Fort Caroline National Memorial
Fort Caroline National Memorial hosts the Timucuan Preserve Visitor Center. It was created to memorialize the 16th century French effort to establish a permanent colony in Florida. After initial exploration in 1562, the French established "la Caroline" in June 1564. Spanish forces arrived 15 months later. Marching north from their newly established beachhead (San Augustin) they captured la Caroline in September, 1565. Nothing remains of the original Fort de la Caroline; a near full-scale rendering of the fort, together with exhibits in the visitor center, provide information on the history of the French colony, their interaction with the native Timucua, and the colonists' brief struggle for survival. There are three additional areas associated with Fort Caroline that you can visit:
Ribault Monument: situated atop St. Johns Bluff, the monument provides a commanding view of the St. Johns River. On a clear day, you can see the Atlantic Ocean and Mayport Naval Station five miles to the east, and river activity, wildlife, and marshes below.
Spanish Pond: five hundred Spanish soldiers marched four days through marsh, forest tangle, fierce winds, and heavy rainfall to an encampment near here. This is where Menendez and his men camped, exhausted and weary, the night before the attack and capture of Fort Caroline. Today, Spanish Pond's boardwalk and trail provide an opportunity for a quiet walk and connects you to more trails through pine flatwoods, oak hammock, tidal marsh in the neighboring Theodore Roosevelt Area. Spanish Pond is located across from the entrance to Fort Caroline National Memorial.
Theodore Roosevelt Area: a 600-acre natural treasure of hardwood forest, wetlands, and scrub vegetation. It is also rich in cultural history.
These areas are open from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily.
Seasonality / Weather
Summers are hot and humid, with frequent thunderstorms. Winters are cool, but freezing temperatures are rare.
From I-95 north of Jacksonville: Traveling from the north via Interstate 95, exit at Florida Route 9A (Exit #362). Route 9A crosses the St. Johns River via the Napoleon Bonaparte Broward bridge at Dames Point. Exit at Monument Road, follow the brown signs to the left, and travel to Fort Caroline Road. Turn right, and follow Fort Caroline Road as it curves to the left at the bottom of the hill. The entrance to the Fort Caroline National Memorial will be ahead, on your left.
From I-95 south of Jacksonville: Traveling up the east coast of Florida from the south via Interstate 95, leave I-95 at Florida Route 9A (Exit #337). Follow 9A to Monument Road. Exit at Monument Road, follow the brown signs to the right, and travel to Fort Caroline Road. Turn right, and follow Fort Caroline Road as it curves to the left at the bottom of the hill. The entrance to the Fort Caroline National Memorial will be ahead, on your left.
From A1A from Jacksonville Beaches: From Florida Route A1A and the Jacksonville area beaches, travel north on A1A to Wonderwood, turn left on Wonderwood, go straight. Take Wonderwood to the light at Mt Pleasant Road (3rd Traffic Light), then turn right at the light at Mount Pleasant Road. Continue on Mt. Pleasant Road until you see brown sign for Fort Caroline. Take right onto Fort Caroline Road; continue untill you see the entrance to Fort Caroline National Memorial on your left. These directions also apply for those traveling south on A1A via the St. Johns River ferry. Turn right at the light at Wonderwood, then follow the directions above from Mt. Pleasant Road.
From A1A from Amelia Island: Take AIA south. A1A becomes Heckscher Drive (FL 105) at the St. Johns River Ferry Landing. At this point you have two options: 1. Continue on Heckscher Drive until you reach 9A. Take 9A south. Exit at Monument Road and turn left. Follow signs. At the light at Fort Caroline Road, turn right. Follow brown signs. 2. Take St. Johns River Ferry (A1A) to south side of river. Follow A1A to Wonderwood Expressway, turn right. At Mt. Pleasant Road, turn right. Continue on Mt. Pleasant Road until you see brown sign for Fort Caroline.
From Downtown Jacksonville: From Downtown Jacksonville, take Union Street to the Mathews Bridge to the Arlington Expressway to the flyover exit for the Southside Connector. Take the connector to Merrill Road and turn right. Merrill Road becomes Fort Caroline Road in approximately 1/2 mile. Continue on Fort Caroline Road, passing through the stoplight at the intersection of Fort Caroline Road and Monument Road. The next left turn is signed for Fort Caroline National Memorial.
Jacksonville is served by Amtrak and by Greyhound Bus lines. Personal or rental vehicles are required to reach the park.