Having lived in Savannah for many years, most people have visited Fort Pulaski, but few have traveled the trails around it.
The fort itself is a playground for children and adults alike with many rounded stair cases, paraphets, little cannons, big cannons, civil war bunk houses and prisons and an overview of the mouth of the Savannah river, where frequent large cargo ships meander by, rising several stories above the green murky waters.
To really enjoy the fort, you need to come in seasonable weather as the only air conditioning and heating is inside the gift shop.
Though it may be boring, starting your tour with a view of the video in the gift shop, so you can truly appreciate some of the unique features the fort has to offer.
The gift shops are only allowed to carry books, a few t-shirts and the rest civil war era merchandise, so there isn't really a lot to choose from unless you want a miniature cannon, a candy cane stick or a book on civil war history, but it's fun to browse the area and there is another shop inside the fort walls that offers a more authentic experience.
The fort was built sometime around 1830 or a little before and was an engineering feat as it was built on what amounted to shifting marsh mud. The thick brick walls are supported on pilings that are sunk deep in the mud and the fort was designed to settle evenly by the use of brick archways that could could collapse and expand as the walls settled.
The fort is a photographers paradise with many nooks and crannys, archways, small windows with views out over the marsh and authentic civil war cannons, barrels and even a draw bridge.
A mote surrounds the fort and warns to look out for alligators, but you are more likely to find schools of fish than anything else.
If you have small children, you need to be mindful of them. The only way to the top of the fort is up a narrow winding stair case, so taking a stroller there is virtually impossible. The inside walls are also open to the courtyard below, so small children should be kept well secured and well away from the walls, and older children should be encouraged not to push and shove, even in jest.
It only takes about 45 minutes to view the whole fort, unless you are an archect or civil war buff who wants to really investigate the bullet and cannon holes in the outer walls.
The best time to visit is during an historical reinactment when you get to see people dressed in civil war costumes, firing muskets and cannons so loud they can be heard for miles away and will make you jump if you are not aware they are going off!
If you are feeling more adventurous, take the many trails that surround the park and lead to a monument to John Wesley, a famous lighthouse and even a restore rail line that now serves as a six mile rails to trails used by locals to run, bike and fish.
There are cisterns around the park where water used to be kept and the remains of a drainage system built by Robert E. Lee.
If you are lucky, a cargo ship will pass by as you are walking beside the waterfront trail and at low tide, you can walk out into the marsh to get an upclose view of historic Cockspur Island and the old lighthouse which is still in operation and accessible only by boat or the few brave souls that dare to walk across the sand bars at extreme low tide, though this can be dangerous!
If you go, take a picnic and don't rush. Find a shady area and bring a lot of water with you, though they do have a water fountain near the restrooms and a drink machine.
Though some may be easily bored, if you learn some of the history behind the fort and go outside and walk around it and on the trails, you may discover things that most people miss or even uncover a hidden treasure along the trail.
Indians, Spaniards and Civil War soldiers have walked the land and who can resist walking across a wooden plankboard bridge surrounded by a mote and entering into the giant grass covered interior of the fort by way of a huge brick archway with even hugher hardwood doors?
It is well worth a visit and offers great photographic opportunities.
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Best time to go: September-November
Recommended for: Anybody
Review Topic: Hiking & Trails