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De Soto National Memorial

De Soto National Memorial - BEST Places to Picnic

P.O. Box 15390
Bradenton, FL 34280

Phone
Visitor Information
(941) 792-0458 ext. 105

A Bloody Four Year Battle in the New World

On a swelteringly hot day in May 1539, Spaniard Hernando de Soto splashed ashore at Tampa Bay intent on capturing the riches of La Florida by any means necessary. His army was alternately welcomed and opposed by Native American tribes throughout what is now the Southeastern United States in a four year, four thousand mile odyssey of intrigue, warfare, disease, and discovery.

Things to Do

Nature Trails

The Nature Trail winds along the shoreline and through several Florida ecosystems, including a mangrove forest like the one that De Soto's men would have encountered when they landed. Trails include interpretive signage and waysides that tell the story of the De Soto Expedition and the natural history of the area. Bicycling is allowed in the parking lot, but not on the sidewalks or trails.

Forty-five minute guided Trail Walks are offered by Park Rangers daily at 11 a.m., staff availability and weather permitting. Inquire at the Visitor Center. For tour availability, call (941)792-0458, ext. 105.

Camp Uzita

Our Living History Camp Opens December 13, 2008 and will run through April 25, 2009. Rangers and volunteers dressed in period clothing will present talks on a variety of historical topics related to the De Soto Expedition and Florida's Native Americans. There will also be weapons and Spanish and native craft demonstrations throughout the day.

Our living History Camp Season will close on April 25, 2008 with our popular De Soto landing event. Living History Rangers and volunteers will re-enact the historic landing of Hernando de Soto on the beaches of Tampa Bay. The day will include talks and demonstrations on Life in the 16th Century, Florida's Native American heritage, and the Legacy of De Soto's expedition.

Picnic Area

A ten table picnic area is located adjacent to the parking lot and is available for visitors on a first come basis. Large groups and schools should call ahead to reserve seating. Grills and alcohol are not allowed within the park.

Bird Watching

The seasonal migration of birds brings many bird watchers to the park in the fall and early spring. The exact timing of migration is dependent upon weather. Come to our visitor center and inquire what new and rare birds have been sighted recently at De Soto National Memorial.

Camping

De Soto National Memorial has no facilities for camping. The park grounds are closed from sunset to sunrise.

Beach

Several small beaches are located within the park. The De Soto Point Beach is located west of De Soto Point and northwest of the Visitor Center. This beach is exposed to the current of the Manatee River and the waves of Tampa Bay. The Cove Beach located on the south side of De Soto Point and is more popular because it is sheltered from most current and waves. No life guards are on duty. Swimmers use park beaches at their own risk.

Fishing

Fishing with rod and reel is allowed within the park with a valid Florida drivers license. Fishermen are not allowed to stand on rip rap or to clear brush from any area in order to gain access to the water.

Boating

The Cove is a popular temporary anchorage for small pleasure boats. Canoes and kayaks may be launched that may easily carried to the water by hand may be launched from the park beaches provided that vegetation, terrain, and wildlife is not disturbed. Loud motors and the creation of excessive wave action is prohibited.

Dogs

Dogs are permitted within the park only when on a hand held leash.

Nature

De Soto National Memorial is comprised of approximately 26 acres in Manatee County on the west coast of central Florida. Situated on a spit of land at the mouth of the Manatee River at its confluence with Tampa Bay, the park has over 3000 feet of shoreline. 

Roughly 80% of the park is mangrove swamp with the remainder consisting of pine flatlands and mixed hardwoods, remnant shell ridges, and deposited dredge material from the adjacent Manatee River.

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