A must-see attraction on Amelia Island is Fort Clinch State Park with its civil-war era fortress overlooking the Cumberland Sound. It’s a vast state park with extensive shoreline along both the Amelia River and Atlantic Ocean, a half-mile-long fishing pier and campgrounds on the riverfront and oceanfront. The park sprawls across 1,153 acres on the island’s northern tip. The scenery is fantastic with panoramic waterfront views, massive sand dunes, preserved maritime forest, and the antiquated, historic fort itself, recognized as one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in America.
See more photos of Fort Clinch State Park, including the gorgeous Atlantic Coast beachfront, the Amelia riverbank shoreline, the fishing pier and reenactors below. Also watch the Fort Clinch video further below.
Union Garrisons — Living History Weekends
Life during the Civil War era is recreated at Fort Clinch State Park the first weekend each month. Walk over the draw bridge and through the brick tunnel into life as it was at the fort in 1864 during the War between the States. Fort staff usually offers a first-person interpretation of life inside the brick walls as it was in 1864 by portraying soldiers and workers stationed at Fort Clinch. Living historians take up duty in the infirmary, blacksmith shop, jail, laundry, and kitchen.
Activities may include black powder artillery demonstrations, marching drills, and blacksmith demonstrations. Visitors can see these special living history “Union Garrisons” from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday of the first weekend of the month and 9 am until noon on the first weekend Sunday each month (daytime tours are $2 per person). Special evening candlelight tour of Fort Clinch is also held the first weekend Saturday night each month and costs $3 per person. Fort Clinch State Park is located at 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach. Call 904-277-7274 for more information.
Watch Fort Clinch video below to see highlights of this wonderful Florida State Park.
MORE ABOUT THE BRICK FORTRESS
Clinch was built in 1847 at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River for protection of Fernandina Harbor’s deepwater port. Fort Clinch was a military post during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II. The fort is a third system fortification, and can be toured daily. From the park’s entrance at Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, it’s about a 3-mile drive through shady, wild tree canopy to reach the brick fortress. There’s plenty of parking, public restrooms, wooden dune walkovers to the beach, picnic areas with tables and barbeques. At just $6 a vehicle (2 to 8 people or $4 for a single driver) to enter the park (and $2 per person if you wish to tour the fort), it’s one of the best bargains in Florida for a day-vacation. Also, view or print out the official Fort Clinch State Park map.
Whether you enjoy hiking in the woods (there’s six miles of off-road trails), bird watching (Fort Clinch is the gateway to the Great Florida Birding Trail) , bike riding, fishing, relaxing on the beach, picnicking, camping, or learning about history with a tour of the brick fortress itself, visitors to Amelia Island need to put Fort Clinch on their itinerary. The expansive waterfront vistas from the fort’s outer walls are second to none on Amelia Island.
FISHING AT FORT CLINCH STATE PARK (FISH OFF HALF MILE LONG PIER OR CAST OFF THE SHORELINE)
Fort Clinch is a favorite fishing destination for locals who cast off shore, fish off the half-mile-long fishing pier, or drop anchor near the fort.
When visiting Fort Clinch, it’s always good to be prepared, especially if you’ll be hiking in the woods. Those planning on hiking and biking through the wooded trails should be sure to bring bug repellent (it’s more buggy during the warm months of the year). Those planning on spending time on the beach or fishing pier would be wise to pack sunscreen, beverages and snacks. There are public restrooms near the beach along the wooden dune walkovers, and picnic tables, but no food/drink concessions to buy supplies in the beach area. (However, at the fort itself — you have to drive further into the property, past the beach access area — the fort’s gift shop offers beverages and snacks.)
SOME OF THE SPECIAL EVENTS HELD AT FORT CLINCH STATE PARK
Fort Clinch hosts some events during Amelia Island’s “Wild Amelia Nature Festival,” which takes place each year in May. It’s a great time to visit to experience local nature and learn about our local “bioregion.” Take eco-tours, participate in seminars and workshops, and explore local nature and the history of the Amelia Island area. (For further Wild Amelia Nature Festival information, visit the festival’s official website at www.WildAmelia.com.)
VETERAN’S DAY TRIBUTE AT FORT CLINCH
An excellent program at Fort Clinch is their annual tribute to Veterans in November each year. It’s a wonderful historic production featuring soldiers of different periods in American History and worth seeing. You’ll also experience soldiers from various American conflicts firing authentic guns of the time period. This is a great learning experience for adults and kids alike. Rather than an entry fee, for this event the park usually requests visitors bring some canned foods to donate to the needy.
CAMPING AT FORT CLINCH STATE PARK
If you like camping, you are in for a real treat! Pitch a tent at Fort Clinch, or bring your RV for a campsite next to the Atlantic Ocean or by the Amelia River. The riverfront campground is lovely, a place where you’ll see spectacular sunsets from the riverbank and shrimp boats passing by. The Fort Clinch campground also offers a nice bathhouse facility — the park does a good job keeping it clean. Book online camping reservations at Fort Clinch via Reserve America.
Visit Florida State Park’s website page for Fort Clinch State Park in northeast Florida, or call Fort Clinch for more information at 904-277-7274.
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