RVer's Guide to Florida

RVer’s Guide to Florida: Must-See Spots and Insider Tips

As an RVer, you might be looking for the perfect destination to explore with your home on wheels. Florida, with its sunshine, beautiful landscapes, and diverse attractions, is a great choice for your adventure. This RVer’s Guide to Florida will provide essential information and tips to make your journey unforgettable.

From pristine beaches to world-renowned theme parks and natural wonders in every corner, Florida offers plenty of spots to park your RV and enjoy the outdoors. With various campgrounds and RV parks available throughout the state, you’ll have no shortage of options when it comes to finding the perfect place to stay during your visit.

In this guide, we’ll share some must-see destinations as well as helpful tips on how to make the most of your time as an RVer in the Sunshine State. So, buckle up, and prepare for a one-of-a-kind Florida road trip you won’t soon forget.

Where and How to Camp in Florida

RV Parks and Campgrounds

Florida offers a wide variety of RV parks and campgrounds for you to choose from. Many of these locations provide essential amenities such as electric hookups, showers, and even pools for a comfortable camping experience. Some popular destinations include Walt Disney World Resort and Everglades National Park, where you can enjoy Florida’s beautiful scenery and attractions. Make sure to research and book reservations in advance, as spots can fill up quickly, especially in high-demand areas like the Florida Keys.

State and National Parks

Camping in Florida’s state and national parks offers a more natural setting with amazing opportunities for wildlife viewing and hiking. Florida State Parks provide full-facility campsites with water, electricity, grills, and picnic tables. Facilities such as centralized showers, restrooms, and dump stations are also available for your convenience. Do note that maximum RV lengths vary by park, so it’s essential to check ahead when planning your trip.

Some notable state parks to visit include Myakka River State Park and Silver Springs State Park. For an even more adventurous experience, consider camping at the Everglades National Park where you can paddle the wilderness waterway and explore the unique ecosystem.

Water Camping

If you’re looking for a unique camping experience in Florida, try water camping. Some parks, like the Florida Keys, offer opportunities to camp on the water, either on your own boat or by renting a small cabin or floating platform. This way, you can enjoy the tranquil surroundings while being surrounded by the beauty of Florida’s waters. Make sure to research requirements and availability in advance, as these camping spots can be limited and often require permits or reservations.

Navigating Florida’s Attractions

Florida offers a wide variety of attractions for RVers to enjoy, from theme parks to beaches, and museums to events. In this guide, we’ll dive into some of the best spots to explore during your visit to the Sunshine State.

Theme Parks

There’s no shortage of thrilling theme parks in Florida. Of course, no visit would be complete without a trip to the legendary Walt Disney World. This enormous resort features four parks, including the iconic Magic Kingdom. Remember to check for special events and offers before you go.

Aside from Disney, you can indulge your inner thrill-seeker at other popular parks like Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens. No matter your interests, there’s a theme park experience for everyone.

Beaches and Rivers

If theme parks aren’t your thing, fear not: Florida’s coastline provides an array of beautiful beaches and scenic rivers to explore. From the white sands of the Gulf Coast to the vibrant beaches of Miami, there’s no shortage of sun and surf to enjoy.

Take advantage of the numerous water activities available, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply relaxing as you soak up the sun. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Florida’s native wildlife, including manatees and dolphins, as you explore the state’s waterways.

Museums and Events

Finally, for the culture enthusiasts, Florida offers diverse museums and events to keep your itinerary packed. Discover the state’s rich history in places like St. Augustine, or immerse yourself in the arts at renowned museums, such as The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.

While you travel, be sure to check out local events happening in each city. With festivals, art shows, and farmers’ markets taking place year-round, there’s always something to see and do. And don’t forget to indulge your taste buds by sampling some of the delicious local cuisine at nearby dining spots, from charming cafes to bustling restaurants.

The RV Community in Florida

Florida is a popular destination for RVers, offering beautiful landscapes, warm weather, and endless opportunities for adventure. In this vibrant RV community, you can connect with like-minded people, attend exciting events, and enjoy the perks of the Sunshine State.

Joining RV Groups

One way to engage with fellow RVers in Florida is by joining RV groups or clubs. These groups offer support, advice, and camaraderie among their members. Look for local chapters of national organizations like Escapees as well as online forums and social media groups where you can connect with both new and experienced RVers. Through these groups, you can share your love for everything Class C RV related, learn about upcoming events, and even find new travel buddies.

