Set on a man-made island in Charleston's harbor, this is the hallowed spot where the Civil War began. On April 12, 1861, the first shot of the war was fired at the fort from Fort Johnson across the way. After a 34-hour battle, Union forces surrendered and Confederate troops occupied Fort Sumter, which became a symbol of Southern resistance. The Confederacy managed to hold it, despite almost continual bombardment from August 1863 to February of 1865. When it was finally evacuated, the fort was a heap of rubble. Today, the National Park Service oversees it, and rangers give interpretive talks.
To reach the fort, take a private boat or one of the ferries that depart from downtown's Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center and from Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant. There are six trips daily between mid-March and mid-August, fewer the rest of the year.
South Carolina, United States