Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto Park
Fort De Soto Park

The St Petersburg area is home to an impressive collection of beaches, some of which are consistently rated among the best beaches in the country. One area beach that tops most people's lists is the North Beach at Fort De Soto Park. Gorgeous, soft white sand beckons beach goers at all of the beaches in Fort De Soto State Park, and the calm, clear water at both North Beach and East Beach encourages plenty of swimming. North Beach is the largest Fort De Soto beach, and while it offers plenty of spots that are quiet and serene, it also features ample facilities, including a concession stand, showers, restrooms, and picnic shelters. There's plenty of room to stretch out on the three-mile stretch of sand that is North Beach, and the other beaches in Fort De Soto Park more than have you covered when it comes to finding your ideal spot to relax.

Fort De Soto Beach
Fort De Soto Beach

Fort De Soto Park is open 365 days a year, and nearly three million visitors drop by on an annual basis to enjoy its charms. Five interconnected islands comprise Fort De Soto State Park, and the total land area tops out at around 1,136 acres. The park was added to the Pinellas County Park System in 1963, and it has long been a favorite place to escape to for St Petersburg and Tampa area residents. The beaches in Fort De Soto State Park are the main draw when it comes to tourism, and there's even a beach here for dogs if you're bringing along a canine pal. The sun is almost always shining in Fort De Soto Park, so your day at the beach should be an ideal one. When you're not swimming or soaking up some rays at an idyllic Fort De Soto beach, you can always enjoy a host of other activities, including fishing.

Fort De Soto Park
Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto Park is home to two fishing piers, both of which have bait and tackle shops should you need to pick up some equipment. The pier that juts out into Tampa Bay is 500 feet long, while the one that extends out into the Gulf of Mexico is 1,000 feet long. In addition to bait and tackle shops, both of these fishing piers also feature food concessions in case you get hungry while casting your lines. If fishing doesn't interest you during your visit to Fort De Soto State Park, you can always enjoy a hike along the park's walking trails. There are more than five miles of multi-use trails at Fort De Soto Park, and they can be used for both hiking and biking. There is also a two mile kayaking and canoeing trail that might interest you when it comes to sightseeing. The pristine natural landscapes at Fort De Soto Park are dazzling, and they offer an ideal complement to the nearby urban environments.

When you're not passing the time at one of the beaches in Fort De Soto State Park, another thing that you can do is visit the old fort that gave the park its name. Built in 1898, Fort De Soto is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the highlights at the fort are the weapons, which are among the most unique of their kind in the entire country. These include old rapid-fire rifled guns and twelve-inch seacoast rifled mortars. Fort De Soto Park is also home to a historic Storehouse Museum, which is open daily and doesn't cost anything to enjoy. Should time allow, you can also choose to enjoy a ferry ride to Egmont Key during your Fort De Soto State Park visit. This island wildlife refuge is an excellent place to do some bird watching.

Spending the better part of a day at a Fort De Soto beach is sure to please, and it's good to know that there are plenty of other things to do at this wonderful state park when a break from the beach is in order. Some of the beaches in Fort De Soto State Park feature strong currents, and you'll generally want to stick to North Beach and East Beach if you want to swim. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Fort De Soto Park if you want to take to the backwaters to explore, and there's even a campground here if you don't want to leave once the sun goes down.

The Fort De Soto Park campground features 238 sites, and the facilities include water, electricity, picnic tables, barbecue grills, washers, dryers, restrooms, showers, and trash disposal stations. There are even some designated play areas at the campground, not to mention a camping store, so it's all about convenience. Due to the popularity of the Fort De Soto Park campground, it is often necessary to book your stay well in advance. It doesn't cost anything to get into Fort De Soto State Park, though you will have to pay to reserve a campsite. You'll also have to pay a few tolls on the drive down. The drive to Fort De Soto Park from St Petersburg takes about fifteen to twenty minutes, and it's an even shorter commute if you're coming from St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, or one of the other popular St Petersburg beach communities.  

Image: Visit St. Petersburg-Clearwater

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