Best Campsites in Florida

by Amy Myers
best-campsites-florida

As the Sunshine State, we often associate Florida with its dazzling beaches, clear waters and incredible marine life. But when we visit these hotspots, we can’t enjoy the serenity of the moment because of our front-country distractions. That’s why Florida’s campsites and backcountry destinations are truly the unsung heroes of waterfront getaways.

Here, you get to experience all of the excitement and beauty that comes with Florida’s sandy shores, deep waters and gorgeous sunsets in a deeper, more connected manner. Instead of heading back to a temperature-controlled world with entertainment at our fingertips, these state parks and campgrounds offer you a chance to grow your roots deeper into the soil and appreciate all of the life that thrives there.

Each one of these Florida campsites are deemed the best because they put you front and center of the state’s wildest environments and adventures. At any one of these destinations, you’ll find magical views, teeming wildlife and unique activites that you can’t find anywhere else in the state.

Tip for choosing your campsite: At many of Florida’s State Parks, the majority of the campsites have electricity and water, unless they are otherwise marked as primitive sites. For that reason, instead of separating camping fees into campsite types, these parks and private campgrounds distinguish pricing based on whether you and your group will be using electricity. So, even if you’re tent camping, you’ll still have a plug at your site. However, if you plan on using it, you’ll need to pay an additional fee, usually of $7-10.

Florida Caverns State Park

For the spelunkers.

  • Location: 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna FL 32446
  • Campground Contact: 850-482-1228
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, daily
  • Campground Website

Hidden within Florida’s wildest parts lies a fragile cave environment where cool water droplets leave beautiful mineral formations in their path. The Florida Caverns may no longer be hidden, but the destination is still very much a gem. Year-round, the state park offers tours at least five days a week so that visitors can explore the dozen cave rooms that boast unique stalagtites and stalagmites as well as columns and flowstones. If you do decide to take a tour, remember to pack a jacket and some rain boot. Caves are constantly 65 degrees and are pretty moist.

Once you’ve come back to the surface and sunlight, you’ll be able to enjoy the variety of campsites available at Florida Caverns State Park. Whether you’re sleeping underneath the stars, hauling a camper or bringing an equine companion, the park has you covered.

Campground breakdown:

  • 32 electric campsites: $20-27 per night
  • 3 non-electric equestrian sites: $20 per night
  • 3 ADA-friendly sites: $20-27 per night
  • 3 primitive tent sites: $20 per night

Beyond the caverns, the park also has miles of multi-use trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians. The Sinkhole Trail takes you through a mile of floodplains, sinkholes, rivers and karst topography while the Bumphouse Trail is a 6.8-mile route that passes through a remote portion of the park.

Florida Caverns amenities: picnic tables, picnic areas, in-ground grills, fire rings, restrooms with showers, sanitation dump station and swimming area

Reserve a Floria Caverns campsite here.

St. John’s River Campground

For the bass pros.

  • Location: 1520 St Rd 40, Astor, FL 32102
  • Campground Contact: 386-749-3995
  • Campground Website

Since 1596, anglers and explorers have known the St. John’s River as the “garden of Eden” of bass fishing. Home to a number of aquatic species, the fish that bring campers from all over the country to its banks are trophy largemouth bass, striped bass, and crappie.

Even better, the St. John’s River Campground is located in prime bass territory in the Middle Basin. Here, stripers are the most abundant and many anglers have been known to catch ones of at least 20 inches in length. With your campsite and grill only a few feet away, there’s no better fishing trip you can dream of.

Campground breakdown:

  • 51 full hook-up campsites: $35-45 per night
  • 6 cabins: $85-125 per night

Pro tip: Because of St. John’s River’s massive size (covering 16 percent of the state and 3 miles in width at its largest section), the best way to catch huge largemouths is by boat or with a fishing charter that knows where these fish like to hang out at different times of the year.

St. John’s River amenities: open grills, fire rings, paved driveways, laundry facilities, accessible bathrooms with showers, concessions stand, playground, horseshoe pit, shuffleboard and recreation room

Reserve a St. John’s campsite by calling 386-749-3995.

Manatee Springs State Park

For the underwater explorers.

  • Location: 11650 N.W. 115 St., Chiefland FL 32626
  • Campground Contact: 352-493-6072
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, daily
  • Campground Website

As its name suggests, this Florida park is a sanctuary for manatees and campers alike. During the cooler months, these beloved sea cows often peruse the waters and often swim alongside snorkelers and scuba divers. In fact, Manatee Springs offers a wide variety of diving opportunities. Not only does the park have direct access to the famous Suwanee River, but it also has three different cave diving locations at the main spring, Catfish Hotel, and Friedman Sink. With so many underwater areas to explore, though, there is a limit to how many divers can be in the water each day. Be sure to check in at the ranger station before hooking up your tank.

