Days four and five in Indian Shores, Florida were so full of amazing moments for our family and I am so excited to share all about it.
We started after morning rush hour as we had to go through town and wanted to avoid that. Today the plan was Fort Desoto. It was quite a drive but a scenic one. We drove past the Don Cesar Resort which is the stunning pink hotel. I have always wanted to stay there. Ahhh, a bucket list item 🙂 . We had to stop along the way as one of the bridges was a drawbridge and a boat was going under. The kids were quite interested in watching this. This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn some money if you click on one. Read the full disclaimer here.
Fort Desoto is a park on five offshore keys, or islands: Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key and the main island, Mullet Key. The keys are connected by either bridge or causeway. The island group is accessible by toll road from the mainland. Historically, the islands were used for military fortifications; remnants and a museum exhibit this history. Two piers, beaches, picnic area, hiking trails, bicycling trails, kayak trail, and a ferry to Egmont Key State Park are available.
Normally I would not bore you with too much history, but I find Fort Desoto quite interesting so bear with me:
In 1849, Brevet Col. Robert E. Lee (the famous American Civil Warcommander) and three other US Army Engineers surveyed the area and recommended Mullet and Egmont Keys become fortified. Both keys could only be reached by boat, since they were islands off the mainland. Union troops were stationed on the two keys during the Civil War (1861–1865) to aid in the Union blockade of Tampa Bay. The keys were again abandoned by the military until 1882 when military reservations were officially created on the two keys. However, it would be several years before actual permanent construction would commence as a result of defense considerations linked to the Spanish–American War.
Hillsborough County established a quarantine station on the eastern side of Mullet Key in 1889. It became known as Mullet Key Quarantine Station. The Marine Hospital Service took over jurisdiction of the station in 1901. The duty of the station was to inspect aliens aboard ships arriving from foreign ports. By 1925 the station operated with fifteen buildings. The quarantine station operated until 1937, when the Public Health Service transferred its operations there to Gadsden Point, near Tampa.
The main operation on Mullet Key, however, became Fort De Soto in 1900, named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. The Army post was officially a subpost of Fort Dade, which was constructed on Egmont Key. These posts were to contain batteries of artillery and mortars to protect Tampa Bay from any invading forces. Construction of Fort De Soto began in November 1898 and was completed in 1906. The post was active from 1898 to 1910.
You really could spend hours here with the self-guided historic fort and Fort De Soto Batteries building tour, over 7 miles of waterfront, includes almost three miles of beautiful white sandy beach, 800-foot-long boat launching facility with eleven floating docks, 15 picnic shelters, playgrounds, Multipurpose trail – seven miles of paved trail connecting North Beach, East Beach,Two large swim centers including a food concession area, Two fishing piers-each pier has a food and bait concession, Quartermaster Museum ,2.25-mile recreational canoe trail,nature trail, and even a dog park! The beaches have much acclaim including named “Best Beach for Families” by USA Today in 2014 and Parents magazine’s top honors in 2011.
The historic fort and Fort Desoto Batteries were highlights for all …
They really liked hanging on those bars pretending they were in jail…
Fort Desto really is an educational mecca!
You can explore trails, beaches or the play areas. We took a short walk on the beach that goes on for miles.
One last note…be aware it is a lot of walking to see the fort and Fort Desoto Batteries, not too mention adding in any of the other activities.
We went back to the condo to have dinner in and we apparently didn’t expel enough energy at Fort Desoto … we went to John’s Pass again, per request.
Who doesn’t love a good old boardwalk?
We stopped by Cuban Paradise where you can buy cigars and Cuban coffee.
Once inside we found I guy hand rolling cigars. This was so interesting to watch. I, of course, had a Cuban coffee.
We headed back to the condo to take showers and enjoy the sound of the waves from the balcony prior to going to bed.
We woke up pretty early the next morning because we were looking forward to the beach and pool all day. After so many chilly days, it was nice to be warm and be able to enjoy it. We were also talking about planning another visit back for even more family fun. Five days just wasn’t enough!
Early morning, we started with a walk…
Can you believe this Sand Art?!
This gorgeous beach! This beach is relaxing, very family friendly and not at all overcrowded or as fast-paced as other Florida beaches.
We did spend time at the pool but we also spent time in the ocean and they played in the sand.
For dinner, we enjoyed Caddy’s again, which has become a favorite for us. If you plan a trip to the area, this is a must. We enjoyed the food and atmosphere and we loved watching this guy fly his large kite!
After dinner treat…
After dinner, we stopped by another favorite, Haze Ice Cream. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it right? Well, we already know we love Haze so why go anywhere else?! As someone who doesn’t really eat ice cream, this is high praise.
We had such an amazing kick-off to summer in Indian Shores. We already knew what a family-friendly vacation spot Indian Shores is, but we found even more to do than previous vacations and we can’t wait to come back! You can see all of our Indian Shores family vacation stories and tips here.