If you find yourself near Pensacola (FL) make sure you plan a day for Fort Barrancas. The fort is actually part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, however, it is located on the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Admission to the fort is free, although citizens need to show proper photo ID at the entrance gate.
Fort Barrancas has a fascinating history. A shot fired by a guard at the fort on January 8, 1861 is sometimes considered the very first shot of the American Civil War! The fort and other structures there were built by different groups over time. There is a great deal of history to step into… or see-through… did I mention the Confederate ghost? 😉
The area also consists of the Spanish Water Battery (Bateria de San Antonio) which has an underground passage from the fort. The tunnel section from the fort to the water battery is very dark and steep, so make sure you are wearing sturdy shoes. The fort itself is very dark in sections and you may want to carry a flashlight with you while exploring. The Spanish Water Battery has several steps going up (although you don’t need to climb them to appreciate the view).
There are also trails and a picnic area near the visitor center. And an additional treat is the view at the Overlook of Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island across Pensacola Bay!
A short distance down the road is the Advanced Redoubt. The Redoubt is unique for the time period because it was designed solely for resisting a land-based assault.
Parking at the fort is limited; however, there is a small area dedicated for RV/bus parking. The fort and visitor center is only open on Saturdays. The Advanced Redoubt has more parking and is open daily. Tours of Fort Barrancas and the Advanced Redoubt are scheduled on Saturdays.