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Charleston Harbor

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Charleston Harbor: Our most recommended tours and activities

Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

1. Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

Enjoy 2 convenient ferry departure points: Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant. See the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge as you ride the ferry along, and take in sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes.  As you approach Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene. If you depart from Mt. Pleasant you will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense.  While here, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter. Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park Ranger. Your approximate 1-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Store souvenirs. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Learn about the events leading to the war from knowledgeable National Park Rangers who will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger. Then enjoy the beautiful views of the city as you ride the ferry back to Charleston.

Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

2. Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

Take in the amazing sights of Charleston Harbor on a 1.5-hour boat tour with live narration from an expert guide. Pick up insight into the fascinating Charleston history while you glide through the gentle waves of the harbor. Your knowledgeable and entertaining guides have been licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Make sure to bring your camera for famous American landmarks, such as Fort Sumter, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the Battery, the Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney, and other sites from Charleston's past and present. This relaxing and fun tour departs from Patriots Point and Aquarium Wharf daily. Get ready to hear enthralling tales of the city’s colorful past as well as scintillating facts about its most interesting former citizens. Perfect for all ages, the whole family can enjoy cruising along the coastline of the beautiful “Holy City”. Do you know why it's called the "Holy City"? Find out on this trip around the Charleston Harbor.

Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

3. Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

Embark on a true Charleston Harbor dining experience aboard the Spirit of Carolina. Enjoy a three-course dinner, made to order from local seasonal ingredients. As you dine on a delicious multi-course plated dinner, cruise through the beautiful Charleston Harbor, past Fort Sumter, along the Battery and beneath the Ravenel Bridge. Take in the views from the large enclosed air-conditioned dining decks or the open-air observation deck. Enjoy music throughout the cruise, as well as a full-service bar. Dinner menu: Soup: Charleston she-crab soup Salad: Edisto green salad with a blend of baby lettuce, dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese, and toasted almonds with herb vinaigrette (gluten-free) Entrées: (All entrees include freshly baked bread and butter) • Braised short rib of beef (gluten-free, dairy-free) with cabernet reduction, roasted garlic whipped potatoes (gluten-free), and seasonal vegetables (gluten-free)• Seared wing tip chicken breast (gluten-free) with white wine lemon sauce, sautéed spinach and feta cheese fillings, roasted garlic whipped potatoes (gluten-free), and seasonal vegetables (gluten-free)• Low country shrimp and grits (gluten-free) with sautéed shrimp, tasso ham, and andouille sausage. Served on creamy stone-ground grits and topped with aged cheddar cheese and bacon jam garnish• Roasted sliced cauliflower (dairy-free, vegetarian) with roasted red pepper drizzle, wilted spinach, lemon and olive oil mixed ancient grains of quinoa, farro, toasted barley (dairy-free, vegetarian), and grilled asparagus (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian) Desserts: • New York-style cheesecake with strawberries and whipped cream • Chocolate pot de crème (gluten-free) with whipped cream and chocolate shavings ($6.00 each) Food is not prepared in a nut-free, shellfish-free, or gluten-free facility.

Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

4. Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

This 60-minute narrated carriage tour covers more than 2.5 miles and 30 blocks of historic downtown Charleston. It really is the best way to see the “Holy City” and learn about its rich and vast history. The tour begins at our stables just one block from the city market, where a number of our horses live. Restrooms and water are available as well as a loading ramp to easily board one of the custom-built carriages.  Departing from the barn, you will continue to the city gate located in the Old City Market. Historic Downtown Charleston is split up into a number of areas that each tour is directed to travel to. Some highlights of these areas are Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, 4 Corners of Law, King Street, White Point Gardens, and the Charleston Battery.  A licensed tour guide will be narrating the entire tour with informative and entertaining commentary. At the end of the tour you will arrive back at the stables, where you will get off the carriage using the unloading dock.

Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

5. Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

The tour departs from Charleston Visitor’s Center where you’ll hop on board a deluxe, climate-controlled shuttle for a 90-minute tour of the city’s historical highlights. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, local guide, visit over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights of the past and present whilst listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city. On your tour, travel through some of the city’s most historic parts. Visit Charleston’s Historic Homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include several historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

6. Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

Discover 300 years of Charleston history from land and sea with passionate licensed tour guides. Experience a 90-minute narrated tour of Charleston in a climate-controlled luxury coach and then head to the water for another perspective of the city from Charleston Harbor. Learn fascinating historical facts about Charleston while you cruise the gentle waves of her harbor. Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides are licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Don't forget your camera as you will see all that the Holy City has to offer: Charleston's Historic Homes and Churches, the Old Market, Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter, USS Yorktown, and incredible views from Charleston Harbor.

Charleston: Patriot's Point Haunted USS Yorktown Tour

7. Charleston: Patriot's Point Haunted USS Yorktown Tour

Come aboard the USS Yorktown and hear the stories of the American heroes who lived, died, and are still rumored to be here today.  Commissioned in 1943, the Fighting Lady was once manned by over 3,000 people and designed to fight off enemies all over the globe during WWII. Learn about the ultimate sacrifice and heroism of the people who once inhabited this ship.  This tour gives you exclusive nighttime access to areas of the ship that are usually closed to the public, including the flight deck after dark. Don't forget your camera, you never know who or what you might capture.

Charleston Harbor 2-Hour Speedboat Adventure

8. Charleston Harbor 2-Hour Speedboat Adventure

Take the wheel and become the captain of your very own speed boat with this one-of-a-kind adventure tour. Experience driving your own boat while taking in the views from the Charleston harbor. This fully narrated tour takes you 13 miles through the world-famous Charleston Harbor. See everything while listening to a highly trained and professional guide through a two-way communication system.   You will have a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Battery, USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier, Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge, the downtown Charleston skyline, Waterfront Park, South Carolina Aquarium, the cruise ship terminal and all the wildlife that call Charleston Harbor home.  This is a great adventure for all ages.

Fort Sumter: Sunset BBQ Dinner Cruise & Tour

9. Fort Sumter: Sunset BBQ Dinner Cruise & Tour

Explore the grounds at Fort Sumter National Monument with a National Park Ranger and visit the Museum. Get a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Enjoy a BBQ dinner on the way back from Fort Sumter. Depart from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston at 5:00 PM, see the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge as you ride the ferry along, and take in sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes. Approach Fort Sumter with graceful sailboats and playful dolphins in sight. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense. Explore the grounds of Fort Sumter and stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began. Have enough time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and to browse Museum store souvenirs in 1 hour. Learn about the events leading to the war and stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation. Enjoy the beautiful views of the sun setting in the city and a delicious BBQ dinner as you ride the ferry back to Charleston. Relax and take in the spectacular views of the harbor and her marine life while dining on Southern BBQ cuisine. Feel free to purchase beer, wine, and cocktails to/from the fort. Arrive back in Liberty Square at 7:45 PM.

Charleston: Historical Walking Tour

10. Charleston: Historical Walking Tour

An exciting walking tour of the only English walled city in North America - Charleston! Once the leading seaport of the thirteen colonies and later the United States, historical Charleston is waiting to be discovered. On this 2-hour walking tour, you will learn about the intriguing history of Charleston from veteran guide Al Ray. See pre-and-post colonial homes, storefronts, churches and public buildings while Ray recounts the rich tales and legends of Charleston's proud and turbulent past. Learn the meanings of the ancient symbols on the tombstones, the city's history of rapid growth and rampant piracy, and the rise of the rice planters. Listen to your charismatic guide describe the numerous disasters, such as seven major fires, numerous hurricanes, epidemics, sieges and bombardments, plus a major earthquake, that have struck the city over its long and colourful history.

Other Sightseeing Options in Charleston Harbor

Want to discover all there is to do in Charleston Harbor? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Charleston Harbor

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 3,645 reviews

The Fort Sumter cruise was interesting and enjoyable. The ferry ride was very relaxing and you could see many sites from the boat. The tour’s museum was done very well and it really made you realize what the fighting was like back then.

Enjoyed the whole experience. I thought the ferry ride left from Charleston not Patriot's Point, so I had to change some lunch reservations. Also, I would have liked at least 1/2 hr. more while at the site.

Eric was an awesome tour guide. He was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about history and Charleston. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting.

Great tour in a confortable air conditioned little bus. Wonderful guide. Really enjoyed it!

A fabulous way to tour Charleston! Our tour guide was very knowledgeable!