Exploring Fort King in Ocala

By Anibal Rodriguez

Like most parents, I find myself constantly looking for new and unique (and hopefully affordable) activities to both entertain and educate our kids.

Living close to the center of the state, we have discovered many fun locations that are a short drive away and have proven to offer a fun day adventure for our family. One of these locations worth checking out is the Fort King National Historic Landmark in Ocala. 

Located just east of downtown, you will find a 19th century fort recreated to the exact dimensions of the original one built in the same site back in 1827. During those early years, the fort played a vital role in the development of Marion County and the city of Ocala, by becoming the county seat and serving as the area’s first courthouse. 

The park has been designed to be a “living history” site, providing many opportunities and programs to not only protect the historic location, but also educate visitors. You can learn about the culture, history and natural resources found throughout the area. 

During visitor hours, you can explore the different attractions offered: 

Visitor Center 

A great place to visit. Watch a brief video about the history of the site and check out educational displays. 

Archeological Resource Center 

Find artifacts dug at the site, archeological information used to recreate the fort plus new items discovered during the exploration of the blacksmith site. 

The Fort 

Explore the interior, learn from multiple information displays throughout and climb the side towers for a view of the site. 

Heritage Garden 

Learn about local plants, fruits and vegetables grown and used for educational programs. 


Enjoy the mile-long trail and visit the cemetery and see Seep Spring used by the fort inhabitants. 


As part of their educational programs, many events are offered throughout the year: outdoor movies, storytelling, scheduled hikes, yoga sessions, archeology-themed lunches, animal workshops, gardening, pizza-making lessons and so much more. Make sure not to miss their once-a-year Festival at Fort King with family fun and reenactments of key historic events at the fort. 

To plan your visit, follow them on Facebook facebook.com/ fortkingocala or check out the Fort King Heritage Foundation’s calendar of events at ftking.org. You can learn more at fortkingocala.com. 


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