The whole family will enjoy a day at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West, Florida. History buffs will enjoy learning about its unique story, and adventure seekers will love its hiking trails and spending time on the water.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is the southernmost state park in the continental US. It is located on the southern edge of Key West, on 54 acres of land. The fort first began being built in 1845 and took 21 years to build. In 1850, it was named after US President Zachary Taylor, who had died in office earlier that year.
THE FORT’S HISTORY
At 50 feet above the shoreline, it was an impressive sight. The fort was always under Union control and served as a deterrent for Confederacy ships during the Civil War. In later years, the fort also served in the Spanish-American War.
Nowadays, visitors can walk through the fort that has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Tours are offered daily at 11 AM, but you can walk along at your own pace as well. There are plenty of informational placards around the grounds of the park that offer interesting tidbits of historic information.
McKinstry of the US Army Corps of Engineers. This took place at a time when the fort was being modernized with new weapons. Burying the cannons helped preserve them until they were rediscovered in the late 1960s.
Eventually, the fort would transfer over from the US Army to the US Navy. Then in 1976, the State of Florida acquired the fort from the US Navy and in 1985 it officially opened as a Historic State Park.
Adventures on Fort Zachary Taylor State Park
Once you’ve learned about this unique fort, take a walk along the outside. There are hiking trails (many of which are wheelchair accessible) and you’ll have a chance to see some of the local wildlife and plants.
One of the main draws, however, is the beach. It’s considered Key West’s favorite beach! Here you can relax on the sand or go for a swim. There are also many species of coral just off the shore, so it’s a great place to go snorkeling. At the reef, there’s a chance you’ll see parrot fish, barracuda, yellowtail snapper, and even lobster.
If you’d like to fish, you can do so off the west rock jetty. Fishing is permitted on the west side of the park along the Key West Shipping Channel. Remember to have the appropriate license with you. At the park there are also plenty of picnic tables and grills, so the park is a great place to spend time with friends and family.
Know Before You Go
If you get hungry while visiting Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, there is a small restaurant called Cayo Hueso Café. They are open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM. There is also a Chickee Hut where you can rent items like umbrellas, lounge chairs, snorkels, fins, and rafts.
The park is open every day of the year, from 8 AM to sundown, although the fort closes at 5 PM. Admission to the park is $4.50 for a single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle. However, vehicles with 2-8 passengers will be charged $6 per vehicle and an additional $.50 per person. Those that are walking or biking into the park pay $2.50.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park has a unique history, but it’s also a great place to experience the natural side of Florida. With the best of both worlds, it’s a fun place to spend the day while exploring the Florida Keys.
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Article by Vicky Sosa, a Florida-based blogger traveling around the world with her stuffed monkey Buddy. Her website Buddy The Traveling Monkey provides useful travel tips, inspiration, and destination guides. Although she writes about her travels all over the world, she loves to focus on Florida and show how much more there is to the state than the typical tourist attractions.
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