Go See Explore: Fort Sumter

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As a homeschool family, we are always on the hunt for fun learning adventures to take our kids to. One of the many things I love about homeschooling my kids is having hands-on experience — especially when it comes to history! I find that it is so critical for kids to fully grasp history by actually experiencing and visiting the historical place. It makes history come alive!

Honestly, what better place to learn about history than our own little city of Charleston?! My kids were learning about Fort Sumter, so when I heard they had a ferry that tours Fort Sumter I jumped to buy tickets for the entire family!

Two children excited with their hands up, standing on either side of the Fort Sumter National Monument sign.

Exploring Fort Sumter

The tour started with a 30–45 minute ride out. The guides are so knowledgeable about famous landmarks in Charleston while boating to Fort Sumter. My daughter is so curious about history and would ask the tour guide questions that pertained to the history she is learning. They were so eager to answer all of her questions to help her understand the subject she is trying to learn about. As a mom, I appreciate the little things that make the kids feel included — it really does add to the trip to make it special and memorable.

When we arrived at Fort Sumter, they allowed us to tour the area. We had the option to take a guided tour, or we could explore Fort Sumter ourselves. We decided to do a guided tour. It’s two stories and although it’s a tiny area there is so much ground to cover. Both the kids had so much fun looking thru all the little doors and exploring hidden areas. My husband and daughter loved reading the historical markers — it helped our homeschool lesson come alive by showing the kids what happened and where exactly it happened.

At the top of Fort Sumter are a green field and an American flag waving in the wind, where you are greeted by the beauty of Charleston. Truly magical! They even had a historical museum/gift shop where you can expand your knowledge about the landmark and take home a souvenir. Once our allotted time to explore Fort Sumter was over, we were ferried back to our original destination.

Two children standing under a brick tunnel at Fort Sumter.

Tips for the Adventure

What to Wear

If you are going in the fall or winter, wear a coat with a hood and a hat. It tends to be extra windy and chilly out on the water. Definitely layer up! If you’re going in the spring or summer, I would still advise bringing a jacket (windbreaker) just in case! I also recommend wearing sunglasses and a good pair of walking shoes or sneakers.

Parking

We had to pay for parking at the Patriots Point lot, but it was worth parking there (plenty of space). Plus, the landing dock is easily accessible and simple to navigate where you are supposed to go.

Activity Level

Minimal to moderate — however, there are stairs, rocks, and hills in the destination. So I surely advise putting good sneakers on and knowing your limitations.

What to Bring

I brought water bottles and a couple of goldfish snacks for my kids to munch on since the entire experience is a little over two hours. If you’re going in the summertime, bring bug spray so those pesky mosquitoes stay away from you!

Bonus Things to Do

  • This depends on the time you are scheduled to go to Fort Sumter, but we made an entire day experience and took the kids to Vintage Coffee & Café to grab brunch.
  • Prior to our trip, I also found kid-friendly learning worksheets online about Fort Sumter.
  • If your kids love dolphins, keep a lookout for them! We saw quite a few dolphins on our trip!
  • Take advantage of the gift shops. There is a gift shop at Fort Sumter and at Patriots Point.
  • There is also a free Fort Sumter Junior Ranger Program learning activity book for kids that you can request. If your child completes all the activities in the booklet, they get a stamp/badge. I highly recommend this!
  • Last but not least, if you book the first boat tour of the day, the rangers at Fort Sumter do a morning ceremony of putting up the American Flag — which truly makes the trip magical.

Our family of four standing atop the green field of Fort Sumter, in front of a tall flag pole with the American flag waving in the wind.We hope you love your trip to Fort Sumter as much as our family did! If you and your family went, how was your trip? Any tips you may want to share with others?! We would love to know!

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Chelsea Lindsay
Chelsea is a Maryland native, currently enjoying her role as a stay-at-home mom. She was a hairstylist for 10 years until she moved to Charleston. Her husband, whom was one of her clients, was born in Mississippi but lived all over the USA as the son of a Navy father. Shortly after meeting, they got married and had their daughter. Three years later they moved to Charleston while she was eight months pregnant with her second child. After having their son, he was diagnosed with a kidney disorder. She also is a cult survivor. Despite all the bumps they look towards the brighter side in life. You can find her doing crafts, yoga, fashion and blogging on Mascara Pearls Spitup. As a family they enjoy the beach, fishing, swimming, dancing, walks, antiquing and food.