Florida Guide > State Parks
Fort De Soto State Park
Florida has over 600 State Parks and miles and miles of beautiful beaches and Fort De Soto State Park combines these two outstanding natural attractions in one spot.
For the second time since 2005 the Pinellas County beach has been named as the nation’s best beach by Dr. Stephen Leatherman a. k. a. “Doctor Beach”, beating the beaches of Hawaii and California, and yet despite this the majority of visitors to Florida will not have even heard of this area, let alone visited it.
The park sits at the southern end of the peninsular that guards the entrance to Tampa Bay and is about 15 miles south west of St Petersburg and is a favourite of the bay area locals as the parks 7 miles of waterfront include 3 miles of the finest white sand beaches in the whole of the United States – not just Florida!
As you arrive at the park the island conjures up pictures of the old wild Florida and it would be easy to lose yourself, both physically and metaphorically, in the maze of bike and nature trails that criss-cross the area. However as you leave the North Beach car park you emerge onto the stunningly beautiful and natural beach which is ideal whether you want to hunt for shells, stroll along the fine white sands or swim in the warm shallow waters. No matter what your pleasure you will only have to walk a short way to find your own almost private bit of paradise.
The park however is not just about beaches. Of historic interest are the remains of the old fort from which the park takes its name. The remains were placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1978 and visitors can walk through the Laidley Battery which contains the last four 12-inch, carriage-mounted, seacoast mortars in the continental United States. The Quartermaster Storehouse Museum was built by park staff using old photographs, government documents and Army engineer reports and now houses display cases containing Spanish-American War items, and World War II military history artefacts, as well as other items of interest depicting life in the early 1900s.
There are also two fishing piers – the Gulf side pier being just over three hundred yards long while the Tampa Bay pier is about half its size. Both piers have food and bait concessions. There are also shelters if you want to escape the sun (or rain! ) and relax with a cold drink as you watch the anglers landing their catches.
So join the locals and see what Fort De Soto State Park has to offer. You won’t be disappointed!
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