One of the most complete and well-preserved examples of a 19th century American fort can be found at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River in Fernandina Beach.
While Fort Clinch never saw any major battles or skirmishes, it did house military troops during the Civil War and Spanish-American War, and even served as a communications post during World War II.
Stepping into the sparsely-appointed barracks provides an informative glimpse into the life of a soldier, something that is enhanced by guides in period dress. On the first weekend of each month, re-enactors portray what it was like to be a soldier at the fort during living history weekends. Other encampments are held at different times during the year.
Climbing to the top of the fort’s brick walls offers gorgeous panoramic views of the blue waters of the Cumberland Sound and the pristine sandy beaches below.
Be sure to bring your camera. For nature lovers, the 1100-acre property provides 6 miles of off-road hiking trails. Bike riding, bird watching, fishing and camping are also popular at the park. Many visitors say the canopy road leading to the fort is well worth the price of admission all by itself.
There’s a $6 charge for each vehicle that enters Fort Clinch State Park and a $2 fee to tour the fort itself.
The park is open 365 days a year.