Once the grand sentinel that protected the fledgling town of Key West from attack, Fort Zachary Taylor is still an imposing presence from the sea as sailboats – and monster cruise ships – pull into port in downtown Key West. The fort is a stunning piece of brick architecture, started in 1845 and still under construction when Federal forces steamed into Key West and took it over at the start of the Civil War. It remained in active duty until 1947.
Walking through the symmetrical brick archways, you can peer out of the gunports for views across the water and climb circular brick stairs for views from the top. The largest-known cache of Civil War cannons in the United States was sealed into the roof of the fort in cement.
The imposing fortress was once surrounded by the sea. Add a bit of time, and land appears, and now the beach at Fort Taylor has its own Key West vibe, plus prime access to coral reefs with tropical fish. The outfitter on site rents snorkeling equipment.
Park yourself at the oceanfront snack bar, let the kids play in the gentle shallows, take a dive to see the coral, or elope on the beach like my sister did … you never know what’ll happen when you’re near Duval Street!
Beach wheelchairs available upon request