A road trip in the Sunshine State sounds like a slice of heaven. A lot goes into planning a road trip, which holds doubly true if you are planning on RVing or camping your way through Florida.
Since the state is long and skinny, you can plan your Florida road trip based on the direction you want to go. Drive either north-to-south or vice-versa. This may depend on how you’re initially getting to Florida and how much time you’ll have on the road.
Road Trip through the Sunshine State
One of the ways to decide on where your route leads you is by considering where the end will be. Have you always dreamed of watching the sun go down on the Gulf of Mexico? Maybe you want to end your road trip at the very tip of Florida, gazing across at Cuba. Either way, you’re in for a memorable trip!
Here is a guide to planning your road trip to the Sunshine State—including recommendations for great campgrounds in Florida, where you can rest for the night after a day of driving.
By the way, there’s no better road trip companion than The Dyrt PRO. This is the premium version of The Dyrt app you know and love. PRO members are able to download maps, so you can search for campgrounds and read reviews without any wifi or cell service! It takes the risk out of your road trip.
Day 1: Fort Pickens Campground
This campground on Santa Rosa Island is a great place to start your journey. It is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, just south of Gulf Breeze and Pensacola. Here, you can enjoy some truly beautiful white beaches, as well as excellent recreational options. Plus, it is close enough to New Orleans for a fun day trip to the Big Easy.
Trails leading through the dunes and pristine white beaches are ideal for hours of exploration and enjoyment. If fishing is your thing, there’s a pier a short walking distance from the picnic pavilions, and you don’t need a Florida fishing license to fish there.
If you like to explore history, a mile walk to Fort Pickens is another entertaining (and informative) pastime. This pentagonal fort, jutting into Pensacola Bay, was erected in 1834 and was one of only four forts never to be occupied by Confederates during the Civil War.
This campground has 137 family sites, which include electric and water hook-ups, plus another 41 non-electric tent sites. The oak tree-lined campground has amenities like toilets and a dump site, but there is not a boat launch onsite. It also sits a short distance from the hub of Pensacola’s nightlife, ultimately making this a well-rounded spot from where you can begin your journey.
Day 2: Clearwater Lake Campground
Nestled in the southeastern corner of the Ocala National Forest, this shady campground is roughly 500 miles from Fort Pickens.
Sporting lakefront sites on Clearwater Lake, you can stroll the lake’s circumference on the nature trail, bike up the Paisley Woods Bike Trail, kayak across, or hike the Florida Trail. All of these activities are accessible directly from the campground.
With 42 sites to choose from, this campground accommodates both tents and trailers. Basic amenities include toilets, showers, electrical hook-ups, and ADA-compliant sites. Clearwater Lake Campground accepts reservations all year round, too.
If you’re there at the right time of year, you may be able to hear the ‘gators at night and spot some other wildlife, like turtles and fish in the crystal-clear waters of the lake.
Day 3: Highland Hammock State Park
The oldest state park in Florida is a little over 100 miles from Clearwater Lake, so you can arrive early in the day to enjoy the numerous biking and hiking trails in the park. You can also tour this historic area by tram or car, and there’s a museum nearby if you’re interested in learning more.
This campground has standard RV sites, tent sites, dispersed camping, and group sites. There are electrical hookups available, but no sewer disposal. Campsite locations vary from the open sun to shady spots, depending on what you like. There’s also a recreation hall with grill access and a full kitchen. All three of the paved campsites are ADA-compliant.
Don’t miss the Cypress Boardwalk that suspends you over a cypress swamp. And be warned, Alligators are a common, daily sight in this area. Last but not least, stop by the quaint campground store for some to-die-for key lime pie.
Day 4: Flamingo Campground
Flamingo Campground is located at the very tip of Florida in Everglades National Park—the largest subtropical wilderness area in the nation. The entrance to the national park is 38 miles from the campground, guaranteeing that your campsite will feel far removed from the busyness of the park.
On the eastern end of Cape Sable, this area connects to the 99-mile wilderness waterway. Island exploration, fishing, swimming, birdwatching, and snorkeling are a few outstanding recreations to undertake in the park. Marine life abounds, including manatees and dolphins.
The 234 drive-in sites and 64 walk-in sites are open year-round. Pro tip: the walk-in sites are top notch, with marvelous views of the bay. Canoe and kayak rentals are available to those who want to venture inland through the mangrove forest on Buttonwood Canal. The campground offers electrical hook-ups and showers, but does not have sewer or water hook-ups onsite.
Day 5: Anastasia State Park
About 350 miles north of Flamingo Campground, on the eastern coast of Florida, is where you’ll find this beautiful state park. Anastasia State Park lies just outside of America’s oldest city—St. Augustine. Located between this bustling port city and the Atlantic Ocean, Anastasia State Park is a stunning place to stop.
Teeming with wildlife, this park offers a wide array of amenities like kayak rentals, live music, RV sites, dispersed camping, sewer and electrical hook-ups, plus an onsite market. You can find the tranquility of nature close to a bustling hub of history and culture. For a day trip, hike to the Amphitheater or bike to the old Coquina Quarry.
If you’re looking for some night time entertainment, try a ghost walk with a pirate. St. Augustine is the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States, so you’re bound to run into a ghost or two, right?
A tour through the Sunshine State offers glimpses into natural wonders like the Everglades and catwalks stretching above cypress swamps. You can explore historic sites like Fort Pickens and old Coquina Quarries, or dip into the dynamic culture of St. Augustine.