What Is the Best Way to See Fort Sumter National Monument?

On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the American Civil War rang out across Charleston Harbour as the Confederate army opened fire on Fort Sumter. 250 years later, Fort Sumter National Monument still stands in its original location, attracting visitors from around the world to admire an important piece of American History. If you’re planning a trip to Charleston, SC, it isn’t complete without a visit to this incredible landmark! While you’re here, don’t forget to take advantage of our free Destination Guide. Thanks to our guide, finding all of the area’s best restaurants, historic sites, and exciting attractions has never been easier!

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Everything You Need to Know About Fort Sumter National Monument


A piece of the “Third System,” Fort Sumter is one of a series of forts built around the U.S. as a part of a coastal defense program. Construction began in 1829 and the fort was still uncompleted in 1860 when the South succeeded from the Union. A few months later, when President Lincoln announced plans to transport additional supplies to Fort Sumter, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard directed heavy artillery at the fort.

After spending 34 hours under heavy fire, U.S. Major Robert Anderson and his 86 soldiers surrendered the fort to Confederate troops. Union troops made several attempts to recapture the fort over the next four years but were ultimately unsuccessful until William T. Sheman captured Charleston in February of 1865. The fort was partially rebuilt after the war, being used in the Spanish American War and both World Wars. The fort was decommissioned in 1948 and has served as a National Monument since, attracting nearly 1,000,000 visitors a year.

How to Visit

The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center is located at 340 Concord Street, right next to the South Carolina Aquarium. From Calhoun Street, the center is straight ahead and there is a parking garage to the left. Ferry tickets and Fort Sumter tours can be purchased at the visitors center for $22. The visitors center’s hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day. If you have your own boat, a private expedition to Fort Sumter can also be arranged. Start planning your trip to one of our country’s most famous landmarks today!

Fort Sumter Tours

The simplest way to see and learn about Fort Sumpter National Monument is via one of the guided boat tours provided by Fort Sumter Tours. The tours have two departure locations at Liberty Square and Patriots Point and last approximately two hours and 15 minutes. The Fort Sumter museum, bookstore, and restrooms can only be accessed by stairs. If you have any questions about accessibility call (843) 883-3123. The National Park Service suggests buying tickets at least a day in advance, so check the boat schedule and plan ahead!

Where to Stay in Charleston, SC

Studio Suite interior view

Continue your tour of Charleston by stying right in the heart of downtown’s historic district. Hotel Bella Grace is the Holy City’s best place to stay when it comes to finding luxury accommodations in a traditional Charleston setting. Every single one of our guest rooms features elegant decor, world-class amenities, and unparalleled service.

For example, our Studio Suite comes equipped with a king-size bed, a kitchen, a full sleeper sofa, and much more. Take some time to recharge in an atmosphere of beauty and grace on your next visit to Charleston. Wake up refreshed and join us in the historic Delaney House for your complimentary breakfast. Put the best of Charleston just outside your front door.

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