A wonderful day trip can be found along the shores of NC. Fort Macon is bordered on three sides by water (Atlantic Ocean, Beaufort Inlet, and Bogue Sound). There are plenty of sandy beaches for play and swimming areas, and yet the rugged beauty of rocks, salt marshes and crashing waves are ever present also. The fort itself is five sided and restored so that we may enjoy walking through and learning much of the history of our state and nation since the early 1800’s
Construction on the fort began in 1826 and was completed in 1834. Twenty six vaulted rooms which are restored and open to the public provide us with a glimpse of what life must have been like for those who lived in the fort. A few descriptive words always come to mind and many of them are not so nice. Sweltering, mosquito laden, sandy, and muggy are just a few terms for a summer day at the Fort. Today we are blessed with air conditioning and electricity, but residing in the fort in the 1800’s and early 1900’s was not a nice cup of tea.
Fort Macon was garrisoned only briefly during different war efforts, but was also utilized as a federal prison. As you stand in one of the vaulted rooms with iron bars at the window, you can imagine the difficulties of living there. A small hole in the floor area was probably not the most effective means for water drainage during a storm. Walking through the inner courtyard and along the path around the top of the fort is also daunting when you imagine gunshots and fighting to protect the United States.
We have been to Fort Macon many times and love to go at different times of the year. In order to be a part of one of the reenactments or to have a guided tour, you need to visit between April 15 and October 30. The Fort is still open for visitors daily (except for Christmas). Parking, walking through Fort Macon, playing on the beach, and walking through the salt marsh are all free to the public. One of our favorite beaches to visit is adjacent to Fort Macon. Swimming is not always available due to strong waves, but you can usually see surfers cresting the waves.
To stand along one of the top walls of Fort Macon, view the cannons, the rooms below, the crashing waves, and then hear gunshots can give you chills. Witnessing a reenactment does exactly that. To see troops engage in a mock battle, exchanging shots and even doing hand to hand battle can be exciting and even a bit overwhelming for younger members of the family. The battle does not last long, but does give you a glimpse of how difficult it must have been.
One of our favorite places at Fort Macon is the gift shop where you can find books for all reading levels. We love the areas in the museum that have videos or sound recordings to play back. One of the most exciting bits of history to some of the younger members of our group was to find out that Blackbeard sailed these waters and may have been at Fort Macon a time or two.
Fort Macon is a favorite for history, family fun, and enjoying nature. There are some areas of the fort that are not suitable for younger children to be unsupervised. Follow all safety guidelines posted and enjoy an educational and memorable experience.