Photo Friday – Sideways trees at Ft. De Soto

The effects of the Gulf breeze on young trees.

The effects of the Gulf breeze on young trees.

Last week, I reviewed Fort De Soto park in Pinellas County.  This picture didn’t make it into that review, but I wanted to share it anyway.

Many of the trees on the Gulf side of the island have grown sideways – a result of the gusty winds that blow in off the water.  Many of the trees, like this one, are growing parallel to the ground, giving the sensation of windy-ness, even on the calmest days.

If you’re in St. Pete this week, head out to Fort De Soto after you wrap up your holiday shopping and take in the views and the arboreal anomalies.  I promise it’ll be worth it!

Is Fort De Soto park the best beach in the country?

Fort De Soto Park is a county-owned park in Pinellas County, and as county-owned parks go, it’s one of the most spectacular.

With a beach that regularly ranks in Dr. Beach’s completely arbitrary top 10 beaches in the country, a historic fort, kayak trails, fishing piers, an amazing campground and miles of hiking and biking trails, there is no shortage of things to do at the park.

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Fort De Soto has a sentimental place in my heart – it’s where I had some of my earliest and most memorable tent camping experiences.  It was also one of the closest wilderness areas to my childhood home, presenting a drastically different beach landscape than the nearby tourist-filled, condominium-lined beaches of St. Pete and Clearwater.

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The mangrove trails at Weedon Island are the coolest ever

A few months ago, I posted a Friday photo from Weedon Island Preserve, in St. Petersburg. The photo was a few years old, but I revisited the park recently to kayak the trails for probably the tenth time.

There’s lots of great kayaking in Florida, and lots in the Tampa Bay area, but nowhere comes close to Weedon Island.  Watch the video for a good summary:

Weedon is located in on the Tampa Bay side (as opposed to the Gulf side) of St. Petersburg.  Even though it’s been open to the public for the last 80 years, you’d be surprised how many people in the Bay area have never even heard of it.

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Photo Friday – Madeira Beach

A calm, quiet day on Madeira Beach in Pinellas County.  Madeira is less popular than many of the beaches that surround it, but it’s not because it’s an ugly beach.  Madeira has a subdued hotel and restaurant scene, and because of that, it tends to be frequented more by locals and less by tourists.  It also has a McDonald’s with a dock, so you can arrive by boat (or kayak).

OK, a bonus photo, to make a point:

If that’s not a uniquely Florida idea, I don’t know what is.