Fort Desoto County Park, St. Petersburg, Florida

Fort Desoto Park is very close to St. Pete Beach and offers boating, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, bicycling, skating, running, nature trails, historical fort, fishing piers, doggy beach, shelling, birding, camping, and swimming.

Swim area at Fort Desoto's North Beach.

North Beach is the best beach in the park for swimming.

This park was voted by Dr. Stephen Leatherman (aka Dr. Beach) as the number one beach in the nation in 2005. It certainly lives up to this in most areas. However, swimming is not recommended in many areas of the park. Most beaches in the park have signs posted warning against swimming because of strong water currents.

There are two designated swim areas. One is at East beach where lifeguards are present during certain hours. The other is at North Beach in a shallow, protected lagoon, and in the Gulf just past the lagoon. Swimming in the Gulf at north beach is excellent. The water is clean and calm and shallow. Lifeguards are present during posted hours. This small shortcoming is compensated for by the rest of the activities available at the park. Toll roads provide access to the park and there is currently a $5 per vehicle entrance fee as well.

The St. Pete Beaches are located 10 minutes from Fort Desoto park, so it's just a short drive to Pass A Grille, St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and all the rest. Downtown Saint Petersburg is 15 to 20 minutes away by car.

Beach at Fort Desoto County Park, St Petersburg, Florida

The view of the beach between the Gulf Pier and North Beach. Swimming is not recommended on this beach, but it's great for sunbathing, shelling, birding, fishing, or just going for a long walk. Quite a few wedding ceremonies are performed on this beach.

Gulf Pier at Fort Desoto Park viewed from atop the fort.

This is the view of the Gulf Fishing Pier as seen from the top of the fort. You can see Egmont Key in the distance.

Kayak rentals at Fort Desoto Park.

This is the kayak rental vendor. They have canoes and kayaks and you can launch from this location. The water is right behind the kayaks. They ask that you not take their boats into the open Gulf.

Rental bicycle at Fort Desoto Park.

The park vendor rents all kinds of bikes and there are plenty of bike paths all over the park.

A great day for shelling on a Fort Desoto Park Beach.

This is what a good day of shelling looks like on Fort Desoto's North Beach. Right after a cold front.

Dog beach at Fort Desoto Park, Saint Petersburg, Florida.

This is the dog beach. It's very popular and is right next to the fenced dog park.

Snack bar on Fort Desoto Park's North Beach.

Here is the snack bar and gift shop at North Beach. They sell the usual beach supplies too.

Picnic facilities in Fort Desoto Park.

The picnic facilities in the park are the best anywhere.

Fort Desoto Park's Bay Fishing Pier

The bay pier isn't as long as the Gulf pier, but is still very popular. It's close to the dog beach too.

Camping at Fort Desoto Park's campground.

The Fort Desoto campground is the best in the area. It's not right on the Gulf Beach, but it does offer plenty of waterfront campsites overlooking the bay waters. It has an area for tents as well.

Copyright: David McRee,