Exploring Charleston's Fort Sumter & Civil War Museum

Exploring Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor

Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor

The city of Charleston is highly entertaining for people of all ages.  From world famous restaurants and bars to gardens and history tours, it is great for families or as a romantic retreat.

It is also steeped in history.  Ever since it was built in 1812, fort Sumter has been a chief point of interest. It is the place where the first shot of the Civil War, which led to the death of over 700,000 people was fired. Named after a war hero, General Thomas Sumter, this fort played a great role in shaping America to what it is today.

Being in the fort will take you back in time as you walk in the steps of the men and women who shaped America. It will make you experience a patriotic pride as the national park ranger brings every feature back to life, conjuring images of cannon fire and mortar shells. He will give you a ten minute overview of the history of the fort and the events that led to the war.

Getting There

Your visit to fort Sumter begins with a thirty minute ride on a ferry. It can be boarded from two points; the liberty square visitors’ center, and patriots point. While on the ferry, there is a prerecorded voice that discusses the history of Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter.  Snacks are not allowed on board but they can be purchased on the snack bar.

Exploration

Entrance and exploration is free of charge and you have one hour to explore the fort. You are not provided with a guide so you are free to go wherever you want around the fort. Luckily, there are signs that are labelled various points of interest within. If you want a more in-depth excursion, at an additional cost, you can get a guided tour around the fort.

Fort Sumter Museum

A visit to the museum is the best way to get a very detailed account and it does so through exhibits. The displays provide on the events that led to the war, the course of the civil war, and the events that followed thereafter. They also explain the strategy and the engineering behind the construction of the fort, placing you right into the middle of the fort on that fateful April night.
Walking out of the darkened museum into the light, you will find that the fort has changed into another dimension. All of a sudden, you will see ships filled on the harbor, loud cracking noises as the cannons are fired and smell the burnt wood.

Souvenirs

To remember the day that you took a step of the shapers of America, you can drop by the Fort Sumter Eastern National Book Store. It is located inside the Fort Sumter National Monument Museum. If you are seeking just souvenirs or you love history, you will find the souvenirs quite interesting.

It is worth noting that even though the ferry ride is not quite the main attraction, many tourist enjoy it. It adds some sort of “neatness” to the short visit to the monument. Also, the ride – to and fro – offers a lot of photograph opportunities with the breath taking views. It is also a great way to see some dolphins from the area, making it even more pleasant.

Other Things to See in Charleston

Click here for more things to do in Charleston SC