Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston

Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument
4.5
Historic Sites • Military Bases & Facilities • History Museums
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8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
Learn all about this storied spot of the first clash between the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War, in which the Union forces finally surrendered after a 34-hour bombardment by the Rebels.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.5
5,778 reviews
Excellent
3,317
Very good
1,861
Average
499
Poor
80
Terrible
21

ilovemashedpotatoes
Columbus, OH206 contributions
Apr 2022 • Family
A great experience!

There is just so much history at this place that it seems surreal when you're standing there. Parts of the fort just feel trapped in time as if it was built just yesterday.

The museum area is very well done with tons of great info and artifacts. I enjoyed looking at some of the old flags that I never knew existed. I will say while this is a tremendous experience for adults and history buffs, our young kids were a little bit bored with the whole thing. Once our two young boys learned there wasn't much to do besides look around and listen to history they were checked out. lol. It's also very adamantly stated by the park rangers that you are not allowed to climb or walk on any part of the fort that is basically not paved or grassy area. In some areas this is hard to determine, someone else's kid was lectured via loudspeaker for standing on a random row of bricks that was about one brick tall and was not sectioned off by anything, it just appeared to be part of the path. Anyone could have done that and I felt it was an unnecessary public scolding. Perhaps section off your areas better if it's that serious.

The trip itself is about 2-3 hours. Standing in line to board the ferry about 15-30 mins. 30 minute ferry ride over, 1 hr on the fort, 30 mins ferry ride back. Also, there was a delay once we arrived at the fort as the ferry that was currently docked was delayed in departing (rounding up stragglers).

The wow moment of the whole experience for me though was right before it was time to leave the fort, a gentleman from the ferry boat came around gathering all the people to depart, he stops and tells us that on some of the bricks you can see indentations, these are fingerprints from the slaves that made the bricks. Once we knew that we could see them everywhere, on one brick we found you could see an entire hand-print. Being able to actually touch and feel the history was an incredible experience.
Written April 21, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Taylor B
Chicago, IL7,646 contributions
Sep 2021
I am a Civil War historian. I have been to Fort Sumter, where it began. I have been to Appomattox, where it ended. And I have been to every major battlefield in between. This is my third trip to Fort Sumter. Located in Charleston Harbor, it was designed to protect one of the South's largest cities and most important ports from invasion. And thanks to the exhibits at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, where you can purchase tickets for the tour boat, and the park rangers who inform visitors about the history of the fort and its role in the Civil War, I always come away with more knowledge about the event. Why was Major Robert Anderson recognized as the Union's first war hero? What role did Captain George S. James play in the battle for Fort Sumter? Who was Daniel Hough? Edward Galloway? What was Sergeant Peter Hart's heroic act? You'll learn who they were and a lot more when you spend the allotted hour walking through the ruins of Fort Sumter. It began on April 12, 1861 when South Carolina militia artillery began shelling the Union garrison in the brick fort. They were the first shots of the Civil War. Today, the fort remains much as it looked when the bombardment ended on April 13 and the Union garrison surrendered. After purchasing your tickets, view the artifacts and exhibits in the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Patriots Point, then take the 30-minute ferry ride to the fort. Explore the ruins and learn about the heroes of the Civil War's first battle.
Written September 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ctaylor0159
Tampa, FL131 contributions
Jun 2022
Cool trip. Booked thru my hotel for a deeply discounted price. 30 min ferry ride there and back as well as an hour at Ft Sumter. If you book the 930am trip, you get to see them raise the flag and help with it too. A random guest sang the National Anthem during which was very cool. 2 hours 15 mins total. Highly recommend it.
Written June 5, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Dave & Jen H.
Cullman, AL10 contributions
Dec 2021
For the "because it's there" visitor, this will be a good trip. Despite going in December when the weather was rainy and cold, the boat ride over to the monument was enjoyable just being in the harbor and taking in the views, although it was a bit on the high side at $32 per person.
While on board, a Park Ranger gave an overview of the fort and of the war using the boat's PA system. Upon disembarking at the Fort, visitors are told that the return trip would leave in ONE HOUR. For the casual observer, this is more than adequate to cover the grounds and be ready for the return trip. For the avid historian, one hour is nowhere near enough time to fully explore and contemplate the grounds, the emplacements, and the importance of the site.
The museum will offer visitors some unique pieces of history with ample explanations of the items but with everyone else vying for a good look at the pieces, you feel rushed through.
The grounds themselves are minimally maintained to preserve the site but no extended learning opportunities are available for those with a greater curiosity.
On the plus side, visitors are given the opportunity to take place in either a flag raising or flag lowering, depending on the time of day in which you tour. Prior to the flag ceremony, a park ranger gives another presentation regarding the Fort's flags.
Overall, the tour was enjoyable but certainly not long enough. As with any other historic site, if you know what it is, you will appreciate the site being preserved. However, for the casual visitor, you may feel underwhelmed by the experience.
Written January 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Linda
54 contributions
Sep 2021
Start your visit at Liberty Square. This is where you meet the ferry. There is a parking garage directly across the street from the park. Easy parking there. I think the signage could be better to get to the ferry. When you approach the building where you buy tickets, you go up the stairs, but not into the building. There is a window to the left of the doors where you will purchase tickets. After purchasing tickets, you go around back to get in line to board the ferry. There are seats on the ferry, BUT they sell many more tickets than they have seats, so if you are at the end of the line, you will stand for the 30 minute ride out to the island. You basically get 1 hour on the island and then the ferry returns to Charleston.

