We recommend a Fort Sumter visit on your next trip to Charleston, South Carolina.
Our spring break trip this year was to Charleston. The reason we picked it was it came up in our search for what U.S. cities are like European cities. We had enjoyed our fall trip to Europe and wanted to experience a little of that magic in our country.
Not only does Historic Charleston have a European feel, but it is also home to Fort Sumter, which has been on my wishlist for a long time.
Our Fort Sumter Tour
The only way to visit the fort as by boat. We reserved our space on an afternoon tour.
The harbor cruise itself is very pleasant as the boats are large and the bay was mostly calm for us. Along the way, you see a few other forts, which we learned about from our volunteer tour guide.
We were also lucky enough to see some harbor dolphins along the way. I took some pictures of them, but alas, they did not turn out so good.
My first thought as we approached was that I thought it would be bigger. Well, at one time it was bigger. After relentless bombardments during the Civil War, its size was reduced.
While walking around I saw where the brickwork is pitted from the bombings. I thought this was very cool to see these old scars and the cannons that were placed to defend the harbor. The park service is going to great lengths to preserve and restore what they can.
Fort Sumter Museum
The very center of the fort houses a museum, that tells a pictorial history of the structure and the people who lived, worked, and defended it.
Inside the museum, there is a model of the finished fort, or at least what it was supposed to look like as it did not get completed before the outbreak of the Civil War.
If you look at the flagpole, you can see a red line that shows how far up the walls of the fort were prior to the Civil War.
The tour allows one hour to see the entire fort. I was a little worried that I would not get to everything as I normally try to read everything in the museum. It turns out that one hour is enough time. We were able to see the whole thing, everything in the museum and were able to walk around the isthmus of land it built on. I even listened to the 12-minute park ranger talk. He explained how the structure of the fort and the events that let up to the building of the fort and the events that led to the civil war.
Despite my initial reaction of it being smaller than what I imagined, it was a very pleasant visit. I would recommend going early in the season as during peak times the boat tours will sell out.
I’m glad I was able to check a Fort Sumter visit off of my travel list.