Attending RV Events and Shows

Florida is home to numerous RV events that cater to a wide range of interests. Attending these events is a fantastic way to meet other RV enthusiasts, learn about the latest in RV technology, and discover new destinations. The Florida RV Trade Association organizes various shows throughout the year, featuring the newest models and accessories. You’ll find RV showcases, educational seminars, and opportunities to socialize with fellow RVers.

In addition to trade shows, you can also participate in rallies, gatherings, and other events organized by RV clubs or online communities. These events provide a chance to explore new places, take part in group activities, or simply enjoy time with your fellow RVers in Florida’s beautiful surroundings.

By immersing yourself in Florida’s RV community, you’ll not only have unforgettable experiences but also make lasting friendships. So, get out there and embrace all that the Sunshine State has to offer. Happy RVing!

Preparing for the Unexpected

Seasonal Changes

Florida’s weather can be quite unpredictable, so it’s essential to be prepared for any situation. In the summer, you may encounter sweltering heat and humidity. Make sure your RV is equipped with proper ventilation and air conditioning to keep you comfortable during those hot days. It’s also a good idea to have plenty of water on hand to stay hydrated.

During the winter months, Florida may surprise you with cooler temperatures than you’re expecting, especially at night. When planning your trip, be sure to pack warm clothing and blankets to stay cozy during chillier evenings. Having a space heater inside your RV can also help provide additional warmth during the colder months.

Hurricanes and Weather Changes

Florida is no stranger to hurricanes and severe weather. When planning your RV trip, be sure to pay attention to the hurricane season, which typically runs from June through November. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared to adjust your travel itinerary if needed.

It’s essential to have a plan in place for dealing with hurricanes or other severe weather events. This includes having an emergency kit in your RV with basics like food, water, and first aid supplies. Make a list of potential safe havens or evacuation routes in case you need to seek shelter during a storm.

In the event of severe weather, always prioritize safety above all else. If you’re caught in a hurricane, don’t attempt to ride it out in your RV. Find a sturdy building to seek refuge in, and don’t venture back out until the storm has completely passed. Remember, your RV can be replaced, but your life cannot.

Apart from hurricanes, also be prepared for other weather conditions that might impact your journey. This could include thunderstorms, heavy rain, or strong winds. Take basic precautions like securing awnings, bringing in outdoor furniture, and making sure your RV is appropriately anchored.

Historical Sites in Florida

Florida is a treasure trove of historical sites, each with its unique story and significance. In this RVer’s guide, you’ll learn about some of the must-visit historical sites that you shouldn’t miss while exploring the Sunshine State.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the United States. Established in 1565, this beautiful town is a living history exhibit with well-preserved architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. As you stroll through the city, don’t forget to visit the Castillo de San Marcos, a historic fortress that has withstood the test of time.

Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center is a legendary site where numerous historical space missions started. Here, you can learn about the early days of space exploration, marvel at genuine spacecraft, and, if you’re lucky, even witness a rocket launch! The visitor complex also hosts the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, making it the perfect destination for space enthusiasts.

Fort Matanzas National Monument

Located just south of St. Augustine, the Fort Matanzas National Monument guards the southern approach to the city. Constructed during the 18th century to fend off British threats, this beautifully preserved fort offers a glimpse into the past and features live reenactments performed by dedicated history buffs.

Bok Tower Gardens

Nestled in the rolling hills of Central Florida, Bok Tower Gardens is a serene and picturesque retreat. Its centerpiece is the magnificent 205-foot tall Singing Tower carillon, adorned with intricate tilework and marble sculptures. While strolling through the gardens, make sure to enjoy the tranquil beauty and explore the historically significant Pinewood Estate.

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

Located in Key West, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum was once the residence of the famous novelist. You can explore the rooms where he wrote timeless classics and appreciate the beautiful tropical gardens outside. As a bonus, you may also meet the unique six-toed cats that are direct descendants of Hemingway’s feline companions.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Finally, make your way to Miami to visit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an opulent villa that embodies the Gilded Age and transports you to a European-like palace that’s been preserved to perfection. Stroll through the meticulous gardens, marvel at the architecture, and admire the impressive art collection within its walls.

While exploring Florida in your RV, these historical sites offer a fascinating look into the state’s diverse past. Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in cultural experiences, you’re bound to enjoy visiting each of these remarkable locations.

Popular Hiking Trails in Florida

Florida Trail

The Florida Trail is a perfect winter hike that stretches over 1,000 miles. It takes you from the cypress forests of the Everglades to the sandy Gulf Coast beaches of Pensacola. This diverse trail showcases the various landscapes of the Sunshine State.

Myakka River State Park

Explore the natural beauty of Myakka River State Park which offers various hiking trails that cater to all levels of hikers. You’ll find exciting trails winding through diverse ecosystems, lush forests, and unique marshlands.

