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Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

 Activities at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Beaches

Beaches

It is undisputed that the beach at Fort Taylor is the best in Key West. Other beaches in Key West and the Florida Keys are very shallow and can be somewhat stagnant. The beach at Fort Taylor has excellent water flow, depth, and clarity. Live corals, and numerous tropical fish, can be seen within the swimming area. Fort Taylor is ideally situated where the Gulf meets the Atlantic. Come enjoy paradise at the southernmost beach in the continental United States.

During the season, enjoy a relaxing session of Yoga on the Beach. Please visit the concessionaire's website for dates and fees.

Bicycling

Bicycling

Bicycles are welcome at Fort Zachary Taylor. A bicycle trail around the moat, and along the shipping channel, provides an excellent short ride through the significant park features. Due to the number of bicyclists that visit the park, and in an attempt to preserve the aesthetics of this island paradise, bicycles are restricted from the picnic areas and the beach. Bike racks are provided at several locations within the park for your convenience.

Concession & Restaurant

Concession & Restaurant

The park's concession offers a variety of food and beverage as well as a gift shop. Umbrellas, beach chairs, and snorkel gear are available for rent. Enjoy the great view and pleasant setting of the concession deck as you enjoy your meal. The concession can also handle your wedding plans and group or family event. Be sure to visit their web site at FortZacharyTaylor.com

Fishing

Fishing

They don't call it fishing for nothing! Try your luck at catching something along the entrance to the Key West Harbor. The main ship channel is approximately 33-feet deep and provides the angler with access to a variety of saltwater fish. If you just end up 'fishing,' you will at least have an extraordinary view and can watch the boats come and go as you enjoy your day. Fishing at the end of the day can be even more enjoyable, for the park boasts the best place to be in Key West to view the sunset. Plus, you will see all the schooners and other tour boats stop just off-shore of the park to catch the sun dropping on the horizon.

Hiking/Nature Trail

Hiking/Nature Trail

There are two short trails in the park; the Sand Hog Trail, located near the beach, loops through an area of native trees and vegetation typically found along the coast in the Florida Keys. Several interpretive plaques identify various plants and provide interesting information that you may not know. The other trail, Fort View Trail, takes you through a small section of tropical hammock that overlooks the fort and moat. The native trees provide essential food and habitat needed for many of the migratory bird species that frequent this area. Fort Taylor is the last stop for many of these species that get the rest and re-nourishment needed before continuing their migratory journey. Birds that have never before been seen in the United States, have been spotted at Fort Taylor and usually along the Fort View Trail.

Interpretive Exhibit

Interpretive Exhibit

Throughout the park, visitors will find several interpretive exhibits, addressing various natural resource topics and park activities. Take a walk on one of our nature trails to learn more about native plants.

Picnicking

Picnicking

Shaded picnic areas are available for visitors to enjoy their catch of the day. These areas include tables and grills.

Restroom Facilities

Restroom Facilities

The park has restroom facilities at the beach area and near the entrance to the fort. All of the facilities are accessible to all.

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving

The waters off Fort Taylor offer one of the best beach dives available in the Florida Keys. Moderate depths of up to 20 feet and excellent water quality provide an opportunity to view both hard and soft corals as well as numerous species of tropical fish. Don't be surprised if you see giant grouper, huge tarpon or schools of baitfish. Since the park is located right where the Gulf meets the Atlantic, you never know what you may see. It is definitely worth checking out.

Showers, Day Visitors

Showers, Day Visitors

There are two areas in the park that have outdoor rinse showers. These showers are provided just to rinse the sand and salt off of you. Please do not pollute the waters. No soap or shampoo is permitted.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling

This may be the best snorkeling experience you ever have! Just off the beach you will see numerous fish and coral. Since water conditions dictate visibility, please call ahead and park staff will give you the daily conditions. Winds and waves can reduce visibility greatly. Conditions can improve overnight so watch the weather and call ahead.

Participation Requirements

Swimming

Swimming

Nothing like swimming at Florida's southernmost state park. Water quality is excellent and conditions are usually favorable for a swim at Fort Taylor. Occasionally, there are marine creatures present that you need to be aware of. Just remember to always be careful, be aware of your surroundings, be safe and, most of all, have fun!

Tours

Tours

Guided tours of historic Fort Taylor are offered daily at 12:00 Noon. Have a ranger explain how Fort Taylor shortened the Civil War and why the fort was reduced from three stories to one. A wealth of history and information are available during the guided tours. If you can't make the guided tour, grab a self-guide and dive into the the fascinating history of Fort Zachary Taylor. The fort closes at 5:00 p.m.

Participation Requirements

Weddings

Weddings

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is the most desirable location in Key West for a beach wedding. Private, after-hours receptions are now offered at Cayo Hueso Café. Weddings and receptions are coordinated through Fort Zachary Taylor Visitor Services.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife Viewing

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park is an excellent place for the birding enthusiast. Numerous birds stop to rest and get re-nourished at Fort Taylor during the spring and winter migration. The Loggerhead Kingbird, which had never been sighted in the United States, made a visit to Fort Taylor in 2006 and was documented by the Audubon Society. Numerous birds of prey, shorebirds, frigatebirds and other unusual and rare bird sighting have been made at Fort Taylor. Fort Taylor is the last stop for many bird species on their migration to and from Cuba and other Caribbean islands. The park is the largest green space in Key West and is on the southernmost tip of the continental United States. Migrating birds are most frequently sighted in the tropical hammock area. Many of the plants in the tropical hammock are critical for the migrating birds. The native plants provide the food required for their survival on their long journey. Fort Taylor is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. A list of all birds sighted at Fort Taylor is available upon request.