Fun for Everyone at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Fort Zachary Taylor exterior and moat.Whether you’re a history buff, a beach bum, or a tropical fish aficionado, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West, Florida has something for everyone! Florida’s southern most state park offers a wide array of activities and rich U.S. military history. Beautiful beaches surround the remarkable fort, as well as cycling trails, a short nature trail, a refreshment stand, and picnic tables.


Fort Zachary Taylor was completed in 1866 as part of a series to defend America’s coastline, the waters around Key West, The Straits of Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. Named after President Zachary Taylor, the fort was used in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Preserved artillery within Fort Zachary Taylor.Guided tours are offered daily at noon, however pamphlets are available for self-guided tours as visitors are allowed to explore the fort on their own. The Barracks Building contains many rooms including mess halls, washrooms, kitchens, and a chapel. Some of the rooms are not accessible, however barred gates allow visitors to look in as they learn about the facilities within the fort. Gun mounts, cannons, and artillery fill the fort and give visitors insight into the significance of the fort’s position as a protector. Fort Zachary Taylor was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973, and opened to the public in 1985 for use as a recreational site.


Surrounding the fort are shady picnic areas, a refreshment stand, and pristine, picturesque beaches.

Shady picnic areas are abundant in Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. Snorkelers and scuba divers will rejoice in the deeper waters of Fort Zachary Taylor’s shores, reaching depths of 20 feet. Beautiful soft and hard coral, exotic plant life, and an array of tropical fish can be seen in these waters where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean (shoes are recommended due to the rocky sea bottom). Bird watchers flock the park to view exotic white-crowned pigeons, colorful warblers, and graceful great egrets. Migratory birds and other endangered species are prevalent in the park’s tropical hardwood hammock. Exotic plant species flourish in the tropical environment, and lizards, iguanas, and small mammals can be spotted along the nature trail and throughout the park.

 Visitors enjoy the beautiful beaches that surround Fort Zachary Taylor.A trip to Key West is only complete with the watching of a sunset. The beaches in Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, located on the southern most point of the continental United States, provide some of the best views of the sunset in the country. Set up a chair on the westward-facing beach, grab a refreshing drink, and witness Mother Nature painting the sky rich hues of yellow, orange, red, purple, and green.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park has something for every visitor and even the locals. A small entrance fee is required, however the park provides a full day of fun, education, and splendor. Parking is available within the park, bicycles are permitted, and visitors may bring fishing gear, lunch, and any gear they might need to enjoy all that the park has to offer. Individuals and families, young and old, can find something for them at this incredible state park.

Photographs by Kacey Herlihy.