Beaches are a totally inexpensive recreational destination for Americans. Fort Desoto Beach, named America's top beach for the second consecutive year by TripAdvisor, sports a spectacular combination of soft white sand, calm, clear water and a laid-back atmosphere. The largest park within the Pinellas County Park System, Fort Desoto park consists of 1,136 acres of five interconnected islands. Bring along Fido for some swimming and fun in the on-site dog park.
Park amenities include the beach, a campground, canoe trail, concession, barrier free trail, ball field, boat ramps, boardwalk and nature trail, education center, equestrian center and trails, fishing, frisbee golf, historic interest, multi-purpose trails, observation tower, picnic area, pier, playground, ranger station, restrooms, shelter & grills, showers, swimming, guided nature walks and camping. Camping reservations must be made online at www.pinellascounty.org/parks. A campsite may be reserved for a maximum of 14 days. Rates are $30 per night and campsites are limited to one of the following groups of camping rigs: one motor home and two vehicles, one travel trailer and two vehicles, one pop up camper and two vehicles, or one pick up truck with mounted camping rig. In addition, one small tent for children and/or one boat trailer is allowed on each site. There is a six person limit per campsite.
3500 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde, FL 33715. Hours: 7am - Dark. Admission: Free
With the warmer temperatures, visitors are going to Honeymoon Island State Park for a relaxing afternoon on the beach. Enjoy the day at the beach by building sandcastles, scouring the beach for that perfect shell, or simply taking in some rays. With approximately 4 miles of shoreline, beach lovers will find a variety of activities with areas designated for swimming on the main beach, a pet beach on the south end and great shelling and walking on the north end which turns into a sand spit. Ready for lunch or a quick snack? Head to the South Beach Pavilion for a delicious bite to eat. And instead of trotting back to your patch of sand, enjoy your meal from the deck of the pavilion while taking in breathtaking views of the dunes, Hurricane Pass and Caladesi Island. Beach amenities include canoeing, kayaking, concession and restaurants, fishing, hiking, nature trails, interpretive exhibit, picnic pavilions, playground, restrooms, surfing, ranger guided tours, and wildlife viewing. Dogs are allowed in designated areas such as pet beach on the southern tip of the island and on the nature trail. Pets must be on a 6 foot hand held leash at all times while in these areas Picnic pavilions can be rented for $30 per day, plus tax.
1 Causeway Boulevard, Dunedin, Florida 34698. Hours: 8am-sundown, 365 days a year. Admission. $8.00 per vehicle (limit 2-8 people per vehicle), $4.00 single occupant vehicles, and $2.00 for pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass. Starting one hour prior to sunset, the fee is $4.00 per vehicle.
encompassing approximately 383,000 acres, is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world's largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. Despite its high, dry, central scrub ridges, the Ocala National Forest is rich in water resources with more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs. Four major natural springs of crystal clear water can be enjoyed at the popular recreation areas of Juniper Springs, Salt Springs, Alexander Springs and Silver Glen Springs Recreation Areas. Amenities include canoeing, swimming, picnicking, fishing, hunting, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding and four-wheeling on designated Jeep and ATV trails.
Visitors can also enjoy year round camping for up to 14 days in most campgrounds, and even longer in other campgrounds, depending on the season. The majority of camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. Salt Springs, Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Clearwater Lake, and Big Scrub take reservations through www.recreation.gov. All of the group campgrounds and cabins are by reservation only. Camping can be divided into five classes based on the type of facilities offered and fees charged: Cabins, Developed Campgrounds, Group Campgrounds, Primitive Campsites, and Dispersed Tent Camping. Camping permits and discount passports for senior and disabled U.S. citizens are available. For $80, visitors can purchase an Interagency Annual Pass that is good for 12 months from month of purchase.
17147 E. State Road 40, Silver Springs, FL 34488. Hours: Monday thru Friday 7:30am - 4pm. Admission: Free
Take a tour of the Lakeridge Winery, ranked as Florida's largest premium winery. The winery sits on 127 acres and offers an impressive selection of wines. Their facility is beautiful and the video presentation at the beginning of the tour gives a great history of growing grapes in Florida. They have special events throughout the year and the grape stomp event in August is especially fun for the kids. There is a viewing deck overlooking the vineyards and a gift shop where you can, of course, purchase wine. The Lakeridge Winery can be reached at (352) 394-8627.
19239 Highway 27, Clermont, FL 34715. Hours: Monday thru Saturday 10am-5pm, Sundays 11am-5pm. Admission; Free
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