Well-known for its popular theme parks in Orlando (such as Walt Disney World, other Disney parks, and Universal Studios), the breathtaking Everglades in the south, the notorious party scene in Miami, and the miles and miles of beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers, and other wildlife areas throughout the state, it’s easy to see why Florida remains such a popular vacation destination.
With so much to see and do in the Sunshine State and with so many beautiful nature areas, there’s no limit when it comes to great camping options available in Florida. And although thoughts of Florida may often call to mind images of beaches, the truth is that there is a fairly broad array of natural settings around the state; it’s not just all beach or marshy swampland.
In this list of our favorite camping spots in Florida, we’ve tried to select locations to help represent the variety of options available to you when enjoying the great outdoors. You’ll find several state parks on this list, as well as a few more general areas in the state where lots of different campground options are available within the area. We’ve covered everything from beach camping to national forests and everything in between. Some of the areas on this list are more secluded than others; with Florida being such a popular tourist destination, it can be difficult to find the truly lonely wilderness areas within the state, but it is certainly not impossible.
20Canaveral National Seashore
Spanning approximately 25 miles along Florida’s eastern coastline, Canaveral National Seashore is the longest area of undeveloped land along Florida’s east coast and is one of only 10 national seashores in the United States. Canaveral National Seashore is located in both Brevard and Volusia Counties, in between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville; to the south of the national seashore lies Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center, making for an excellent spot to visit if you get tired of the great outdoors—though with the wild and natural beauty that makes up the breathtaking park area of Canaveral National Seashore, it will probably take a while for you to get tired of it. Boating, fishing, and bird hunting a few of the popular outdoor activities enjoyed on Canaveral National Seashore, as well as hiking on the numerous trail areas within the park.
Camping in the Canaveral National Seashore area is available on the islands in the Apollo Beach area, which is towards the northern end of the seashore and close to New Smyrna Beach (in Volusia County). Only primitive campsites are available.
The Florida Keys are a string of islands stretching the length of approximately 120 miles and all connected by Highway 1. The first island in the string is located about 15 miles off the coast of Miami, down in Florida’s southernmost tip. Located along the Florida Straits, the Keys are part of the dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and are well known for their beautiful tropical beauty. The islands are an excellent area for snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, boating, and of course, camping.
There are actually quite a lot of RV campsites available on the Keys, and most campgrounds on the islands cater to RVs—which is fantastic if you’re an RV driver looking for a campsite! If you’re a tent camper, however, there are still some beautiful options available to you. Bahia Honda State Park and Curry Hammock State Park are two areas of the Keys where some of the best tent campsites are available, but there are other campgrounds and parks throughout the island string as well. Campsites in the Florida Keys tend to book up quickly, so advance reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasonal times.
18Everglades National Park
Made up of 1.5 million acres, the Everglades National Park is a well-known swampland in the southern end of Florida, home to hundreds of animal species such as alligators, manatees, turtles, panthers, and more. There is plenty to do throughout the park, with multiple visitors’ centers to help give you information on navigating your way through the park’s numerous hiking trails and waterways ideal for kayaking or canoeing your way through the swampy, beautiful wilderness of the Everglades. The natural history here is rich, and the Everglades is well-known for invoking a sense of primeval awe in its visitors.
Camping in the Everglades can be done either frontcountry or backcountry, with two different campgrounds in the frontcountry that offer both tent campsites as well as RV sites. Many backcountry sites may require a ride by canoe, kayak, or motorboat to be reached; some are accessible by foot—these areas are ideal if you’re looking for a bit more of a wilderness feel in your camping. Permits are required for these sites, which may be obtained at one of the Visitors’ Centers.
17Ocala National Forest
The southernmost forest in the continental United States, the Ocala National Forest is the largest contiguous area of sand pine scrub forest in the world. There are hundreds of lakes, rivers, and springs throughout the national forest, making this a popular area for snorkeling, swimming, diving, canoeing, and other water activities in the beautiful clear waters of the forest. There are also numerous equestrian trails and walking trails throughout the forest, making this beautiful woodsy area an excellent location for outdoor exploring, whether by land or by water, by foot or by horse.
There are a large variety of camping options throughout Ocala National Forest, including rental cabins suitable for families or large groups (but only available through advance reservation). There are also plenty of tent sites that range from primitive to more full-service areas with a variety of standard camping amenities, as well as some RV sites within the forest. Dispersed camping is also available throughout the forest, giving you the opportunity to get away from the developed campground areas and deeper into the wilderness.
