Fort de Soto Park, located just southwest of St. Petersburg, is a 1136 acre park located on 5 “keys” or islands: Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key & the main island, Mullet Key. The habitat of these keys is very diverse, consisting of mangroves, hardwoods, palm hammocks, wetlands, and beaches. Spring and fall are the best seasons to see migrating birds, of which 328 species have been identified. Herons and white ibis are most frequently sighted.
Fort de Soto is one of those rare parks which offers it all, conveniently in the same place. Smooth sugar sand beaches, hiking trails, a gorgeous 7 mile bike path, a 2 mile long canoe trail, 2 fishing piers (5000 and 1000 feet long) and a scenic observation deck are just a few of the great amenities found here. This is a great place for basically any type of recreation – swimming, sunbathing, biking, walking, fishing, kayaking…you name it.
You also have the option of taking a ferry over to Shell Beach (great beachcombing) or Egmont Key (home to a historic lighthouse and also a great place for snorkeling).
Look into the weekend tour offered by Fort de Soto Eco tours. This 90 minute boat ride takes you past the estuaries and inshore areas of Mullet Key, giving you an upclose look at the mangrove shorelines. Lots of manatee and dolphin sightings are just extra bonuses.