Explore the Grounds of Fort Sumter
Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter National Historic Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park ranger. Your approximate one-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Shop souvenirs.
A Trip Around the Harbor
The Fort Sumter National Historic Park sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense. Your tour vessel will cruise to Fort Sumter from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or from Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge provides the backdrop for all Fort Sumter cruises, with Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes clearly seen from onboard. Those departing from Mt. Pleasant will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Approaching Fort Sumter National Historic Park, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene.
Learning the Events Leading to the War
The first shots of the American Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter at approximately 4:30 a.m. on April 12th, 1861. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later, and Union forces tried for nearly four years to take it back. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger guide, and take in the stunning scene of historic Charleston as you cruise the harbor en route to the fort.
Walking in the Steps of Those Who Shaped Our Nation
The knowledgeable National Park Rangers at Fort Sumter will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. There is the story of Sergeant Peter Hart raising a shell-torn flag during bombardment, among many others. A visit to Fort Sumter National Historic Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Mt. Pleasant departures can enjoy an immersive historical experience at Patriot’s Point before boarding – (must purchase a Patriots Point ticket to experience). Here, you can explore the moving, interactive exhibits at the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, learning about the veterans who served aboard the USS Yorktown, USS Laffey, and the USS Clamagore. Plan to arrive early for your tour!
Grab a Snack Along the Way
You won’t go hungry during a Fort Sumter Tour! Tour boat concessions offer a variety of drinks and snacks (including healthy options) available for purchase during the cruise to and from the fort. Please note: no food items are allowed on the Fort Sumter National Historic Park grounds.
*This tour is great rain or shine. The Charleston area experiences a high number of lightning strikes during the summer. Know the latest weather conditions and seek safe shelter in the event of lightning or thunder. Lightning identified within 10 miles of Fort Sumter will prompt the closure of the observation deck, and visitors are advised to shelter in the fort’s museum or on the ferry. The National Park Service and Fort Sumter Tours will inform visitors when there is a possibility that storms may impact the length of time people can spend at the fort. More weather information can be found on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/fosu. Fort Sumter Tours tickets are 100% refundable if cancelled 2 hours in advance of the departure time. If tickets are cancelled less than 2 hours from departure time they are non-refundable Fort Sumter Tours will cruise in most weather conditions all-year round. Time on the Fort may be impacted by weather at the discretion of the National Park Service.Thank you for your patronage of our national parks.