Part of Hillsborough River State Park, Fort Foster State Historic Site takes you back to the era of Florida’s earliest pioneer settlers and their clashes with the native Seminoles.
Fees: $5 per vehicle plus $2 per person tour fee.
Open: by guided tour only, starting in Hillborough River State Park. Guided tours offered Sundays at 11 AM and Saturdays at 2 PM and 4 PM.
In 1828, construction of the Fort King Road from Ocala to Tampa required building a wooden bridge over the Hillsborough River for troops to cross. On Christmas Day in 1835, Major Francis Dade found the bridge burned and had his men cross the river nonetheless on their march north. They were slaughtered farther north on their march, with only three survivors; their story is told at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park.
Because of the importance of the military road, especially after the massacre, a new bridge was built and a wooden fort constructed to house a garrison to guard it. On a tour of Fort Foster, you’ll walk through a full-scale reconstruction of the fortress and amble out to the bridge beyond the fort’s gates.
During the annual Fort Foster Rendezvous each February, it feels like you’re back in 1835, with military tents pitched and Seminole warriors slipping through the woods. For an immersion in living history, be here for the re-enactments!
Tours depart from the Fort Foster Interpretive Center at Parking Area #1 in Hillsborough River State Park. The Center is open daily 8-5, showcasing artifacts from the Second Seminole War and the fort grounds.