We went over on the first ferry of the day. Much was said about the flag raising ceremony. We attended it. It felt less like a ceremony and more like a ranger's reflections on the flag before finally raising it. I don't mean to complain, but you have 1 hour on the island to see everything. The flag raising happens about 10 minutes after you arrive on the island, so now you have 50 minutes left. The ranger's speech rambled a bit and I found myself becoming impatient. I wanted to see the flag raised and then get to seeing as much as I could in the time allotted. The rangers are there everyday. Most of us are there for that 1 hour of time. Honestly, you really need about 90 minutes there to see it all. From a historical perspective, its worth visiting.
Written September 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mike1046
50 contributions
Mar 2021
If your in Charleston you have to take the boat ride out to Fort Sumter. The Rangers are so helpful and knowledgeable. The boat has inside and outside seating and you can buy food and drinks. I recommend buying your tickets in advance from the website, the day we were there they sold out early.
Written August 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MKTBE
Topeka, KS2,854 contributions
Dec 2020 • Family
We spent an interesting & educational afternoon visiting Fort Sumter National Monument. The ferry ride was pleasant and we spotted many dolphins frolicking in the harbor. Fort Sumter itself is a sea fort built on an artificial island. It's purpose was to protect the City of Charleston from a naval invasion, and the Battle of Fort Sumter marked the beginning of the US Cival War. The National Park Service Rangers have an engaging presentation that recounted the history of Fort Sumter, while encouraging us to learn from our countries storied past to encourage a brighter future! We enjoyed our Fort Sumter National Park adventure, and would highly recommend it for others.
Written January 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Jessica M
Hillsboro, MO85 contributions
Jun 2021 • Family
We took the 2:30pm ferry on Monday afternoon. The ferry ride was 30 minutes both directions with nice views. We sat on the top deck, masks were required inside the ferry lower levels. The park ranger talked the entire way there, learned lots of history from him. The ride back was quiet. Very windy the day we were there. You stay about 45 minutes and I thought this was plenty of time but if you're a person that likes to read everything in the museum it might not be long enough.
There is also a nice timeline museum that you can visit in Charleston without riding the ferry.
Written June 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ashley
Belleville, IL129 contributions
Sep 2021 • Family
Learned some history on the ferry ride to the fort. Pretty interesting and I like that they help pass the time on the ferry this way. We were the first tour of the day so we were able to partake in the flag raising ceremony. The speech the ranger gave was touching and full of pride for our country and what our flag represents. Once you get off the boat, you have about an hour to walk around the fort and explore. If you want to stay longer you can, but you have to wait for the next ferry boat to come with a new group of people, stay for their tour time, and then leave. We decided to only stay the hour because of how hot and humid it was and that we were with 3 small children and making it a 3 hour tour would have ended in meltdowns! An hour might not be enough time to explore everything, but you can get in most of it. All in all it was a great experience.
Written September 4, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ellen P
11 contributions
Jul 2021
This was a must see in Charleston. I have 4 older kids (2 older teens and 2 young adults) and they all loved this. If you are planning your day, plan on a minimum of 3 1/2 hours for just Fort Sumter. They want you there 1/2 hr before your boat leaves, then it's a 1/2 hr boat ride out to the Fort, they give you One Hour on the Fort and then it's 1/2 hr ride back. I would have liked more than 1 hour on the Fort as I didn't even get to see the museum. The boat has an air conditionad area in case it's too hot to be outside. They have a small but nice gift shop on the Fort (ran by the National Park). Bring your Passport to stamp as this is where you get the stamp. The Rangers are very knowledgeable and give a lot of helpful info - both on the boat tour over to the Fort, and while you are there. We got off the boat right at lunch time and had a combo ticket to also see the Yorktown. They don't have any food to eat at this location. The Yorktown is a "tour on your own" so we left the parking lot and went to a fast food restaurant about 5 min away, then came back to see the Yorktown. It was $5 to park for the day and they let you back in with receipt. They have snacks on the Boat ride back from the Fort but not much. If you can see either the 1st tour or the last tour of the day you get to see them raise and lower the flag. Would like to have seen that. This tour is not wheelchair accessable if you want to see the whole fort.
Written August 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument is open:
  • Sun - Sat 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
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