TRIP IDEA

Resilience and Freedom: Exploring Historic Charleston

Painting of nineteenth century Charleston with harbor and ships in background
Duration Full Day
Topic(s) Forts, Maritime, Coastal Defenses, Military, Monuments and Memorials, Civil War, African American Heritage, Archeology, Enslavement, Reconstruction, Schools and Education, American Revolution, Architecture and Building, Arts, Social Movements, Presidents, American Revolutionary War
Activities Guided Tours
Type Kid Friendly, Active, Relaxed, Urban, Educational, Inspirational, Indoors, Outdoors, Group Friendly

Photograph of the Fort Sumter Visitor Center at Liberty Square, the primary departure point for the boat ride to Fort Sumter. Visitor Center in the foreground with harbor in the background.
The Fort Sumter Visitor Center at Liberty Square is the primary departure point for the boat ride to Fort Sumter. Visitors can explore museum exhibits that tell the story of the Civil War.

Spend a day exploring the sites of historic Charleston on land and at sea! Founded in 1670, the city played an important role in the American Revolution, in the Civil War, and in the Civil Rights Movement. Discover the stories of influential figures in Charleston and how they changed history. Learn about how different groups navigated the complexities of Charleston society from the city’s settlement up through the present.

This travel itinerary offers opportunities for adventure in the great outdoors - from walking tours of historic neighborhoods to a boat ride to Fort Sumter. There are plenty of indoor options as well, including a visit to Charleston Museum or the Avery Research Center.

Whether by car, boat, or on foot, discover the historic sites of Charleston.

Travel more of Charleston or learn about our diverse heritage by visiting Telling All Americans' Stories.

Explore the History of Charleston
    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–2 Hours
    The Avery Normal Institute in 1870, surrounded by picket fence.

    The Avery Normal Institute (now called the Avery Research Center) was founded by Francis Lewis Cardozo. It was the first secondary school for African Americans in the city of Charleston. The center is now part of the College of Charleston.

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    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–2 Hours
    Front view of Heyward-Washington House

    Constructed in the early 1770s, the Heyward-Washington House was the home of Thomas Heyward, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. President George Washington stayed at the house during his visit to Charleston in 1791. The house was subsequently called the Heyward-Washington House.

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    • Activity Fee: Yes
    • Reservations: Yes
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: No
    • Duration: 1–4 Hours
    Aerial of Fort Sumter

    As a major naval base, Fort Sumter was an important asset. When the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861, it wanted to secure the fort from federal troops. On April 12, 1861, fighting broke out and Union troops surrendered the fort after a full day of fighting. Over the course of the war, federal troops attempted to recapture Fort Sumter from Confederate hands. Fort Sumter is now a National Monument managed by the National Park Service.

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    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: Yes
    • Duration: 1–5 Hours
    A close up of a someone\'s hands weaving a basket out of sweetgrass.

    The Gullah-Geechee people are the descendants of enslaved people from west and central African countries such as Angola, Senegambia, and the Gold Coast. Despite their bondage, enslaved people continued to observe and celebrate their culture and heritage. Many enslaved communities also created new customs and traditions in America. The Gullah-Geechee people, for example, are known for their sweetgrass baskets.

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    • Activity Fee: No (Entrance fees may apply)
    • Reservations: No
    • Activity: Guided Tours
    • Pets: Yes
    • Duration: 1–3 Hours
    Colored photo of Drayton Hall and grounds.

    The South Carolina National Heritage Corridor (SCNHC) stretches 320 miles from the state’s northwestern tip down through its southeastern corner near Charleston. Designated by Congress in 1996, the corridor is intended to encourage preservation of the natural and cultural resources of the area.

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Last updated: May 9, 2018