your vacation.
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Fort Sumter National Monument Reviews
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  • You feel like you learn a lot from this trip. US history lesson and some incredible view as well. Good time spending with the kids. We had a good time and would highly recommend this place. And it is ...  more »
  • This was a great stop on our vacation for our 11 year old. Not only do you ride the ferry to the fort, but you have a great view of the Yorktown and the Ravenel bridge while aboard. The history of the...  more »
  • 30min ferry ride there and back complemented by an hour on the Fort seeing some important US history. Quite easy to get around and see the sights in the time on the Fort.  more »
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  • Definitely a great history lesson. We were there during the last tour of the day so we watched the flag come down to be put away which was very touching. Buy a water bottle at the gift shop especially during the warm months. There is no running water at the fort. All in all it was a good experience
  • This is definitely one of the best tours in Charleston. Very interesting and informative, and it is a lovely, relaxing ferry ride out to the fort. We had dolphins swimming around the ferry for most of our trip out, and the views from the fort are beautiful. They could use a little more seating for people waiting for their tour, but the visitor center is interesting and has a cute little gift shop. There is also a museum and a gift shop at the fort. A snack bar at the fort would be a fantastic addition, and it would be great if they accepted credit/debit cards, in addition to cash, for snacks and drinks on the ferry. This place is a must see if you are visiting Charleston, and they offer military discounts, as well as senior and student discounts.
  • I dearly loved this tour. From the boat ride out there and back to the tome spent in the fort itself. Was in awe at the amount of history here. This is where the 'shot heard around the world' was from. The guides were very informative and there is just endless photo-ops. Well worth the money and time.
  • So disclaimer, I'm a national parks buff and I love visiting sites and I've been to plenty of forts. That being said, this is definitely my favorite one. You get to take a fun ferry ride across the harbor to this island that's steeped in military and national history. You'll have about an hour to roam around, which may or may not be enough time. Depends on how thoroughly you read all the signs. I'm going to appeal to your patriotism when I say that if you're in Charleston you need to visit Fort Sumter to understand more about who we are as a people and as a nation. This is not an experience you'll soon forget.
  • Cool piece of history. Boat ride is much longer (slower) than it needs to be. If you are into military, civil war, or American history worth a stop. Just plan a couple hours, with only an hour on the fort, because of the boat ride. Great to also do other patriot point activities for a full busy day!

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Where to stay in Charleston

Charleston is serviced by dozens of local hotels and practically every major U.S. chain. Expect to pay top dollar for a room on the downtown peninsula, particularly if you wish to stay in one of the historic hotels. The upside of taking a room there is the proximity of all major attractions--you won't need a car to explore and enjoy your visit. Less expensive options are available in North Charleston, West Ashley, and Mount Pleasant, where you'll find all kinds of inns for the budget-conscious traveler.
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