Exploring Fort De Soto Park

Fort De Soto County Park

3500 Pinellas Bayway S.,
Tierra Verde, FL 33715 – Fort De Soto Park


If you visit the Tampa Bay area and love beaches, wildlife, and history, you must spend a day at Fort De Soto County Park. Located off St. Petersburg, Florida, Fort De Soto Park is the largest county park in Pinellas County and consists of 1,136 acres made up of five interconnected islands (keys). These keys are home to beach plants, mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and scores of native plants. Each of these species plays a vital role in the preservation and protection of the natural environment.



#park #entrance #florida #fortdesoto


More than 328 species of birds have been documented over 60 years by ornithologists. New species are being added to the list every year. The beach also provides refuge to the loggerhead sea turtle, which nests between April and September. The park receives over 2.7 million visitors a year viewing historical exhibits as well as lots of natural beauty. Today I’ll give you the highlights of the amenities of this beautiful park.



#birds #nature #florida #fortdesotopark





These keys were originally inhabited by the  Tocobaga Native Americans from about 1000 to 1500 A.D. The first Spanish explorer Pánfilo de Narváez investigated the barrier islands after his expedition landed somewhere between St. Pete Beach and Clearwater in 1529. He was followed by Hernando de Soto  a few years later. The Tocobaga disappeared in violence and disease and the islands were used for navigation into Tampa Bay and periodically used for military purposes to guard entrance to Tampa Bay.  Built after the Spanish American War, Fort De Soto was finished in 1900 and  named for the Spanish explorer.


#history #historicalmarker #dedication #parks #florida #fortdesoto


Even if you are not a history buff, you’ll find the remaining structures of  Fort De Soto interesting. The fort was damaged by multiple hurricanes in the early 20th Century and of course the environment but still provides insight into the military presence on these keys.  Just think of these men in concrete buildings with no air conditioning and mosquitoes 24 hours a day.  Mosquito eradication programs were a later development.





Ft De Soto Collage #history #museum #florida #ftdesoto


  • A visitor coming to Fort De Soto Park today can view the last four 12-inch M 1890-MI mortars remaining in North America (the only others remaining anywhere in the world are in the Philippines). The 12-inch mortar battery, located at the fort for which the park was named, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Markers showing the original building locations and a Quartermaster Storehouse Museum add to the park’s historic interest.



#history #guns #fortdesoto #florida collage






  • Over 7 miles of waterfront, includes almost three miles of beautiful white sandy beaches.



#florida #beach #nature #skies #fortdesotopark



#bird watching #florida #fortdesotopark #beaches #nature


  • 800-foot-long boat launching facility with eleven floating docks.



#boat #ramp #fortdesotopark #florida #beachs



  • Camping – 238-site family camping area with facilities – check in and enjoy the view!



check in for #camping #florida #parks #fortdesotopark


#nature #fortdesotopark #camping #florida





  • Picnic areas with 15 picnic shelters



#picnic #pavilion #parks #fortdesoto #florida






#picnic table #fortdesoto #park #florida



  • Playgrounds



#fortdesotopark #playground





  • Multipurpose trail – seven miles of paved trail connecting North Beach, East Beach, the boat ramp and the camping area. No motorized vehicles allowed.



#beaches #florida #fortdesoto #parks #skies


  • Two large swim centers including a food concession area located at the North Beach Swim Center.



#fortdesotopark #florida #snacks #store




  • Two fishing piers – each pier has a food and bait concession – Gulf & Bay Pier Hours: 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.



#ftdesotopark #pier #fishing #nature #collage




#fish #grouper #florida #fishing #fortdesotopark





#signs #ferry #ferries #keys #florida #fortdesoto



  • All of the beaches do not allow pets except for Dog Beach on designated Dog Days. Dog park Fort De Soto has the only dog park where dogs are allowed on the beach in a designated area. There are also 2 fenced-in areas near the beach for large and small dogs with water stations (beach entrance is at the far southwest corner of dog park).




