Fort De Soto Park was named America’s
Top Beach by TripAdvisor, the world's
largest online travel community.
Citing a “spectacular combination of
soft white sand, calm, clear water and a
laid-back atmosphere,” the popular
online travel network put the park’s
North Beach at the top of its annual
best-of list, based on TripAdvisor's
This marks the second time in three
years the pristine Pinellas County beach
has received top honors on an annual
“best-of” list. In 2005 Dr. Stephen P.
Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” named
Fort De Soto the
nation’s #1 Beach
Beaches are the number one recreational
destination for Americans. These sandy
playgrounds that line our coasts are the
most extensive natural parks in the
The largest park within the Pinellas
County Park System, this park consists
of 1,136 acres made up of five
interconnected islands. First opened on
December 21, 1962, when the state toll
road named the Pinellas Bayway was
completed, this park was dedicated May
11, 1963, in perpetuity as a public
Annual park attendance averages more
than 2.7 million visitors.
The 12-inch mortar battery, located at
the fort for which the park was named,
was listed in the National Register of
Historic Places in 1978. Adding to the
historical interest at Fort De Soto, two
British breech-loading, rapid-fire
rifles of 1890 vintage were installed in
March 1982. Markers showing the original
building locations and a
add to the park's historic
Renovation and conversion of the East
Beach concession building to a picnic
shelter was completed in 1991. The new
picnic shelter can easily accommodate
Complementing the park's natural and
historic features are:
1. Over 7 miles of waterfront, including
almost three miles of the finest white
sand beach in the United States.
2. An 800-foot-long with eleven floating
3. A 238-site family camping area with
facilities including picnic tables,
grills, water, electricity, washers,
dryers, sanitary disposal stations,
modern restrooms, showers, play areas,
and a camp store.
4. Two large swim centers including a
food concession area located at the
North Beach Swim Center.
5. Two fishing piers--one on Tampa Bay
(500 feet long) and the other on the
Gulf (1,000 feet long). Each pier has a
food and bait concession.
6. Fourteen large group picnic shelters
incorporating award-winning aesthetic
and functional design features.
7. Twenty storm-resistant public
restroom buildings featured in several
8. A snack bar/souvenir shop offering a
beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico.
9. A 6.8 mile, 12-foot-wide asphalt
recreation trail connects the campground
with the North and East Beach Swim
Centers and the historic fort.
10. A 2.25-mile recreational canoe
11. A 1-mile nature trail in the
Arrowhead Picnic area, and a 3/4 mile
nature trail in the Soldiers' Hole area
provides a glimpse of some the native
fauna and flora. 12.
13. 2,200 foot Barrier-Free Nature Trail
is a self-guided interpretive trail
providing access to nature for all
visitors to Fort De Soto Park,
regardless of their physical abilities.
14. Youth camping area for organized
youth groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl
Scouts, Church groups, etc.