7 Ways to enjoy Charleston’s military destination

09/04/2012  | 
TRAVEL USA
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So much to do and so little time on R&R. In South Carolina, vacation opportunities abound...especially in historic Charleston, a coastal destination brimming with sightseeing options. One of the best is Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, which TripAdvisor honored with its coveted Certificate of Excellence earlier this year.

If you’re like most vacationers planning a trip to Charleston, SC, you may arrange for only an hour or two to explore the historic collection of naval vessels and fighter planes overlooking the city’s harbor. That would be a mistake.

“Even locals don’t realize all Patriots Point has to offer,” said Mac Burdette, the site’s Executive Director. “Most people think only of the USS YORKTOWN, which is just one feature at South Carolina’s #1 heritage attraction.”

Burdette is referring, of course, to the Essex-class aircraft carrier that earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II. The USS YORKTOWN is a National Historic Landmark, so it’s only natural that visitors would associate the vessel with Patriots Point. But this waterfront destination offers much more when it comes to celebrating U.S. military history and honoring our nation’s heroes.

It’s a place that brings tears to veterans’ eyes as they reconnect with their history. Where uniformed military are saluted. Where a deep dedication to patriotism underscores every exhibit and where rest and relaxation is accompanied by appreciation and admiration at every turn. Experiencing it all requires far more than an hour. To get the most out of your time at Patriots Point, follow these seven tips.

Tip #1: Explore severallandmark ships

The maritime museum is home to not one but three National Historic Landmark ships:

USS YORKTOWN

It’s the centerpiece of Patriots Point for good reason. The tenth aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy, the USS YORKTOWN is nearly three football fields long and has a beam of 101 feet.

USS LAFFEY

The only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America, the USS LAFFEY, survived one of the most concentrated Kamikaze attacks on a single ship and is known as “The Ship That Would Not Die.”

USS CLAMAGORE

The last surviving GUPPY type III submarine, the USS CLAMAGORE served 30 years during the Cold War.

Tip #2: Walk in the stepsof heroes

There’s a lot more to military history than just WWII ships and maritime relics. Some of the most compelling exhibits are those that give visitors a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by our nation’s greatest heroes.

MEDAL OF HONOR MUSEUM

Courage and sacrifice define this national museum, also home to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society—the exclusive organization whose members wear the highest award for military valor.

VIETNAM SUPPORT BASE

This outdoor naval exhibit is a true-to-scale replica of a Vietnam-era naval operations support base.

COLD WAR MEMORIAL

The actual sail and rudder of the USS LEWIS AND CLARK are incorporated into this stunning memorial’s design.

Tip #3: Don’t miss the aircraft

Yes, Patriot’s Point has one of the nation’s largest collections of historic aircraft. But did you know it’s also home to the top ten most significant aircraft in U.S. carrier aviation history? Take time to see them all.

Tip #4: Arrive in uniform

At Patriots Point, hosting active duty military is an honor. Wear your uniform and admission is free. If you prefer civilian clothes, bring your ID for a discounted rate ($15).

Tip #5: Enjoy the view

Of Condé Naste Traveler’s #1 U.S. city, that is. Patriots Point is situated on the banks of Charleston Harbor, where panoramic views of the city skyline, Mt. Pleasant and the Ravenel Bridge are as spectacular as the salty waves.

Tip #6: Take advantage of the location

Few places are more central to the Charleston area than Patriots Point. Take advantage of their convenient all-day parking for only $5. Then after you “Walk in the Steps of Heroes,” it’s only a five minute drive to the downtown historic district.

Tip #7: Take time to dine

One of the great treats on board the USS YORKTOWN is lunch served in the aircraft carrier’s CPO Mess just as it was when the ship was operational. Lighter meal options are available at snack bars by the gift shop and aboard the aircraft carrier.

For more information on all Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum has to offer, visit www.PatriotsPoint.org or call 866-831-1720. For information on upcoming events, follow the museum on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PatriotsPoint.org.
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