For the history buff, the American south, specifically Charleston, is a treasure trove of discovery. As one of the United States’ most strategic naval and logistics sites on the East Coast, it has played an integral role in every major American conflict from the Revolutionary War to the Cold War. Here’s our two-day guide to Charleston for the history buff.
Start your first day with a trip off the peninsula to nearby Sullivan’s Island where you’ll find one of the most war-weathered military locations in the country, Fort Moultrie. In the Revolutionary War, it stood as the final defense of the city from invading British troops and helped American forces win a major victory due to its clever construction of shock-absorbent palmetto logs. It was a key strategic defense point in every major American conflict until World War II. The beach head beneath the fort offers one of the most spectacular views of the Charleston Harbor. Afterwards, grab lunch at Poe’s Tavern, named after the famous American writer who stayed at Fort Moultrie during his brief stint in the army.
If you’re looking for some large-scale military history after lunch, drive over to Patriot’s Point for a tour of the USS Yorktown. Named after the famous ship that sunk during the Battle of Midway in World War II, this Essex-class (very large) aircraft carrier takes a prominent and eye-catching spot in the Charleston Harbor. Permanently docked across the river from downtown, this National Historic Landmark now serves as a military museum. Here you’ll see some of America’s most popular aircraft and learn about naval operations from World War II to the Korean War. Also at Patriot’s Point are the Vietnam Experience Exhibit and Medal of Honor Museum, as well as several decommissioned battleships and a submarine.
Start your second day off with a sea voyage to Charleston’s most famous fort, Fort Sumter, from which the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The fort remains an iconic sight in the center of Charleston’s bustling harbor. Reachable only by ferry, Fort Sumter is an excellent place to commemorate our nation’s most divisive conflict while viewing the city from its most unique location.
To finish your travel through time, walk through Charleston’s historic French Quarter neighborhood to the Battery, also known as White Point Gardens. This public park south of Broad Street offers immaculate sunset views of the Charleston Harbor. Explore the arrangement of cannons and statues commemorating Charleston’s tumultuous yet fascinating past. Once the sun has set, scurry down to East Bay Street where a host of restaurants and bars line the avenue from fine dining to cocktail joints.
With its impressive military history and vital role in some of America’s most important conflicts, Charleston is sure to leave the history nut in you eager to explore.