16Apalachicola National Forest
The largest U.S. National Forest in the state of Florida and the only National Forest in the state’s panhandle, Apalachicola National Forest is a beautiful area of wilderness where a variety of outdoor activities can be enjoyed, including hiking, boating, swimming, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, biking, ATV-driving, etc. This is another forest area with a large number of freshwater lakes, rivers, springs, and streams throughout. Even if you don’t have the time and energy to fully immerse yourself in an off-the-beaten-track hiking excursion or mountain biking adventure, the scenic byways within the forest will give you an excellent opportunity to observe the beauty that is Apalachicola National Forest.
Camping in the forest is available both within designated, developed campgrounds, where you can find a sense of rustic comfort and plenty of modern amenities (such as electric hookups and showers); if this does not sound ideal to you, less developed campsites are also available throughout the park. A look at the National Forest’s website can help guide you and give you further information on the designated camping areas throughout the forest.
15Grayton Beach State Park
Located in Florida’s Panhandle conveniently in between Panama City and Destin, Grayton Beach State Park is approximately 2,000 acres, and with its pristine white sands, has been labeled as one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. This oceanfront park (or gulf-front, to be more precise) gives its visitors a variety of opportunities to engage in various water activities, both within the Gulf of Mexico itself, as well as on the beautiful Western Lake. Canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating are all popular activities on Western Lake, giving you the chance to explore the salty marshes of the park. Fishing and (of course) swimming are also popular activities in Grayton Beach State Park. When you’re tired of being on the water, there are also several miles of trails throughout the park that are ideal for hiking and bicycling.
Camping in the park is available in the form of a full-facility campground, where many of the sites sit right on the lake (and a boat ramp gives easy access to get onto the water). Most of the campsites in Grayton Beach State Park are suitable for either tents or RVs. There are also some cabins available for rent within the park as well.
14Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park lies directly along the Atlantic Ocean; the 1600 acres that make up this Florida State Park are actually located on Anastasia Island, which is across Matanzas Bay of St. Augustine. The four miles of pristine, unspoiled beach may be one of the most appealing features of this state park, but there are also plenty of activities to do within the park aside from beachfront exploring. Hiking, swimming, bird watching, kayaking, surfing, sailboarding, and fishing are just a few of the ways to pass your time while on a camping trip in Anastasia State Park. In addition to all this, Anastasia State Park is also home to an archaeological site known as Coquina Quarry, where coquina rock was once mined in order to help construct Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, which is the oldest Spanish fortress in America. If you appreciate history and you’d like to be somewhere that still feels like a step back in time to when Spanish explorers were first landing on American lands, then Anastasia State Park is an excellent area for your next camping trip.
Camping in this beautiful state park is available for both RV and tent camping. Many of the campsites within the park are made to accommodate either (though some are tent-only).
13Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
The 54,000 acres of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park make up the largest stretch of dry prairie in the state of Florida. This park is home to a variety of endangered species, both plant and animal, including the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. Despite its location in the heart of southern Florida, the environment and atmosphere of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park have a different kind of feel to it than many other parts of Florida; the grasslands and prairies in this park call to mind images of the Midwest, more than the swampy deep south. Hiking, bicycling, birdwatching, picnicking, and camping are all popular activities within the park; Kissimmee Prairie Preserve is also an excellent stargazing location, as well, with several campsites within the park designated as “astronomy pads,” areas where you can camp with tent or RV and have a clear view of the sky and stars above.
Equestrian camping is also available within the park, as well—meaning that several of the campsites have paddocks for keeping your horse(s) overnight. Something that makes Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park especially unique is their “Bedtime Story Camper Lending Library”—a collection of children’s books that are available for checkout for the younger campers in your group to enjoy!
12Florida Caverns State Park
Located in the Florida panhandle near both Alabama and Georgia, the Florida Caverns State Park is the only state park in Florida with cave tours available to the general public. The tour through the cave is a moderately strenuous, 45-minute time commitment, but although the cave is beautiful and one of the main attractions of the park, there is still plenty to see and do here when you’re above ground, too. The Chipola River and Blue Hole Spring make the park a popular spot for fishing, canoeing, and boating; hiking, fishing, and horseback riding are also popular activities in Florida Caverns State Park. There is a visitor’s center in the park with exhibits and concessions, and in addition to all this, there is even a golf course on the park grounds.
It’s easy to see, then, why this is one of Florida’s best camping destinations, simply because there’s just so much to do here in the form of fun activities in the great outdoors. There are multiple tent and RV campsites available throughout the park, as well as equestrian camping areas (with stables available near the campsites).
11Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park is located (unsurprisingly) on Sebastian Inlet, just about 10 miles south of Melbourne Beach, and is one of the most visited state parks in Florida. This park is particularly popular because of the fishing opportunities on its shores. But Sebastian Inlet State Park is not just an angler’s paradise; there are plenty of other activities here to keep you engaged—it’s also a popular surfing spot (with multiple surfing competitions being held here each year) as well as a great spot for scuba diving, snorkeling, and otherwise swimming and sunbathing. Another thing that makes Sebastian Inlet State Park unique is the fact that it’s a great spot for geocaching, as well as a historic area with two museums explaining the history and lore behind the area that makes up Sebastian Inlet State Park. While there are not a lot of strenuous hiking areas within the park, there are a few short trails that are perfect for a casual stroll, beachside or otherwise.
Campsites within the park are available for both tent and RV camping with full amenities—water and electric hookups plus a wifi hotspot near the park’s marina.
10St. George Island State Park
Located on the east end of St. George Island, this state park (and the island itself) is accessible by a 4-mile long bridge that connects the island to the panhandle mainland. Being located on an island in the Gulf of Mexico, it will be no surprise to hear that the park is popular for a variety of water activities, such as swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing; in addition to the beachy, water-based activities, there are also hiking trails within the park as well as plenty of wildlife viewing and picnicking areas. You might even see some sea turtles nesting on the miles of unspoiled, undeveloped beaches on St. George Island!
Full-amenity campsites are available within the park, and some more primitive campsites can be reached by a short canoe or kayak ride, but however you choose to camp here, St. George Island State Park is a beautiful, pristine area for beach camping.
9St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from St. George Island lies St Joseph Peninsula State Park. With St. Joseph’s Bay on one side of the peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, this state park will give you miles of beautiful, white sandy beaches to explore and revel in. This area is, in fact, considered to be one of the best state parks and one of the best beach areas in the United States. Fishing is popular in the bay, while swimming and snorkeling are great activities to enjoy in the Gulf, and there is plenty of marine life to see here (and another spot where you’re likely to see turtles nesting on the beach!). Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities here, of course.
There are over 100 full amenity campsites available within St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, as well as a few cabins available for rent. More primitive camping areas can be found within the Wilderness Preserve (although a permit is required for entering this area).
8Blue Spring State Park
Covering over 2,000 acres, Blue Spring State Park is a designated manatee refuge, making the park home to hundreds of manatees during manatee season. All the typical outdoor activities can be enjoyed in Blue Spring State Park, such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, wildlife watching, etc. Swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling are popular within the crystal clear spring waters, but keep in mind that swimming or diving with the manatees themselves is absolutely not allowed—meaning that visiting during peak manatee season means that you’ll be sacrificing some of your time in the water when it’s closed to swimming (which might not be too problematic considering that manatee season falls during the winter months when it’s too cold to swim anyway). Boat tours along the St. John’s River are another popular way to explore Blue Spring State Park.
There are over 50 campsites available within the park, but there are also cabin rentals available as well.
7Myakka River State Park
The 58 square miles of this state park include portions of the Myakka River flowing through it (a designated Florida “Wild and Scenic River”), pine forested areas, dry prairies, wetlands and marshes, and a karst sinkhole named Deep Hole—truly a diverse and beautiful area to bask in Florida’s nature. Bicycling is a popular way to explore the park, as is hiking on the nearly 40 miles of nature trails throughout the park. Another popular exhibit of Myakka River State Park is the Myakka Canopy Walkway, which is actually a treetop trail (the first in North America), meaning that the walkway is suspended approximately 25 feet above the ground and leads to a tower that gives you excellent views over this area of the park into the trees below and onto the birds nesting in their branches.
Camping in the park is available on standard, full-amenity campgrounds, in cabin rentals, or on primitive camping areas that can be backpacked to along the park’s hiking trails.
6Rainbow Springs State Park
Rainbow Springs is the fourth-largest spring in the state of Florida, flowing into the beautiful Rainbow River, a waterway that is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. The park itself, located in Dunnellon, FL, is relatively small but quite beautiful—in fact, many people choose to perform their wedding ceremonies here due to the serene and beautiful nature of the park. A nature trail (approximately 2.5 miles in length) running through the park gives ample wildlife viewing opportunities, and it’s not unusual to see deer, turtles, alligators, hawks, squirrels, and other animals throughout the park, as well as several beautiful plants along the trail and three man-made waterfalls.
