on May 5, 2006
About a half mile from the Key West Hilton (a long walk, but a nice bike ride) is Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and Beach. It's the nicest beach on Key West.The Fort itself is a trip! Construction began on the Fort in 1845, when Florida became a state. It was named for President Zachary Taylor who died in 1850. Construction continued through the 1850s, but was slowed by yellow fever, hurricanes and the slow delivery of men and materials (Key West was pretty remote in those days).During the Civil War, the fort was occupied by Union troops, to complete a blockade at Key West. It was again used in the Spanish-American War in 1889. By the 20th century, the old cannons of Fort Taylor were obsolete, and the place fell into ruin. Volunteers began restoring Fort Taylor in the 1960s, and that work continues today. It's a wonderful tour, particularly in the dark and damp brick-lined gun sites. Spooky, really. And you can imaging the ghosts who still live there.But outside the fort is a wonderful broad beach facing the Atlantic Ocean. Soft sand plenty of parking, showers and concession stand.But no crowds! No teenagers! No music! No dogs! No beach blankets laying side by side like Legos. Just lots of space and clear blue water. Great for swimming and snorkeling. A channel along the west side (across the jetty) is reserved for fishing. Easy to get to, and inasmuch as it is a bit south of the "Southernmost Point" in the continental United States, it qualifies as the Southernmost Beach in the U.S.Just 90 miles from Cuba.
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