We've been going to Fort De Soto Park every December and January since December 2008. It's one of the few unspoiled beaches left in Florida...you won't find any hotels or restaurants (other than a couple of small snack bars) here! A perfect place to get away from all the noise that accompanies beaches along Gulf Boulevard.
If you haven't been here before, be sure to see the remains of the original fort. Climb to the top of the walkway above the fort grounds and you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the Gulf of Mexico. There's also a hiking/biking trail which runs the length of the entire park, which then heads north to Tierra Verde. East Beach offers a fantastic view of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
We routinely bring a charcoal grill and make our dinner here, then watch the sunset. There are different sections of the beach, some busier than others. You can no longer grill on North Beach past the footbridge. There are charcoal pits available throughout the different beaches within the park, as well as running water and restrooms.
They introduced a parking fee of $5 per car in January of 2012. Yearly passes are available to reduce that cost. While the fee may keep some people away, in the long term the reduced attendance should serve to keep the park clean. People seem to respect the area and mostly clean up after themselves anyway.