Fort Matanzas National ParkFlorida . Road Trip Stops . Washington DC
Fort Matanzas National Park
Fort Matanzas National Park was the first stop on our Washington DC trip. It’s about 2 and a half hours away from home.
If we would have left when I planned, we would have arrived right at opening time. But we didn’t, nay… we left home at 3am and arrived here at 6am. Folks, we arrived 3 HOURS before they opened!
Obviously, we weren’t able to get in that early.
It was the first stop scheduled on our Roadtrippers itinerary, but I messed up our schedule by leaving for the trip so early. So the park wasn’t open yet and we didn’t want to wait around for 3 hours until it opened.
Unfortunately, on our first visit, we didn’t get further than the entrance. We decided that, since it was so close to home, we would do a day trip one day and come back when it was open.
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About Fort Matanzas National Park
St. Augustine was found in 1565 beginning Spanish control of Florida for the next 235 years. The fort, Castillo de San Marcos was built from 1672 to 1695 to protect the area from the threat of the British in the Carolina and Georgia colonies. Fort Matanzas was built from 1740 to 1742 to guard the southern approaches to St. Augustine, specifically the Matanzas Inlet, after two British sieges had failed.
The United States purchased Florida in 1871 and the U.S. Department of War began restoring the badly deteriorated fort in 1916. Then it was transferred to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933 to preserve the fortified coquina watchtower. It was registered on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
Located at 8635 A1A S. in St. Augustine, Fort Matanzas National Monument charges $15 per adult to get in. Children are free as long as they are accompanied by an adult and tickets are good for 7 days. The fort is open from 9am to 5:30pm except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, although buildings are closed until further notice right now due to Covid 19. So call ahead.
The $15 is for your boarding pass to take the ferry over to the fort from the Visitor’s Center. The fort is clear on the other side of the inlet. So, the ferry ride is a must. Pets are not allowed in the buildings, on the ferry, or at the fort unless they are service animals.
Second Visit to Fort Matanzas National Park
Shortly after our Washington DC trip in 2015, my parents bought a house and moved to Puerto Rico to retire there. As a result, my son and I were about to spend our first holiday season without family.
I decided that it was time to start making our own memories and traditions for the holidays. So, on the day before Thanksgiving Day that same year, my son and I went back to St. Augustine to visit Fort Matanzas and Mission of Nombre de Dios since we missed them on the DC trip.
We love visiting forts and learning about our nation’s history. This was one of the first forts we visited. It did not disappoint. Before getting on the ferry, we had a little bit of a wait time, so we walked the nature trail and found the area and memorial for the massacre.
We are so glad we went back to this fort. Such a nice monument to visit and learn. My son was still in grade school at the time and found the history of the fort to be fascinating as he’s turning into a little history buff. He loved the ferry ride and thought it was cool tour the fort and see how they lived back then.
I’d highly recommend this stop. Have you been there? I’d love to hear what you thought of it. Please drop a few lines in the comments box below and let me know how your visit went.
In the meantime, safe travels!
Written by Kris M.
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