The widely diverse topography, wildlife, and all-around atmosphere within Florida state lines opens up an array of options for camping experiences.
The choices seem endless. You can stay in the marshy wetlands of old Florida, spot gators and other wildlife, explore historic hiking trails, or pitch your tent on the sandy shore and launch your canoe at sunrise.
Here’s just a glimpse into the multitude of Florida campsites, each with a little something different to offer.
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Ichetucknee, Fort White
Floating down the river in a tube or other raft is the premiere event of the summer season at Ichetucknee. In the Spring, scuba diving through the Blue Hole is highly anticipated for the certified diver. You can rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the river, make friends with river otters, manatees and more. It is inhabited by a wonderful variety of water birds as well as other species. Sites are either primitive or electric, and are large and secluded. There is a nearby rec center with a game room, air hockey and other fun activities, making Ichetucknee the ideal family campground. While nearly all Florida springs have something unique and special that sets them apart, Ichetucknee has the complete package of wildlife, cleanliness, crystal clear turquoise water, rentals and ease of transportation. The shuttle service makes going for a second trip down the river an effortless option. On chilly nights, management will deliver bundles of wood to your camp for a $5.00 Fee.
Payne's Prairie, Micanopy
This secluded plot nestled in the Florida wilderness is a dream come true for the exploratory spirit, encompassing a 21,000 acre park. If you want real interactions with Florida wildlife in their natural habitat, on top of an old Florida camping experience, there’s no match for Payne’s Prairie. It’s certainly the place to go for a roughing-it camping experience, without being too far from civilization. Payne’s Prairie is situated in north Florida in the town of Micanopy, just a few miles south of Gainesville. This massive plot of land is designated as a National Natural Landmark. The audio visual exhibit at the visitor center gives a detailed explanation of the habitats and cultural history. It’s the ideal place for watching the rich array of wildlife including alligators, bison, horses and more than 270 species of birds. There are enough nature trails and equestrian trails to keep you occupied for hours, or elect to canoe along the 300 acres of Lake Wauburg. The campsites are primitive, located along the Chacala Trail. There is room for up to 20 people, a waterless restroom,two grills, a horse hitching area and a hand operated pitcher pump with non-potable water. You must purchase firewood, not gather it.
Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key
This park, not far from Marathon, was discovered via Henry Flagler’s railroad from Miami to Key West. The underwater views and turquoise waters make for a captivating snorkeling endeavor. The Sand and Sea Nature Center introduces you to the local wildlife and educates you on the habitat. You can rent equipment like snorkel gear, kayaks and canoes onsite, take a swim, relax and have a picnic, and indulge in nature. Bahia Honda is famous for its the cleanliness and unmatched ocean views from its large and private campsites. The closeness to the beach its campsites have (like the one pictured above) makes for entertaining days and tranquil nights filled with the sound of crashing waves.
Wekiwa Springs State Park, Apopka
A short drive to all that central Florida has to offer, and separate from the hustle and bustle of Orlando, Wekiwa Springs manages to maintain complete seclusion from the rush of busy city. Situated at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, time seems to stand still at this park, and gives visitors an impression of what life was like when this territory was inhabited by the Timucuan tribe. Hike, bike, or ride along the 13 miles of trails, or paddle along the Wekiva River and Rock Springs run. If you don’t own a kayak, the park’s concessionaire can take care of you. The full facility and primitive campgrounds are both accommodating and peaceful. Take a dip in the beautiful, bubbling spring that rests at a cool 72 degrees all year long.
Fort De Soto, St. Petersburg
Fort De Soto’s beach alone warrants a visit, as it has been called the nation’s best beach by Dr. Beach and a top beach by TripAdvisor. The campground area of Fort De Soto Park has over 7 miles of waterfront with stunning white sandy beaches. Entertain yourself during your stay by kayaking down the still water’s edge, canoeing down the 2.25 mile recreational canoe trail, or exploring the soldier’s hole area nature trail and get a little history lesson. Fort De Soto park consists of 1,136 acres, composed of 5 connected islands, or keys. These keys are naturally landscaped with the Florida foliage you love, including mangroves, wetlands, palm hammocks, hardwoods and native plants. Birdwatchers will be pleased to know that more than 328 species of birds call this ecosystem home. Lifeguards are on duty in designated areas and the boat launching facility is large enough for most recreational water vehicles (Check here to see if you require a permit)!
Alafia River, Lithia
In the town of Lithia, just a few miles from Tampa, is the Alafia River State Park. This park is known for its challenging off-road bicycling trails, perfect for the expert cyclist looking for an adventure. Originally a phosphate mine, the unique topography has massive shifts in elevation atypical of Florida, which makes it ideal for cycling. Equestrians and hikers will enjoy exploring the hardwood forests in the 20 miles of hiking and horse trails. The campground touts itself as the prime space for peace and tranquility in Florida wilderness. Electricity, and equestrian amenities are offered in select sites.
Ocala National Forest
This expansive north Florida forest campsite has plenty to offer in the way of scenic views, wildlife, springs and more. Ocala National Forest has a campsite for every type of camper. It has full service sites for those that aren’t too fond of roughing it, but also primitive walk-in tent camping sites. There are also cabins for groups or families. As it has miles freshwater lakes, activities like boating, skiing, fishing, air-boating, canoeing, kayaking and more are popular ways to keep entertained in this state park.
Long Key State Park
To state the obvious, this 965 acre Florida State Park on Long Key is massive; It provides plenty of opportunity to find your ideal spot in which to camp. Stay cool with the ocean breeze and rinse off in the Atlantic’s cooling waters. Equipped with all camping staples: fire circles, canoeing & kayaking launches, hiking nature trails, the proximity to the beach and its activities sets Long Key apart from other primitive campgrounds. Spend your days fishing, snorkeling, swimming, wildlife viewing and Geo Seeking.
