Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

#1 in Best Things To Do in Key West
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Key Info

601 Howard England Way

Price & Hours

$6 per vehicle with multiple passengers; $4 pe...
8 a.m.-sunset daily

Details

Beaches, Parks and Gardens, Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.5Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

For the cleanest beach and best waters in Key West, you should head for the westernmost point of the island to Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. There, you can sunbathe, hike, bike, fish and get a dose of history all in one place. Recent visitors favor this shoreline over Smathers Beach (the water is clearer, making it an ideal snorkeling spot), but travelers also warn that the sand is not soft and that beach shoes are needed to traverse the rocky terrain safely. While the beach might not be as powdery soft as some other Florida beaches, it does offer some great snorkeling opportunities, according to recent visitors. Along with your snorkel gear, pack some grilling food and charcoal: This beach has plenty of barbecue grills and rental equipment.

If you get tired of hanging out beachside, stop by the historic fort located within the park. The fort was built in mid-1800s and was used during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Guided tours are offered twice a day.

You'll find Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park a little more than 2 miles from downtown Key West. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until sundown; the fort closes at 5 p.m. Admission for vehicles with two to eight passengers is $6; pedestrians and bicyclists pay $2 each; single-occupant vehicles or motorcycles pay $4. For more information at the area, visit the Florida State Parks website.

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#2 Key West Boat Tours

When you're not admiring the waters that surround Key West from the beach, enjoy them from the deck of a boat. Several companies offer sailing, snorkeling and kayaking tours, not to mention sunset cruises. Danger Charters, Classic Harbor Line and Sebago Watersports all receive favorable reviews from recent travelers. There are also several tours designed exclusively for dolphin watching (the Florida Keys are a refuge for hundreds of dolphins every year) – Wild About Dolphins and Dolphin Watch are among the most popular, according to recent travelers.

If you sign up for a snorkeling tour, you'll likely sail to the Florida Keys Reef – the only living coral barrier reef in North America. Located 7 miles off the coast of Key West, the reef offers shallow waters ideal for beginners. Travelers can also sign up for kayaking tours and paddle through the uninhabited mangrove islands in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge.

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