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“Good place to chill if you're spending more than a regular weekend in Key West.”

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
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US$91.38*
and up
Key West Sunset Sail Aboard Schooner America 2.0
Ranked #12 of 181 things to do in Key West
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Historic site of a Civil War-era fort, currently being excavated; also has a beautiful beach for swimming and snorkeling.
Reviewed 27 August 2014

As a whole package, Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a really cool place to visit. How many beaches have a civil war era fort to go with it? The only other one I can think of is about 70 miles west of this one.

The amenities here are excellent, particularly compared to a lot of the other Florida State Park beaches (I’m looking at you, Pennekamp!). The snack bar has surprisingly excellent food-better than most “fast food” places. You can rent umbrellas and beach chairs and they’ll set it up for you.

Umbrella and beach chair taken care of, you can just chill. It’s pretty quiet and family friendly here. It’s not a party beach like Smathers. You can relax, take a snooze, take in the view, think about whether you want to get a burger or nachos from the snack bar, and think about going to walk around the old fort on the grounds. Or you can rent some snorkeling gear and go check out the rocky areas in the water that should have lots of fish to look at.

And that’s where it starts to fall apart., because this is not much different from a lot of the other beaches in the Keys in that to get to the best water, you need access to a boat. On your way to the water, you have to walk over a major rocky section. These aren’t smooth rocks either. You really need beach shoes, because these will hurt your feet. Once you get in the water, you need to hope it’s a clear visibility day. I was told by the staff that some days the water has good visibility, but on July 4th weekend, it did not. I was lucky to have 3 or 4 feet of visibility. It seemed a little better as you went deeper near the rocks, but not much, Incidentally, deeper meant around 7-8’ of water. So swimming and snorkeling here-big disappointment, especially since being in the water is my main purpose to go to a beach!

The fort was quite cool to walk around in. You can climb up to the top and get a great view of the area, and then just walk around through the nooks, crannies and stairs. It is quite sparse inside though. There are no real objects to stare at or play with except for a few displays of the fort’s history. But really, walking up some circular stairs in a tower to gain access to the top is pretty neat!

All in all, we had a pretty good time here spending around 2-3 hours total. I feel like it should be on a person’s secondary list of things to do in Key West. If you’re spending 3-4 days in the Key West area, give it a shot. I don’t know if it’s time (or money) well spent on a regular length weekend, so if you feel the need to jump into the ocean, just run down Duval Street to Southernmost Beach for a bit and run back up to the bars.

1  Thank Jon L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2,791 - 2,795 of 5,324 reviews

Reviewed 26 August 2014

Just happened upon Fort Zachary on a bike ride. Thankfully had on our bathing suits. Quickly rented snorkel equipment and had a great day. Snack bar, bathrooms and shower. Wished I was more prepared to spend more time. Great fun!!

Thank 4palmtrez
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 August 2014

Enjoyed the tour of the fort, didn't go to the beach. Not crowded. If you go in August be prepared and take water.

Thank Judy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 August 2014

Been going to Key West and never checked out this beach till this trip in August. Only a few blocks from Duval and you enter this state park. $7 for two people in a car and $2.50 per person if walking or riding in. Really friendly and helpful ranger at the front gate. Beach is a 2 minute drive in the park. There is a Coast Guard cutter you drive by that you can tour on. Didn't do this. Did do the historical Fort Zachary Taylor tour. Free tour that lasted about 45 minutes - 1 hour. Our guide (Charlie?) was informative, friendly and interesting. Really cool info about the fort back in the day and how they lived. Full wool suits in the middle of summer and no air con...rough! But, they did have amazing views. Old cannons are preserved. Upstairs are great panaromic views and cool photo ops. The beach is very pretty, but rocky. Nothing you can't handle though...you don't need shoes to walk the beach. Just walk slowly. A lot of life in the water. The day we were there, there were quite a few moon jellyfish which gave us a few stings, but nothing major. You can rent umbrellas with or without chairs. Umbrella is $15 for day. Guy at desk was super nice. If you get there early enough you can probably grab a free spot under the trees. Definitely check this place out as it's really pretty and serene. There is a food stand that sells snacks and drinks. Bathrooms are clean and there are showers. Also a lot of trees and picnic tables for shady spots.

Thank catelefono
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 August 2014

If you prefer the sun than the water then this beach is satisfying, the beach with the rocky corral was way to uncomfortable for any bare feet. Honestly if you have to walk with your shoes around the beach you're not really enjoying yourself.

Thank Synchit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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