9 Best Campgrounds and Camping Spots in Florida

Florida is famous for its nature. From the Everglades to the northwestern panhandle, the diversity of the ecological regions in the Sunshine State are truly extraordinary. In South Florida alone, there is a mind-boggling range of ecosystems, such as pine-lands, dunes, marshes, swamps, coral reefs, and mangroves. The stunning, complex and unique landscape of Florida has even been recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot. 

So, you’re considering venturing into the great outdoors, and in Florida no less! At Outdoor Command, we are well aware that the most exciting part about camping getaways is really diving into a natural habitat, opening your tent door in the morning to watch the sunrise over the sea or sleeping soundly after a dinner of your fresh catch cooked over a fire. So, to help you plan the best camping experience possible in Florida, we’ve rated our top ten recommendations for camping spots, divided by the most exciting natural habitats or features: caves, forests, beaches, and wildlife viewing.

Read on to discover the best camping in Florida experience for you!

Caves

A backpacker inside a cave.

A backpacker hikes inside of a cave.

 

1. Ginnie Springs Outdoors

Ginnie Springs Outdoors is a privately owned park in Gilchrist County, just northwest of High Springs. It boasts seven natural springs, all with crystal clear turquoise water, surrounded by woodland. The surroundings of this campsite are truly magical, with many of the tent sites just on the side of the river or the spring sites, scattered amongst Ginnie Springs 200 wooded acres. The most exciting part about this option is the freshwater cave diving you can do on location. It’s open to novices, and there are many certified divers from the Dive Centre to guide you through the process. It’s also a great option for certified divers, with 30,000 feet of passageways to explore in the Devil Spring System.

Prices at Ginnie Springs are more than some camping options: starting at $22 per night for each adult. However, there are a large number of facilities which make this price worth it, such as a general store, volleyball courts, playgrounds, covered pavilions for groups and parties, picnic tables and grills, laundry services, bathhouses, a playground, and Wi-Fi access. However it can get noisy and a bit busy during the summer months, so we wouldn’t recommend a family trip here except for in fall and spring. This option is perfect for a group who are looking for a camping experience with all the bells and whistles and to try deep water diving in the most magical woodland setting.

 

Pros: 

 

  • 30 AMP electric
  • Water
  • Good mobile connectivity
  • Restrooms and showers
  • Camp store
  • Playground and recreation area
  • Fishing
  • Freshwater cave diving

 

Cons:

 

  • Very popular, so can be quite busy – book in advance
  • Not very motor-home friendly, better for tents

 

2. Florida Caverns State Park

Florida Caverns State Park is the only park in Florida with dry caves, with regular tours for the public. These dry caves are truly astounding, with stalagmites and stalactites as far as the eye can see, so it’s worth visiting the park just to witness this geological wonder. This 1,319-acre state-owned park has 35 campsites with electric and water hookups for RV and tent camping. All 35 campsites are well equipped, with restrooms, showers and laundry facilities, and there’s even a camp store and a playgoing for family groups.

Touring the magical dry caves is not the only outdoor activity at Florida Caverns State Park. You can also swim in the Blue Hole swimming area, paddle on the Chipola River, canter along the Horse Equestrian Trail, and hike along the scenic trails viewing natural wonders such as floodplains, sinkholes, and rivers. All of the 35 campsites are scattered amongst this astoundingly varied natural landscape; the main pull to this site is nature, nature, nature. The campsites themselves, despite the many amenities, sometimes come into problems when it rains, as most of the sites are just sat on mud. But while being surrounded by all of this incredible nature, we don’t think you’re going to mind a little bit of dirt on your boots.

 

Pros: 

 

  • Full hookup and electric (30 and 50 AMP)
  • Good mobile connectivity
  • Restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities
  • Camp store
  • Playground
  • Recreational trails 
  • Dry cave tours

 

Cons:

 

  • Mainly mud flooring in campsites, so can get slippery or dirty under heavy rain – not great for RVs
  • Bring mosquito spray!

 

Forests

 

A natural forest in Florida.

A natural forest in Florida.

 

3. Hillsborough River State Park 

Only a short distance from Tampa, this location brings you into the great outdoors, without the inconvenience usually attached. Hillsborough River State Park boasts one of the few sites in Florida where you can go white water rafting, and we think the best: here you can go canoeing or kayaking on class II river rapids. There are also 7 miles of trails, like the Wetlands Restoration Trail, so you can go hiking and biking to your heart’s content under cabal palms, live oaks, and hickory. The campsites available here give you all the basics and then some: not only is it convenient to reach, but these sites come with showers, laundry facilities and a camp store for you to get your groceries and necessities.

