Happy Trails To You
South Florida’s Best Camping Spots
By: Jeyme Colodne
As warmer weather makes its way through South Florida, thoughts turn from homework and studying to sun worshiping, sleeping past 8:00 a.m. and vacations. For those of you who think that baking in the sun and sleeping late IS a vacation, then read on, because Florida has a lot more to offer. One of the state’s overlooked pastimes is camping, but not just your typical sleeping in a tent and fishing. With more than 140 park areas to choose from and activities that range from horseback riding to scuba diving, these parks rival any northern-based camping ground. With so many sites to choose from finding the right one can be difficult. Focusing on activities you like and how far you’re willing to travel can help you to narrow your choices down.
For those of you not wanting to go very far, these camping grounds are a perfect fit since they not only provide you with great activities, but are also only a few short hours away.
1. Bahia Honda State Park– located in Big Pine Key, 305-872-2353305-872-2353
* Boasts an extensive beach providing exceptional swimming and snorkeling
* A nature trail for hiking
2. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park– located in Key Largo, 305-451-1202305-451-1202
*Has approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, perfect for snorkeling.
*Guided nature walks along the park’s Mangrove and Wild Tamarind trails
3. Myakka River State Park, Florida’s largest state park located in Bradenton
* Over 45 square miles of woodlands, wetlands and prairie to explore by foot, bicycle, canoe or car
* Log cabins rentals, which include air conditioner, electric stove, refrigerator and showers
4. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park located in N. Palm Beach, 561-624-6950561-624-6950
* The park’s 4,000 square foot Nature Center
* Besides swimming, the beach is also a prime nesting area for sea turtles
For those who don’t mind a little extra traveling, say about 5 hours in a car, then these parks are for you
1. Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park located in Homosassa, 352-628-5343352-628-5343
* Park serves as a rehabilitation center and refuge for endangered Manatees
* Boat tours and nature trails offer an opportunity to see a wide range of wildlife
2. Ichetucknee Springs State Park located in Fort White, 904- 497-2511904- 497-2511
*Offers tubing on the crystal clear Ichetucknee River; a unique way to see nature
3. Florida Caverns State Park located in Marianna, 850-482-4257850-482-4257
* Guided cave tours
* Golfing available for non nature buffs
4. Amelia Island State Recreation Area located in Jacksonville, 904- 251-2320904- 251-2320
* Guided horseback rides along the Atlantic beach
* Also fishing, hiking, sunning, and bird watching
Still didn’t see anything you liked? Then log on to www.abfla.com/park for a complete listing of all the parks.