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Fort De Soto Park - Definitely worth a visit

Fort De Soto Park North Beach
Where Tampa Bay Meets The Gulf of Mexico

Haven’t written in the last two days since family things took up all my time.  Monday the group came out to the park to see the Brave.  Tuesday we took Carrie to the airport to fly back to Baltimore, met Dave and Cindy at dad’s before they flew back to Denver and then spent the afternoon doing things for my father and doing our laundry.  Back to the park late that night.

Got up today and ran 6.5 miles to try to work off some of the tons of restaurant and take out food I’d eaten over this time with the family.  Wonderful run down to the beach and along the beach and back.  The temperatures here have been fabulous.  Mid 80’s during the day and high 60’s at night.  After breakfast we packed up our chairs, umbrella, books, sunscreen and some food and headed back down to North Beach.  I could stay there for a month if time and finances would allow.

I am very enamored of this place so I thought I’d talk a bit about the Fort De Soto Park and campground which is really a wonderful place to stay.  It is a chain of five interconnected keys and is owned by Pinellas County.  That it is a county park is amazing to me.  The county bought it from the Government after the fort was abandoned and no one else would buy it.  This was in 1946.  They paid $26K for the entire 1,136 acres.  It boasts that it has been named America’s #1 Beach by TripAdvisor, the world's largest online travel community two of the past 3 years.  Don’t know about American’s #1 beach since I haven’t personally been to them all but this one is really beautiful - soft white sand, clear water, innumerable wading birds and very sparsely populated during October which we have found to be a great time to visit. 

The park also has 4 hiking trails and a canoe/kayak trail which we sadly have not had time to visit.  Guess that means another park we have to return to.  :-)   Given my father's age and his desire to stay in his home near here, returning is very likely.

The price is pretty steep for a public beach and the sites are narrow but deep.  We never put out our awning because there was more than enough shade. 

The campground is really lovely and the sites are separated by dense foliage and many of them are water front.  It is $37 a night for a waterfront site with water and electric ($41 with taxes).  There are two dump stations.  There is a separate tenting area which is so forested that RV’s really cannot get into it.  Just look at the RV campground loop road. 

 On Monday, as we were leaving for the beach, a 40’ motorhome was trying unsuccessfully to back into a site on the water.  Not sure what happened with that but when we went around him, he was facing the wrong way on the camp road and was just trying to get out.  Not sure if they didn’t tell him how difficult it would be for a rig that big to get in here or if someone didn’t ask him the size of his rig but I definitely would not bring a 40’ anything in here. 

A couple of days ago I talked about our site, #209 and pointed out that sites 203-204 and 205 had unobstructed views of the water.  But what I hadn’t noticed was that they back up to the sea wall so if you want to directly launch your kayak or canoe from your site you can do that if you are in sites 209, 210, 211, 212. 

They have very clean and spacious bath houses, the entire area is well cared for and the personnel very efficient and friendly.  While you can launch your boat into the Bayous which the campground faces, there is no swimming there.  But the kayak trail is in the Bayous. 

Swimming is in the Gulf of Mexico a one or 4 mile walk/bike/car ride away depending on whether you go to the East Beach or the North Beach.  There is a very nice walking/biking trail from the campground to either beach, to the fishing piers and to the fort.

The beaches are beautiful as you saw above.  They are well kept, have restrooms and a snack bar which rents umbrellas, chairs, floats and serves light fare for reasonable prices.

In sum this is a great oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the Tampa area.  If you find yourself anywhere near by don't miss it.


  1. Another one of our favorites. If you plan on returning Jan-April, you must make reservations far in advance. They do keep some sites open on a first come basis but they fill up fast.

  2. Just getting caught up on my blog reading...

    This looks like a beautiful place. We will check it out in January when we visit the area.


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