2011 marked the start of sesquicentennial remembrances of the four-year-long U.S. Civil War, and historic venues across America are holding special events up through 2014 to commemorate what's become known as America's deadliest conflict. And as the site of the first battle, Charleston is the ideal place to learn more about the Civil War -- and other military conflicts -- during the next four years of the sesquicentennial. Wheelchair-users and slow walkers aren't left out either, as modern access features have been added to many historic sites, making them accessible to all.

Where it All Began

Located on an island in Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter (tel. 843/883-3123; is a good place to begin your military history tour. Ferry service to the island is provided by Fort Sumter Tours (tel. 843/722-2628;, with boats departing several times daily from downtown Charleston and Patriots Point. And although both locations feature ramped access to the boats, Patriots Point also features the USS Charleston, which is a must-see on any military history tour.

Over on the island, the self-guided walking tour is very doable for wheelchair-users, even though there are a few bumpy spots here and there. There is also level access to the new museum, which features exhibits about the fort and its restoration. And if you'd like to get a birds eye view of it all, there's also elevator access to the top floor of the museum.

USS Yorktown

Back at Patriots Point, save some time to tour the USS Yorktown (tel. 843/884-2727; Steeped in military history, she was commissioned in 1943 and played a major role in the Pacific offensive in world War II. Her last mission was in 1968, when she recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts.

There is lift access to the hangar deck, with elevator access up to the flight deck. All other areas are only accessible by stairs, but there's still plenty to see on those two decks. Accessible restrooms are also located on the main deck, near the snack bar.

On the hangar deck there is level access to the Medal of Honor Museum, the Charleston Naval Yard Museum and the theater. An although there are a number of military aircraft on display on this deck -- including a F6F-5 Hellcat -- the bulk of the collection is located on the flight deck. Up there you'll find an UH-1M Huey, a F-14A Tomcat, and even a F-18A Hornet. It's a great collection and a must see for aircraft junkies. As an added bonus, the flight deck is very spacious, with plenty of room to roll around.

Fort Moultrie

Round out your military history tour of Charleston with a stop at Fort Moultrie (tel. 843/883-3123; Located 15 minutes south of Fort Sumter on Sullivan's Island, it's a very scenic drive and easily reachable by a bridge. The fort, which was constructed in 1776 to protect Charleston Harbor, features a wide range of weapons and fortifications which reflect the changes that evolved in the 200-year history of coastal forts.

There's plenty of accessible parking, with level access to the Visitors Center. There are level pathways to the fort, which is located across the street; with cement pathways around the parade grounds. The self-guided tour is wheelchair-accessible; however the ranger-led tour has a few steps, as it goes inside some of the structures. When touring on your own, make sure to take the path to the right from the parade grounds, as the one on the left is steeper. Admittedly, some manual wheelchair-users made need a little help up this part of the trail, but Fort Moultrie is doable for most people.

Candy Harrington is the editor of Emerging Horizons and the author of 101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers. She blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at