St. Petersburg, Florida

Fort De Soto County Park

January 23, 2022

The drive from Palm Harbor to Fort De Soto County Park was a short but hectic drive through the heart of St. Pete. Anyone who has much experience towing an RV will tell you that driving a rig through a downtown area is about as bad as it gets – narrow roads, traffic, unpredictable pedestrians, etc. Thankfully, we were able to make it through without any mishaps, and we even got to drive past my sister’s alma mater, Eckerd College, which sits on prime real estate on the southern edge of St. Pete along the bay.

Fort De Soto County Park is located on a large barrier island situated at the mouth of Tampa Bay, which provides great views of the area and makes for some beautiful white sand beaches. We absolutely loved this park/campground! In fact, I would even be willing to say that it may just be our favorite campground throughout all our travels…

Despite booking our campsite more than six months before visiting, we were still lucky to nab a spot and were only able to book a reservation for six nights rather than a full week as we usually prefer (hence the one night stay in Palm Harbor). However, after experiencing the park firsthand, we can see why this place books up so quickly! The sites were simply fantastic, with lush tropical vegetation between each campsite, providing a sense of privacy. The layout of the campsites was also thoughtfully designed, with all interior sites being pull throughs and the exterior sites backing up to the water.

Unsurprisingly, we were blessed with LOTS of wildlife to take in while we were here. Most notably were the dolphins which regularly surfaced in the cove behind our camper, but there were also dozens of different bird species which regularly made appearances around our campsite – from diving pelicans, to beautiful white egrets, to throngs of little brightly colored birds which kept Charlotte entertained throughout the days.

While we were strolling around the campground one afternoon, we happened to spot a few familiar faces – our neighbors from Ochlockonee Bay (two stops before this one)! They were a super nice young family with three adorable little girls, each with strawberry blonde hair, which made them hard to miss. After catching up with them for a few minutes and marveling over the tiny odds that we would run into them again, we discovered that they were also at the KOA in Palm Harbor while we were there – what are the chances!? However, this would be the last possible run in with them as the mother informed us that she was pregnant with their fourth, and that they were heading back home to Minnesota to settle down in a proper sticks-and-bricks. Apparently #4 was where she drew the line when it came to the RV lifestyle. Anyways, I hope that they are doing well and that everyone is happy/healthy!

We were blessed with good weather for most of our time on the island, and the weekend was no exception, so we decided to hop on the e-bikes and check out the fort which gives the island its name. Although not quite as expansive as Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Fort De Soto still had tons of fun areas to explore/goof around in!

Once we had seen enough of the fort, we ventured over to the lovely beaches that the island has to offer. The white sand beaches on the gulf side of Florida are truly something special and are one of the primary reasons that we prefer this part of the state over the Atlantic side. It’s just hard to beat white sand beaches in January!

Getting groceries ahead of our trip to Fort De Soto County Park turned out to be a great decision, as we never even had to leave the island during our entire stay. And although we would like to explore more of Tampa Bay area, we were just having such a good time in the park that we had no desire to venture too far away.

I know I’ve said this a few times before, but if you’re an RVer/camper of any kind, you have to get your butt down to Fort De Soto sometime (preferably in the winter, if you can). This turned out to be one of our absolute favorite camping locations and it should be on everyone’s bucket list!