Anyone who has spent some time in western Florida knows the beaches are a madhouse on weekends. Public parking is a nightmare and the price adds up. You can spend hours circling around waiting for a spot in the most popular hours. This is why many locals prefer the drive down to a state park named Fort De Soto State Park. The best spot around Tempa/St. Pete Metro for beach activities. The park is the largest in Pinellas County consisting of 1,136 acres of natural beauty made up of interconnected keys when makes it an excellent place you can hike, camp, or spend a day on the white sandy beaches for just $5 to park all day.
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Things to Do
- Beach day on three miles of white sandy beaches. Snack bars and maintained restrooms are accessible.
- Use the boat launching facility.
- Hiking Trails
- Fishing Piers
- Explore the abandoned military buildings on the Southwest part of the island.
- Visit the Quartermaster Museum
Originally built in 1898 as a response to the Spanish- American War, Fort De Soto provided protection of Tampa, a prized port used to access the Caribbean. After the war, Fort De Soto was occupied by the U.S. but they started facing serious mosquito issues which made the barracks unbearable. By September 1914, the fort was abandoned by the military and left to a caretaker. Then Word War 1 started and a group of soldiers was sent down there to occupy the fort. The Secretary of War wrote a letter on November 23, 1922, that they were closing Fort De Soto and on May 25, 1923, it was abandoned by the military again. Fort De Soto became Fort De Soto State Park on May 11, 1963. Learn the full history of Fort De Soto State Park.