While travelers flock to Florida during the summer to spend time on the beach, camping in Florida is an optimal outdoor activity any time of year. Prepare to experience and choose from a diverse set of waterfront or wetlands campgrounds with access to wildlife sightings and enjoyable hiking.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Go Camping in Florida?
Camping in Florida is best done between October and March. While you can camp in Florida during the warmer months to beat some of the crowds, it’s a tough endeavor. The combination of heat and humidity will be tough if you aren’t used to it. If you have the correct gear, you can stretch that season a bit longer, but most campers will find October to March to be ideal.
If you’re camping in Florida between the beginning of fall and the middle of spring, you’ll be able to enjoy cooler daytime temperatures without ever being too cold overnight.
What Are the Top Outdoor Activities in Florida?
Besides re-enacting Jimmy Buffet albums, camping in Florida is one of the most enjoyable outdoor activities in the Sunshine State. If you want to be on the water, you can surf, kayak, or go for a jog along the shoreline. If water-sports suit your fancy, Weeki Wachee Springs is the Florida state park to visit for kayaking and paddleboarding.
For campers, a trip to Florida Caverns State Park is a must. Looking for something more unique? Check out Orlando Tree Trek and their high ropes course.
What Are the National Parks in Florida?
While often thought of as a place for beach combing and water-sports, Florida has three national parks and 11 total sites run by the National Park Service.
Dry Tortugas National Park
It takes a bit of work to get here, but you’ll be rewarded with the blue waters and tranquility that are hallmarks of this picturesque Florida national park. Located 70 miles from Key West, this is easily one of the most unique outdoor experiences you can have in the National Park System.
Dry Tortugas isn’t the most popular hiking or camping spot among Florida parks. Camping here is primitive and on a first-come, first-served basis, though it’s a unique beach camping experience. Fort Jefferson, a mid-19th century fort used during the Civil War, is the big draw of this site. While you can enjoy the sand and the water, many visitors choose a guided tour of the fort’s history as the focal point of their visit.
Biscayne National Park
This Florida national park is almost entirely underwater. Intrigued? You should be! Biscayne National Park protects over 70,000 acres of Florida reef, so you’ll want to head underwater to fully experience this park.
Snorkeling is an incredibly popular pastime here, along with fishing and kayaking. While this national park doesn’t offer the most expansive options for camping in Florida, tent campers aren’t left out here. If you head to Boca Chita or the Elliot Keys, you’ll find camping areas that are only accessible by boat.
Everglades National Park
Everglades has the most name recognition of any Florida national park. It’s also the third-largest park in the Lower 48 (behind only Death Valley and Yellowstone National Parks). Everglades National Park has a reverse peak season, where the winter months are the most popular and the rainy summer months are less trekked.
Bird watchers will be delighted on their visits to this Florida national park. Over 300 bird species make their homes in Everglades National Park, so all budding ornithologists are sure to be in for a treat.
When it’s time to call it a day, there are two main frontcountry campgrounds as well as a spackling of backcountry campsites to choose from, making this one of the more diverse options for camping in Florida.
What Are Some of the Most Popular State Parks in Florida?
Cayo Costa State Park
The beaches in Florida don’t get much more pristine than these. With nine miles of unadulterated shoreline, Cayo Costa offers one of the most peaceful Florida beach experiences available. You can only reach Cayo Costa by boat or kayak, though, so make sure to plan ahead. Once you’re there, you’ll have your pick of all the best beach activities in Florida, with ample space for kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, and more.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Who says mermaids aren’t real? At Weeki Wachee Springs, you can enjoy a mermaid show while being in the home of a vibrant ecosystem. This is a step into Old Florida that deserves a stop on any good Florida trip. While it isn’t a hot spot for camping in Florida, you have plenty of space to explore the waters while swimming or paddling.
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet is known to be a destination for the world’s most avid surfers, but that’s not all this park offers. If you’re looking for a slower pace of life, stroll along the beaches of Sebastian Inlet. Bring the tent along and set it up in the northwest section of the park to fall asleep to the sounds of the water.
Rainbow Springs State Park
If you want to see a Florida waterfall, head to Rainbow Springs State Park. While only one is functional at the moment of writing, park staff are continuing to restore the others. Don’t let that deter you, though—this is still very much a stop worth making.
With three different campground loops that can accommodate tents and RVs, you’ll want to stay here overnight and get up early for the sunrise. Rainbow Springs offers some of the most picturesque camping in Florida and is a must-visit, even if you’re short on time.
What Are the Top Attractions in Florida?
Walt Disney World
If you’re traveling through Florida with children, you can’t skip a stop at Walt Disney World. It’s worth the price of admission for the magic, even if it’s something you only do once. If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are plenty of surrounding hotels that give you easy access to the park.
Kennedy Space Center
With a variety of exhibits and displays, there’s no better place to learn about space travel in the state of Florida. The center is an immersive experience filled with different activities, but you can still enjoy it in a day if that’s all you have time for.
Daytona 500 International Speedway
Daytona is synonymous with NASCAR and one of the most well-known tracks in the world of racing. Whether you’re there for a race or just a tour, Daytona has been a Florida icon for over half a century.
Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens is one of the most well-attended parks each year, just behind SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. Unlike Disney World, you can properly enjoy this animal-themed adventure park in just one day. If you want to spend extended time here, Busch Gardens often runs ticket sale promotions, so keep your eyes open.
Where’s Some of the Best Food in Florida?
Joe’s Stone Crab – Miami Beach
Joe’s Stone Crab is an iconic piece of Miami history and the history of Florida as a whole. More than a century ago, Joe Weiss set up a small operation in Miami Beach that continues to carry his name. Do note that while Joe’s is always open for dinner, lunch service is seasonal, based on the stone crab season.
Bern’s Steak House – Tampa
While pricey, Bern’s has been a long-standing Tampa haunt since 1956. This family-run operation always gets high marks among its peers and is a high-class experience for all patrons. With a raw bar, various cuts of steak, and a wine list a mile long, there’s something for everyone to love at Bern’s.
Satchell’s Pizza – Gainesville
Quirky is an understatement when describing Satchell’s, but you can’t stop in Gainesville without trying this long-tenured pizza joint. Satchell’s is the place to be for live music and entertainment, with an accompanying playground to keep the kids entertained.
Versailles Restaurant Cuban Cuisine – Miami
You can’t visit Miami without making a pilgrimage to Versailles for some of the most well-loved Cuban food in the city. Versailles has been making traditional Miami Cuban fares since 1971 and is known as “the most famous Cuban restaurant in the world.” Needless to say, the wait is worth it.
There’s more to do than just camping in Florida, but this outdoor activity certainly holds up against the offerings in neighboring southeastern states. With expansive preserves, Florida offers plenty of preserved beachfront and wetlands as you camp, hike, and sightsee on your next tour of the Sunshine State.