Once the grand sentinel that protected the fledgling town of Key West from attack, Fort Zachary Taylor is still an imposing presence from the sea as sailboats -- and monster cruise ships -- pull into port in downtown Key West.
Location: Key West
Fees: $4-6 per vehicle
Open: Grounds open 8-sunset daily. Fort closes at 5 PM.
Just a little past the end of US 1, the park itself is hidden behind subdivisions and a naval base, but is a popular getaway for locals and visitors alike. Heck, my sister eloped on the beach here and then caught a shark offshore a few hours later. That’s Key West for you!
The fort itself is a stunning piece of architecture, started in 1845 and still under construction when Federal forces steamed into Key West and took it at the start of the Civil War. It remained in active duty until 1947.
Of special note is a find of the largest-known cache of Civil War cannons in the United States, sealed into the roof of the fort in cement. You can see some of them as you tour the fort, walking through symmetrical brick archways and past a line of privies flushed by the sea.
Explore the park
- Fort Zachary Taylor Hiking Trails - The southernmost hike in the USA is at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West, connecting the Point Trail, the Fort View Trail, and an stroll through the fort itself.