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Military must-sees: 5 service-themed stops for Charleston visitors

March 20, 2017 (Photo Credit: National Park Service)
From decommissioned aircraft carriers to powder magazines older than the U.S. itself, Charleston has plenty to offer its visitors seeking a dash of military history to go with their vacation. Some stops to consider:

PATRIOTS POINT NAVAL AND MARITIME MUSEUM

Itinerary: Tour the carrier Yorktown (complete with vintage aircraft), destroyer Laffey and submarine Clamagore. See a UH-1M Huey helicopter and a M35A2 “Deuce and a Half” Jeep at the Vietnam Experience. 

What else: In charge of a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop? Camping programs offer special overnight stays aboard the carrier that include VIP tours and other offerings.

Cost: $22 for adults (12 and over), $17 for seniors (62 and over), $14 for children (under 6 free). Active-duty military get a $5 discount off the adult rate, or free admission if you’re in uniform.

FORT SUMTER

Itinerary: Start at the visitors center to get the short version of the fort’s long history, then take a boat to the installation itself. Visit the museum at the fort for details on its founding after the War of 1812, the first shots fired in 1861 and the siege that followed. Done learning? Relax with some birdwatching or plan a picnic while on the grounds.

What else: The fort is only accessible by boat, and the museum and gift shop (and restrooms) at the fort require climbing stairs.

Cost: Entrance to the fort itself is free, but taking the boat to the fort costs $21 for adults, $18.50 for seniors and service members, and $13 for children (kids under 3 ride free). For more details or to buy tickets in advance, visit www.FortSumterTours.com.


FORT MOULTRIE

Itinerary: Check out a restored fort that covers eras from World War II harbor control to fending off British attackers in 1776. Enjoy the nearby parkland and public dock. 

What else: Despite bright-red text on multiple tour-guide websites, some visitors aren’t aware that there is no ferry service from Moultrie to Sumter.

Cost: A small fee to enter the recreational area – $3 for adults, $5 for a family pass (up to four adults), $1 for seniors, free to children under 15 and holders of America the Beautiful passes

THE HUNLEY

Online: www.hunley.org

Itinerary: Tour the first submarine ever to sink another warship – on Feb. 17, 1864, the Hunley rammed its spar into the Union warship Housatonic and placed a torpedo inside. The sloop-of-war went down, but the Hunley never returned from its mission.

What else: The sub remained at the bottom of Charleston Harbor until a team led by author Clive Cussler found it in 1995. It was raised in 2000.

Cost:
Tours are available on weekends only. $16 for adults, $8 for children (6-17), $14 for seniors/military.

THE POWDER MAGAZINE

Itinerary:
View displays of Revolutionary War-era uniforms and weaponry. See models of old Charleston, complete with walls. Learn about the arsenal’s design, with elements meant to funnel any explosion up through a thin ceiling into a sand-filled attic.

What else: Built in 1713, it’s the city’s oldest public building.

Cost: $5 adults, $2 children.
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