The displays of old weapons and interpretive panels in a fort at the heart of the southernmost state park in the continental U.S. provide information about the Civil War.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is a sublime natural setting that provides idyllic swimming and birdwatching conditions. At its core is the historic Fort Taylor and what is thought to be the world’s largest Civil War arms collection. Bring U.S. history to life by walking down the passageways of this well-preserved fortress.
As you explore the fort, check out the various cannons and gun ports that call to mind another time. Speak with docents and learn about the history here through interpretive panels. The exhibits provide an insight into the daily lives of the soldiers instructed to fight for the southeastern part of the U.S. in the Spanish-American War. On the third weekend of each month, a historic reenactment takes place around the fort.
For a change of scenery, head to the stretch of sand on the park’s southern side. Bring your snorkeling gear to view colorful fish in the calm and clear water. Back on the sand, find a spot to sunbathe or lay down a blanket for a picnic. From the beach you can also launch your own kayak or canoe, before drying off and resting on a hammock. Enjoy a meal with a stunning view of the water at the Cayo Hueso Café, which also has a shop.
Pay a per-vehicle fee or a smaller sum for cycling or walking into the park. The site opens daily from morning until around dusk, while the fort itself closes in the late afternoon.
Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park occupies the westernmost tip of Key West in the western part of the Florida Keys island chain. Drive west from Islamorada for 82 miles (132 kilometers) to arrive here in just under 2 hours. Leave your vehicle in the site’s parking lot, which is free to use with park admission.
While you’re in the area, visit neighboring landmarks such as the Oldest House Museum and Garden, the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S. and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.