If you’re looking for a unique and memorable camping experience, Florida is the perfect destination. With its abundance of national forests, state parks, and wilderness areas, Florida offers a range of camping options that provide access to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the region. From primitive beach camping to established RV resorts, this guide will give you all the information you need to plan your next camping trip in Florida.
While camping in Florida can present some challenges like heat, humidity, and bugs, the state’s natural beauty and diverse ecosystems make it well worth the effort. With outdoor activities on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to note that advanced reservations are highly recommended for campsites. Fortunately, travelers can easily make a reservation online for a fee, up to 11 months in advance for all Florida State Park sites. So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, get ready to discover some of the best places to camp in Florida.
Ocala National Forest
Located about 70 miles north of Orlando, Ocala National Forest is a central Florida oasis that offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. The park features over 600 lakes, hundreds of miles of trails, and 14 developed campgrounds with designated campsites for both tents and RVs.
The park’s camping amenities are highly regarded for their cleanliness and scenic beauty. Visitors can easily access activities like swimming, paddling, wildlife photography, and mountain biking. The park also manages two rustic rental cabins for groups of up to 12 people, one of which overlooks a private natural spring and provides canoes for guest use.
Backpackers can find dispersed campsites in the Alexander Springs and Juniper Prairie wilderness areas, nestled alongside the Florida National Scenic Trail. This 1,500-mile trail was first constructed in 1966 near the park’s Clearwater Lake Recreation Area and is now home to a shady lakefront campground and a 1.3-mile loop trail. Nature lovers can keep their eyes peeled for signs of black bears and scrub-jays, as Ocala National Forest harbors the state’s largest population of these birds.
Campsite fees start at $31 per night. While some sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, visitors can make reservations in advance online at recreation.gov. Full hookups are available at the Salt Springs Recreation Area only.
Visitors can journey down the 60-mile Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway through pine scrub forests towering over crystal-clear pools to reach Ocala National Forest. The park is an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy a peaceful retreat in the heart of Florida’s natural beauty.
Bahia Honda State Park
If you’re looking for a tropical paradise with calm waters and pristine white sand beaches, Bahia Honda State Park is a must-visit destination. Located about 130 miles south of Miami on the Overseas Highway, this park boasts turquoise sea views and an abundance of birds and wildlife.
Visitors rave about the park’s beaches, which offer clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and paddling. For those looking to explore the coral reefs, an on-site operator provides daily snorkeling tours to offshore islands. Kayak rentals and a snack bar are also available.
If you’re planning to stay overnight, there are three campgrounds with a total of 80 campsites, as well as three fully stocked rental cabins. The Buttonwood and Sandspur campgrounds offer electric hookups for RVs, while the more remote Bayside campground allows hammock camping. All campsites come with picnic tables, grills, and water. Prices start at $36 per night for campsites, with additional fees for RV utilities and an $8 entry fee per vehicle.
Boaters will appreciate the on-site marina with 19 rental slips and two boat ramps.
Overall, Bahia Honda State Park is a tropical paradise with plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy.
Collier-Seminole State Park
If you’re looking for a unique experience in Florida, Collier-Seminole State Park is a must-visit destination. The park is located in one of the world’s largest mangrove swamps, offering visitors a chance to explore the Greater Everglades ecosystem, which is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including endangered species like the Florida panther, West Indian manatee, and the wood stork.
There are four nature trails in the park, which are perfect for hiking or biking. You can also paddle down the Blackwater River on a 13.5-mile canoe trail and enjoy the beautiful scenery while looking for wildlife. The park has a campground with 104 sites, including tent-only sites and sites that allow hammock camping. All sites come equipped with electricity, water, grills, and picnic tables. There is also a centralized shower facility, laundry room, and dump station available for campers.
The park offers a variety of activities, including educational ranger-led programs, canoe rentals, historic landmarks, and a children’s playground. Travelers have praised the park’s amenities, including the immaculate shower facility and laundry room.
It’s important to note that Collier-Seminole State Park is temporarily closed due to damage sustained during the 2022 hurricane season. Before planning a trip, be sure to check the park’s website for its reopening status. Fees for the park include a vehicle pass starting at $5 and a nightly camping fee starting at $22, with additional utility fees for RV hookups.
Faver-Dykes State Park
Located on the site of a former Spanish-occupied plantation, Faver-Dykes State Park offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The park’s crown jewel is Pellicer Creek, which boasts a 6.7-mile paddling trail through tidal marshes and estuaries. The creek is also part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, making it a popular destination for bird enthusiasts.
