The crashing of waves and chirping of birds is a soothing reminder you’re on beautiful Mullet Key in Tampa Bay.

  • Fort De Soto Park is at the entrance to Tampa Bay
  • Park features dog park, white-sand beaches, kayaking
  • Visitors can embark on ferry to Egmont Key

But that silence can easily be broken by the sound of barking dogs. Owners and dogs alike enjoy one of the Florida’s largest off-leash dog beaches.

Cheryl Swarbrick recently visited from Canada.

“I just love it here," she said. "It's a fantastic place for our dogs to enjoy the water and of course some other dog company."

But don’t fret if you’re not a dog lover: The pristine white beaches at Fort De Soto Park offer so much more than just a fun spot for dogs.

“We have beautiful sand and beaches, but by my estimation, the main attraction is when you turn around," said Fort De Soto Park Chief Ranger Mike Agliano said. "You don’t have any structures or hotels, so when you turn around, you get to enjoy Florida nature at its best."

A nature lover's paradise, this county park offers miles of untouched beach line for bird-watching more than 300 different species, shell hunting, or just relaxing and fun in the sun on its 6 miles of beaches.

Other activities you can enjoy include bike and kayak rentals and a 46-foot tour boat ferry across the water to beautiful Egmont Key.

Be sure to pack a bag — this trip will leave you exploring for the whole day.

"I love it. It's just beautiful here,” Swarbrick said. "I brought my cousin here for the first time, and we’re just showing them there is just so much to do and see in Florida besides the amusement parks."

Fort De Soto Park is open year-round. Campgrounds are available for about $45 a night, but if you’re just looking for a day trip, it’s a $5 fee per vehicle.

You can find more information on the park’s website,