Time to update my standard “travel advice” for Fort Sumter.
Most visitors to Fort Sumter will use the Spirit Line Cruise ferry. Back in the 1990s when I first visited the fort, the ferry ran from two spots. I preferred to depart from the City Marina on the Ashley River side. On more recent trips I’ve taken, my departures were from Patriot’s Point on the other side of the harbor from Charleston. For our August vacation, I booked our seats in advance and held to my preference for Patriot’s Point. My aide-de-camp approved that choice, noting the USS Yorktown and other attractions in the area. But we also planned a stop at the South Carolina Aquarium. Much to my pleasure, I found the old harbor area completely renovated. Located next to the aquarium is this structure:
The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center is, in my revised opinion, a better place to start the visit to Fort Sumter. The building houses a small, but educational set of exhibits.
While the Patriot’s Point site offers some exhibits related to the Civil War, these are not as well constructed as the National Park Service center.
The architecture of the building recalls the arched casemates of Fort Sumter.
So if you pressed me for a one-day itinerary for Charleston, I’d suggest a tour of Fort Sumter departing from the visitor education center. Better still, I’d suggest at least two days in order to better “scratch the surface” of the history and heritage at practically every corner of Charleston.