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Weekend Trips From Miami, FL: Camping Style

by Joe ColemanJan 31, 2023
Weekend Trips From Miami, FL: Camping Style

There’s a lot that Miami, FL is known for. When you think of weekend trips from Miami, you think of white sandy beaches, a laid-back lifestyle, and maybe even Mr. 305 himself, Pitbull. What many people overlook is the wide array of parks, forests, and wildlife management areas, all within a short drive from Miami.

If your upcoming plans include a trip to the South Beach area, there are lots of great weekend trips from Miami that’ll get you outdoors and enjoy the best camping south Florida has to offer.

Tips for Camping Near Miami, FL

Summer Camping Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

South Florida gets hot and humid in the summer. I realize that’s not exactly a new piece of information, but anyone who hasn’t been there in the summer might not realize just the level of oppressive humidity found when summer camping near Miami.

Can you camp near Miami in the summer? If you’re brave enough and really good with humidity. Should you? Probably not.

The best weekend trips from Miami, at least those focused around camping, are maximally enjoyable during the winter. January high temperatures in Miami average a balmy 75 degrees, with overnight lows in the mid-60s. All of winter is ideal camping weather, and the tail end of fall and the beginning of spring are pretty decent as well.

Mosquitoes Don’t Have an Off-Season

If you aren’t from the South, you might operate under the impression that mosquitoes eventually give up around fall. In places with four actual seasons, they tend to do just that. However, I’m here to, unfortunately, dispel that myth.

Southern mosquitoes have a will to live, and the warm winters of a place like Florida mean you’re never quite rid of them.

Now, is this really that awful? Honestly, no. They aren’t nearly what they are in summer, so as long as you remember your bug spray, you can peacefully coexist with these year-round guests. Well, as peacefully as you can coexist with mosquitoes.

Bring bug spray and some light layers, and you shouldn’t have any issues.

Yes, There Are Alligators. No, It’s not a Huge Deal

That might sound like a ridiculous statement, but you’re not going to be in any danger from alligators if you’re responsible and prepared.

Alligators don’t want to bother you, and you don’t want to bother them. It’s really that simple. Make sure you know how to recreate responsibly when you’re in alligator country, and you’re set. Unprovoked alligator attacks are pretty rare. You should probably be more worried about Florida Man, anyway.

You might see an alligator if you’re camping near Miami, FL, especially in the nearby national parks. Alligators are very unlikely to go after you, but that doesn’t mean you should be irresponsible. Don’t wash dishes in nearby rivers, don’t leave food out, and make sure you know the basics of recreation in alligator country.

The ranger station at the parks can offer some guidelines on safety and notify you of spots that are popular among alligators.

What to See Near Miami

Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

(30 minutes from Miami)

One of the best outdoor spots in the Miami area is just 30 minutes from the city. This 83-acre park has a wide variety of plants, some of which even the most learned horticulturists might not be familiar with.

Of course, this isn’t just for the most knowledgeable out there. Fairchild caters to travelers and families with a variety of exhibits, trails, and activities.

Where to Camp: Key Largo Kampground

Miami campground with bungalows on water

This campground the place to be when you’re camping right on the Atlantic Ocean.

While it’s located in the “Dive Capital of the World,” you don’t have to be a veteran snorkeler to enjoy this Key Largo stay. Granted, it sure doesn’t hurt to know your way around a dive when you’re minutes from more than 20 different dive shops and charter boats.

The marina here has 14 wet slips for those coming with boats, but it’s easy to get out onto the water regardless. Most RV spots here come with full hookups, including all the waterfront sites, which also all come with a private dock.

Sites offered here:

  • WV tent site
  • Tent
  • RV NWF back-in site
  • RV NWF pull-through site
  • RV WF site

Everglades National Park

(1 hour and 15 minutes from Miami)

Everglades National Park is easily the most popular outdoor destination in south Florida. Well, it’s at least the most popular one that isn’t a beach.

Spanning well over a million acres, Everglades treats travelers near Miami to a showing of the most beautiful parts of south Florida. In fact, Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the country.

While you could see the whole park in a day, day-use visitors should really set aside a weekend to see all there is here.

Where to Camp: Sun Outdoors Marathon

pool at campground during weekend trip from Miami

Most of us don’t get a private beach, but Sun Outdoors Marathon does offer a little taste of that lifestyle. With 300 feet of waterfront accessible only to visitors, Sun Outdoors Marathon is the perfect location for weekend trips from Miami to get away from the noise and enjoy the Gulf of Mexico in peace and quiet.

The marina and all of its features are also exclusively accessible by guests, so be sure to head over and make use of it. When you’re not out on the water, relax in the heated pool or head back to the waterfront to enjoy a picnic lunch at the Tiki Hut pavilion.

Sites offered here:

  • Deluxe vacation rental
  • Elite full hookup RV site
  • Large efficiency
  • Motel 1 queen bed
  • Motel 2 queen bed
  • Motel 2 double bed
  • Small efficiency
  • Standard full hookup RV site
  • Vacation rental
  • Vacation rental – sleeps 5
  • Waterfront full hookup RV site
  • Waterfront vacation rental
  • Medium efficiency

Biscayne National Park

(1 hour and 20 minutes from Miami)

While significantly less trafficked than Everglades, Biscayne offers its own unique look into south Florida’s ecosystem. Of course, Biscayne takes a bit more work to get to, considering it’s a park that’s 95% water.

One of the more unusual national parks out there, Biscayne is an absolute paradise for divers, treating anyone who heads underwater to a show that most people will never experience.