In addition to kayaking and canoeing, visitors can hike along paths through shady forests of hardwood hammock and saw palmetto. The park’s full-facility campground offers 30 spacious and secluded campsites with fire pits, picnic tables, and RV hookups for water and electricity. The central bathroom facilities include shower facilities and a dump station.
While the campground is well-maintained, campers should be aware of ticks in the area. A vehicle entry fee of $5 and camping fee of $18 per night apply, with an additional fee for RV utility usage. Overall, Faver-Dykes State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers seeking rugged, natural beauty.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
When visiting Jonathan Dickinson State Park, you will find a diverse range of ecosystems spread over 10,000 acres of land, divided into 16 different communities. The park’s unique location on Florida’s Atlantic coast, just 20 miles north of West Palm Beach, offers visitors a chance to explore the Loxahatchee River, the state’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River. You can rent a canoe or take a 90-minute guided boat tour to explore this beautiful river.
The park offers an array of hiking trails, including the Florida Trail and the Hobe Mountain Trail, which has a short boardwalk trail with an observation tower. Overnight guests have several options to choose from, including two campgrounds with restrooms, hot showers, and laundry facilities. The Pine Grove Campground has 52 sites, all with full RV hookups and access to a dump station. Primitive and equestrian campsites are also available, as well as 11 fully furnished rental cabins.
If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty, the park’s restaurant with a beer garden is conveniently located near the visitor center and rental cabins. Keep in mind that fees for campsites include a one-time $6 vehicle pass, plus $26 per night (additional fees apply for RV utilities).
Rainbow Springs State Park
You can find the Rainbow Springs State Park in north-central Florida, approximately 45 miles south of Gainesville. This state park is one of the largest natural springs in the state and has been attracting visitors for over 10,000 years. The park is an aquatic preserve and offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.
One of the popular activities in the park is river tubing, which takes visitors on a scenic trail down the river. The park also features manmade waterfalls and hiking trails, providing visitors with plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy the serene environment.
If you plan to stay overnight, the park offers campsites starting at $30 per night with full hookups, restrooms, laundry facilities, and a dump station. Resort-style amenities such as a kayak storage rack, concession stand, and camp store with equipment rentals are also available for overnight guests. However, some travelers warn that the campground is located several miles away from the springs, and some amenities like hot showers and electric hookups can be hit or miss.
Overall, the Rainbow Springs State Park is a treasure for visitors seeking a refreshing and healing experience in the midst of nature.
Everglades National Park
If you’re looking for a unique camping experience in Florida, Everglades National Park is a must-visit destination. This internationally acclaimed subtropical wilderness preserve is nicknamed the “River of Grass” and offers a variety of camping options. You can choose from tent-only and RV sites that come fully equipped with hookups, solar showers, and dump stations. For a more remote experience, you can opt for rustic “chickees,” which are wooden platforms only accessible by boating or hiking. However, beach camping is only recommended for those with advanced backcountry skills.
While exploring the park, you can take advantage of the many trails, landmarks, fishing spots, and wildlife viewing areas. Several guided kayak, airboat, or tram tours are also available. Some of these tours depart from the Flamingo Visitor Center, which offers waterfront camping spots (some of which are first-come, first-served), a marina store, and food and beverage vendors. Visitors have reported that this is a great place for seeing wildlife, especially manatees.
It’s important to note that the best time to visit the park is during the winter months when there are fewer bugs and rain, and more active wildlife. Drive-up camping reservations start at $30 per night, while wilderness permits start at $21 per night. Overall, Everglades National Park offers a unique and unforgettable camping experience for those looking to explore Florida’s wilderness.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
If you’re looking for a pristine beach experience, Gulf Islands National Seashore is the perfect destination for you. The protected shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico near the Alabama border offers natural beauty that visitors can’t help but gush about. The Fort Pickens campground, located 18 miles south of downtown Pensacola, is one of the busiest campgrounds in the National Park Service and has the only developed campsites on the Florida side of the park.
The area is popular due to its direct access to Langdon Beach and as one of the main starting points for the Florida National Scenic Trail. The region is also steeped in history, and guests can explore the ruins of a Civil War-era fortress and battery, or the on-site discovery center. Campers should note that while there is a small camp store, it’s essential to bring all supplies with you.
Fort Pickens has 200 campsites, 20 of which are tent-only, and all have picnic tables, fire rings, and electric hookups, along with access to bathrooms, hot showers, laundry, water, and a dump station. The cost is $40 per night, in addition to a one-time $25 vehicle entry fee. With all the amenities and natural beauty, it’s no wonder that Gulf Islands National Seashore is a popular destination for campers and beachgoers alike.