Torreya State Park

Discover the challenging trails of Torreya State Park where you can encounter steep slopes, ravines, and breathtaking views of the Apalachicola River. This North Florida park offers hikers a unique experience in the heart of nature.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Venture into the Big Cypress National Preserve for a truly immersive Florida hiking experience. Here, you’ll find several trails where you can witness the diverse plant and animal life that call this vast wetland home.

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park offers remarkable scenic trails for those who appreciate diverse landscapes. Here, you’ll find yourself surrounded by wide-open vistas, wooded areas, and thriving wetlands.

Hillsborough River State Park

If you’re seeking a family-friendly hiking destination, Hillsborough River State Park offers multiple well-maintained trails. You’ll enjoy beautiful river views, lush vegetation, and quiet forested paths.

Ocala National Forest

Explore the beauty of Ocala National Forest, boasting over 600 miles of trails. The diverse terrain in this massive forest makes it an excellent destination for all, from beginner hikers seeking an easy stroll to experienced hikers looking for a challenging adventure.

National Parks

Florida is home to three incredible national parks, each offering unique experiences for RVers. In this guide, we’ll cover some essential information about Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park.

Everglades National Park

As you explore Everglades National Park, you’ll find yourself in a truly remarkable area, teeming with biodiversity. This park is perfect for wildlife viewing, boasting a multitude of rare and endangered species. For RVers, the park has two campgrounds, each with sites for RVs. Flamingo Campground and Long Pine Key Campground offer different experiences within the park.

While visiting the Everglades, don’t miss out on:

  • Airboat tours: Experience this unique and exciting way of seeing the park’s vast wetlands.
  • Birdwatching: Look out for the many species of birds found in the park, such as herons, egrets, and the iconic roseate spoonbill.
  • Hiking and canoeing: Explore the park’s various trails and waterways by foot or canoe.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is a hidden gem, located in Southeast Florida and comprised mostly of water and islands. It’s a haven for marine enthusiasts, offering visitors the chance to snorkel and scuba dive among vibrant coral reefs and shipwrecks.

Please note that there are no campgrounds for RVs within the park. However, RVers can camp at nearby campgrounds outside the park and enjoy day trips to Biscayne.

Activities to enjoy in Biscayne National Park include:

  • Snorkeling and diving: Discover the park’s vibrant coral reefs and shipwrecks teeming with marine life.
  • Boat Tours: Take a guided boat tour to see some of the park’s stunning islands and wildlife.
  • Fishing: Cast a line and enjoy the excellent fishing opportunities in the park’s waters.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a remote destination, only accessible by boat or seaplane. The park consists of seven small islands, surrounded by crystal-clear waters. It is home to the historic Fort Jefferson, one of the largest brick structures in the Americas.

While there is no RV camping within the park, visitors can explore the park on a day trip from Key West and camp at RV-friendly campgrounds in the Keys.

Things to do at Dry Tortugas National Park:

  • Fort Jefferson: Step back in time and explore this massive 19th-century structure.
  • Snorkeling: The park offers some of the best snorkeling opportunities in any national park, with an abundance of marine life and crystal-clear water.
  • Birdwatching: Look out for the many species of migratory and seabirds that call this park home.

Florida’s Natural Wonders

Florida is a paradise for nature lovers and RVers alike, with a diverse selection of natural wonders to explore. In this section, we’ll introduce you to some must-visit destinations, including stunning state parks, unique underwater sites, and more.

Blue Spring State Park

At Blue Spring State Park, you can experience the largest spring on the St. Johns River. This park is a haven for manatees during the colder months, and visitors can observe these gentle giants from dedicated viewing platforms. In the summer months, enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters.

Rainbow Springs State Park

Discover the enchanting Rainbow Springs State Park and its beautiful waterfalls, lush vegetation, and pristine swimming areas. With its vibrant colors, this park is truly a sight to behold. While you’re there, consider kayaking or tubing down the river for a unique and refreshing adventure.

The Florida Keys

Explore the Florida Keys, a chain of tropical islands offering picturesque beaches, world-class fishing, and unparalleled snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities. Dive into the stunning coral reefs and immerse yourself in the vibrant marine life that inhabits this underwater paradise.

Devil’s Den

Take a step back in time by visiting Devil’s Den, an otherworldly prehistoric spring located within a dry cave. Snorkel or scuba dive in the crystal-clear water, where you’ll be surrounded by ancient rock formations and fascinating fossils. Just remember to make a reservation in advance, as this popular destination can fill up quickly.