Dog Beach rules #dogs #beach #florida #fortdesotopark



Dog Day at Dog Beach #nature #beach #dogs #florida #fortdesotopark


  • Please remember to follow the rules regarding wildlife and our impact on them. Do not feed birds and do not enter roped off areas that are protected for nesting birds or turtle eggs.



#park #sign #fortdesotopark #florida


#fortdesotopark #birds #sign #protected #beaches




  • Enjoy a canoe or kayak ride around the keys. Be sure to wear mosquito repellent around the mangroves.



view from mangrove island Fort De Soto Park #mangroves #florida #fortdesoto #nature



  • Be still and watch the birds. Wildlife is everywhere and you don’t have to be a great photographer to get photos. The park is a gateway site for the Great Florida Birding Trail. This gateway trail site is one of the most popular birding destinations in the United States.



lots of wildlife #wildlife #birds #beach #nature #florida #fortdesoto



From the end of East Beach, enjoy a view of Skyway Bridge in the distance  – one of my favorite places on the west coast. This huge bridge spans the large Tampa Bay.



end of east beach #beach #gulfofmexico #bridge #skywaybridge #view #seascape


This park is a favorite of residents and visitors to the area and it has been named best park multiple times. Fort De Soto was named America’s Top Beach for 2009 by Trip Advisor, the world’s largest online travel community. In 2005, “Dr. Beach,” named Fort De Soto the nation’s #1 Beach.



North Beach Fort De Soto Park #lforida #parks #beaches #nature #skies


If traveling to this area, be sure and plan and ahead as facilities book up quickly during our mild winter. See Fort De Soto Park site for all the information regarding current fees and booking.




Florida Fort De Soto Park North Beach #beach #bird #nature #florida


#bird #florida #nature #skywaybridge #bridge in background




#birds #crane among the rocks #park #florida #fortdesotopark #wildlife


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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

38 thoughts to “Exploring Fort De Soto Park”

  1. Carol I certainly understand why it was named best park It offers the best and quite a variety in a beautiful location.

  2. That was a beautiful anthology of the De Soto Park. I’ve lived in Florida most of my life and have never been there. We never have explored the gulf coast, and I think it is time we did! This sounds like a wonderful place to explore. Thank you for sharing it with us. Have a blessed day.

  3. Oh, how I love all the “tours” you take us on! Maybe some day I can actually visit them myself, for real! Thanks for being so faithful to link up each Friday – I’m sorry I’m not as faithful to visit. I can’t do it on my phone and I rarely sit down at the desk computer – I’ve got to start making myself do that and visit my friends, but….LIFE!!! Happy weekend to you!

    1. I’m happy when you fit a visit into your life but understand when you can’t. Have a blessed weekend!

  4. Such a great place for any sort of recreation! Great photos. I love learning a bit of history as I explore other blogs! Thanks so much for linking up to My Corner of the World!

  5. What a great park! I love the shots of the white sand beaches. Looks like it offers something for everyone, and definitely a place I would like to visit!

  6. What a beautiful place to explore! I bet it would be lovely to camp out there and those sandy beaches look amazing.

    Thanks for showing us around Carol. #MMBC

  7. Hello, I have been to Fort Desoto park. It is a very nice park, lots of birds and pretty views. Great post and photos. Enjoy your day and have a great new week ahead!

  8. Lovely views. I live in Florida so we enjoy those sights, but I do miss not having a little winter. A/C is running as I type. Happy Weekend, Kippi

  9. Thanks for a lovely post Carol. I feel as though I know the park well enough to take a visit pre-armed with all the essential information. The authorities have done a great job in ensuring that all interests are catered for but not at the expense of others. I especially like those respect the birds notices. Not just “don’t” but a brief explanation of why. I am so jealous of your climate as we await Storm Gareth today.

    1. My prayers are with you. I just went and read up on Storm Gareth. High winds and slashing rain is no treat. This summer when you are surrounded by warm weather and beautiful English gardens, I will be living in the steam tent known as a Florida summer with high heat and humidity and on watch for hurricanes out of the Caribbean.

I love to make new friends and get to know you.

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