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With the ever-increasing cost of travel plus all of the new restrictions, it can be tricky planning an affordable, fun getaway to the Key West. The good news is that there's no need travel so far south to enjoy white sand beaches and blue water when you could just spend a day (or night) at our local "keys" in Fort De Soto Park located just south of St. Petersburg.
I have been up and down the Gulf Coast in search of the best local beaches, and I think I've finally found it. After spending an entire day over the weekend exploring the 1,000+ acre park consisting of several small islands "keys," I'm convinced that it's home to the most stunning beaches in the area --and better yet it features many coastal access points so it wasn't overly-crowded in any particular area (Clearwater Beach, I'm looking at you).
Not only does this collection of islands feature plenty of coastline that you're sure to find your own private paradise in, but it's full of other recreational activities to get involved with that will keep you and your family busy from dawn until dusk including camping, kayaking, fishing, picnicking, and trails (both hiking and biking), to name a few of the highlights. It's also one of the few parks in the area that has an off-leash dog beach and a fenced in dog park.
There's a museum and reminiscence of the old fort that you can meander through during business hours and several snack bars and giftshops dotted along the island in case you need some food or retail therapy --or just a break from the sun. For an additional price, you can hop on a ferry from Fort De Soto to Egmont or Shell Key for a very unique beach day.
There's a $5 toll onto the island and it costs $5 to park in the parking lots, but it's a small price to pay compared to a trip to the Key West. Additionally, those with a disabled parking pass can park for free. Note: bring cash for the toll roads since they don't take card!
Fort De Soto Park is located at 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., Tierra Verde, and it's open daily from 9a.m.-7p.m. The fishing piers close at 11p.m. daily.
You can find out more by visiting the park's official website here!
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