De Soto National Memorial

Overview

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. Walk along the nature trail to learn more and take in the wilderness around you, watch a living reenactment during the Living History Camp, walk along the beach or paddle around the cove, swim and relax at a beach or watch an orientation film in the theater.

The Visitor Center is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park grounds are open dawn to dusk, but the parking lot gates close at 5 p.m. Vehicles left within the parking lot after 5 p.m. will remain there overnight and may be ticketed. Admission is free. De Soto National Memorial is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The park may be closed during hurricane season if the arrival of a hurricane is imminent.

Map

Seasonality / Weather

Winter is normally mild with occasional periods of temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Summer is normally hot and muggy with both temperature and humidity exceeding 90 F.

Directions

Driving: 

From I-75: Take exit 220 SR 64/Manatee Ave, Gulf Beaches exit. Travel west on SR 64 for approximately 12 miles to 75th St. W. Turn right onto 75th St. W. travel north approximately 2 miles to the northern terminus 75th St. W. turns into De Soto Memorial Hwy and dead ends into the park.

From I-275: Take exit 5, follow US-19 into Bradenton. Turn west onto State Road 64, and proceed approximately five miles to 75th Street West. Turn right (north) onto 75th Street West, and proceed 2.5 miles to the park entrance and the terminus of 75th Street/ De Soto Memorial Highway.

From Cortez Ave travel west to 75th St. W. turn right. Travel north on 75th St. W. approximately 4 miles to northern terminus. 75th St. W. turns into De Soto Memorial Hwy and will dead end into the park.

Flying: 

Two major airports are located with a 50 minute drive of the park: Sarasota-Bradenton Airport (20 miles), and Tampa International Airport (50 miles).

Public Transport: 

Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) serves the area, however, no bus routes currently stop at the Memorial.

By Boat
Boaters may access the park via the Manatee River. A small cove east (up river) of De Soto Point offers a temporary anchorage sheltered from south winds. Small craft may be beached at the cove, but boaters may not tie to protected vegetation including mangroves nor to park equipment including signs and benches. De Soto National Memorial does not have a boat ramp.