Sitting at the entrance to Charleston harbor, across from its better-known sibling, Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie (daily, $3 adults) overlooks the Atlantic with good views of passing ships and the city of Charleston. The location alone would make Moultrie well worth a visit, but most come because of its vital role in American military history. Originally built from palmetto logs during the Revolutionary War, and since rebuilt many times, the fort is a testament to the development of coastal defenses. Its well-preserved sections date from every major U.S. war between 1812 and World War II, when Fort Moultrie protected Charleston harbor from roving German U-boats. But the fort is most famous for its role in the events of April 1861, when Fort Moultrie touched off the Civil War by leading the bombardment of Fort Sumter.
Fort Moultrie is easy to reach. From Mount Pleasant, a suburban community on the north bank of the Cooper River across from Charleston, turn south from US-17 onto Hwy-703 and then follow signs along Middle Street to the fort. Along with Fort Moultrie, Mount Pleasant itself is worth visiting for the many African sweetgrass basket-makers who set up shop along US-17. While the roadside is rapidly filling up with suburban tract-house “plantations,” in the warmer months women sit and weave these intricate baskets at their ramshackle stands. Like so many other Lowcountry traditions, sweetgrass weaving may soon be a lost art, as younger women are increasingly reluctant to take on this low-paid work; it can take four or five hours to weave a basket that may sell for less than $60.
You can also reach Fort Moultrie via the pleasant beach town of Sullivan’s Island, home to two fine food stops, across the street from each other and two blocks from the beach: casual Poe’s Tavern (2210 Middle St., 843/883-0083), where the menu includes fresh fish, beers, and burgers, and Home Team BBQ (2209 Middle St., 843/883-3131), for smoky ribs, moist pulled pork, and sports on TV.