Westgate River Ranch
Looking for a change from the usual beach vacations? Head 90 miles south of Orlando to Westgate River Ranch, a dude ranch resort that offers a taste of “Old Florida” rustic heritage. With a weekly rodeo, horseback riding, trap shooting, and a farm animal petting zoo, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Rocky Mountain West.
Westgate River Ranch has a variety of lodging options, including tent and RV sites with partial hookups and bathroom facilities provided. For a unique experience, you can rent a glamping tent, luxury teepee, or Conestoga wagon tucked into groves of swaying live oak trees, all of which feature full bathrooms, air conditioning, and kitchenettes.
Guests are delighted by special touches like the delivery of nightly s’mores kits, access to a community campfire, and the use of a golf cart to get around the property, which make their visits even more comfortable and memorable. Rates vary, with tent sites starting at $45 per night. Additional fees apply for ranch activities.
|Tent and RV sites
|Delivery of nightly s’mores kits
|Access to a community campfire
|Use of a golf cart to get around the property
|Farm animal petting zoo
Experience the charm of “Old Florida” at Westgate River Ranch, where you can relax and enjoy the great outdoors with a touch of luxury.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
If you’re looking for a unique and picturesque vacation spot, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is an excellent choice. Located in the Florida Panhandle, just 15 miles east of Destin, this state park boasts stunning sand dune formations, pristine beaches, and top-notch campground amenities.
With over 3 miles of natural beaches and 15 miles of hiking trails, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. The park also features three freshwater lakes and is recognized as a part of the Florida Birding Trail, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.
The park’s campground offers 156 RV sites and 22 tent-only spots, all of which are shaded and well-maintained. Central restrooms, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, and shuffleboard courts are all available to guests. For those seeking a higher level of comfort and convenience, bohemian-inspired glamping tents are available for rent. These tents come with bicycles, beach chairs, and complimentary coffee shop treats. Cottages featuring full kitchens and air conditioning are also available for daily and weekly rentals.
In addition to the many recreational offerings available within the park, guests can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, bicycles, and beach umbrellas at the on-site camp store. The park also offers a convenient tram shuttle service to the beach.
Camping fees start at $24 per night, plus a $6 per vehicle fee to enter the park. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an adventure-packed outdoor getaway, Topsail Hill Preserve State Park has something for everyone.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
Looking for a unique camping experience with your family? Look no further than Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, located just minutes away from Walt Disney World. This “woodsy-chic” resort offers both cabin and campsite accommodations for visitors to the theme park.
At Fort Wilderness, you’ll find a variety of amenities to make your camping experience more comfortable. Take a dip in the swimming pool and waterslide, or enjoy transportation services, grocery delivery, and on-site activities for all ages. These activities include archery, paddle sports on a private lake, and evening campfire entertainment.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the elegant Tri-Circle-D Ranch, which houses 90 horses of all sizes, breeds, and colors for pony rides, carriage rides, and trail rides throughout the wooded property.
When it comes to dining, Fort Wilderness has plenty of options to choose from. Enjoy chuckwagon-style food from a food truck, poolside snacks, a rustic tavern, or the full-service Trail’s End Restaurant.
Rates for accommodations start around $100 per night and include picnic tables, grills, and Wi-Fi, as well as hookups for water, electric, and cable (some sites also offer sewer). If you don’t have a tent, RV rentals can be arranged in advance.
Note that all overnight guests must have both a valid ticket or annual pass and a theme park reservation to enter this campground.
|Swimming pool and waterslide
|Chuckwagon-style food truck
|Paddle sports on a private lake
|Poolside snack bar
|Evening campfire entertainment
|Full-service Trail’s End Restaurant
Overall, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground offers a unique camping experience with plenty of amenities and activities for the whole family.
DuPuis Management Area
If you’re looking for a free, no-frills camping experience, the DuPuis Management Area is the place to be. Located in a picturesque rural area between Lake Okeechobee and Palm Beach, this 22,000-acre natural area offers access to a wide variety of activities like hiking, biking, and hunting. You’ll need to obtain a special-use permit from the South Florida Water Management District online ahead of time to stay overnight, but there is no cost to enter, camp, or enjoy recreational activities on the property.
You might also be interested in:
- Exploring the historic landmarks and archaeological sites in the area
- Taking advantage of the 40 miles of bridle trails, which attract many equestrians
- Checking out the separate campground with special amenities available for those traveling with horses
- Visiting nearby Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida, for fishing, boating, and hiking (but avoid swimming due to the presence of alligators)
Travelers report that the campsites at DuPuis Management Area are well maintained with picnic tables, fire pits, hot showers, and a dump station. Although RVs are permitted, there are no hookups available. The area offers a peaceful and natural setting for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.