Day Trip on a Budget: Fort Necessity

This is my first day trip on a budget post, and I’m going back to one of the first posts of this blog: Fort Necessity, which is part of the national park system, for the material. I’ll be drawing on a lot of my day trips to national and state parks, because quite honestly, they’re all a bargain and a great way to see this country inexpensively!

Fort Necessity is a reconstructed wooden fort on the spot where George Washington, then 22 years old and a lieutenant colonel bunkered down to fend off a likely attack from French colonial forces. While you’re there, you’ll learn about Washington’s charge to forge a road, which eventually became the first federally funded and maintained road. Washington expected an attack because a few days before he arrived at the site that was to become Fort Necessity, his forces successfully attacked a French patrol, pissing them off in a big way.

“A charming field for an encounter,” Washington said of the marshy, natural meadow surrounded by dense forest. He threw a few logs up, called it a fort, and settled down to await the French attack. The wait wasn’t long — just 30 days, during which time Washington and his men lengthened the new road by some 14 back-breaking miles.

A large French reprisal force attacked Fort Necessity and forced Washington to surrender on 4 July — the only time Washington ever surrendered. Washington and his men left, and the French burned the fort. The present day reconstruction is close proximity to what Washington had built.

Know before you go: Plan 1 1/2 to 2 hrs to see the historic sites in the main unit of the park. Add an hour to visit Braddock’s grave and Jumonville Glen sites.

On-a-Budget: Entry fee is $5 per person, which gets you into Fort Necessity, nearby Mount Washington Tavern, and Braddock’s Grave; kids younger than 15 are free. For $15, you can purchase a pass that includes entry to Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site.

Getting there: 1 Washington Parkway, Farmington PA 15437

Hours: Park grounds open sunrise to sunset. Visitor center open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on the following Federal Holidays: January 1, 3rd Monday in January, 3rd Monday in February, 4th Thursday in November, December 25.

Dogs: Welcome on the grounds, leashed. Not so much in the visitor’s center.

Eats: Pack a picnic — picnic tables available, well shaded by trees in a very pleasant setting. There are also a number of inexpensive restaurants in Unionville, which is about 11 miles away.


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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Email [email protected] if you’re interested in being a guest-blogger!