Three Sisters Springs

Nestled in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Three Sisters Springs is a complex of stunning springs and a critical winter habitat for manatees. Enjoy a peaceful walk along the boardwalk, or, if you have access to a kayak, paddle through the crystal-clear water and observe the manatees up close.

The Suwannee River

Finally, experience the charm of the Suwannee River, a magnificent waterway winding through north Florida’s breathtaking landscapes, including cypress forests, limestone bluffs, and picturesque springs. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride, cast your fishing line, or simply relax by the water’s edge, taking in the beauty and serenity of this unforgettable river.

Free Camping in Florida

Ocala National Forest

One great location for free camping is Ocala National Forest which is situated in central Florida. It offers an array of natural attractions, including springs and lakes where you can enjoy swimming, canoeing, or fishing. In this forest, there are various free camping options; just make sure you respect the environment and follow the camping guidelines provided on their website. Remember to pack essentials like your camp stove, water, and bug spray.

Blackwater River State Forest

Another fantastic option for free camping in Florida is the Blackwater River State Forest located in the Panhandle. Known for its longleaf pine ecosystem, this vast forest offers a unique, serene experience. There are various dispersed camping sites throughout the area, making it easy to find a private spot to set up camp; just be mindful of leaving no trace behind.

Apalachicola National Forest

Apalachicola National Forest is in the Panhandle and is the largest national forest in Florida, offering a unique camping experience. DuPuis Management Area is noteworthy with its 16 primitive campsites, miles of hiking trails, equestrian trails, and ponds for fishing. Campers can stay up to 8 days, with a 30-day per year limit. Remember to pack a good pair of hiking boots and explore the various outdoor attractions the park has to offer.

Osceola National Forest

Tucked away in North Florida, Osceola National Forest provides a peaceful setting for free camping, nestled amongst the pine flatwoods and cypress swamps. Just like other national forests, ensure you follow camping guidelines and stay aware of your surroundings, especially during the wet season. Packing a rainfly and mosquito repellent is always a good idea in this region.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Finally, Big Cypress National Preserve in South Florida offers a wonderful free camping experience, with a blend of various ecosystems, including swamps and hardwood hammocks. The preserve covers a vast area; try exploring the multiple backcountry camping options available. Keep in mind that an advance permit is required, and always be prepared for the diverse weather conditions and wildlife encounters in this unique preserve.

Balancing Life and Play in an RV

Adopting the Full-Time RV Lifestyle

Embracing the full-time RV lifestyle can be an exciting and rewarding experience. As a full-time RVer, you have the freedom to explore new places and create unforgettable memories. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between life and play to ensure you make the most of your time on the road.

One tip is to slow down and consider traveling slower and staying longer at each destination. This will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and really enjoy your surroundings.

In addition, try scheduling both travel time and life time. For instance, set aside weeks for sightseeing and exploration, followed by weeks for rest, work, catching up on maintenance, and other personal tasks.

Staying Connected and Maintained

Part of maintaining a healthy balance in your RV life is ensuring you stay connected with family and friends, as well as keeping your RV in top shape. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Connectivity: Investing in a reliable internet connection is crucial for staying connected with loved ones and keeping up with various obligations, such as work and school. Look into mobile hotspots or explore RV-friendly Wi-Fi solutions to ensure you have steady access to the internet.
  • Service and Repair: Regularly check your RV for any maintenance or repair needs to avoid unexpected surprises on the road. It’s also essential to familiarize yourself with nearby service centers and amenities, so you know where to turn in case of emergencies.
  • Amenities and Electric: As an RVer, you’ll need to understand how to manage resources such as water, waste disposal, and electricity. Research campsites and RV parks with amenities like hookups to ensure you maintain a comfortable living situation. Additionally, learn how to conserve energy and properly use your RV’s electric systems to extend your time off-grid.

By adopting these strategies, you’ll create a fulfilling and robust full-time RV life, where you can enjoy all the adventures and freedom this lifestyle offers while maintaining personal connections and keeping your home on wheels in top condition.

Charley Waters

I've traveled to 49 states and 3 provinces in Canada living in my RV full-time over many years. I've stayed just about everywhere possible. National parks, state parks, parking lots, BLM land, Independent RV parks and friends and family's driveways. I lived through a crazy Derecho windstorm in Iowa. I got stuck in a winter freeze in Texas.

Living on the road in your RV can be challenging at times. But the good times make up for the bad. I'm here to share my experience and help fellow RVers good decisions while enjoying the great outdoors and vast camping opportunities this country has to offer.

View stories

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll Up