During our five months in Florida, we’ve camped at a dozen state parks. Each of them unique and offer different experiences. Most fees are around $20-30 a night depending on the site amenities (water and electric hook-ups). All sites have a picnic table, a fire ring, and access to drinking water. Rest rooms are clean, showers are FREE, and depending on the day of week and season these state parks will have a variety of activities like guided hikes and ranger talks. We’re not there yet, but these state parks are 50% off for seniors. Imagine spending a week in one of these parks for $70, all utilities paid including wi-fi (at select locations).
As I have mentioned before, peak camp season in Florida runs November through April. With the aging Florida population, the senior discount, and snowbirds from Fargo, North Dakota, sites are hard to come by. The parks in the Keys are generally booked all year AND way in advance.
The key for us with our old dog, Carlos, is being close to water, a lake, river, spring, gulf or ocean. With these criteria, he’d be happy in most of the parks here.
One of our favorites was Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. Big spaces separated by saw palmetto palm jungle. Quiet, beach access. St. Augustine town is the oldest settlement in America and makes for a course in early American history. The fort, the settlement, the fountain of youth, slavery, Americas oldest ____________ (fill in the blank). After exploring the tourists attractions, enjoy time at time at camp with the quiet songbirds, the busy shorebirds, and a few migrating snowbirds camping beside us.
On our return trip back from Illinois we camped at this state park on Cape San Blas. Cape San Blas is a 17-mile long barrier peninsula, curving around St. Joseph Bay. Here we found an abundance of wildlife, playful surf on white sand beaches on the Gulf side. Smooth, shallow water on the Bay side.
The park juts into the Gulf of Mexico, is a bit hard to get to, secluded, and boasts some of the best uncrowded beaches on the in Florida.
Because this park is off the beaten path of the “Old Florida” coast, we had vacant campsites on both sides. We very well could have spent a week here at this partially hidden gem.
Despite state funding for Florida State Parks diminishing in recent years they are very well run. For us, it’s a great time to help support our state parks, spend time in the sunny outdoors, AND help us get acquainted with the Sunshine State. So much more beyond the World of Disney.