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Old 02-06-2007, 02:58 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Great and not so great Florida Parks

We are a traveling family of four and have been in Florida for 3 months now. It is supposed to be the Sunshine State but has not proven so this year. Of course when you are from New Mexico, it is hard to compete. We have stayed mainly at State and County Parks, state forests, national forests and 2 private parks. We love the State Parks. Some of the best are Alafia, Big Lagoon, Highland Hammocks, Manatee Springs, Henderson Beach (gorgeous beaches), Blue Springs, Koreshan (great for historical perspective), Hillsborough River and Little Manatee River and Manatee Lake. Our favorite was Alafia due to the great staff and bike trails and volunteers. Koreshan could use more water pressure but that is very little to complain about.
As far as State forest go, you have to like rustic because they are hard to find and are not designed for travel trailers although most have water and sewer. You have to look for them because I promised the locals I would tell anyone where they were : )
Ocala National Forest has great national parks. We enjoyed Alexander Springs tremendously and visited Salt Springs which looked nice.
I personally did not enjoy the private parks. They were overpriced and had no privacy. I definitely would never recommend Natures Coast RV park. They didn't like our camper on the truck so instead of telling us they didn't allow it, they took our money and then told us we couldn't use the camper. Let's just say our 75 Airstream and truck didn't fit their style. Oh well, it is always better to leave a place you are not wanted. Their loss, I say!
We have a few days in Bahia Honda and I am sure it will be beautiful by all accounts if we can get some sun..Looking forward to traveling another state. The Meanderthals
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Old 02-06-2007, 03:19 PM   #2
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Florida parks

Hi, nice info on the Florida state parks. We're like you - we like the privacy of the state parks.

We're heading to Florida in April to visit family, and have booked space at the Big Lagoon, so its nice to know that it was one of your favorites.

Have you tried Ft. DeSoto park near Tampa (Pinellas County park). My brother in law says its great, and we booked 5 days there - wondering if you've seen it?

On your trips, did you happen to find a nice park near Baton Rouge LA? We need a place to stay, but haven't found anything close (just searching online right now).

Karma your way for the post!
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:01 PM   #3
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Hey Dancepancha/Meanderthals and Tin Diesel--Love those names!!

Thanks for the post/thread. We are planning a trip to FL for next winter, and will surely check out some of the state parks, and national forests you both mentioned. Looking forward to reading about more great family places to camp in FL! Happy travels!
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:43 PM   #4
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Steph, if you have any intenerary start planning now. Most of the parks in FL are booked through April. I tried to get into John Pennekamp in Key Largo. Booked until April 15th.
A comping report on the keys is coming.
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Old 02-06-2007, 06:56 PM   #5
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You have to try Fort Desoto Park. If you make reservations you can get a great waterview site...either sunrise or sunset views...depending on your location. Go to their site Fort DeSoto Park for a great view of each site. They actually have a photo of each site available for you to view. This is a county park(Pinellas), the rate is $28.00/night. They hold approx 25 sites for weekend walk ins. You have to be there early Friday morning(4:30am) if you do not have a reservation to get a 2 night min. weekend. Some people book Thursday night and wake up early to wait in line for the weekend. Be advised, you may have to move from one site to another if you do this, but once they give you a weekend site, you may be able to extent your stay. Lots to do near Ft Desoto if you like the water.

Steve
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:11 PM   #6
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Fore Lake Campground is a treasure. Run by the forest service in the Ocala National Forest. Located on hiway 314 just off hiway 40 out of Ocala. It's cheap and has no hookups but has water and a dump station. Nice beach and fishing pier.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:14 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by dancepancha
We are a traveling family of four and have been in Florida for 3 months now. It is supposed to be the Sunshine State but has not proven so this year. Of course when you are from New Mexico, it is hard to compete. We have stayed mainly at State and County Parks, state forests, national forests and 2 private parks. We love the State Parks. Some of the best are Alafia, Big Lagoon, Highland Hammocks, Manatee Springs, Henderson Beach (gorgeous beaches), Blue Springs, Koreshan (great for historical perspective), Hillsborough River and Little Manatee River and Manatee Lake. Our favorite was Alafia due to the great staff and bike trails and volunteers. Koreshan could use more water pressure but that is very little to complain about.
As far as State forest go, you have to like rustic because they are hard to find and are not designed for travel trailers although most have water and sewer. You have to look for them because I promised the locals I would tell anyone where they were : )
Ocala National Forest has great national parks. We enjoyed Alexander Springs tremendously and visited Salt Springs which looked nice.
I personally did not enjoy the private parks. They were overpriced and had no privacy. I definitely would never recommend Natures Coast RV park. They didn't like our camper on the truck so instead of telling us they didn't allow it, they took our money and then told us we couldn't use the camper. Let's just say our 75 Airstream and truck didn't fit their style. Oh well, it is always better to leave a place you are not wanted. Their loss, I say!
We have a few days in Bahia Honda and I am sure it will be beautiful by all accounts if we can get some sun..Looking forward to traveling another state. The Meanderthals
Dancepancha,

