Pensacola, FL: Ft Pickens National Park

Tuesday afternoon in Pensacola the weather finally let up and we had sunshine! It was still a little chilly, but we took full advantage of the nicer weather and headed to the beach. We went to Fort Pickens National Park, located on Gulf Islands National Seashore. It is $8/car to get into the park. We started off by taking a post-lunch nap on the beach.

There are several turnoffs from the road to parking lots where you can have whole stretches of sand to yourselves where you can play frisbee. We had this mostly to ourselves until an oversized van showed up with a large family, but by that time we were ready to head on to the actual fort.

Ft Pickens is one of the best historic places I think I've been to. You pick up a free self-guided tour pamphlet at the gift shop and make your way through the fort, looking for mostly-inconspicuous numbers along walls letting you know what station to read about.

There are no guards or rangers telling you not to touch something or not to go down some creepy dark hallway. There are stalactites all over the ceilings, original brick and whitewash down the halls, and unintentional swimming pools where there should be floors. Exploration is encouraged (and so are flashlights or headlamps). It was awesome.

Some hallways I took a photo with the flash on so we could look at it without going into the space, since we did not have any headlamps with us. Also, it was super creepy.

We even found the batcave.

The self-guided tour takes you all around the whole fort. Here's an example of the number sign:

My friend Venus knew this was here. How funny is this in a vent in the ceiling?

The fort was fun to photograph, too.

Engineering always fascinates me (how do people know how to do all this stuff?), so reading about the double arch was very interesting to me.

You can also go up on top of the fort, where you get a nice view across the bay.

We wandered into a building that hadn't been open on Venus' last visit and found some very old, rusty machinery.

After finishing up the actual fort, we headed over to the museum (across the parking lot; look for the signs). The museum was so well done I had to take some photos (in a previous life I studied public history, which is something people can study if they want to work in museums, among other things, so a well-designed museum or exhibit makes me happy).

It was very interactive and also very informative.

One more awesome part about Ft Pickens National Park is that you can explore even more than the main fort. On your way out of the park, allow at least another hour to stop at all sorts of cool things along the side of the road. There are several parking areas to allow you to get out and read signs and wander through high grasses to check out cannons.

And pretend to get shot by one ;)

I really recommend checking out Ft Pickens National Park. It is well worth the $8 car fee in -- you get a beach almost to yourself, free range on a really old fort, a nice museum, and even more cool things to stop and check out. Go on a nice day to enjoy all the outdoor activities.
Pensacola, FL: Ft Pickens National Park Pensacola, FL: Ft Pickens National Park Reviewed by Maria on 10:00:00 AM Rating: 5

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