A must-see attraction on Amelia Island is Fort Clinch State Park with its Civil War-era fortress overlooking the Cumberland Sound near the mouth of St. Marys River. Amelia Island Living rates it one of the “Top 10” places to see around the Florida-Georgia border.
The park sprawls across Amelia Island’s northern tip, the most natural area remaining on this barrier island (over 1,400 acres). This Florida State Park features extensive shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, Cumberland Sound and Amelia River.
Construction of Fort Clinch began in 1847 at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River for protection of Fernandina Harbor’s deep water port. Fort Clinch was a military post during the American Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World War II. The fort is a third system fortification and can be toured daily.
19th Century American Fort
The park’s scenery is beautiful with panoramic waterfront views, extensive sand dunes, and lovely moss-covered oak trees. The historic fortress itself has been recognized as one of the “most well-preserved 19th century forts in America.”
Riding Bikes At Fort Clinch
The park’s 3-mile entry road from front gate to the fortress itself, shaded by lovely tree canopy (pictured above), is a wonderful place for leisurely bike rides. Visitors can also rent bicycles at Fort Clinch.
For those who enjoy hiking in the woods (six miles of wooded off-road trails), riding bikes, beach combing, bird watching, fishing, or exploring American history, this Florida State Park offers all these activities, and more.
This state park has a population of deer that roam the maritime forest and sand dunes, sometimes spotted right on the shore, as pictured above. Deer often emerge near the beach around sunset.
Fort Clinch State Park Fees
Fort Clinch State Park entry fee is $6 per vehicle (2 to 8 people), or $4 per vehicle for a single occupant, plus $2.50 per person if you wish to tour the historic fortress itself. Pedestrians and those who ride a bike into this state park in Fernandina Beach pay just $2 entry fee. The park grounds are open from 8 a.m. until sunset 365 days, while the fortress is available daily for self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Union Garrisons — Living History Weekends
Life during the Civil War-era is reenacted at Fort Clinch State Park. During the first weekend each month throughout the year are special “Union Garrisons” that really bring the fort to life. Living historians and volunteers take up duty in the infirmary, blacksmith shop, jail, laundry, and kitchen. Walk over the drawbridge and through the brick “time tunnel” into life as it was in 1864 during the War between the States.
First weekend of the month activities may include black powder artillery demonstrations (including firing cannons), flag raising ceremony, marching drills, cooking on wood-fueled fires, and blacksmith demonstrations. Visitors can see these special living history “Union Garrisons” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m on Saturday of the first weekend each month and 9 a.m. until noon on the first weekend Sunday each month.
Great Florida Birding Trail
There’s also a birding kiosk. Fort Clinch State Park is the gateway to the eastern section of the Great Florida Birding Trail. Note that parts of the Fort Clinch shoreline are seasonally bird nesting areas and protected — roped off at times. Read more about respecting coastal nature, “Share The Shore With Wildlife.”
Fishing At Fort Clinch
Fort Clinch is a favorite fishing destination for those who cast off the shore outside the fortress walls at east and west inlets and also near the jetty (where the Fort Clinch pier once stood).
Fishing Pier Gone
Unfortunately, the Fort Clinch fishing pier suffered damage from Hurricane Matthew back in October 2016 and was removed.
The Fort’s gift shop/visitor’s center offers souvenirs, some supplies, snacks and beverages.
Veterans Day Tribute — Annual Event
An excellent program at Fort Clinch is their annual tribute to veterans in November each year, “History of the American Solider.” It’s a wonderful production held in early evening featuring soldiers of different periods in American history and music. Watch a timeline of soldiers from various American conflicts firing authentic guns of the time period. It’s a great learning experience for adults and kids alike.
Camping Reservations At Fort Clinch
With the growing popularity of the Fort Clinch campgrounds over the years, unfortunately, it’s become very difficult to get a camping reservation (even when trying to book a campsite eleven months in advance, the maximum allowed).
Friends Of Fort Clinch
Are you a fan of Fort Clinch? A way to show support for this wonderful park is by donating $30 for an annual “Friends of Fort Clinch” membership, learn more. “Friends” receive an annual membership card that provides 12 PARK ENTRIES per year (each entry for a car load of up to eight people).
Address — Where Is Fort Clinch?
Fort Clinch State Park is located at 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach (entrance is about two blocks west of Fernandina’s Main Beach Park). Have a question? For more information, call Fort Clinch at 904-277-7274.