Where to Camp: Sun Outdoors Key Largo

boats at pier on Miami, Florida

This small Sun Outdoors spot is perfect as a weekend camping basecamp for exploring Biscayne National Park along with the Florida Keys. Sun Outdoors Key Largo is really an ideal central location, about halfway between the park and the rest of the Keys, making any day trip in the area a breeze.

Note that as Sun Outdoors locations go, this is one of the smaller ones with just under 40 sites. Of course, all these sites have full hookups, so you’re guaranteed a relaxing stay if you can snag a spot. Wake up refreshed and ready to hit the private beach for some snorkeling and beach-combing.

Sites offered here:

  • Premium rental 1 bedroom
  • Duplex motel 1 queen
  • Full hookup RV site
  • Large efficiency motel room 1 bedroom
  • Motel room 1 bedroom
  • Premium rental 1 bedroom – water front
  • Premium rental 1 bedroom w/ loft – water view
  • Premium rental 1 bedroom w/ loft
  • Motel room 1 bedroom: accessible

Big Cypress National Preserve

(1 hour and 45 minutes from Miami)

More than 700,000 acres are preserved here at this National Park Service site in Ochopee, Florida. There’s a fascinating mix of local flora and fauna, offering travelers yet another unique look into the south Florida ecosystem.

There are so many exciting ways to explore Big Cypress National Preserve, both on land and on the water. If you’re short on time, the park has a pair of scenic drives, so pick at least one of them and appreciate the park from your vehicle.

Big Cypress was also designated an International Dark Sky Place in 2016, offering some of the best stargazing and nighttime views in the Eastern United States. Don’t miss out on one of the best destinations for weekend trips from Miami, FL.

Where to Camp: Naples RV Resort

Naples RV Resort has all the things you’d want out of a resort yet still offers the feeling of being tucked away at a campground. With hundreds of trees and plants running through the resort, you’ll get every bit of the fresh air you’re looking for while enjoying resort-level amenities like a spacious pool, outdoor games, and on-site restaurant.

Sites offered here:

  • Cozy back-in RV site
  • Elite back-in RV site
  • Elite pull-thru RV site
  • Premium cottage rental 1 bedroom
  • Standard back-in RV site
  • Standard pull-thru RV site
  • Premium cottage rental 1 bedroom: accessible

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

(3 hours and 45 minutes from Miami)

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is easily the furthest of the outdoor-focused weekend trips from Miami. However, it’s a great basecamp for several spots in the area, including Cape Canaveral National Seashore, St. Sebastian River State Park, and several other state parks and conservation areas.

The refuge covers 140,000 acres of Florida’s largest barrier island, but that isn’t the most interesting thing about the place. Merritt Island also holds the Kennedy Space Center and visitor complex, so you’ll get to experience two of Florida’s most defining characteristics in the same place.

Note that NASA occasionally will restrict access based on operational needs, so check the website for the most up-to-date information.

Where to Camp: Indian River RV Park

cityscape near waterfront on weekend trip from Miami

Just across the river from the refuge is Indian River RV Park. You’ll have easy access to all of the best spots in the refuge with just 10 minutes separating your camper from your new favorite hikes.

Of course, the park also is the ideal location to explore Titusville and the surrounding areas. After a fun-filled day, head back to the park for some waterfront relaxation.

Sites offered here:

  • 30-amp and 110 RV site
  • 30/50-amp, deluxe waterview, full hookup RV site
  • 30/50-amp, full hookup RV site
  • Deluxe bungalow (1 bedroom)
  • Deluxe bungalow (2 bedroom)

Nearby Public Lands

Just over 13% of Florida is federal land, and just over half of that is run by the National Park Service. This means that free camping on public lands is somewhat hard to come by in Florida, though not impossible.

There are a few spots you can choose from, including a pair of National Wildlife Refuges in the southern half of Florida run by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bureau of Land Management land is effectively non-existent in Florida, but the state does have three national forests—the Apalachicola, Osceola, and Ocala National Forests. While all of them are worth a visit, they’re also all in northern Florida. The closest is the Ocala, which is a longer weekend trip from Miami at roughly five hours north of the city.

Free camping isn’t impossible to find in Florida, though camping here is mainly limited to established campgrounds unless you’re in the northern section of the state.

What to See in Miami

Why not just make a weekend of it in Miami? There’s plenty to see without leaving the city limits!

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls is an outdoor urban destination featuring some of the most impressive street art in the city. This isn’t just a local art exhibit either. Artists from around the world have come to put their works on these walls since it opened in 2009.

Bayfront Park

You don’t even have to leave downtown Miami, Florida, to see one of the area’s most exciting outdoor spaces. More than 30 acres of downtown are now devoted to this bayfront urban park, which allows visitors to walk or bike through some of the most exciting sections of the city and enjoy all the local shops and restaurants.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Once owned by businessman James Deering, this villa-style estate home is now a museum and public garden, open to all. The house itself is a work of art, but there’s also a rotating list of exhibits and events for families to enjoy while here. Be sure to check out the Vizcaya website to see what’s in bloom in the gardens!

Winter travelers need look no further than Miami for their warm-weather outdoor adventure. Whether you want to see the cutting-edge urban green spaces or the area’s most popular national parks and forests, weekend trips from Miami, FL are sure to satisfy your adventure cravings.

Joe Coleman is a freelance travel and outdoor writer based in East Texas. His love for the outdoors started when living near Olympic National Park and has stayed with him ever since. Taking a respite from social media, you can reach him exclusively at

Image Credit: Key Largo Campground, Sun Outdoors Marathon, Sun Outdoors Key Largo, Indian River RV Park