The City of Charleston boasts a historic district that survived the American Civil War, unlike many other Southern cities. The Port of Charleston's skyline is dominated by church steeples rather than skyscrapers. The Port of Charleston is the State of South Carolina's most beautiful and historic jewel. Founded over 300 years ago, it has suffered war, fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes, but it survives as a beautiful tourist destination. The historic district offers 73 pre-Revolutionary buildings, 136 late-18th Century buildings, and more than 600 structures built in the 1840s. Visitors can tour the city by horse-drawn carriage. Visitors come for the wonderful architecture, the gardens, the beaches, and the fishing. For detailed information on the many attractions and activities available to visitors to the Port of Charleston, please see the city's tourism website.
The Port of Charleston has a humid subtropical climate with hot humid summers, mild winters, and lots of rain. The wettest season is the summer when thunderstorms are common. The weather remains fairly warm through November, and winter is short. Snow seldom falls in the Port of Charleston. During the late summer and early fall, hurricanes threaten the Port of Charleston. Temperatures range from an average high of 32 °C (90 °F) in July to an average low of 4 °C (40 °F) in January.
The Port of Charleston is famous for being the site of the first shots of the American Civil War. Fort Sumter is a national monument located on an island in the Port of Charleston harbor. Reached by a 30-minute ferry or boat ride, the fort is in ruins, but the island houses a museum and markers that describe the fort as it was. Rangers offer a 10-minute talk about the history of the island before visitors take a self-guided tour. The museum tells about the construction of the fort, the events leading to the battle in 1861, and the bombardment that reduced the fort to rubble.
The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in the Port of Charleston focuses on the US Navy's involvement in warfare. The museum is home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, the USS Clagamore submarine, the USS Laffey and USS Ingham destroyers as well as a Coast Guard cutter and an airplane and reconstructed camp from the Vietnam era. The Port of Charleston's Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is one of the biggest museums of its kind in the world. The Yorktown's 3.7 thousand square meter hangar bay and 271-meter flight deck house war planes used from World War II to Desert Storm. The museum is also home to the Medal of Honor Museum. For over 25 years, the Youth Overnight Camping Program has carried young people who sleep where sailors once slept and learn about the navy and naval aviation history. Campers tour the vessel, Fort Sumter, and the South Carolina Aquarium as well.
The Port of Charleston offers wide beautiful beaches and a network of beach parks. Whether at the swanky Isle of Palms, the funky Folly beach surf culture, or the undeveloped Sullivan's Island, beachgoers will find plenty of sun, surf, and fun on a Port of Charleston beach. The Isle of Palms was opened as an exclusive resort area and semi-tropical retreat for the wealthy, and it still has its early charm. Today, beachgoers play beach volleyball, bodysurf, or gather shrimp or crabs on the beach. The Wild Dunes Resort on the island's north end offers luxurious lodgings, golf, tennis, and a marina. At the Port of Charleston's Kiawah Island, visitors can enjoy golf and tennis or visit a range of restaurants from informal to fine dining. Nature lovers will want to see the Night Heron Park where there are long bike trails and opportunities to tour the island ecosystem by kayak. Kiawah Island offers ten miles of pristine beaches where visitors enjoy the sun and the sand.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Charleston by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.