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Old 10-19-2010, 05:09 PM   #1
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fort desoto, florida

hi...last winter, we met up with some folks who heartily recommended that we consider a stay at fort desoto park, in the st. pete's/tampa general, on a true leap of faith, we have booked 2 weeks for this coming march.
now....looking for others to weigh in with their experiences at this it as good as we've been led to believe??
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:34 AM   #2
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Might've been us telling you (at Gamble Rogers )...we usually do a two weeker at DeSoto...always enjoy it. We're doing two weeks at Gamble this year on our 3 month snowbird flight- so will be skipping DeSoto this year. You guys will have a ball there. Did you get a waterfront site? Take a ferry ride to Egmont Key S P for a neat day trip. Rent bikes from the beach concession for the 8 miles of paved trails. Rent canoes/kayaks from the concession for a tour of the out for big winds and waves in the pm. WiFi at the ranger office is available but can access it from outside the office before they open. Weekenders can be a challenge, but the rangers and deputies do a great job of keeping a lid on things. There are no firepits but the volunteers can usually rassle you up a "portable" fire pit if you flag them down on their 'Gators. There is a nice activity building with fireplace and tables for chilly nights. (I'm assuming you are in the tent/ van camper loop) Nice seafood restaurant nearby at Tierra Verde. The beaches are fabulous...checkout the kiteboarders on the East beach. You can see your campsite on video via their website on the link for your site number. Washers and dryers at both bathrooms. You guys will have a blast!
Cheers...Alistair & Inge in The Road Toad
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Old 10-20-2010, 09:15 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Hope I can help!

I'm new to the forum, but this post is right up my alley...

We have a condo in nearby Clearwater, so I'm very familiar with the area.

Ft DeSoto park is a favorite day trip. I've never stayed at the campground, but the park itself is one of the best. In fact, North Beach has been on the list of "Best Beaches" in the U.S. several times. Walking out to the tip is like being on your own secluded island. Billy's Stone Crab Shack, on the access road to Ft. DeSoto is great, and stone crab season just opened on 10/16 -- a real treat! The nearby Don Caesar Hotel, the famous pink St. Petersburg Beach landmark, is another worthwhile dining spot. There are many more. Pick up a beach guide or other literature at the local restaurants or perhaps at the campground office. Golf is very nearby to the park, too. I can give other info if you're interested ... outlet shopping, restaurants, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Busch Gardens, dog races, beaches, and the Greek sponging village, Tarpon Springs. You'll have a GRAND time if you do a little exploring.
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:35 PM   #4
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thanks alistair and craig....we truly do appreciate the votes of confidence in our choice of destination!! we had met up with a couple while we were in myrtle beach who strongly encouraged us to go there....and then we met you and inge, alistair, and you both also spoke highly of fort desoto. so many places to choose from in florida...but couldn't get into most of them. lucky for us, we did snag this spot!!
the keys---well, we'd have to take a lesson from alistair and book our holiday with the fervor and dedication that he and inge do----that is how they are so fortunate to secure prime spots...they work hard at it!!
craig---i would be very interested in picking your brain some more....and will PM you for more info.
thanks so very much to you both.
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Old 10-20-2010, 03:43 PM   #5
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Wow... that looks like a really nice place to camp for barely more than $30 a night. That's what you pay up here to stay at a state park (usually $31-33 a night), and most of them are nowhere near a beach!

Okay, we do have Assateague Island State Park and Assateague National Seashore... but it ain't Florida!

Have fun down there!
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Old 10-27-2010, 05:25 PM   #6
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Great information. We have a son living in the area and were wondering about a nice place to camp. Florida is full of beautiful state and county parks!
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Old 10-28-2010, 05:32 PM   #7
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hi ...just a little aside....the loop we managed to get a reservation in is listed as "for tents/tent trailers (pop ups), and vans only". i emailed the park and stated that our trailer, at 13 feet, is smaller than alot of tent trailers BEFORE they even open up their slides! the head/chief ranger of the park emailed me back and said that "if our trailer truly was 13 feet long", he'd allow us to use that!! i copied his response in a reply email with our reservation dates to make sure they are fully aware that he agreed in advance to our using this loop....i surely don't want any nasty surprises when we arrive!!
the sites that face the water---truly gorgeous from their website photos!!---were fully booked...but we are thrilled to have ANY site for our first visit.
i've done alot of investigating this park since booking---i know, i know, i should have done the bulk of it before i booked!!!----but nothing i have read is bad..only good...
we are really looking forward to going, especially with all the help alistair and craig have been with providing info!!!
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Old 10-28-2010, 07:35 PM   #8
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Theresa, you're very lucky to land a two-week spot at Ft. DeSoto in March, our busiest tourist month of the year. Ft. DeSoto is the only local place we enjoy camping with friends. It's worlds apart from our busy county, and an enormous park.

If you're traveling to the park via Interstate 275, do watch carefully for your exit (#17, I think.. Pinellas Bayway/Eckerd College/Ft. DeSoto), as it's one of the last before the long Sunshine Skyway bridge to Bradenton/Sarasota area. Some friends of ours missed it a few years ago... and visited Bradenton by accident. You can also reach the Pinellas Bayway via US 19, which, though slower because of the many traffic lights, is easier for some of our friends who dislike interstate driving.
I'll chime in with the others on Billy's Stone Crab Shack. We like to eat at the bar... nice folks, and good food. Nearby St. Pete Beach is loaded with good local restaurants, and a few chains as well, as is the rest of the county.
If you like kayaking, but not the work of sea kayaking, there are a inland spots to rent kayaks and canoes as well. One of the best is Weeki Wachee, a few hours north, for a float trip in crystal clear river water. You may see otters and gators, too.
From DeSoto to the south (and a short drive, after you cross the bridge) are lovely Manatee and Sarasota counties. The Ringling Museum in Sarasota is a wonderful day trip (the art museum is free on Mondays, paid admission any day gets you into the house, the circus museum, and the art museum). If you like mid-century architecture, Sarasota is loaded with it, and there's a nice driving tour of the Sarasota School of Architecture homes left in the area. Another nice day trip is the Manatee end of Longboat Key, more old-time Florida than many of our local areas.
You might also want to stop at the manatee viewing area at the power plant... it's fascinating, and free. The Lowrey Park Zoo in Tampa also has a beautiful manatee viewing area, but they're in tanks.
OK, I could go on... I've lived here over thirty years. We hope you enjoy our county as much as we enjoyed your beautiful New Brunswick in September.
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Old 10-29-2010, 06:34 PM   #9
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You will not be disappointed, its a great place, Florida is full of gorgeous state parks and this Fort Desoto county Park is right there with them. The biggest part of their sites are on the perimeter so all have a view of the water, The pull through's are in the center. nice bike riding, and the old fort museum is very interesting. raccoons are quite pesty but if you don't feed them they will generally move on to someone who will. Have a great stay
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Old 10-30-2010, 05:42 PM   #10
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thanks everyone for the fantastic info!! as i wrote to craig in a PM, the only other thing i would really like to know about,,aside from all the terrific info so far, is the name and location of a really good pizza place.
we are really looking forward to this leg of our trip south, but more so today when environment canada's predictions for winter say it's likely to be "alot less balmy than last year"....heck, it can be as wicked as it wants!! we're counting the days!
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