Yes, there is a fort here—a National Historic Landmark built in the mid-1800s to protect the country’s southernmost coastline—but locals know it for its excellent beach. A nice sandy expanse is a rarity in the Florida Keys—they’re surrounded by coral reefs, which make for primo fishing and diving but block the waves that are needed to produce a proper beach. But here, sand is trucked in to create a close facsimile—plus the water is wonderfully clear and calm, and there’s great snorkeling thanks to an offshore reef.

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Visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

A great park for family picnics and history buffs. The kids loved exploring the fort and checking out the old cannons, while my wife and I read the interesting history. We had lunch at one of the many picnic tables and took a stroll along the beautiful shore. Definitely worth a visit!

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

When visiting Florida, it’s good to tap into the locals to find the best beast beaches. In Key West, the local fave is Fort Zachary Taylor, a historic state park filled with nature and history, and a little hard to find. The park, located on the water behind the Truman Annex, isn’t visible while walking or driving. As a result, the park is peaceful. Daily guided tours share details about the island’s history. The fort was built to protect Key West Harbor. When finished, it had three floors of gun rooms and a three-story barracks building. Today visitors come to enjoy the beaches. The rocky bottom and rock formations offshore attract a number of tropical fish, so it makes a good spot for snorkeling from shore. The are picnic tables along the sand shaded by Australian pines. Near the beach is Cayo Hueso Café, which offers reasonably priced sandwiches, snacks and cold beverages served on a shaded patio overlooking the beach.

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