If you are visiting Charleston, SC, Fort Sumter should definitely be on your must-see list. Beyond Fort Sumter’s significant history of being the first encounter point of the Civil War, the fort itself is a fascinating relic of a time-past.
Quick Information on Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter is on a small island close to Charleston Harbor (not Sullivan’s Island – the fort’s physical mailing address), you can only reach the fort by private boat or ferry.
Hours: 9 am – 5 pm, except on select holidays
Unless you just happen to own a private boat docked in the Charleston harbor, you will need the following ferry information. Fort Sumter Tours is the only commercial ferry transportation available to the fort.
Fort Sumter Ferry Tours
The Fort Sumter Ferry departs from two locations: Liberty Square (340 Concord St, Charleston, SC) and Patriots Point (40 Patriots Pt. Rd., Mt. Pleasant, SC).
Tour times vary based on season of the year and day of the week.
Tour takes around 2 1/2 hours, which includes a 20-30 minute ferry ride to and from the fort and one hour inside the fort.
See the Fort Sumter Ferry Four website for current rates and times.
Our experience at Fort Sumter
Riding on the outside deck is a lot of fun, especially during the warmer months. You’ll see wonderful views of Ft. Sumter and other smaller forts plus dolphins if you’re lucky.
The ferry does have concessions, restrooms, and plenty of seating on its three decks. You are required to wear masks on the boat due to COVID.
At the fort, we enjoyed the free exploration allowed. You can listen to a park ranger give a short talk if you want and then explore. We climbed to the top level, examined the cannons and large walls, and even exited to see the beach.
While the fort was fascinating, do remember that its almost entirely exposed to the outside weather. Bring water, sunglasses, and wear sunscreen in the warmer months, and dress warmly on cold days.