Manatee Springs amenities: picnic tables, grills, potable water, accessible bathrooms with showers, swimming area, boat ramp, campfire circles and playground

Note: Because of the presence of emerald ash borer infestations, Manatee Springs State Park asks that campers do not bring any outside firewood into the park.

Reserve a Manatee Springs campsite here.

Anastasia State Park

For the white-sand chasers.

  • Location: 300 Anastasia Park Road, St. Augustine FL 32080
  • Campground Contact: 904-461-2033
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, daily
  • Campground Website

Of course, we can’t talk about the best camping in Florida without mentioning some beachfront campsites. And among the softest white-sand destinations is Anastasia State Park. With over four miles of pristine beaches, this state park marries island time with a backcountry mindset.

Along with the opportunities for sunbathing and seashell hunting, Anastasia State Park also has a limestone quarry and the Ancient Dunes Nature Trail to explore. The park is actually located along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, which means you’ll also be able to spot lots of different avian species, such as roseate spoonbills, osprey, eagles, painted buntings and warblers.

Most importantly, Anastasia State Park is extremely accessible with elevated boardwalks that lead to the beach and even Mobi Mats which make it easy for wheelchairs to travel across the sand. There are also beach wheelchair rentals available for free at the Island Beach Shop and Grill or Anastasia Water Sports.

Anastasia amenities: picnic tables, in-ground grills, fire rings, sanitation dump station, elevated boardwalks, wheelchair-friendly beach mats, beach wheelchair rentals, bike rentals, concession stand and gift shop, campfire circles, interpretive exhibit, boat launch, laundry services, restrooms with showers, playgrounds and fish cleaning station

Reserve an Anastasia campsite here.

Ginnie Springs Outdoors

For the floaters.

  • Location: 7300 Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, FL 32643
  • Campground Contact: 386-454-7188
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, daily
  • Campground Website

Some prefer their camping trips to be jam-packed with adventure while others prefer a more laid-back experience with nothing planned but to enjoy the outdoors. If you lean towards the latter then Ginnie Springs has the campsites in store for you. With over 100 sites with water and electric, the campground ensures that you don’t have to give up comfort to explore the blue waters of Ginnie Springs. Throughout the year, vacationers gather to take a slow, lazy float down from Beaver’s Landing to Twin Spring with a beer can at the ready. As a private campground, Ginnie Springs allows guests to bring alcohol so long as there is no glass, kegs or excessive drinking.

And, if you do decide you need a bit more excitement during your trip, Ginnie Springs also offers tube, kayak, SUP and scuba gear rentals.

Campground breakdown:

  • 123 electric sites: $36-41 per night
  • 1 cottage: $220-224 per night
  • primitive tent campsites are scattered throughout the park: $25-30

Ginnie Springs amenities: restrooms with showers, sanitation dump station, picnic tables, grills, laundromat, covered pavilions, volleyball courts, playgrounds, general store, restaurant and Wifi

Reserve a Ginnie Springs campsite by calling 386-454-7188.

Alafia State Park

For the cyclists.

  • Location: 14326 S. County Road 39, Lithia FL 33547
  • Campground Contact: 813-672-5320
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset, daily
  • Campground Website

Even if you’re not a cycling pro, you have to check out Alafia State Park. Home to some of the International Bike Association’s “Epic” rated trails, the park is truly unlike any other in Florida. In fact, you’ll find 20 miles of hilly trails to explore, ranging from easy to super strenuous. Each one of these routes takes you through the area’s flatwoods and forests, all to give you a heart-pumping, scenic ride to remember. And, better yet, the park also has an onsite, full-service bike shop that will take care of any repair and rental needs you have.

Campground breakdown:

  • 30 electric campsites: $22-29 per night
  • 12 equestrian sites: $22-29 per night
  • 3 Comfy Camping Glamping sites: $129-159 per night

Even if you’re not into mountain biking, Alafia is still a prime camping spot. Along with the highly-acclaimed bike trails, there are also plenty of fishing and paddling opportunities along the South Prong of the Alafia River.

Alafia amenities: community firepit, restrooms with solar-heated showers, picnic pavilions, horse stables, paddocks and tie-outs, canoe/kayak launch, interpretive exhibit and playground

Reserve an Alafia campsite here.

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