Fort De Soto Campground has to be one of the best, non-well-kept secrets out there. This is a fabulous, award-winning county-run campground in Pinellas County, Florida.

Camping right on the water at Fort De Soto Park Campground
Camping right on the water at Fort De Soto Campground

Campground Description

It is located near St. Petersburg and Tampa in the Fort De Soto Park, a large park consisting of 1,136 acres spread out of five interconnected islands.

Of the 238 campsites, more than half are directly on the ocean.

It can be difficult to snag a site, as they fill up fast, but plan ahead to get a reservation. 

Being right on the water, there is abundant wildlife all around, including some brazen raccoons who know we humans are more afraid of them than they are of us!
Our neighbors were avid fishermen, and docked their boat right at the campsite each day before they went out fishing.

White egret bird
Egrets make themselves right at home in your campsite

The campground is very well maintained and there were plenty of staff on-site when we stayed there in April 2018 to help answer any questions we had.

We had plenty of space to fit our 27 foot trailer and accompanying full-size F-350 truck.

Lush landscaping at Fort De Soto Park Campground
Lush landscaping at Fort De Soto Campground

Campground Amenities

The large, private sites come with water and electricity, but no sewer. There are two dump stations available for your use and several very well-maintained bathhouses with hot showers.

A camp store has free wi-fi available for campers.

We stayed in site #180 and could pick up the wi-fi signal, albeit a little weak at that distance from the camp store. Any of the campsites from #165 to #180 should be able to pick up the wi-fi signal depending on the weather.

Campers from any of the campsites are welcome to sit up on the deck at the camp store and use the free wi-fi signal.

Camping right on the water at Fort De Soto Park Campground
Waterfront campsite at Fort De Soto Campground

For direct, open water access and views, sites #200 to 206 seem to be the best options.

We stayed on a more protected side of the peninsula and while still directly on the water, the sites 200-206 are facing the open water part of the ocean and have better scenery.

Many of the other campsites have mangroves in between them and the water, so be sure to check out the campground map before making a reservation to see what your view will be.

Overall, all campsites are great at this fantastic campground, but some locations are truly prime ones worth reserving if you can!

Things to Do in the Fort De Soto Campground Area


We brought our bikes as there are miles of well-maintained bike and walking paths in the Fort De Soto Park.

We biked to the beach (about a mile from the campground), went to the dog beach to watch the dogs frolic in the waves while freed from their leashes, visited the historic fort, and also biked up to the beautiful Arrowhead picnic area up near the north beach area where we watched birds nose dive fishing.

St. Petersburg

The town of St. Petersburg was not what we expected as it was far more cosmopolitan than anticipated and had a fun artsy vibe to it.

We had friends in the area and enjoyed checking out some restaurants and bars in the area.

Salvador Dali Museum

On a rainy afternoon, we visited the Salvador Dali Museum which is a beautiful waterfront 20,000 square feet museum of this genius artist’s work.

Paddleboarding with Manatees at Three Sisters Springs

One day we took a field trip from Fort De Soto to go paddleboarding to see the endangered Florida manatees in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. About two hours north of Fort De Soto Park, Three Sisters Springs is located in Crystal River, Florida.

During the winter months (from about November to March), manatees are attracted to the crystal clear warm spring waters.

There are plenty of tour companies that offer boat, kayak and paddleboard tours in the area. We have our own paddleboards, so we parked at the Hunter’s Spring Park in Crystal River and paddled across the bay and up a canal to the Crystal River park.

Final Thoughts on Fort De Soto Campground

Fort De Soto Campground is a beautiful spot to stay at in Florida. The campground fills up quickly, so it’s important to reserve early. If you’re not able to find a spot, keep checking to see if there are any cancellations on the reservation website.