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Exploring Florida...Recommendations wanted

Quint_Da_Man
Explorer
Explorer
My wife and I are retiring at the end of this year and our first trip out will be end of February beginning or March time frame in 2023. We plan on leisurely heading down to Key West and back from the Boston area.Of course we will be driving like a bat out of hell on the first 2 days of travel to get out of the winter but then want to take our time thru Georgia and explore Florida before leisurely heading back up north.

So, having said all of that, what are peoples favorite campgrounds to stay at to explore Florida specifically and some of Georgia. We can take our time traveling down to Key West maybe down on the Gulf coast and return on the Atlantic side, or vise versa,or up through central Florida , or all of the above, time is not an issue. We are thinking about maybe 5 or 6 weeks down there between Georgia and Florida and then taking a month or so making our way back visiting Tennessee etc.....

What say you?
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JoeH
Explorer III
Explorer III
agesilaus wrote:
We enjoyed tent camping at Paynes Prairie Preserve/State Park. Didn't see the buffalo but did see the Spanish wild horses.


We have never seen either as many times as we've been to that park. The Rangers keep them hidden away in a remote section of the park for no obvious reason. It's one of our local parks and the rangers there have a well deserved reputation of being jerks in a number of ways.
Use insect repellent if you go there as they have a tick problem in that one park. Spray your sock tops and bottom of your long pants, or legs if you are in shorts.
There is a lot to do in the Gainesville area, a small zoo, the Florida state Museum which has a butterfly zoo, several nice city parks--Sweetwater being one, a Bat preserve, a Bat House which you can see the Bats depart at sunset. That's on the University of Florida campus at Lake Alice. Micanopy which is a tourist town is just south of Payne's Prairie.


re: your comment on the rangers... might be due to the current park manager who used to be the director of all the state parks, but was a jerk and got demoted.
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agesilaus
Explorer II
Explorer II
We enjoyed tent camping at Paynes Prairie Preserve/State Park. Didn't see the buffalo but did see the Spanish wild horses.


We have never seen either as many times as we've been to that park. The Rangers keep them hidden away in a remote section of the park for no obvious reason. It's one of our local parks and the rangers there have a well deserved reputation of being jerks in a number of ways.
Use insect repellent if you go there as they have a tick problem in that one park. Spray your sock tops and bottom of your long pants, or legs if you are in shorts.
There is a lot to do in the Gainesville area, a small zoo, the Florida state Museum which has a butterfly zoo, several nice city parks--Sweetwater being one, a Bat preserve, a Bat House which you can see the Bats depart at sunset. That's on the University of Florida campus at Lake Alice. Micanopy which is a tourist town is just south of Payne's Prairie.
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twichers
Explorer
Explorer
We enjoyed tent camping at Paynes Prairie Preserve/State Park. Didnt see the buffalo but did see the Spanish wild horses.

Nearby Sweetwater Wetlands Park is a nice day trip but you are in the open (sun screen/water needed).

Unfortunately, as with most (all?) FL State Parks, getting reservations will be difficult. The only way we got in was via walk-in tent sites.

Others have mentioned some great parks as well.

philh
Explorer II
Explorer II
key west, Boyd's is expensive and still 5 miles from duvall st... but IMO, a great park and worth it.

agesilaus
Explorer II
Explorer II
Horsedoc wrote:
Not Florida, but close. Our out-of-state visitors were impressed with the Okeefenokee Swamp. Stephen Foster State Park is a great place to get to know the 'blackwater'. Many years ago our group paddled 34 miles across the swamp in 3 days. I turned 40 in the middle of the swamp. Museum, canoe rental and swamp tours from there. Go in early March - water is usually up that time of year and the skeeters haven't awakened yet.


