Just at the end of the iconic island of Key West, you’ll find an oasis filled with spectacular natural wonders with a healthy serving of American history. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park sits on the southern edge of Key West, where the mighty Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico, and has been luring guests to explore the rich tropical waters and dense interior ecosystems for decades.
The Fort, for which the park gets its name, sits as a monument to the soldiers that defended the island during the Civil War. Here you will find the most extensive armaments still intact housed in a magnificently built stone castle-like structure where the marvelous architecture is still on display for guests to explore.
Beachside, you can expect to find a different environment. This beach is an optimum location to swim and snorkel with crystal clear turquoise surf where offshore rocky formations bring tropical fish and other marine life into view.
Fort Zach, as the locals call it, is a perfect destination to spend the day by the beach, hiking the interior trails, and then capping it off with a tour of the fort.
Biking, birding, hiking, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, and paddle boarding are just a few of the outdoor activities available at this magnificent state park.
For nature enthusiasts, several trails head into the rocky hammock ecosystem that the area is known for. Here you can find unique tropical species of birds and learn about native plants.
There is also a trail that leads you along to some breathtaking views of the 19th-century fort.
Snorkeling and swimming are popular activities here as the water, a mix of the Gulf and the Atlantic tends to be clearer than other beaches in the Keys.
Bathrooms, showers, hiking trails, biking trails, picnic areas, canoe/kayak launch, and some ADA accessible facilities as well.
There is also a concession area located in the park. The Cayo Hueso Cafe is more than just beachside hotdogs and chips. Here you can find an expansive menu with lots to choose from and a fantastic view to enjoy while you dine after a hot day on the sand.
The Fort is undoubtedly a must-see, but not just the outside. Free guided tours are offered daily at 11 a.m, but you always explore the Fort yourself with a free brochure provided at the ranger station.
If soaking up American history is something you enjoy, then make sure to take a trip towards The Truman Little Whitehouse. This iconic location was used by the former president during the winter and has a museum and tours available daily.
While Fort Zachary had at one point 165 working guns, they were never fired except for practice.
The Civil War-era fort had a longer military history than some might guess. It played a role in both World Wars and was involved heavily in the Cuban Missile crisis.
Address: 601 Howard England Way, Key West, FL 33040
Website: www.floridastateparks.org – Fort Zachary Taylor State Park