Manatee Springs, Chiefland
In the winter season the West Indian manatees swim upriver along manatee springs. Be sure to plan your trip accordingly to witness this blissful migration. Scuba Diving and snorkeling are hugely popular on Manatee Springs, so don’t forget your gear (or rent some onsite)! The onsite concessionaire, Anderson’s Outdoor Adventures, can provide you with all your rental equipment including canoes and kayaks (they also serve delicious BBQ). The first-magnitude springs at the park produces roughly 100 million gallons of cool water each year. The river travels through hardwood wetlands and into the Suwanee River. There are 86 campsites in three loops, with a nearby hot shower restroom. The campground is surrounded by shady red oak woods.
Lake Kissimmee State Park, Kissimmee
Lake Kissimmee State Park in Kissimmee Florida is a lovely dose of old Florida nature. Learn about Florida’s cowboy history by watching the living history demonstrations at the Cow Camp, a 1876 era “Cow Hunter” demonstration. Wildlife known call the park home include bald eagles, sandhill cranes, turkeys, bobcats and even bald eagles. There is a 6 mile equestrian trail for horse lovers, a shaded picnic area and pavilions for family gatherings, and over 13 miles of hiking trails. Launch your boat into Lake Kissimmee to explore the 35,000 acres of waterway and neighboring lakes. Cast your line for bass fishing, or try your hand at pan fishing.
Florida Caverns, Marianna
Talk about a one of a kind experience; The Florida Caverns offers the only dry cave public tours in Florida, and is one of only a few in existence in the state. The stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones and draperies make for dazzling views, and offer a truly unique experience. Even if you don’t visit the caverns, the park itself is beautiful, adorned with Floridian flora and fauna. There are 35 campsites that all have electric and water hookups for RV and tent camping. Stables are onsite for horses and pets are welcome.
Ginnie Springs, High Springs
If you are scuba certified, be sure to come to Ginnie Springs prepared. Divers come from miles away to dive embark in a cave diving experience, exploring the underwater mysteries that make up the spirit of Ginnie Springs. Bring your flotation device, or rent one onsite, and let the current of the main river system carry you effortlessly from one side to the other. You can exit the main river to explore one of several turquoise-hued springs that appear along the way. Another thing that sets Ginnie Springs a part is its tolerance of alcohol, so feel free to bring a few beers in your cooler as you float along the river. Enjoy your night’s stay in wilderness sites or one with electricity, or book the overnight rental cottage.
Sebastian Inlet State Park, Melbourne Beach
One of the top spots for fishing and surfing, Sebastian Inlet State Park sits along Florida’s East Coast. The park itself has 3 miles of beachfront grounds, and is adjacent to the Indian River Lagoon, an ideal spot for kayaking and canoeing. Famously nicknamed the Treasure Coast, visitors have been known to find gold coins washed ashore after a big storm. These coins are leftover from the Spanish Treasure Fleet of 1717. The campsite is a short walk from the beach. Get a dose of Florida history at the The McLarty Treasure Museum, or at the Sebastian Fishing Museum. Educate yourself on sea turtle conservation at the interpretive exhibit near the Inlet Grill & Gift building. Centrally located in the park is the tent and RV campground. The beach is a short walk away from the site, which offers 51 campsites with electrical and water hook up, a fire ring, grill and picninc table. There is even a Wi-Fi hotspot near the marina.
Visiting Suwannee River National Park is a history lesson in itself. As you explore the grounds you’ll bare witness to historic sights including the state’s oldest cemeteries, a paddle-wheel shaft from a 19th century steamboat, and mounds of earthworks built during the civil war to guard against the Union Navy’s gunboats. Nature trails are abundant, ranging from short quarter mile trails to an extensive 18 miles. Not far from the river itself is a comfortable campground that offers 30 oak-shaded sites with electricity, water, sewer, picnic table and fire ring. Bathrooms and showers are a short walk away and there’s a dump station for RV’s and campers. Bring your pets but remember to keep them on a 6 foot leash!
Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine
Aside from the sandy dunes and blissful beach just minutes from the campground, Anastasia State Park has the typical Florida wilderness experience to offer. On top of being a short trek away from the beach, it’s a short ride from all that St. Augustine has to offer! It almost seems fitting to spend a night outdoors this close to Florida’s most historic city! The grounds have 139 campsites, all located within the maritime hammock. Concessions are close by, so you can easily rent a bike and leisurely ride it to the beach in minutes. Anastasia features 8 miles of white sandy beach, with a lifeguard on duty in the designated swimming areas. No pets allowed at the beach.
You can’t visit peace river without leaping at the chance take out your ATV’s and other outdoor vehicles. If that’s not your speed, canoeing down the park’s namesake river is a tranquil one-on-one experience with Florida wildlife and nature. Children and pets are welcome and prevalent at the campground. The grounds have a bike path, a playground with a game room, fishing, hiking and even laundry facilities. There’s an 84 degree heated pool for when you want to take the plunge but the natural water is too chilly.
Lithia Springs, Lithia
Another Lithia destination campground is this 169 acre preserve along the Alafia River. Lithia Springs is especially good for families with children who love to play in the water. The dedicated swimming hole is clear, cool and spacious with clearly marked perimeters for the safety of its patrons. The spring pumps 26 million gallons of water into the pool at a cool 72 degrees. On the other side of the park is the camp ground, with a variety of sites that are river front or close to the canoe launch.