Camp Like an Explorer

If you wonder what Florida looked like hundreds of years ago, there’s no better way to find out than to rough it where explorers did. Check out these parks and campgrounds for your dose of nature.

In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed upon the shores of St. Augustine in hopes of discovering the Fountain of Youth. Although he would find neither gold nor the secret to eternity, he did uncover a land teeming with priceless natural treasures.

Just a few miles from downtown St. Augustine, on a strip of beach that looks remarkably like the one that received Ponce de Leon’s fleet nearly 500 years ago, campers at Anastasia State Park can spend the whole day outdoors fishing, swimming, biking, boating and canoeing and then return to the convenient comforts of an RV or tent. The campground, like Suwannee River Hideaway Campground, Chokoloskee Island Park and so many others in Florida, offers a variety of modern amenities – including electrical hookups, telephone/internet service and hot showers – in an environment that accommodates the fun-filled activities of the outdoors.

For those who want to experience living in nature’s raw element, away from hot showers, electricity and cable TV, there is no better oasis than the primitive camping sites offered at numerous campgrounds around Florida’s state parks and state forests. For instance, T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offers primitive camping in a wilderness preserve where campers bring their own supplies, food and water. If you’re up for the challenge, check out other primitive campground sites including Anclote Key Preserve State Park in Dunedin, the inland Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Okeechobee and Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park in Keystone Heights.

Whether you want to rough it in the natural environment or wish to retreat to the comforts of your cozy RV at night, see our complete list of campgrounds around the state before going on your next Florida adventure. Information at or Florida Forest Service at

This article was originally published in the 2008 Official Florida Vacation Guide. Click here to view or order other Florida travel guides.

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