Due to small size, there are limited campsites within the park, but all of the sites are equipped with water and electric hookups, and are suitable for both tent and RV camping.
5Cayo Costa State Park
Only reachable by boat, Cayo Costa State Park is a barrier island state park located along Florida’s southwestern coast (just a bit northwest of Fort Myers), situated in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. With about nine miles of largely unspoiled beaches, this state park feels like an island paradise of raw, natural, wild Florida beauty. It ranks as one of the state’s most beautiful beaches, and the fact that it can only be reached by ferry tends to discourage the hordes and masses of beach visitors that are often found in other beach areas of Florida. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are all popular water activities near the island; there are also nature trails across the island that are great for hiking or bicycling throughout the state park.
Camping in Cayo Costa State Park is available either in the form of tent camping or in cabin rentals. Cabins tend to fill up fast, so advance reservations are recommended if you’re trying to get a cabin spot for your overnight stay.
4Fort De Soto County Park
South of St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fort De Soto Park covers 5 islands and over 1,000 acres of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The islands are all connected by bridges or causeways, and the main park itself is accessible via toll road from the mainland. There is so much to do within the gorgeous Fort De Soto Park, including the standard water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, boating, kiteboarding, fishing, etc. There are a variety of both paved and natural trails throughout the park, giving you the chance to explore the nature of Fort De Soto either by foot or by bicycle. There’s even a historic museum dedicated to the park’s namesake, Fort De Soto, where you can see old artillery holds and cannons as well as photographs and other artifacts detailing the military history of the island.
Both tent and RV camping is available in Fort De Soto County Park, with bathrooms and showers and other amenities on the campsites.
3Lake George State Forest
Located in Volusia County, just east of Ocala National Forest, Lake George State Forest is a smaller, less populated wildlife area with plenty of beautiful natural areas to explore. The forest is named for Lake George, which is the largest lake of the St. Johns River system, and the second largest lake in the state of Florida. Fishing and kayaking on both the lake and river are popular water activities here; kayaking down the river also gives you access to several tributaries branching off the river and allowing for a great way to explore the forest via the water. Hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding are also popular ways to explore and observe the nature of Lake George State Forest. When observing wildlife within the forest, be aware that black bears do live here (especially in the areas closer to Ocala National Forest), so just stay safe and alert when you’re out and about within this state forest.
Camping in Lake George State Forest requires a permit, which can be obtained from the DeLeon Forestry Center. Although there are only a few campsites available within the forest, they are generally open as this area does not attract many campers—which can actually be a good thing when you’re looking for a more secluded camping environment.
2Blackwater River State Forest
This is the largest state forest in Florida—almost 2,000 acres around the Blackwater River and its tributaries. There are several different campground and recreation areas within Blackwater River State Forest and plenty of hiking trails as well as special equestrian trails that are suitable for traveling on with horses. The creeks and lakes within the national forest make it a suitable area for canoeing and kayaking, but water activities aren’t the only attractive thing about this forest, as the rich and varied botanical landscape throughout Blackwater River State Forest makes for beautiful hiking and exploration throughout the area.
The campgrounds throughout the forest have a variety of amenities; some have only water, while other sites also offer electric hookups. Most of the state forest recreational areas have restrooms and showers available. Some campsites also have suitable arrangements for keeping horses, and there are a variety of sites that are suitable for either tent or RV camping.
1Big Cypress National Preserve
Big Cypress National Preserve is located near the Everglades, about 45 miles west of Miami. There are a variety of ways to explore this area; as part of the National Park Service, there are several ranger-led programs that give you the opportunity to tour and explore the preserve and take in the nature and wildlife around you, or there are options to explore on your own. Canoeing, kayaking, bicycling, hiking, and birdwatching, are a few popular activities within Big Cypress National Preserve. Due to the abundance of alligators within the park, it is advisable to be careful and cautious when hiking here, especially in wet, marshy areas!
There are multiple designated campgrounds within Big Cypress National Preserve that are open to both tents and RVs and that offer a variety of amenities to campers. However, the majority of the preserve is also open to backcountry camping, as well. Permits are required for backcountry camping within the preserve, but are free and easily obtained either online or at one of the visitor centers.
As always, when planning a camping trip to any area of the country, be sure to check on local laws and permits associated with camping wherever you’re going; doing so will ensure a fun, safe trip for all involved. Hopefully, this list has given you a better idea of the different camping areas and options available all around the state of Florida. These locations are just scratching the surface—there are so many beautiful camping areas in Florida, so we’re sure that you could quickly and easily come up with 20 more great camping locations!