Please say hi to the Owl when you get back home. Went through San Antonio and Socorro on my way to Death Valley this past November (awesome green chili cheeseburgers).

But I digress - see if you find your way to Fort Desoto at the tip of St. Pete - a true find, particularly if you can get a site on the water (most are). If you do any canoing or kayaking, you are likely to be paddling with dolphins. Great bike/running trails as well. Oh, and the beaches are rated #1 in the country by some.
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Old 02-07-2007, 08:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thecatsandi
Steph, if you have any intenerary start planning now. Most of the parks in FL are booked through April. I tried to get into John Pennekamp in Key Largo. Booked until April 15th. A comping report on the keys is coming.
Thanks Michelle, great advice, I'm already planning. Michigan has me trained to do 6 months in advance for state parks by the water,and now Florida's got me doing 12 months. I know it will be worth it! Can't wait to read your take on the parks!! Thanks again to all who posted about Florida campgrounds we make lots of decisions based on forum members' reviews of campgrounds and have not been disappointed!
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Old 02-07-2007, 09:03 PM   #9
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Be sure to try Top Sail Hill State Park RV resort in Santa Rosa Beach. It is one of the nicest RV parks anywhere.
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:17 AM   #10
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I live in a Tampa and we stay at Ft. Desoto a few times each winter. It's always booked solid but well worth the effort if you can get in.

Another great park for nature lovers is Kissimmee Prairie Plains SP which is nowhere near Kissimmee FL. It's just north of Lake Okeechobee and in the middle of nowhere. It has water and electric hookups. Be sure you don't forget anything since the nearest store is 30 or more miles away.
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:07 AM   #11
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Grayton Beach State Park is also another great Florida State Park. It is located about 30 miles west of Panama City on the ocean. It has about a half mile of pristine beachfront. It is also directly on Western Lake which provides great kayaking and canoeing. In the last couple of years, they have added about 30 new RV campsites that have sewer drops at the sites.

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Old 02-18-2013, 08:52 AM   #12
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Grayton Beach State Park is also another great Florida State Park. It is located about 30 miles west of Panama City on the ocean. It has about a half mile of pristine beachfront. It is also directly on Western Lake which provides great kayaking and canoeing. In the last couple of years, they have added about 30 new RV campsites that have sewer drops at the sites.

Brian
I've only been to two Florida State Parks but Grayton Beach was one of them, and I'd recommend it if you like somewhere quiet to stay. We were backed onto the lake with a site that was well screened from our neighbours. The bath house in the older section was a little tired but perfectly functional and well used. The beach is wonderfully unspoiled and my first experience of the Gulf Coast. The contrast between the State Park beach and the built-up stretches to the east and west couldn't have been greater. It was at Grayton Beach that we also met the friendliest campers and we did a bit of European bonding with a family from the Netherlands.

When we're back on the Gulf Coast, it'll be Grayton Beach for us.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:06 AM   #13
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I've only been to two Florida State Parks but Grayton Beach was one of them, and I'd recommend it if you like somewhere quiet to stay. We were backed onto the lake with a site that was well screened from our neighbours. The bath house in the older section was a little tired but perfectly functional and well used. The beach is wonderfully unspoiled and my first experience of the Gulf Coast. The contrast between the State Park beach and the built-up stretches to the east and west couldn't have been greater. It was at Grayton Beach that we also met the friendliest campers and we did a bit of European bonding with a family from the Netherlands.

When we're back on the Gulf Coast, it'll be Grayton Beach for us.
Steve, if you make it back to Grayton, give me a call. We live about two miles west of the park.

Brian
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:24 AM   #14
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MOST of the Florida State Parks are truly outstanding, and we've hit most of them over the past 7 years or so. Our favorites vary with the season, but we love the beachfront camping of the east coast as well as the ones in the Keys. Snowbirds keep us from visiting them until mid April unless we plan it out a year in advance, so typically the only available state parks we can visit in the winter (best time to camp here) are up in the panhandle.
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