Fort De Soto Park

#1 in Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg, FL
Fort De Soto Park picture
Brazilfox/Flickr

Key Info

3500 Pinellas Bayway S

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sports, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Spanning five small islands, the 1,136-acre Fort De Soto Park lies at the mouth of Tampa Bay and attracts more than 2.7 million visitors a year. The park features 7 miles of waterfront, two fishing piers, a 4-mile hiking and skating trail, picnic and camping grounds and a historic fort. Climb the stairs of the fort for a breathtaking view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, one of the world's longest cable-stayed concrete bridges. Then, stop by the Quartermaster Museum to learn more about the fort through historic photographs and Spanish-American War artifacts.

The park is also one of the best places in St. Petersburg to visit the beach. The popular North Beach is recognizable by the large pirate ship playground near its entrance and the myriad of seashells and white sand dollars along its sands. At the waterfront, travelers can also rent a canoe or kayak and navigate the 2-mile paddling trail or try fishing. Recent visitors raved about everything there is to enjoy at the park, especially the lengthy dog beach.

Fort De Soto Park is open year-round from 7 a.m. to dusk. However, the fishing piers are open and park rangers are on duty until 11 p.m. and the camping area is always open. There is a $5 parking fee collected at the park entrance, but visitors can avoid that fee if they enter the park on foot or by bicycle. To reserve a camping spot or to find more information on the beaches and piers, visit the official website

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#2 St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach is a barrier island community just west of St. Petersburg and home to a large swath of award-winning beaches. Pass-a-Grille Beach is a long undeveloped stretch of public beach, perfect for a variety of water sports, including parasailing, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Recent visitors raved about St. Pete Beach, noting the soft, white sand, terrific maintenance and warm Gulf of Mexico waters.  

St. Pete Beach is also brimming with top hotels and restaurants. Once you've settled in, venture out to the Corey Avenue district to enjoy funky specialty shops, galleries and eateries. PJ’s Oyster Bar is the place to visit for seafood dishes like snow crab legs, grouper and clam chowder. Steam and Chill Food Haven and Lounge is located nearby and also highly praised for its seafood and unique dishes. Recent travelers enjoyed the watermelon salad, shrimp and grits, and rutabaga fries.  

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