Known as the site where Spanish and British forces battled on St. Simons Island, Fort Frederica National Monument is part of the National Park Service and a must-do attraction. If you’re looking for things to do in St. Simons Island GA, Fort Frederica is both a kid-friendly and historical destination. Dating back to the 1700’s, the archeological remains tell us a story that’s important to understanding Georgia’s history.
Visitor’s Guide To Fort Frederica National Monument
When you’re vacationing on Georgia’s Golden Isles, it’s a mix of family-friendly beaches and history. Go beyond the shores and discover the earliest days that formed Georgia as we know it today. You’d never know that this fort even exists if you don’t plan on exploring other areas than the beach. In total, there are 11 National Park Service sites in the state. See why Fort Frederica made the list!
Abbreviated History of Fort Frederica At St. Simons Island
In 1742, the Spanish and British forces clashed at Fort Frederica. The fort was founded by Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe to prevent Spanish attack that would come up from the southern Florida border. In the later discovered archeological remains, letters were found that described how beautiful and strong the fort originally was.
After the battle famous battle, mercantile trade was a large part of the colony. They rebuilt from the ruins that remained. The citizens provided product and services to the use of soldiers of the garrison. Specific skill sets were required and those who lived there had to provide what they needed. It became the military headquarters for the new Georgia colony.
Architectural measures were taken to ensure the fort would remain protected. There was an outer wall that protected the 40 acres, a dry moat and two ten-foot tall wooden palisades. The fort also included the fort included three bastions, a projecting spur battery now washed away, two storehouses, a guardhouse, and a stockade.
Today, far less visual ruins remain. Visitors can see the strong tabby that it was once made of. Fort Frederica ended up failing on an economic standpoint, but it represents the earliest days of Georgia.
Things To Do At Fort Frederica National Monument
You’re probably wondering what you can do at Fort Frederica, is most of it is just ruins now. Start your visit in the Visitors Center. To fully understand the history, you’ll want to watch their 23-minute film called “History Uncovered” which discusses the archeological findings too.
Self-guided tours are offered, but you can book a ranger-led tour with two weeks advance notice. That’s what our family did and it really allows you to ask in-depth questions to obtain a better understanding.
On the tour, you’ll be able to see the ruins and the rangers are able to paint a picture of life what like in colonial Georgia. Be sure to keep an eye out for the rectangular grid of the residence houses along the grounds. Remnants of tabby and brick are still there.
Since the park is protected grounds of the National Park Service, plenty of wildlife call Fort Frederica home. The salt marshes along the fort are extensive ecosystems for native Georgia wildlife. The park is a beautiful location for birding and photography.
Most of the artifacts were uncovered starting in the 1940’s. Visitors can view a few of these objects in the visitors center, but most of them are located off-site.
Fort Frederica Kids Programs & Educational Opportunities
If you’re not familiar with the National Park Service Junior Ranger program, it’s an educational opportunity for young kids to learn about the parks in a hands-on and interactive way. After completing the Junior Ranger Program for the individual park, they can earn a badge and certificate.
Children age 8 -12 to are invited to become Junior Rangers at Fort Frederica. Fort Frederica has an award-winning program that offers a beautiful pop-up activity book to complete. After completion, it becomes a beautiful souvenir for the kids to take home and remember their visit.
Fort Frederica also offers two other levels of kids programs: The Junior Archeologist Program & The Junior Ranger Underwater Explorers Program. They’re considered the “next level” of the ranger program.
For younger children, who are visiting the park, they can explore the Visitors Venter where creative play toys and hands-on exhibits help the kids understand the site’s unique history.
Planning Your Fort Frederica Visit
I suggest not visiting the park after bad weather. A tropical storm or hurricane can easily affect the park site. The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Fort Frederica National Monument Hours:
- Visitors Center 9:00 – 5:00 pm daily
Fort Frederica National Monument is a FEE FREE park (which makes it one of the best things to do in St. Simons Island)! Pets are allowed on a leash, but are not allowed inside of the ruins.