Rideau River near Manotick (Ottawa), Canada.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reflecting on camping in Florida

Right away when you think of camping in Florida you think cha-ching ($$$).  We found that it doesn't necessarily have to be that way, but you have to spend some time on the internet to look for some good spots.

We weren't exactly looking forward to going to Florida, not really our favourite place to be.  It is too touristy and busy for our liking, but our son was playing baseball there from March 14-20 and it was going to be his last year on the team so we wanted to be there to see the games.  Last time we were there we were on the Atlantic Coast and didn't like it very much at all, but we managed to find some boondocking spots and cheap camping that we enjoyed.  This time around we were going to be on the Gulf Coast and it looked a little less busy other than the St. Petersburg/Tampa area which we stayed away from.

The most we paid this trip in Florida for camping was at Highlands Hammock State Park in the primative camping area for $18 plus tax and it had a lot to offer for hiking trails and biking.

Ruth and Whiskey enjoying the sunshine with Sherman the Wilderness Camping area at Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring

Ruth on the boardwalk going through the swamp on Cypress Swamp Trail, Highlands Hammock State Park, Sebring

I think a big unknown secret that a lot of people don't think about are county parks.  Some can be more expensive than others, but even the more expensive ones are still cheaper than most RV Parks. But they're not always easy to find.  We spent two nights at Pasco County Park for $5 a night/no services or you could spend $15 a night for electric and water.  It was a beautiful park.  They had a big field for camping and we just parked up by the edge of the woods and we were happy campers.  Lots of nice hiking trails, a beautiful paved multi use trail, canoe launch, fishing dock, playgrounds for the kids, lookout tower and lots of picnic areas, some covered.

Ruth and Kevin with Sherman in the background in the recreation field at Withlacoochee River Park just outside of Dade City

Kevin and Whiskey on one of the boardwalk trails in Withlacoochee River Park just outside of Dade City

Our trip to Florida 2 years ago took us to Huguenot Park just outside of Jacksonville, I believe this was a county park, $7 a night again no services, right on the water.  Another county park was John Prince County Park in Lake Worth, this one was a little more expensive $22 a night with water and electric.  It was definitely more of an RV park, but it was quiet, had a nice view of the lake and the park itself was huge, again lots to offer.

Ruth, Lindsey, Justin, Whiskey and Sherman parked up at Huguenot Park just outside of Jacksonville

Sunset at Huguenot Park just outside of Jacksonville

A big banyon tree at John Prince County Park in Lake Worth just south of West Palm Beach

We also found that the Florida State Forests have some great primitive camping, only $5 a night.  Who said camping is expensive in Florida? And we were never packed in like sardines.

Kevin and Whiskey with Sherman, who is parked up for the night for $5 at Cary State Forest just outside of Bryceville

We did boondock in one Walmart parking lot and we were very lucky that the hotel the boys were staying at in Fort Meyers let us park in the parking lot at no charge, but I am sure we could have found places to boondock it that area without problem.

Sherman parked up for the night at Walmart in The Villages, Oxford

So despite what some people might say about the high price of camping in Florida there are alternatives if you look. Kevin would get on the internet and check out the county parks and state forests before arriving to that area a day or two ahead of time to see what our possibilities were.  Never once were we in a spot that was noisy or crowded and that's the way we love it.  It's also a bonus having good solar panels and batteries to make this type of camping possible.


  1. Funny you all have the same opinion of Florida as we do.

    During our planned travels Florida is not rated high on our list of "places to see"

  2. Thanks for the "heads up" on Florida, we loved being there the few times we have been there (by airplane), and it did seem very "touristy" which I'm not into either.
    But your pictures surprised me and I will be marking down the places you have stayed.
    Maybe Florida is worth another look?

    Good post!

  3. We feel the same way about Florida... and are usually camped in our folks yard when we go to visit there. LOL

    But we did spend five days in the Ocala National Forest which was very pleasant and boondocking camping (no hookups) It was $12 for us and $6 for the folks with their Golden Age Passport.

    In mid Feb there were only 6 other campers in the whole campground, not crowded at all. We were in the Fore Lake campground, east of Ocala and Silver Springs. Nice and quiet and rustic. It was hard to believe in the prime season that places like that are not packed. Go figger.

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) http://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/

  4. Florida, isn't too bad as long as you stay away from the really touristy areas, unless that is your thing!.

    Two years ago we also stayed in Ocala National Forest at Alexander Springs Park at $17 no electricity. We thought that was a bit pricey but the park was well worth it.

    There can be lots there to enjoy, if you know where to look, but there are much better choices out there for exploring.

    And I guess there are enough people that like Florida, look how many go there, another reason why we are different!

  5. I guess we have a different view of Florida. We have been to some wonderful state parks...Silver River SP, Suwannee River SP, Hillsborough River SP, Paines Prairie SP, Florida Caverns, Torreya SP...just to name a few. Maybe you all haven't been to the right places :) We're heading to Suwanee River SP next week....wonderful part of the river for kayaking.

  6. We normally like the state parks...but they have become too expensive for us. And I know they're not all this way, but the one state park we visited on this last trip, Highland Hammock, was a nice enough park, but in the camping area they were packed in like sardines. Glad we camped in the "primitive" area.

  7. Florida state parks have priced themselves out of the market. State parks run about $25 a night for both tents and RVs, and Alexander springs and the other forest service campgrounds are now $23 a night. Same services, higher prices. We used to camp 30+ nights a year in FL and now it's down to 3.

  8. Yep, camping used to be the affordable way to holiday. Not so much anymore! Looking forward to spending time out west, I hear that State and National Forests are cheaper, if not free and lots of BLM land as well.

  9. Nice to find the interesting conversation. Could you give some info on the solar panels. Ty

    1. I sort of had a quick look through the blog and I can't really see on single post that is totally dedicated to just the solar panels and batteries. We do have several posts throughout the blog that talk about it in bits and pieces but Kevin does mention about them in our post about Sherman. www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/p/sherman.html

      If you have any further questions please feel free to email us at the email address near the top right of our blog.

  10. Our first trip camping in Florida. We hope. Trying to find pricing on camping is a drag.
    Anxious to hear others experiences.

    1. Keep some of these places in mind then. It is not easy finding cheap places in Florida and for us it is just way too busy for our liking. We did find the Gulf side of Florida better than the Atlantic side though.


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