I thought about including ha but January which is when I assume they are traveling, is a bit risky even in south Georgia.
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Horsedoc
Explorer II
Explorer II
Not Florida, but close. Our out-of-state visitors were impressed with the Okeefenokee Swamp. Stephen Foster State Park is a great place to get to know the 'blackwater'. Many years ago our group paddled 34 miles across the swamp in 3 days. I turned 40 in the middle of the swamp. Museum, canoe rental and swamp tours from there. Go in early March - water is usually up that time of year and the skeeters haven't awakened yet.
horsedoc
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wowens79
Explorer III
Explorer III
If you want to get in a Florida state park they fill up really quick, the ones in the keys fill up within minutes of becoming available.
The springs in central florida are really nice, and worth a visit.
The northern Gulf coast is really nice. March will be getting into spring break season so be prepared for that in places like Destin or Panama City.
The north Georgia mountains have some great state parks! In late Feb and March, you never know if you will have 75 and sunny, or 35 and rainy, the weather that time of year is very unpredictable.
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Fizz
Explorer
Explorer
If you like a good walk or bike ride.....

Old Seven Mile Bridge

jdc1
Explorer II
Explorer II
Take PLENTY of bug deterrent...gallons. Seriously, we enjoyed fishing in the Gulf, visiting the Eveglades and botanical gardens.

ppine
Explorer II
Explorer II
Charleston, SC. The barrier islands of Georgia. The pine forests of northern Florida.

Dutch_12078
Explorer
Explorer
Georgia state parks accept reservations 13 months in advance and Florida state parks 11 months. The national parks have a 6 month reservation window.
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agesilaus
Explorer II
Explorer II
It's true campsites can be hard to find. Florida State parks are always mostly filled year round. Sites in northern FL are somewhat less full than those south of Orlando. But you have1 10 months to plan and reserve sites. I'm not sure but FL State parks used to allow reservations 7 months in advance, check that on their website.

Florida Parks map.

They've been adding parks and are over 200 now but many do not allow camping.

So parks, Anastasia SP on the beach at St Augustine is always popular as is Ft Clinch SP near Jacksonville. Augustine is more interesting to explore. Further south Jetty Park at Cape Canaveral is a great county park, close to Cape Kennedy. And is on the Atlantic Beach.

We generally don't go further south anymore until the Keys. Of course Disney's campground is very popular and rught inside the parks but rather pricey. Going south on I-95 switch to the Florida State Turnpike around West Palm Beach to avoid driving in the Miami area, you do NOT want to drive in Miami especially with an RV. Take the FTP all the way to the end and about a mile straight south pick up the road into the Keys, US 1.

Any State Park in the Keys will be excellent, and Pirates Cove commercial park in Marathon is good but in January will be very expensive, on the order of $100 a night as will all commercial camps. You can day trip to Key West from Marathon.
Everglades NP will be a good choice on the way north. Collier Seminole SP at the west end of US 41 (the Trail) is where we stay down there.You should take US 41 across the state to get to see the Everglades area, don't speed in the reservation. Air Boat rides can be had all along there and the loop road will be loaded with wading birds, Egrets and such. Check out the Shark River section of Everglades NP.
Oscar Scheer SP in Sarasota is another good one for seeing the Sarasota area, beaches, the State Theater at the Asolo, and the Circus museum are there with a lot more. Inland you could daytrip to Myakka River SP to get close up views of 'gaters and walk their up in the trees sky walk. They have a boat ride too.
Desoto park, which I think is a County park in Tampa is good to explore that area.
Going north there is a whole list of great State springs parks. Manatee, Rainbow, Homosassa, Weeki Wachee (for the mermaids) to name some of them. Manatee is our favorite for camping. Tarpon Springs is a tourist spot for the Greek Sponge fishing area. Rock Crusher commercial park is very popular in that area.
And that about takes care of the peninsula part of the state. The panhandle is another whole story. Most people do not realize how big the state is, it is over 1000 miles from Key West to Pensacola.
Have fun in the free state of Florida.
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Bears_Den
Explorer
Explorer
During the winter months campsites can be hard to come by. Start making your reservations a.s.a.p. The further south you get the more $$$ it will cost.
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