De Soto National Memorial

De Soto National Memorial

Activities & Programs

Indoor Activities

Bookstore
The bookstore was expanded in 2005 and features an excellent selection of texts about the De Soto Expedition and the Native American cultures encountered, as well as keepsakes to remember your visit by. Some items may be ordered on-line by clicking here.

Exhibits
The Visitor Center includes stunning displays of historic armor, weapons, and related period items. Helmets and armor are available to try on.

Theater
In 2001 De Soto National Memorial debuted a new twenty-two minute orientation film entitled "Hernando de Soto in America." The vivid depiction of the De Soto Expedition and the Native Americans it encountered during the four year journey is shown daily in the Visitor Center theatre. Seating is limited and early arrival is recommended during peak season (mid-December through Easter Sunday) to insure the ability to see this popular film.

Other Amenities
Modern restrooms, a pay telephone, and a drinking fountain are available in the Visitor Center. There are no fees to entry fees for the park or the Visitor Center.

Outdoor Activities

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.

Bicycling
Bicycles are welcome at De Soto National Memorial. Bicycles may be used on the road and in the parking lot. For the safety of our pedestrian visitors, bicycles are not allowed on the shell trails, in the encampment, on the grass, and nor on the sidewalks adjacent to the Visitor Center. Bike racks have been provided at the picnic area for the convenience of all who arrive at the park by bicycle.

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.

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.

Camp Uzita
Living History programs are presented daily from December 15, 2007 through April 26, 2008. Rangers and volunteers dressed in period clothing present talks on a variety of historical topics related to the De Soto Expedition and demonstrate weapons and crafts.

The camp opens at 10 AM and closes at 4 PM. Formal programs 20-30 minutes in length are held at 10:00, 11:30, 1:00, and 2:30 daily to coordinate with the showing of the movie in the visitor center on the hour. Informal presentations occur throughout the day weather permitting.

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

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

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.

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.

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.