Camping in Florida

Sunshine State Offers Variety of Camping Opportunities

Oceanfront camping at Long Key State Park in the Florida Keys.
©Brigitte Nelson

If you are an experienced camper, you may already know that Florida is a camping paradise. The Sunshine State's mild climate allows for year round camping and nearly unlimited outdoor activities. And, whether you consider yourself a "trees and trails" type or one that prefers "sand and surf," Florida's diverse offering of campgrounds can deliver. In addition, for those that have never camped, Florida presents some unique camping experiences that are sure to result in hooking you on camping for the rest of your life.

You may be asking, exactly what is so special about camping in Florida? Several things come to mind, but at the top of the list is the weather. There is a reason that Florida calls itself the Sunshine State. Although hot and humid in the summer, with afternoon thunderstorms the norm, Florida's overall sub-tropical weather allows for year round camping and enjoyment of outdoor activities.

Next on the list would be variety. Whether camping at a public or private campground, you can experience everything from pristine white-sand beaches and peaceful forests to exciting entertainment and theme park thrills. Imagine waking to the sound of the surf, the chimes of a bell tower or to the roar of lions. Imagine spending your days canoeing a black river, sightseeing on a Segway, or taking in a thrilling theme park. Imagine ending your day with a breathtaking sunset. All these experiences (and more) are possible in Florida.

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to camp is because it is the most affordable way for families to get away, whether for a weekend or a week-long vacation. Of course, tent camping is the least expensive. Everything needed from the tent and sleeping bags to camp stove and lanterns can be purchased for $250 to $500. Families preferring a few more creature comforts may opt for a pop-up, trailer or motorhome. These are nice if you can afford them. After all, they can run anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands.

Also, how you camp determines the overnight costs for a campsite. Overnight charges in Florida will depend on the campground, its amenities and availability of hookups. Obviously, campsites with full-hookups — including electric, water, sewer and sometimes cable TV and Internet — will be the most expensive. Primitive camping usually is much less.

Florida's State Parks have some of the most reasonable overnight charges ($18 to $50 a night); but, although campsites include water and electric, they do not include campsite sewer and no cable is available. Private campgrounds usually are more likely to offer full hookups and more amenities (such as concrete pads, cable television, Internet connection, pools, recreation, etc), but the nightly charge will typically be higher — averaging $35 to $60. And, if you opt for a campground near a popular attraction or the beach the amount will get even more expensive — $75 to $150 a night!

Even though Florida's campgrounds are open year round, there are camping seasons that effect the overall rates. Generally, "high" season means higher rates during the winter months — mid-November to mid-April — when northerners seek relief from the ice and snow and head to sunny Florida; and, "low" season stretches from mid-April through mid-November. (This is actually reversed in Florida's Panhandle, where the weather is cooler during the winter.) Lower rates may apply during these months except in areas nearby popular attractions or the beach. Remember to also expect higher rates on or around a holiday.

So, now that you know camping is affordable and that Florida has outstanding camping destinations and adventures, why not give it a try?

Finding a Campground

Many times camping experiences don't live up to expectations. Read as much as possible about your destination and reviews from others before making reservations.

Check out the following campgrounds and campground directories on Florida Travel:

Also, view online or order a copy of the following camping directory:

  • Florida Camping Directory is a listing of the members of the Florida Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds
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