Take a tour of Fort Sumter when visiting Charleston.

Charleston is one of the most beautifully preserved cities in America, full of antebellum mansions, quaint cobblestone alleys, and carefully preserved historic buildings. Founded in 1670, the town's wealth and prosperity was based on cotton, rice, and indigo, and the resulting economic boom enlarged the city.

After the Civil War devastated the community, residents were so poor that they could not afford to rebuild, so the city simply adapted its old buildings, unknowingly protecting them as historical treasures for future generations to appreciate.

Magnolia Plantation is particularly well suited for families to visit. It features a home tour, and its grounds and gardens are filled with extras that keep kids entertained for hours. Take the Nature Train tour to see the plantation's many animals, including alligators. There's also a petting zoo, a wildlife observation tower, an 18th-century herb garden, and a garden maze. Bikes and canoe rentals are available for individual touring.

History buffs will enjoy a tour of Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Tour boats regularly depart from Charleston. Before boarding, stop at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center for more insight on the fort and its role in the Civil War. Children enjoy touring the fort and seeing its many exhibits. They can climb about its ruins and peer through the cannon turrets across Charleston Harbor.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Charleston City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit this charming southern city.
  • South Carolina State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in South Carolina, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.