FIRST STOP: Fort Sumter
If you’re planning to visit Fort Sumter, you’ll need to arrange to get out to the island by boat. Fort Sumter Tours by Spiritline Cruises makes it pretty easy. The 500-passenger Spirit of the Lowcountry makes several trips to Fort Sumter daily. Visitors can chose to depart from either downtown Charleston (Liberty Square at Aquarium Wharf) or Mount Pleasant (Patriots Point Maritime Museum). The boat ride from either departure port is about 30 minutes, and includes informative narration about the history of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor. The Fort Sumter Visitors’ Education Center is located downtown at the departure location on Concord Street and includes an extensive museum. If you have access to a private boat, you can visit Fort Sumter at your leisure during operating hours and free of charge.
On the map below, the blue anchors denote the Fort Sumter departure points, and the green arrows denote national park sites. Additional close-by destinations are marked with a sun icon. (Hint: Zoom in for a better view)
View Getting to Fort Sumter and Beyond in a larger map
If you chose to depart from downtown Charleston, you should definitely stop by the South Carolina Aquarium either before or after your trip to the fort. Departures from Charleston occur at 9:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. If you’re departing from Mount Pleasant, you probably don’t want to miss out on visiting Patriots Point Maritime and Naval Museum as well. The Fort Sumter ferry departs daily from Mount Pleasant at 10:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The total round-trip tour of Fort Sumter takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes, or an extended five-hour tour can be arranged. Prices range from $10 to $17 per person, and children under five are welcomed free of charge.