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3,079 votes

Fort Sumter National Monument

1214 Middle St, Charleston, South Carolina 29482 USA

Closed Now
Opens Wed 9a
  • Independent
  • Wheelchair
  • Public
  • Outdoor
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Historic Treasure

Our Take

Fort Sumter is located on an island in the middle of the water, and you’ll need to catch a ferry to actually visit it. The ferry can be picked up downtown or in Mount Pleasant, but the times change seasonally, and some days there are only three total departures, so you do need to plan ahead. The ferry ride includes an interpreter explaining the historical significance of the fort and the harbor, and the ride shows off great views and highlights just how big the harbor is. It’s a great way to really experience just how important Fort Sumter would have been to hold. Once on the fort itself, you can really sense the gravitas. This is where the Civil War started, and you can get a great perspective on what war was like back in the 19th century.

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“1st Civil War Military Engagement”

Brief history of the site where the first engagement of the Civil War took place on April 12 and 13, 1861. Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted in civil war on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on this Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back. Fort Sumter National Monument incorporates several sites around Charleston Harbor, which tell the unique stories of the people and places that shaped the United States of America. Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War upon Federal troops at Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. The roots of that conflict are buried deep within the stories of the development of the United States. Fort Sumter would continue to serve as the focal point in Charleston throughout the Civil War. Sullivan's Island has long served as Charleston Harbor's first line of defense against disease or foreign invasion. Quarantine stations checked every person that came into the harbor, including enslaved Africans. Later a palmetto log fort was built by Colonel Moultrie and the Second South Carolina Infantry. This fort came to be known as Fort Moultrie, and was replaced and modified as technology and warfare changed through the mid-twentieth century. The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square sits on the site of Gadsden's Wharf, where hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were brought into the United States. Today the site interprets the causes and catalysis of the Civil War and the results of that war on the nation. ***When adding Fort Sumter to your trip, please add Patriot's Point instead, as Fort Sumter is located on an island and only accessible via the ferry at Patriot's Point. If Fort Sumter is added, your trip will not route due to its location on an island.

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Reviewed by

  • 8 Reviews
  • 11 Helpful
June 05, 2016
Rated 4.0

My husband is a history buff and this was on his must see list. fort Sumter itself is free, however you have to take a ferry out which is $19.50 a person. That was a little steep, but it's to be expected. Just being inside the fort gives you chills. There's so much history, and sorrow. If you don't care about history, or how this fort shaped the civil war, you shouldn't go.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
August 06, 2015
Rated 4.0

This was an incredible place to see. Very informative. If you enjoy Fort Sumter you must go to Fort Moultrie.

2 people found this review helpful
  • 5 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
July 25, 2017
Rated 5.0

I'm a bit of a Civil War buff but, regrettably, hadn't yet been where it all began. We had a great time! We enjoyed the Ferry ride from Patriots Point. The museum was very well done as well as being a break from the summer heat for the little ones. We will be back again as the kids get older. One suggestion, if you have a baby, bring an Ergo type baby carrier. There is a very small elevator for wheelchairs to make it up to the museum but it's best to strap the baby on to get to the higher and "back" areas of the fort instead of the old arm carry for an hour.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Suzi Davenport

  • 10 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
February 15, 2015
Rated 4.0

This is a cool attraction if you're interested in Civil War history (like I am), but there's not a lot to offer for those who aren't history buffs. Keep that in mind when deciding whether or not this is for you!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 11 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
January 23, 2015

Loved this place and the people . Very good tour guides who give you lots of history on the place . I agree theres not much to do , but still a very cool place to go . Definitely recommend a visit to this place when visiting Charleston .

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
David Stacy

  • 134 Reviews
  • 99 Helpful
July 13, 2014
Rated 4.0

Honestly, there's not that much to do on the island itself. What you go for is the incredible view of the harbor looking back on Charleston, and out toward the atlantic ocean.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
June 23, 2014

It was ok.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 10 Reviews
  • 21 Helpful
January 07, 2018
Rated 4.0

Interesting historical site. The ferry ride fee is a bit steep, but amazing to see where battles were fought.

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Fort Sumter National Monument

1214 Middle St
Charleston, South Carolina
29482 USA
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Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Outdoor Seating
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Parking, Dining

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