Hillsborough is also a historical park: opened in 1938, this park hosts the Fort Foster Historic Site, a reconstructed fort that stood during the Second Seminole War. So you’ll not only be surrounded by nature but also living history. From the park, you also have easy access for fishing, for bream, catfish, and bass. So if you’re looking for a site that has a variety of different activities, and to be stimulated not only physically but intellectually, then this could be the perfect site for you! However, as with many campsites, the roads leading to the sites are narrow and could deal with being replaced. This also is maybe not the best option for RV as there is no full-hookup. However, these are small prices to pay for the variety and beauty of the expire you’ll have at Hillsborough River State Park.

 

Pros:

 

  • Good mobile connectivity
  • Restrooms, showers, laundry facilities 
  • Camp store
  • Recreational trails, nature trails, and white water rafting
  • Fishing

 

Cons: 

 

  • No full hookup for RV
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Roads are narrow and need to be repaved

 

4. Little Lake Bryant Primitive Camp 

Little Lake Bryant Primitive Camp is located in the Ocala National Forest, which is known for its huge areas of sand pine scrub forest. There are also hundreds of lakes and ponds, such as Lake Kerr and Lake George, most of which have stunning crystal blue waters and are surrounded by pine and palms. The Little Lake Bryant Primitive Camp is really what it says on the tin: primitive. With no amenities and a 4-day maximum stay, this isn’t the right option for those wanting a VIP nature experience.

Situated right on the side of Lake Byrant, this site is popular amongst backpackers, campers, anglers and family groups alike. Under the cooling shade of live oaks, you can look out to the stunning lake from your tent, where you can even go fishing for free. There are many stunning trails in Ocala National Forest, such as the Yearling Trail, which passes by a sinkhole and the remains of some nineteenth-century homesteads. So although this is definitely not luxury camping, this is a great option for the more adventurous camper and could be a great pit stop for you on your camping journey if you’re wanting to save a bit of money.

 

Pros: 

 

  • Free
  • Boat ramp
  • Lake and pond fishing (need a permit)
  • Close to towns Forest Corners and Moss Bluffs, for groceries
  • Great for camping alone or families

 

Cons: 

 

  • No facilities

 

Beaches and Islands

 

A beach in Florida

A beautiful Florida beach accessible from the nearby campground.

 

5. Fort Pickens Campground

Fort Pickens Campground is located in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, or the Gulf Coast, on a barrier island between the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay. Pensacola Beach is a stunning place to hang out, swim and sunbathe, with dunes and views as far as the eye can see. This is a great camping spot for RV, and with the town of Gulf Breeze nearby, you’ve got gas, groceries, and nightlife just around the corner.

Fort Pickens is also just a mile away from the campsite, for all the history lovers out there. This fort was used during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War II. It has regular tours for the public – and even a very large cannon! There’s also a Naval Museum on the base of Pensacola, which is only a bridge away, for further context. This site is a great option for those looking for a varied and titillating stay, not only the best beaches: you can not only learn about history but also absorb the surrounding natural landscape of white sand beaches, blue water, and coastal marshes.

 

Pros:

 

  • An electric hookup (30 and 50 AMP)
  • Good mobile connectivity
  • Restrooms and showers
  • Playground
  • Recreational trails
  • Fishing

 

Cons:

 

  • No laundry facilities
  • No Wifi

 

6. Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina

Fiesta Key RV Resort is a haven for RV and tent camping: a 28-acre resort on a privately owned island. If you’re looking for tropical waterfront camping on the Gulf of Mexico, then look no further!   This island offers all you could need, including Wi-Fi, spa (including a whirlpool and hot tub), swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, boat ramps, dog park, onsite marina, onsite store, and restaurant. There’s also the Long Key State Park nearby and the Dolphin Research Centre to give you more activities during your stay.

From this incredible beach-side location, one of the best out of the options of RV parks or RV sites, you can view an amazing array of wildlife, even manatee spottings! But the biggest pull factor to this location is not the best RV park, but the beautiful white sand beaches with their incredible views: imagine beachfront paddling here and looking out to the ocean. Easily accessible by a highway, this is a great choice for those of you looking for a more luxurious stay, and to chill, swim and sunbathe on the beach to your heart’s content!

