If you’re looking to get the kids out and exploring, check out one of the many Forts in North Florida. They’re packed with fun & adventure!
Forts in Jacksonville
While there’s not much of a traditional fort structure, Fort Caroline offers a wide open space with lots of history and space to explore. Completely free to visit, the fort site hosts the visitor center for the Timucuan Preserve and there are lots of options for hiking and picnicking at Fort Caroline. Fort Caroline is also dog friendly and even offers a “Bark Ranger” program.
Fort Caroline is one of the great forts in North Florida to visit if your kids like to run, walk or hike. The short trail to the fort, as well as the other trails throughout the property, offer lots of opportunity for outdoor exploration. As a National Park, kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge at Fort Caroline National Monument. Address: 12713 Fort Caroline Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32225
Forts in St. Augustine
Located in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, Castillo de San Marcos is a National Park site where you can learn about this Spanish built fort and all the history that goes with it. There is a small fee to enter Castillo de San Marcos, but it’s well worth the price of admission. Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge at no additional charge and there are lots of spots for picnicing outside the fort, along the river or in the grass.
Castillo de San Marcos is a great fort to visit if you love reenactments. Since it’s one of the more popular forts in North Florida, there are historical events that take place several times a month. Be sure to check the park website for dates and times. Address: 1 South Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32084.
This is a lesser known fort in St. Augustine. Fort Matanzas is smaller in size, but still big on adventure. Located on the southern side of St. Augustine, this National Park site is free to visit. The actual fort structure is only accessible by ferry. Free ferry tickets are available at the visitor center, but they’re limited, so be sure to check in as soon as you arrive to reserve a spot.
Fort Matanzas is a great place to visit if you have younger kids. The boat ride, small fort to explore and short trails to hike, are all perfect for little kids. There are picnic tables near the parking lot for a snack and kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge during your visit. Address: 8635 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080.
While there is not an actual fort structure at Fort Mose, the educational value of a visit to this historical site makes it worth stopping by. The grounds are free to visit, but there is a small fee to enter the visitor center. Fort Mose was the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in what would become the United States.
Fort Mose is one of the great forts in North Florida to visit if you love history. You can learn about the residents of Mose, who were former slaves who emancipated themselves from plantations in the Carolinas and Georgia during British rule. At Fort Mose you’ll learn how they lived day-to-day life in the first stop of the Underground Railroad. Address: 15 Fort Mose Trail, St. Augustine, FL 32084.
Forts in Amelia Island
Just a short drive north of Jacksonville, Fort Clinch offers hiking trails, a nice beach, a playground and of course, the Fort itself; making it an easy way to spend a day exploring with the family. There is a small vehicle fee to enter the park, and then an additional per person fee to gain access to the fort.
Fort Clinch is a great option if you have kids that like to climb. It is a huge fort with tons of spots for climbing, crawling through tunnels and exploring. As part of the Florida State Park system, kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge at Fort Clinch. Address: 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034.