In 1822, the U.S. Navy built a small depot here to protect the area from pirates. As Key West grew, its industry was fueled by ship salvaging, cigar manufacturing and fishing, soon making it the richest city in the newly forming United States. By 1845, the U.S. Navy began construction of Fort Zachary to protect this growing city from invading forces. It remained on active duty as one of three Florida federal protected forts until 1947.
But it’s not just the history that draws hundreds of visitors to the park each year; it’s also some of the best festivals and interpretive programs the park hosts each year. Pirate Fest is a big tourist draw. December’s months see pirates attack the Fort as volunteers and park employees bring visitors back in time to see how life was during the early history of Key West.
Once you’ve had your fill of the history of Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, head on down to the beach for a swim. These tropical waters are clear and calm at Florida’s southernmost state park. Its gorgeous waters team with tropical corals and fish, all within the parks swimming boundaries.
After an adventure in the tropical waters you might be ready for a snack to eat. The concession has a great place to enjoy some snacks and cool drinks on the covered deck. Rent lounge chairs, snorkel gear and beach umbrellas for your day at the beach. The concession also does weddings and events at the site. Check out the website here for more details.
Bicycling around the park can allow you to see the fort and outlying features with ease. Since many bikes frequent the park, some areas are off limits to bikes. Riding along the shipping channel and fort moat provides level terrain and interesting views.
Two hiking trails provide a glimpse in the life of the many birds that visit the park. Several species of birds never seen in the United States have visited the park. The great winter migration for many southbound birds often make a last stop within the park. The Fort View Trail is slightly elevated for the perfect wildlife viewing area.
For more information on directions to this great park, fees and other park amenities, visit the website here.