Located at the end of Southard Street in Truman Annex is, in my opinion, the best beach in Key West: Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. The cost to visit the park is about $2.50 per pedestrian and $6.50 per vehicle, but it is well worth it when you consider the park’s beauty and the activities available here.
Fort Zachary Taylor, Florida’s Southernmost State Park, was added as a National Historic Landmark in the early 1970’s. This is due to the park’s military history. The Fort was completed in 1866 and it was very important to the country during both the Civil War and the Spanish American War. You can take advantage of daily guided tours of Fort Zach at noon. But if you cannot make it at this time, you are always welcome to take a self guided tour anytime from 8am until 5pm. Just pick up a guide at the fort entrance and enjoy! On the tour you will see many old cannons on the grounds. But the views from the top of the fort are really nice.
If you are a sun worshipper you can spend the day on the sandyish beach. And you can cool off in the crystal clear waters and enjoy some swimming or snorkeling. No worries, if you don’t have your own snorkel gear, you can rent it at the park! There are some nice rock and coral formations to snorkel around very close to shore so that makes it super convenient to snorkel from this area and see tropical fish and other sea life. Because the waters can be a bit rocky I do suggest investing in some water shoes to prevent injury if you are planning on swimming around here.
During the busy season you can also enjoy Yoga on the Beach; just stop by the concession area for information.
The park is also a great area to hike and bike, with bike rentals are also available at the park. The bicycle trail around the moat and along the shipping channels are interesting. Just be sure to park them at the bike rack if you are going to the picnic areas or beach as bicycles are not allowed in these areas. The Sand Hog Hiking Trail is near the beach and it loops through an area of trees and other plants all marked with informative plaques. The Fort View Hiking Trail overlooks the fort and the moat. If you hear a bit of rustling around in the leaves while you are hiking, have no worries; this noise is most likely little lizards scampering around.
For the birder, the park is one of the stops for migrating birds, and many rare species have been spotted on the park grounds. I saw a few beautiful birds on my last visit to the park.
For those that cannot afford one of the many fishing charters available in Key West, you can still do some fishing from the shore here. Just make sure that you are properly licensed. And of course, you will have to bring your own fishing gear and bait.
Park Amenities & Information
Other park amenities include a concession area with a full restaurant, the Cayo Hueso Cafe, a picnic area with grills, restrooms, and showers. And of course equipment rentals that I have already mentioned including snorkel gear and bicycles.
Dogs are permitted only in designated day-use areas at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. They must be kept on a leash that is no more than six feet long and be well-behaved. Remember to pick up after your pets! Dogs are not permitted on beaches, bathing areas, park buildings or concession areas. Of course service animals are welcome in all areas of Florida State Parks.
To see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or any of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog.
Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!
Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge