Visiting St. Petersburg’s Fort De Soto Park During a Holiday Weekend

Thinking about visiting St. Petersburg’s Fort De Soto Park During a Holiday Weekend? Maybe the following pictures will help you make a decision.

During Thanksgiving Weekend I probably ate too much and walked too little.  The guilt started to creep in, and I decided to finally visit Fort De Soto Park in St. Petersburg to stretch my legs.

St. Petersburg's Fort De Soto Park During a Holiday WeekendHistoric Fort Ruins at the Fort De Soto Park Beach.

First things first, be aware that you’ll have to go through a few bridge tolls to get to the park. The number of tolls will depend on where you’re coming from, so make sure your SunPass has money in it. Then, don’t forget the park has a parking fee of $5.00 USD at the moment of this publication which you’ll pay at the entrance station or in pay stations located through the park. Ok, now that that’s out of the way.

After the park’s toll station, you will come across various entrances. There are entrances for a boat ramp, campgrounds (which you can and should book in advance here!), and a pier before you get to the actual Historic Fort entrance and parking.

Contrary to the campground’s parking, the Historic Fort’s and beach parking was not full. We started our walk by going up a ramp and stairs that take you to the fort’s overlook.

Ocean View from Top of Fort de SotoGulf of Mexico View from the top of the Historic Fort.

From this area, you’ll have a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Mexico and the Skyway Bridge. The view is so nice, there was even a couple having their maternity photoshoot taken there!

You can also see a few air vents that used to help vent the airs in the rooms below. I can’t even imagine how hot those rooms would have been in the scorching, humid, and miserable Florida summer.

Follow me on Instagram for more pictures of my visit to Fort De Soto.

As you can see below, there were also some people (but not too many) enjoying the beach. This makes it a good option if you want to avoid the crowds in Clearwater or Siesta Key. They also have a Dog Beach Area in case you are bringing your cute little doggy with you.

Fort de Soto BeachFort De Soto Park Beach.

“But why is it called a park if I had only seen a beach? ” The thing is, Fort De Soto Park is a chain of five interconnected islands or keys, that provides 1,136 acres of parkland, beach, and diverse ecology.  Besides, I like to take more pictures of the beach than the “park”.

The park attracts more than three million visitors per year, and the truth is, it has always drawn people. First, it was the Native Americans, then the Spaniards came, and after that, the United States Military.

Fort de Soto CannonsOne of the two sets of cannons that can rotate 360Degreess at the Historic Fort.

This area, specifically Egmont and Mullet Key had been eyed for years as strategic locations that could be used for military defense. Because of this, it was prohibited to buy the land for private use or development.

It wasn’t until 1898 that construction started, and surprisingly the project stayed within budget, at a whopping $155,000 USD (this would be more than $4M in today’s money).

Person exploring Fort De SotoMy mother looking at the Historic Fort rooms. They don’t look cozy at all.

The second part of the construction project included buildings that were built between early 1900 and 1906. There were 29 buildings including a 100-foot long barrack, hospital, stable, guardhouse, a shop for blacksmiths and carpenters, an administration office, a mess hall and kitchen, a bakehouse and a storehouse. All of the buildings were of wood construction with slate roofs, and this brought the total amount to $120,674.65 USD.

Now, some of the aforementioned buildings and rooms house memorabilia and pictures from their “glory days”. There is also a Museum where you can see artifacts from World War II.

Fort de Soto underwaterBirds love these Historic Ruins.

If you get tired of all the history, and you just want to relax, there is a Pier where you won’t need a fishing license to catch some dinner. There is also a waterfront promenade where you can have a romantic stroll and listen to the waves. Close to the Promenade, there is a Gift Shop where you can pick up cold drinks and small bites. As you can see, this place has it all, and I still have lots to explore.

I hope that by looking at these pictures and learning a little more about it,  you decide to give Fort De Soto Park a chance. It is the perfect quick getaway for a Holiday Weekend on the Florida Gulf Coast.

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Fort de Soto Bird in Beach

Additional Resources to help you plan your visit to Fort De Soto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida (USA)

Pinella’s County Fort De Soto Park Official Website

Picnic Shelter & Campgrounds Reservations

Not a fan of camping? Check out Airbnb options close to Fort De Soto and get $40.00 USD Off on Your First Booking.

Book a stay at the Residence Inn St. Petersburg Tierra Verde (8 min. from Fort De Soto). 

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Thinking about visiting St. Petersburg's Fort De Soto Park During a Holiday Weekend? All you need to know to help you make a decision.