Fort Sumter National Monument

340 Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA

Taking a trip to Fort Sumter gives visitors a chance to explore a little Civil War history (the first shot of that long bloody war was fired here in 1861) through an orientation in town at the education center, followed by a ferry ride out to the fort itself, built on an island at the mouth of the harbor, for a brief park ranger introduction and a self-guided tour. In addition to being a fascinating experience for the site’s historical significance, the excursion offers water views of Rainbow Row, the homes along The Battery, and the Holy City’s many steeples.

More Recommendations

Rain or Shine

Fort Sumter is located in Charleston in the middle of Charleston Harbor, so you have to take a ferry out to it. It’s best known as the spot where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired at the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. The day I went with my family, it was raining... and cold. Not exactly ideal sightseeing weather, but this really didn’t matter at Fort Sumter. In fact, I think a benefit for us was it kept the crowds down—we almost had the place to ourselves. Hot or cold. Rain or shine. Worth a visit.

Fort Sumter

Charleston famously played a key role in the Civil War, with the first shots in that conflict fired at Fort Sumter, at the mouth of the harbor in 1861. It took Confederate forces 34 hours to capture the fort from federal troops stationed there, and the war that began with that battle would last four years. It remains to this day the conflict with the greatest number of American casualties. (Almost half of all American soldiers to lose their lives in combat died in the Civil War.) The fort can only be visited by boat, though a number of harbor tours either call at the fort or pass by close enough that you can get a good look at it. Sail by the historic landmarks of Charleston, on one of 12 itineraries created by AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council at AFAR Journeys.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at

Nearby highlights
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR