Fort de Soto

Florida Guide > State Parks

Fort De Soto, a beautifully scenic state park located at the entrance to Tampa Bay, is a great day out for all ages and well worth a visit if you are heading south towards Tampa or St Petersburgh.

Located just across from Tampa Bay, Fort De Soto has earned many honors including being named as the nation' s number one beach in 2005 by Dr Stephen Leatherman, better known as Dr Beach. For the last two out of three years, the beaches have been awarded top honors in Trip Advisor' s ' Best of' list. The state park stretches over five islands, the largest of which is Mullet Bay and home to the Quartermaster Storehouse Museum.

With seven miles of waterfront, there are three miles of soft white sand lined with crystal clear emerald green waters and natural Florida countryside making this the largest state park in the Pinellas County Park System. The park is a hugely popular destination with locals and tourists alike and the 1, 136 acre park attracts almost 3 million visitors a year.

The beaches are lined with natural woodlands providing welcome shade and plenty of facilities such as picnic tables, BBQ pits and children' s play areas.

Soak up the rays on the pristine white sandy beaches, dip your toes in the gentle shoreline or stroll through natural countryside. For the more energetic, you can rent bicycles and travel the 6. 8 mile asphalt trails, jog the 12 foot wide trails or take a canoe along the 2 mile recreational canoe trail. For a more relaxing time, there are two swimming centers located at the North Beach which has a food concession. For a spot of lunch there is snack bar with a souvenir shop overlooking the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and for those wanting a stroll, several walking and nature trails are located throughout the park. There is an 800 foot long boat launch and also a camping area with almost 240 sites offering electricity, laundry faculties, restrooms. showers and a campsite store.

For any fishing fans in the family, there are two fishing piers, one overlooking Tampa Bay and the other overlooking the Gulf, both with bait and food stores.

The 105 year old fort is a landmark of Florida history and has the only four 12-inch seacoast rifled mortars in the continental United States. The Fort was never home to any battles but it has played a significant roll in the development of modern weaponry. Fort de Soto was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

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