Surprise, surprise: Camping takes on a whole new meaning in the Sunshine State. Think acres of wide-open beaches, stunning ocean views and crystal-clear waters. If you’re looking for your next outdoorsy adventure, plan a visit to one of the nine best camping sites in Florida. (Pro tip: Pack ample bug spray and plan to camp between the months of October through March for a cooler and less-buggy experience.)
The 9 Best Camping Spots in Florida
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1. Long Key State Park
Encompassing nearly 1,000 acres along Long Key (one of the Florida Keys), this camping spot was once a favorite of wealthy socialites, celebrities and even U.S. presidents in the early 20th century. Today, this beachy state park is replete with kayaking, hiking, birding, fishing and snorkeling. If you decide to spend the night, Long Key offers tent-only oceanfront campsites overlooking the Florida Keys.
2. Myakka River State Park
One of Florida’s oldest and largest parks, Myakka River State Park centers around its namesake river, which flows through 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies and pinelands. It’s no surprise that boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are major here. There are miles of trails for hikers and bicyclists, too. With six campgrounds throughout the area, set up a tent around a fire pit and break out the s’mores. Oh, and while you’re there, make it a point to climb into Myakka’s palm tree canopy, which offers next-level views of the surrounding park.
3. Blackwater River State Park
Calling all Game of Thrones fans: Blackwater River State Park is a must-visit. Despite its name, this golden brown-hued river, which runs through Blackwater State Forest and the surrounding park. In fact, the forest is one of the largest contiguous longleaf pine/wiregrass areas remaining in the world—making it rarer than a tropical rainforest. Of course, campgrounds are a dime a dozen here. There are 30 different sites, each featuring electric service, potable water, RV hookups, picnic tables, fire rings and grills.
4. Cayo Costa Island State Park
Accessible only by boat or kayak, Cayo Costa Island State Park features nine miles of unobstructed beachfront paradise. Perfect for fishing, swimming, snorkeling and shelling, Cayo Costa is the epitome of Florida camping. With cabins and campsites lining the store, it doesn’t get any more picturesque than this.
5. Rainbow Springs State Park
Humans have been visiting Rainbow Springs for more than 10,000 years, featuring lush, mossy hammocks and man-made waterfalls. The clear, aqua-blue waters are a sight to be seen, serving as an ideal spot to cool off after exploring and hiking through the grounds. Enjoy the springs for a few days straight by camping on-site. Amenities include a campground store, showers and restrooms, a laundry facility (!!!) and a playground for the little ones.
6. Fort De Soto County Park
Featuring award-winning beaches, Fort De Soto is made up of five stunning islands covering more than 1,100 acres of land. Canoeing, kayaking, and hiking galore, this camping spot has something for everyone. There’s even a fort (hence the name) with artillery holds, cannons and firing galleys. Toward the top, check out sweeping views of the park and surrounding Tampa Bay.
7. Biscayne National Park
Did you know Miami-Dade County is home to the third largest park system in the nation? That’s right—there are more than 280 public green spaces ready for a visit. Among them is Biscayne National Park. It’s definitely not your average park, either. More than 90 percent of it lies underwater, preserving South Florida’s coastal barrier reefs. See for yourself with a tour on a glass-bottom boat, which begins at the park’s visitor center. You’ll marvel at manatees, sea turtles, limestone corals and thousands of other sea creatures. If you’re looking for camping, Elliott Key, which is the largest island in the park, offers ample campsites, picnicking areas and a hiking trail.
8. Bahia Honda State Park
Don’t have enough time to squeeze in a camping trip in the Keys? Head to Bahia Honda instead. This beachside park—covering more than 500 acres and with a view of an abandoned, historic bridge—is perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, tanning (with SPF) and boating. With more than 80 campsites, both tents and RV campers are welcome, with on-site restrooms and hot showers. Take it up a notch by booking a furnished cabin—but make note that reservations are required in advance.
9. Canaveral National Seashore
More than a dozen island campsites are available at Canaveral National Seashore. The best part? You can (and should!) coincide your visit with a rocket launch, as this park is notorious for serving up top-notch views of the NASA site.
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