Fantastic Family Fun At Fort De Soto County Park
Today John and I jumped in our Subaru and headed off for a day at Fort De Soto County Park in beautiful Tierra Verde located in Pinellas County just southwest of Saint Petersburg. We weren’t there long before we figured out that we didn’t plan for enough time for us to take advantage of all that Fort De Soto has to offer.
Fort De Soto Park is a chain of five interconnected keys with over 1,100 acres of beach, parks, a canoe trail, biking and walking trails, fishing piers, picnic areas, boat ramps, a dog park/beach, a camping area, and yes an old Fort. There is enough to do to literally spend a very extended vacation here, and it is definitely a great place for the whole family.
There are 7 miles of very scenic paved trails where no motorized vehicles are allowed. Absolutely a great place for walkers and bikers. For nature lovers, there are unpaved trails that wind through the native Florida coastline shrubbery and trees. There is plenty of bird watching to do here too, in fact, as John and I were walking through the Arrow Head Picnic area located on the Mullet Key Bayou side, there was an area roped off due to eagle nesting.
The historic fort was built in 1898, and there is a museum on-site to learn about it’s history. A ramp and stairs lead to the top of the fort, where you can overlook this beautiful top-rated beach. There are 2 beaches here, the North beach and the East beach, and the two are very different. You will see the cruise ships and freighters pass under the towering Skyway bridge at the East beach as they leave Tampa Bay and head through the channel that leads out to the Gulf of Mexico. There are many more picnic shelters with grills on the North beach, and it seems to be more popular for swimmers and sunbathers. In between the East and the northern beaches is the dog park and dog beach, as well as the fishing pier complete with bait shop and gift shop. All of the areas have bathroom and shower facilities (a very important point for me), lifeguards, and playgrounds. Bike, Kayak, and umbrella rentals are also available. Kayak rentals are about $55.00 per day, and Bike rentals start at $8.00 on up depending on the size and type of bike you rent. They do have Bike rentals for all ages.
If all of that isn’t enough, well, how about a 30-minute ferry ride over to Egmont Key State Park? On the trip, you will have the opportunity to see dolphins and, if you are really lucky, perhaps a manatee. The cost for the ferry is $25.00 per person, and reservations are recommended by calling 727-398-6577
The campsite at Fort De Soto has full facilities and a camp store, and the sites can accommodate anything from a tent to a full-size RV. But you better make your reservations early as campsites are usually booked up six months in advance. To make a reservation, call 727-582-2267.
Upon arriving at Fort De Soto Park, John and I knew that we did not allow near enough time to explore the whole park fully. This one post truly does not give the park the justice it deserves. Hence, we decided that to be true to our mission and give our readers the full Florida view, we will just have to come back!!! I am positive that you will soon see us coming back here to explore the campground or maybe even do some Go Pro Kayaking?
If you do plan for a stay in the area I would suggest one of the many condo vacation rentals in Tierra Verde as there you will be close to all the activities at Fort De Soto park and minutes away from the beaches of Saint Petersburg.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFO
$5.00 parking Fee $1.75 in Tolls on Toll Road
Airports near by
Saint Pete/Clearwater 24 miles
Tampa International 33 miles