Fort Matanzas National Monument and Inlet, (St. Augustine, FL 2018)
John 7:38: Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
It was Daddy’s 35th birthday weekend and we decided to trek around town. There was a certain local site that Daddy had been Jamesin’ to see, so we headed out to explore Fort Matanzas National Monument and Inlet. Registered with the National Park Service, this gem located in St. Augustine provided hours of fort-exploring entertainment ending with a dip in the ocean water.
This 1740 Spanish fort is along the beautiful Matanzas River and the views of the water from the fort are stunningly beautiful.
To access the fort, the National Park Service provides a free ferry, leaving frequently from their home base for trekkers to explore it. Access to the actual fort is free as well, provided an amazing history lesson and day of fun for no money at all.
Colonials dressed and roleplaying in their full gear greet you at the fort and answer any questions you have. They also show how a real cannon would be shot off from the fort and it super fun to see (and super loud hence the ear covering!)
You can even sit at the table with the colonials, pretending like you’re joining in with their typical conversations!
The fort itself is super impressive and it is wild to think how the Spanish actually used this masonry to protect themselves at this very location so long ago.
Hands-down our childrens’ favorite part of this National Monument was experiencing the vertical ladder, leading them from the Officer’s Quarters to the Observation Deck of the fort. It’s a super tight squeeze to fit through but also a very memorable experience from visiting Fort Matanzas.
There was laugher and hugs happening every second during our visit to Fort Matanzas National Monument and the boys (including Daddy!) are already asking to go back again.
The best nearby asset of visiting the Fort is taking a post-trek dip in the inlet, which from the parking lot of the Fort entry to the parking lot of the beach access point is less than 1/2 mile.
Access to the inlet is also free (amen!) but this Floridian channel connecting the ocean and the south end of Matanzas River is stunning. (If you look closely below, you can see the Fort we had just explored in this distance).
This inlet offered no waves, warmer water temperatures and a carefree, easy way to visit the beach with young kids. The inlet has formed tiny puddles of water, which were amazing natural splash pools for kiddos.
We will be back to visit both the Fort and the Inlet, as after only one visit the Inlet has become my favorite local north Florida beach. It’s a must visit!
Trek Difficulty Level: (1): From Nocatee, FL, Fort Matanzas National Monument is about 45-minutes away and well worth the quick drive!
Trek Budget: $0; we literally did not spend any money on this trek around town. Parking at both the Fort and the Inlet was free, access to the Fort itself was free and the beach access was free.
3 Trek Must-Dos:
- Get a junior ranger badge! After completing a booklet (we chose to complete ours at home and mail it in), we will receive yet another NPS badge.
- Climb the vertical ladder! It’s a tight squeeze and feels a little funny, but the view from the Observation Desk is so worth it!
- Climb the trees – on-site at the Fort Matanzas meeting center there are beautiful and sprawling trees, perfect for climbing.
Landon’s Trek Tip (age 6): “Climb the ladder – it’s super fun”
Griffin’s Trek Tip (age 3.5): “Ride the boat there”