 

Pros: 

 

  • Full hookup 
  • Wi-Fi
  • Restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities 
  • Camp store
  • Pool and spa
  • Basketball and volleyball courts

 

Cons:

 

  • Some sites are better than others 
  • Power and freshwater connections are on the wrong side of the site

 

Wildlife Viewing

 

7. Flamingo Campground 

The Flamingo Campground is located in the stunning Everglades National Park. This gorgeous landscape provides a haven for protecting numerous rare and endangered species like the American crocodile, the Florida panther, and the manatee. The park’s uniqueness doesn’t stop there, it’s also a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. It’s also a mecca for bird watchers with over 300 avian species.

With acres of mangrove forests, canals, and canoeing trails, and manatee and crocodiles in the marina, this really is an excellent option to dive headfirst into a unique natural habitat. However, this doesn’t guarantee luxury! With an ecosystem, this diverse, expect to be joined by lots of critters, bugs, and even snakes while you camp. Remember your mosquito spray, and keep a brave face on if this isn’t your cup of tea, and we’re sure you’ll be fine! But, of course, this is not an option for the faint of heart. This campsite also isn’t the cheapest option – if you’re looking to save money then check out some of the state-owned campsites. However, for nature lovers, this is an opportunity you can’t turn down!

 

Pros: 

 

  • Good mobile connectivity
  • Restrooms and showers
  • Access to recreational trails and fishing

 

Cons: 

 

  • No Wi-Fi
  • No Laundry facilities

 

8. Manatee Springs State Park Campground 

This campsite is located in the Manatee Springs State Park, located close to Chiefland. Manatee Spring is a first magnitude spring that flows directly into the Suwannee River. There’s a lot of gorgeous natural habitat to be seen in the park, including swamps, hardwood wetlands along the Suwannee and lots of sinkhole ponds – one even includes a cave 90 feet below ground that connects to the catfish hotel, a popular divers destination. The springs and the river boast beautiful clear water for boating, scuba diving, and fishing.

The Manatee Springs State Park Campground provides all the necessary amenities needed for campers – but not if you’re looking to go “glamping”. The campsites are not uniformly well maintained, with some people complaining about the sand sites and roads which can quickly become dangerous if it rains. However for the more experienced gamers out there, this should not be an issue, all of the basic amenities are provided.

But we think the most exciting thing about staying at the Manatee Springs State Park Campground is the natural sights. Visitors in the winter can view the migration of the West Indian manatee to the springs. If you want to get up close and personal with a unique and unparalleled natural experience, then look no further than Manatee Springs State Park.

 

Pros: 

  • Wi-Fi
  • Restrooms, showers
  • Playground
  • Recreational trails
  • Camp store

 

Cons: 

  • No laundry facilities
  • Sites are all sand, and there are potholes on the roads, be careful if it rains
  • Lots of ticks, remember to check yourself often

 

9. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park 

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a perfect destination for nature lovers. With both tent and RV camping available, you can enjoy your trip surrounded by coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and seagrass beds. There’s an incredible number of activities to be done here, such as snorkeling, scuba diving and glass-bottom boat tours to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. So we can guarantee that your trip to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park definitely won’t be boring.

Situated on Key Largo, this state park contains roughly 70 nautical square miles of Atlantic Ocean waters. Interestingly, it was the first underwater park in the United States! There are three designated swimming areas, and picnic areas with grills, so you can all relax together after a long day exploring and swimming. Furthermore, you can also go snorkeling at Canon Beach, to see the remains of an early Spanish Shipwreck 100 feet offshore.

 

Pros: 

  • Wi-Fi
  • Restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities
  • Recreational trails and fishing
  • Full hookup
  • Coral reef

 

Cons: 

  • Sites are a little tight, recommend to go in a less popular season
  • Nature trails are quite short

 

Final Verdict:

So did you know about the incredible eco-diversity of Florida? The state is not just Orlando and Miami, but so much more. We’ve presented you here with our favorite tried and tested spots. But you might also want to consider checking out Bahai Honda State Park, Cayo Costa State Park, Anastasia State Park, George Island State Park, St George Island, Rainbow Springs State Park, Grayton Beach State Park, and the list goes on and on… With such an amazingly varied list of options for where to camp in Florida, it can be difficult to know where to start. Ask yourself the following questions: 

 

  • How much can I pay? 
  • How adventurous do I want to be? 
  • How many luxuries do I need? 
  • RV or tent camping? 
  • Beach, forests, caves or animals? 

Whatever your needs and desires, we’ve provided you with the options for the best camping in Florida. Now all you need to do is choose, and start planning!

 

Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.