Fort Zachary Taylor

Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West is an inviting place that combines history with recreation. This National Historic Landmark, which comprises 54 acres, dates back to the 1840s, when Florida became a state. This fortress was named for the president of the United States who recently had died in office. It was quite a challenge to build this namesake fort, as outbreaks of yellow fever, material shortages, and even hurricanes slowed down the progress.

That was just the beginning of the story for Fort Zachary Taylor. This military site played a role in the Civil War and the following Spanish-American War. Eventually, the site became Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Visitors who want to go deeper into the fascinating history will find many ways to learn this story. Daily guided tours, led by well-trained park rangers, reveal the fort's past, and travelers also can pick up a brochure and take their own self-guided tours.

Fort Zachary Taylor
Fort Zachary Taylor

Interpretive exhibits are located throughout Fort Zachary Taylor, detailing not only the fort's history, but also the natural resources and activities that are available. Along the Sand Hog Nature Trail, the signs give information on the native plants that are found throughout the Keys. The Fort View trail meanders through the tropical hammock landscape, offering excellent views of the fort and surrounding moat. The plentiful green spaces also make Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West a popular place for migrating birds.

Beach at Fort Zachary Taylor
Beach at Fort Zachary Taylor

Along with making use of the historic sites and nature trails, visitors can enjoy the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor. At one of Key West's best beaches, which has some of the deepest sand and bluest waters anywhere, visitors can soak up the sun and enjoy some snorkeling. The underwater world is home to a rainbow of creatures, including parrot fish, yellowtail snapper, lobster, and corals. Fishing is allowed along the Key West Shipping Channel in the key side of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

Scuba diving is another possibility for travelers looking for fun things to do. The waters of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park are where the where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean. With moderate depths and good water quality, the park is known as a top spot for diving.

In addition to the beach-themed activities, there's an array of other recreational options at Fort Zachary Taylor. A biking trail runs alongside the channel and other interesting sites, and hikers can take to the wooded trails to enjoy time outdoors, test their endurance, and watch for wildlife.

The concessionaires of Fort Zachary Taylor ensure that those who come will have everything they need for an enjoyable visit. Beach gear and snorkeling equipment are available for rent, and the Cayo Hueso Café serves a menu of fresh, beach-inspired food. It's available for parties and group events, and the deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is an inviting place to stop and enjoy the scenery.

Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. until the sun goes down. For visitors who want to go camping, unfortunately there are no facilities on site, but other state parks in the keys have facilities. Long Key State Park can accommodate tent campers and RVs.

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