Historic Old Florida meets remote bliss
Fort DeSoto is more than 1,000 acres of absolutely untarnished, rustic, incredible Florida wilderness. Is it a beach, national park, historical landmark, or a museum? It's all of the above, really. Depending on which spot you pick to set up shop, it’s an entirely different experience. First there’s the 7 miles of beach (and the water every which way is always a gorgeous sky blue). There's also a couple fishing piers, extensive trails winding through the area’s five interconnected islands, plus plenty of areas for a secluded picnic under a palm tree. And no matter what, don’t miss the1898 Spanish-American War fort, which was once inhabited by Tocobaga Native Americans. From there, you can also can hitch ride via ferry to the completely serene and uninhabited Egmont Key, where troops were once stationed during the Civil War, to explore abandoned houses, go shelling, and spot tortoises before diving in with a snorkel to uncover treasures around old shipwrecks, and if you’re lucky, playful dolphins.
Where to eat/drink: Not going to lie to you: there isn't a whole lot around Fort DeSoto, thus the basis of its beach appeal. For food, your best bet is to pack your own coolers -- there are also designated grills in the picnic areas. You can also hit up a concession stand truck for drinks, snacks, and ice cream.