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Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (Detailed Guide)

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (Detailed Guide)

One of the key historical landmarks in Florida, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, brings you a wealth of attractions and things to do. In this guide, we will talk about everything you need to know about this remarkable historical monument.

Fort Zachary Taylor Park

Buildings at Fort Zachary Taylor

Stretching over 54 acres, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park is located south of Key West, Florida. This is the southernmost historical monument in the state. Commonly known as Fort Taylor, the history of the fort goes back to the pre-Civil War era. Visitors are offered a range of experiences and activities, including history lessons, fishing, and water sports.

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History

The construction of the fort began in 1845; this was right after Florida was recognised as a separate state. The fort played a major role in the early development of Florida. In 1850, the fort was given the name Fort Zachary Taylor in honour of US President Zachary Taylor, who died while still in office. Factors like hurricanes, remoteness and labour shortage delayed the construction process, which was carried out for the next 21 years from 1845 to 1866.

Prior to the civil war, Fort Zachary was under the administration of Capt. John Brannan who allowed the members of the Union to occupy the fort, and they were at the fort for the entire duration of the civil war. Fort Zachary was also headquarters for the U.S Navy’s East Gulf Coast blockade squadron. Even though the fort was never involved in any hostile movement, historians believe that the fort curtailed the progress of the War of Rebellion. Fort Zachary was also used during the Spanish-American War.

Once the construction work of the fort was complete, the three-storey fort had a desalination plant, sanitary facilities, and an armoury. At the beginning of the 20th century, the collection of the fort expanded to include sophisticated weaponry. In the 1960s, however, the fort was completely landlocked, but a moat was built to give it its 18th-century splendour and restrict entry into the fort.

What Happened at Fort Zachary Taylor?

During a search conducted in 1968, rooms full of guns from the Civil War era were discovered. The discovery constituted only a small part of the buried arsenal; this was the most extensive collection of Civil War cannons. Due to its historical significance and the assortment of war weaponry, the fort was titled a National Historic Landmark.

Beach

Beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Park

Enjoy a range of water sports in the Caribbean blue waters and relax at the best beach in Key West. The spectacular marine life here can be experienced on a snorkelling tour. Yellowtail snapper, lobsters, and soft corals inhabit the underwater world.

Visitors are advised to wear water shoes as the beach is a coral beach; shoes can be bought at the gift shop.

Is Fort Zachary Beach Rocky?

Rocky Beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Park

The beach is one of the best and the most scenic beaches in Florida, but it’s quite rocky. This is one reason that the visitors are advised to wear water shoes.

The Cayo Hueso Café

Open from 10 AM to 6 PM every day, the café at the park features extensive menus. The food on offer includes snacks, appetisers, sandwiches, salads, wraps, pizzas, and hot dogs, and you can also enjoy a range of drinks. Both indoor dining and alfresco dining are available.

Events

The park is also an excellent venue for weddings and other private celebrations. You can have the park all to yourself for a total of five hours after sunset. The dedicated staff will set up the tables amidst the verdant vegetation. The Deck is perfect for a party with a lot of dancing, and the fort is available for celebrations as well.

Do you have to pay to get into Fort Zachary Taylor?

Yes, there’s an entrance fee. The entrance fee is calculated according to the number of people and the type of vehicle. For instance, a car with two people is charged around USD 7, and the fee for a bike is around USD 3.

Is there Parking at Fort Zachary Taylor?

Yes, the park offers you plenty of parking space, and there’s no separate fee for parking; all you have to pay is the entrance fee.

Can you drink at Fort Zachary Taylor?

Drinking on the beach isn’t allowed. But you can drink at the café; the drinks menu includes wine and beer. You can bring your cooler to the beach as long as it doesn’t contain alcohol.  However, you’ll sometimes see a concession stand selling alcohol, but you can only drink while on the porch.

Is Fort Zachary Dog-friendly?

The fort is off-limits to dogs, but they are allowed at picnic areas and the walking paths of the park, as long as they are on a leash. The park is located in a region with high temperatures. If you decide to bring your dog, make sure you have plenty of water to keep them hydrated, and never ever leave your dog in the car! 

What to Do at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park?

The park brings you a range of things to do and see, and here are some of the must-do things:

Relax on the Beach

Fort Zachary Beach is one of the best beaches in Key West, and you should definitely spend some time here. You can rent an umbrella and a lounger to relax and unwind.

Take a Picnic

The park has several picnic areas along the wooded trails and near the fort. You can bring your own picnic lunch or have a cookout; there are grills available.

Sign up for a Yoga class

A local yoga instructor conducts yoga classes right on the beach. You can pay a one-time fee or buy a punch card if you want to attend daily classes during your vacation in Key West.

Explore the Fort

You can explore the fort on your own with the aid of brochures or join the guided tour at 11 AM.

Walk along the Wooded paths

There are numerous nature trails between the park and the beach, ideal for cycling and walking, with the added benefit of wildlife sightings.

Watch Speedboat races

The park is also host to a number of speedboat races. You can relax on a lounger while watching one of these races.

Fish

Fishing is allowed at the park. The rock jetty is a perfect spot for fishing. You are sure to catch a bounty of jacks, tarpon, snappers, and grouper. You need to bring your own fishing gear, and a fishing licence is required.

Can you Watch the Sunset at Fort Zachary Taylor?

Yes, you can. In the evening, people flock here to watch the spectacular sunset.

Sunset at Fort Zachary Taylor
Sunset at Fort Zachary Taylor Park

Can you Snorkel at Fort Zachary Taylor?

Of course! Snorkelling is one of the top things to do at Fort Zachary Taylor Park. Don’t worry if your luggage doesn’t have room for snorkelling gear; you can rent a snorkel, a mask, and fins at the park for around USD 15.

Can you Swim at Fort Zachary Taylor?

Yes, you can swim at Fort Zachary Taylor Park. Waters are shallow but deep enough for swimming.

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