I'm pretty geeky about American history, so Fort Ticonderoga was a must-see for me on our Adirondacks road trip.
Fort Ticonderoga is a place where history comes to life. Located in New York's beautiful Adirondack Park, Fort Ticonderoga has an exciting past. It has been held by France, Great Britain and the U.S.A. and was the site of two battles in the French-Indian War, and three Revolutionary War battles. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin walked here.
Here is what your family can expect from a visit to Fort Ticonderoga.
Tours of the fort are given daily by actors in period costume. The actors' shoes and uniforms are made at Fort Ticonderoga. See the tailor and shoemaker demonstrate their crafts. You can also see musket, cooking, gardening and other demonstrations to get an idea of what life at the fort was like in the 1700's. Listen for fife and drum concerts and learn about the role of these instruments in military life.
The inside of the fort is home to artifacts and memorabilia dating back to the 1700's. One of America's most significant collections of 18th century military weapons can be found here. In the Mars Education Building, I enjoyed an exhibit on Revolutionary War uniform fashion, including original uniforms and other artifacts.
Special events and programs are offered throughout the season. Some special programs require separate admission and advance reservations. Find out more about special events at www.fortticonderoga.org/visit/what-to-see.
Rather than attempt to cover the entire dramatic history of the fort, Fort Ticonderoga tells the story of one group of soldiers from one year of the fort's history each season. This year at Fort Ticonderoga is 1776. If we return to the fort another year, we'll likely hear new stories from the perspective of a French, British or American soldier each time.
The year 1776 was an exciting one for Fort Ticonderoga, as the American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. The previous year, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had taken Fort Ticonderoga from the British in a surprise attack, just after the battles at Lexington and Concord. Our tour guide was dressed as an American soldier from the Fourth Pennsylvania Battalion and he told the story of Ethan Allen and the other dramatic events that took place at Fort Ticonderoga in and around 1776.
Fort Ticonderoga is also home to King's Garden – a historic garden that dates back to the mid 18th century. Restored in 1921, this garden is one of the oldest in the United States. Today it is a pleasant place to wander and enjoy the cool summer breezes of the Adirondacks. Take a tour or explore on your own.
Mount Defiance overlooks the fort from across the lake and it is part of Fort Ticonderoga's 2000 acres. Later in the Revolutionary War, the British Army took back Fort Ticonderoga by placing its cannons atop Mount Defiance and aiming them at the fort. When the Americans realized that the British had the strategic advantage, they surrendered the fort without a fight.
Mount Defiance is short drive from the fort and an additional ticket is required for each person. The charge is $2.50 per adult and $1.50 per child (ages 5-12). At the top of Mount Defiance, you'll find a covered picnic area and a gorgeous panoramic view of Lake Champlain and the surrounding area. You'll see cannons pointed at Fort Ticonderoga, so you can get a good idea of the strategic importance of Mount Defiance in war. Unless you pack a lunch or come for the tour, you probably won't need much time here.
Especially for families
At Fort Ticonderoga, there was plenty of space for kids to run, use outdoor voices and explore. Canoe rentals and a 2-mile hiking trail with a scavenger hunt are available. In the fall, Fort Ticonderoga has a corn maze and other seasonal activities. Families with older children and teens might enjoy the Ghost Tours offered each Wednesday evening.
Crafts and hands-on activities are frequently available. We visited early in the season, so there wasn't as much going on as there will be later in summer, but we still found a rope tying activity and a simple fort design puzzle in the museum. Visit www.fortticonderoga.org/learn/families to download and print family scavenger hunts and to find out more about family programs at Fort Ticonderoga.
Fort Ticonderoga is an independent non-profit educational organization. Some families may find the admission fees of $17.50 per adult and $8 per child (ages 5-12) to be steep compared with national and state park fees for historic sites. Keep in mind that Fort Ticonderoga offers a rich array of historic tours and experiences not supported by public funds. If you go, plan for at least a half-day to enjoy all that Fort Ticonderoga has to offer.
Good to Know
Where: 100 Fort Ti Road in Ticonderoga, New York. We found it easy to find by following the signs from Interstate 87. For detailed driving directions visit www.fortticonderoga.org/visit/directions.
When: Fort Ticonderoga is open daily from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., May 10 – November 2, 2014. Visit the website to learn about special off-season events and programs.
How Much: Updated April 2016
- Adults $22
- Youth (ages 5-12): $9
- Children (ages 4 and under): FREE
- Seniors: $20
- There is a small additional fee to visit Mount Defiance
If you want to really enjoy Fort Ticonderoga, Mount Defiance the garden and the outdoor activities, consider the two day pass at $30 per adult. It's the best value.
How Long: A half-day or more.
Amenities: Cafe, gift shop, picnic tables, modern restrooms. The main level of the fort, all of the Mars Education Center and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Semi-stroller friendly.
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance so that we could experience this activity and review it for other families. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
How else can we help?
Find the best flight – We rented a car to visit the Adirondacks after a week in New York City, but the international airport in Burlington, Vermont is closest to Fort Ticonderoga. Find the best fares at AirfareWatchdog.com.
Need a rental car? Fort Ticonderoga is a great road trip destination! Find the best rates from dozens of agencies at RentalCars.com.
What to pack – Walking is the best way to explore Fort Ticonderoga, and temperatures can be cool year-round. Don’t leave home without good walking shoes and jackets for the whole family! Buy at Amazon.com or Sierra Trading Post.
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