One of the most biodiverse states in the country, Florida is home to 663 beaches spread across more than 1300 miles of coastline. Millions of acres of public land conserve prairies, wetlands, coral reefs, mangrove forests and river bluffs.
With its incredible natural beauty and cooperative weather, it’s no surprise that the Sunshine State is an outdoorsy favorite, and camping is a perfect way to get in touch with its wild side. From the panhandle to the southernmost point, here are the best campgrounds in Florida.
Kissimmee Prairie Preservation State Park
Best campground for stargazing
This 54,000-acre state park is all about horizon. Home to one of the largest stretches of Florida dry prairie, the Kissimmee Prairie Preservation State Park gives visitors unadulterated views of nature as far as the eye can see. It's a much-needed sanctuary for the habitat’s native wildlife and a haven for numerous endangered species.
While the possibility of spotting a grasshopper sparrow or burrowing owl is a popular draw for many, it is the stargazing that earns the park a place on this list. Far removed from light pollution, the preserve has been recognized by the International Dark Sky Association and gives visitors an incomparable vantage point for the cosmos.
As the park closes at night, eager stargazers will need to make a reservation at one of 35 campgrounds. These sites include electricity, water, restrooms, laundry facilities and other amenities.
Myakka River State Park
Best campground for quintessential Florida beauty
Roseate spoonbills wading in the nearby marsh, alligators sunning themselves on riverbanks, towering pines stretching skyward – if you want the unsullied natural beauty for which Florida is famous, you’ll find it at Myakka River State Park, one of Florida’s oldest and largest preserves.
The opportunities to explore the surrounding wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands are vast, and include hiking and biking, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Miles of trails, scenic waterways and tree-top canopy walkways allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the wilderness. Unsurprisingly, this is a popular campsite, and there are well-outfitted and more primitive campgrounds throughout the park, all of which must be reserved ahead of time.
Suwannee River Wilderness State Trail
Best campground for remote wilderness
The Suwannee River, which winds nearly 250 miles from Georgia down to the Gulf of Mexico, is dotted with scenic springs, beaches and swimming holes. Accessible only by water, this is a place that feels especially undisturbed and beautiful; for those who want to feel truly in touch with nature, it's a must-see locale.
Public and private campsites are available along the river, including five designated river camps with screened sleeping cabins, hot showers, restrooms, grills and more. Although the trail is very remote, there are several town "hubs" accessible from each campsite that allow visitors the chance to restock supplies, enjoy local events or grab a meal. More rugged adventurers can pitch their tents anywhere along the riverbank.
Blackwater River State Park
Best campground for canoeing and hiking
Located in the Florida Panhandle, close to the Alabama border, Blackwater River State Park contains one of the rarest natural habitats in the world. Tributaries and trails take visitors through the longleaf pine/wiregrass forest, showcasing the undeveloped beauty of this unique ecosystem.
There are 30 campgrounds available, with access to electricity and water, large picnic pavilions and fully outfitted restrooms. RVs and pets are welcome, and reservations must be made in advance.
Cayo Costa Island State Park
Best campground for island isolation
Cayo Costa State Park is an island on the western side of the state accessible only by boat. With 9 acres of forest and 9 miles of beach, this untouched paradise is for the sea dogs among us – you’ll be so busy snorkeling, swimming and fishing that you won’t mind the lack of electricity at the 30 tent sites across the island.
Sealife thrives in these waters, and wildlife is everywhere, from manatees and sea turtles to plovers and pelicans. If you’re wondering what Florida looked like before development, Cayo Costa gives you a good idea.
Fort DeSoto Park
Best campground for beachfront views
South of St Petersburg on the western side of the state, Fort DeSoto Park comprises five separate keys with miles of sandy beaches. Named for forts established during the Spanish-American war, the park is also home to historic sites and a local museum.
The turquoise waters welcome snorkeling, sailing and swimming, and the dog-friendly nature of the park means four-legged friends can often be found splashing along the shoreline. Though remote in nature, Fort DeSoto campgrounds are equipped with many modern comforts including wi-fi, water and electrical hook-ups, grills and restrooms.
Bahia Honda State Park
Best campground for snorkeling
Just past Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys, Bahia Honda State Park shows off southern Florida at its finest. A half-moon beach overlooked by a historic bridge, green-blue water and rich marine life set the scene at this 500-acre beachfront preserve.
While the beach and hiking trails alone are worth the visit, the offshore activities are really the biggest draw. Some of the best snorkeling around can be found at Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, a short trip from Bahia Honda. With 80 campsites ranging from primitive to full-service, visitors have several choices, but you'll need to plan ahead as the site books up well in advance.
Anastasia State Park
Best campground for bird watching
Located along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Anastasia State Park is a 1600-acre peninsula in northeastern Florida that presents an unequaled opportunity to see the state’s ecological variety up close. As the sun sets behind the swelling dunes of white-quartz sand, you might glimpse a school of dolphins making its way through the water. Perhaps, if you glance up, you’ll catch an eagle soaring past an Osprey nest or, further down the beach, roseate spoonbills wading into the surf.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy activities on- and offshore, including cycling, fishing, hiking, surfing, shelling and kayaking. The 139 campgrounds here are outfitted with electricity, water, picnic tables and fire pits, and both RVs and tents are welcome at any of them.
You might also like:
Outdoor adventures in Florida's Everglades and Paradise Coast
Which Florida Keys island is best for you?
From manatees to mermaids: the 9 best state parks in Florida