10 Best Camping Spots in Florida for the Holiday Season
As the holidays approach and cooler weather finally arrives in Florida, it’s the perfect time to go camping and explore the many natural gems the Sunshine State offers. From the white sand beaches of the Gulf Coast to lush tropical forests further inland, Florida is home to a diverse range of landscapes and ecosystems just waiting to be discovered.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Situated along the scenic Loxahatchee River in South Florida’s Martin County, Jonathan Dickinson State Park features a mix of ecosystems, including sand pine scrub, scrubby flatwoods and river swamps. Campers can stay along the river in shady, private sites with picnic tables and grills or head deeper into the pine forests further inland. Two family campgrounds, Pine Grove Campground with 90 sites and River Campground with 52 sites offer large, tiled restrooms with hot showers and laundry facilities. Sites include water, electricity, tables, and grills. Guests can also reserve deluxe safari tents with amenities like a Keurig, mini-fridge and A/C. Eight miles of multi-use trails starting at the Eagles View area are open to equestrians. Backpack camps along the Florida Trail provide a more rugged experience. Hiking trails meander through the diverse habitats, offering great wildlife viewing opportunities.
Myakka River State Park
Known for its extensive wetlands, prairies and large herds of wild and free-roaming Florida cattle, Myakka River State Park near Sarasota provides a quintessential Old Florida camping experience. The park features three campgrounds with 90 sites and amenities like laundry facilities, hot showers, and WiFi access. More remote backpack camping sites are also available along the hiking trails. Oak hammocks covered in Spanish moss dot the expansive prairies along the river. Nature lovers can spot alligators, birds and other wildlife from miles of hiking trails or by canoeing or kayaking along the lush, scenic river.
Collier-Seminole State Park
Situated in the Everglades region where mangrove forests meet the Gulf Coast, Collier-Seminole State Park offers visitors the chance to camp right along the edge of the ecologically vital Ten Thousand Islands area or inland near pine flatwood forests and marshes. Kayaking through winding mangrove tunnels or hiking coastal nature trails are popular activities. The campground has 104 sites, some designated for tents, as well as amenities like laundry and hot showers. More remote primitive camping options are also available, including a hike-in site and a canoe-access site along the Blackwater River for up to 8 people. Campers can also reserve the park’s group camping area, which can accommodate up to 20 people.
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
This barrier island off Florida’s panhandle features some of the state’s most pristine beaches with snow-white sand, rolling dunes dotted with sea oats and calm, emerald waters. The park has 60 campsites with electric and water hookups located just a short walk from 9 miles of beach. More primitive camping is also available, including two hike-in/paddle-in sites at Gap Point accommodating 12 people each. The beach offers fantastic shelling, swimming, fishing and simply relaxing by the ocean. Inland, a maritime forest offers shady, private campsites. Fall and winter are the best times to visit before the spring and summer crowds arrive. The park also has a dedicated youth group camping area that can accommodate groups of up to 25 people.
Fort Clinch State Park
Located near the Florida-Georgia border along the Atlantic Coast north of Jacksonville, Fort Clinch State Park features a 19th-century brick fort, windswept dunes, marshes and six miles of quiet, secluded beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean waves. The park has two campgrounds: the shady, peaceful 42-site Amelia River campground along the St. Mary’s River, and the beachside Atlantic Beach campground with RV and tent sites steps from the dunes and ocean. The park also offers primitive group camping with three large sites accommodating up to 75 people total, located near Egans Creek Marsh. Oak hammocks further inland provide nice hike-in primitive campsites. Winter is one of the best times to visit, with cooler temperatures, fewer mosquitoes and less crowds.
Ochlockonee River State Park
Situated in Florida’s lightly populated panhandle along the winding Ochlockonee River, this state park offers a peaceful, remote camping experience. The park has a 30-site campground with full hookups and amenities like hot showers, dishwashing sinks, and a dump station. A primitive group campground on the banks of the Dead River can accommodate youth groups and other organized camps. Days can be spent fishing, paddling or hiking through quiet pine flatwood and hardwood forest ecosystems harboring wildlife. Cooler fall and winter months are ideal.
Sebastian Inlet State Park
The convergence of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River Lagoon and Sebastian Inlet provides diverse recreation options at this state park south of Melbourne Beach along Florida’s southeast coast. It’s a popular surf fishing destination, but it also offers excellent beachcombing, swimming, kayaking and hiking along nature trails that feature coastal environments. The park provides fantastic camping opportunities to take advantage of Florida’s delightful winter climate. The main campground features 51 sites nestled between the Atlantic beach and the Indian River Lagoon, allowing campers to enjoy cooler temperatures while still having access to water activities. For a rustic experience, primitive camping in the Bayside Marina area offers sheltered spots along the lagoon. Sebastian Inlet makes an ideal basecamp for winter visitors aiming to make the most of the Sunshine State’s temperate seasonal weather away from the summer heat.
Bahia Honda State Park
In the heart of the Florida Keys, this state park encompasses over 500 acres on Bahia Honda Key, known for having some of the best beaches in the Keys thanks to its sparkling white sands and turquoise waters. The park offers three campgrounds: Buttonwood (48 full hookup sites), Sandspur (24 sites for smaller RVs and tents), and Bayside (8 non-electric, primitive sites). 19 boat slips are also available for overnight rental. Additional amenities include hot showers, bathrooms, laundry facilities and marina access. Nature trails wind through pine forests and mangrove-lined bays great for fishing and kayaking. The park offers wonderful oceanfront campsites, though they book up far in advance, especially in winter.
Oscar Scherer State Park
Located just inland from the Gulf beaches near Sarasota, Oscar Scherer State Park features an environment of scrubby flatwoods and sand pine scrub ideal for winter camping when temperatures cool down a bit. The park offers glamping in luxury safari tents as well as 104 standard campsites with amenities like hot showers and laundry access. More primitive group camping for up to 40 people is also available. 15 miles of hiking trails wind through the scenic habitats. The campground offers private sites with picnic tables lined by towering pines.
Anastasia State Park
Positioned along northern Florida’s Atlantic coastline near St. Augustine, Anastasia State Park spans over 1,600 acres, encompassing four miles of pristine beaches, coastal hammocks and dunes as well as mangrove wetlands, salt marshes and Matanzas River shoreline. Beachcombing, fishing from the surf or birdwatching from nature trails are popular activities. Inland campsites situated among scrub forest vegetation offer privacy and accessibility to both coasts. The campground has 139 sites for both RVs and tents, all located within the beautiful maritime hammock and just a short walk or bike ride from the beach. Certain sites are paved and have accessible picnic tables and grills. Anastasia also offers the Bedtime Story Camper Lending Library of picture books for campers ages 4 to 9.
From secluded subtropical islands to remote riverfronts and massive dune systems flanking sandy beaches facing both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Florida offers tremendous diversity for campers, especially once winter arrives and temperatures turn milder between December and March. As the chaos of the holiday season ramps up, now is the perfect time to set up camp at a peaceful, natural escape within Florida’s fantastic state park system.