Fort De Soto Park in Florida

In 2005, Fort De Soto Park in Florida was named America's number one beach by Dr. Beach (yes, he's a real person, is really a doctor, and does an annual top 10 list of the best beaches in America - click here to visit his website).

Because beaches are an American favorite for vacationing, because camping is a popular activity, and because many people who camp like to take their dog with them, Fort De Soto is my pick for this week's "destination of the week."

In addition to the great beach area, there are 236 camping sites. All sites have water and electrical hookups (35-50 amp service); plus a picnic table and charcoal grill. Eighty-five of the sites are for tents, vans, or popups only; the rest accomodate all types of camping units. Pets are permitted in sites 86-164 (the highlighted area of this map shows where dogs are allowed).

Plus, there is a special Paw Playground for dogs at the park. It is a green fenced area where dogs can roam unleashed and where there are cooling stations with showers and dog level water fountains for them to cool off in. There's even a prime stretch of beach area where dogs can romp and play. dog at paws playground

Camping reservations can be made 6 months in advance (7 months if you are a Pinellas County Resident) on some of the sites. Not all are reservable. Some are first come, first served. Nightly camping fees range from $33.60 to $39.20. Make sure you want to camp at Fort De Soto before making a reservation though, because they do not give refunds no matter how far in advance you cancel. Instead they issue a credit for a future reservation but that credit is only good for one year. Click here for more information on the cancellation policy and to make reservations. Click here for a .pdf file about the campground area including check in and check out times as well as rules, policies, hours, and informational phone numbers.

Fort Desoto Park

While at the 1,136 acre park, which is 5 interconnected islands, check out the Quartermaster Storehouse Museum and the 12-inch mortar battery that is located at the fort for which the park was named. It is located on the largest of the islands, Mullet Island.