Everyone knows about the “the fort” aka Castillo de San Marcos, but did you know there is more than one fort open to visitors? There are 3 historical forts of St. Augustine each offering something just a little different and well worth a visit while in town.
One of the historical forts of St. Augustine no longer has a standing fort, however there is a welcome center and grounds to tour.
Castillo de San Marcos
The center of town revolves around the Castillo. The site is one of the most photographed sites in the city. Providing a favorite place for families to picnic or take a break from the heat and walking around the city. In any given day, you will see families enjoying the grounds as much as taking a tour of the Castillo de San Marcos.
The tour provides a realistic experience of how the fort was used. The cannons are often heard throughout the city. Many events take place throughout the year inside the Castillo de San Marcos as well as on the grounds surrounding the fort.
Unlike the other forts, there is a $15.00 admission fee to tour the fort for guests 16 years of age and older. The first guests are admitted at 8:45 am and last guests are greeted at 5:00 with a 5:15 closing time. From previous experience, plan on an hour or two to complete the entire tour and be sure to check their website for special events and tours that may be offered throughout the day.
Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas does not charge an admission fee but does provide a ferry over to the fort grounds. Seats are limited and tickets may only be obtained in the welcome center on the monument grounds. Be sure to arrive early to secure your ticket and be prepared to wait until the next sailing. The ferry departs on the 1/2 hour every hour beginning at 9:30 and continues through 4:30 daily (weather permitting) taking only 35 visitors at a time.
Fort Matanzas is 15 miles south of St. Augustine and served as the southern protection for the city from the Europeans. The Jr. Ranger program is available providing opportunities for children and families to get the most out of their visit to the Fort and Grounds. To learn more about the Jr. Ranger Program, click here.
This is by far one of our favorite places to visit. It’s a free ferry ride and a tour with beautiful trails and boardwalk to explore! There are not many places you can board a boat or a ferry for FREE! Ladies, be sure to not wear a dress or a skirt when you visit! Just trust me on this one!
Fort Mose Historical State Park
Open 365 days a year and free of charge to browse the grounds. The welcome center is open Thursday-Sunday 9-5 and does cost $2.00/each unless you are under 6 years of age. The grounds offer a boardwalk, picnic area with a grill, and restrooms. Many family reunions and weddings are held under the canopy of the live oak trees. The fort is no longer standing, but has a rich history to share with all who visit.
Fort Mose was the first stop on the Underground Railroad and home to many emancipated slaves many years ago. The tour of the visitors center is available via hand-held audio devices which provides a true picture of what the slaves would have experienced back in the time Fort Mose was in use.
Today, the grounds is used by many to bird watch or observe nature along with dropping in canoes or kayaks. It sits just outside of town on US 1, and provides a break from the heat of the sun and the crowds.
So much history waiting to explore…
The National Park Service has so much to share with the visitors to St. Augustine. Be sure to check out all of the historical sites in and around the area to learn more than what the history books taught in school.
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