We made a quick trip up to this park during the lockdown. Let me say first that this is not a camp ground by my definition, rather an RV Park. At the time of our visit all National, State and County campgrounds were closed.
That said, we had an excellent time. The residents including the staff were really nice and welcoming. This park is well run. After check in somebody accompanies you to your site and does not leave until you are all hooked up.
We were a little out of place in our small camper (Airstream Basecamp) among the seasonal and permanent residents in large rigs and permanent modular homes sites, but that added to the fun. The park has a small store and is convenient to many local activities.
Our original goal was to cycle on the Withlacoochee Trail, an area favorite of ours. We discovered that it had been closed due to the pandemic like many other parks. Why this trail was closed is beyond me but there you go. We explored the local area on bikes and discovered Lake Panasoffkee and the Lake Pano Lodge (pics attached).
As an added bonus, they put is right next to the pool which was open. It was like an Oasis because most public pools had been closed and remain so. Everybody was so "normal" at this park going about their lives without drama is was really great.
This park also has river access, boat ramp and launch so we had a great paddle on the Withlacoochee. Oh, forgot to mention that Thousand Palms has by far THE NICEST BATHROOM we have ever found on our travels adjacent to the community pool.
We will return when we want to play in this area even if we can find state or federal camping because it's such a unique experience for us to stay in an RV park and be welcomed like family.
Love this place.
Quite possible the best county park in the USA. This park is incredibly well run and has so much to do. This is our go to place for a close to home weekend when we are lucky enough to get a reservation. If you are a visiting from Miami or out of state you won’t be disappointed if you can get in.
What makes this park special for us is that many of the camping sites are coveted waterfront sites. The campground portion of the park is divided into three parts, one camping area that is pet friendly, one no pets and one predominantly for tents and pop ups with smaller sites.
Another bonus of Fort DeSoto in addition to the old fort is the fishing peer, great beach, cycling path and absolutely enormous parking lots so unlike many Florida locations, especially in season, parking is never really an issue.
Fort De Soto County Park is a very special place. We are lucky to have it so close to us.
First I want to say that Ginny Springs is an absolute shit show! Like South Beach or Daytona during spring break. Especially in the summer. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t really great, it is.
Camping at Ginny is a right of passage for any Florida boy. Like my father who went to UF, I camped at Ginny springs as a kid and so did my son. It hasn’t changed much at all over the years except to become a little more crowded. It’s a true Florida experience.
You can only make reservations in one area of the park with the water and electric hook ups. All others are first come, first serve. You simply drive around til you find an available site and claim your own piece of paradise. The sites along the river are the best. It’s private so if you envision a state park, its not quite like that but in many ways camping is camping. This is similar only more crowded.
The campground with all the amenities is tight. There will be every form of camping from big rigs to people in tents and everything in between including refrigerator boxes(not really but not far from the truth). It is not quiet in any way and the partying never seems to stop. The kids will start riding their bikes, playing ball and flying drones in the AM so get your sleep while you can.
The spring gets packed with tubers, floaters, coolers, kayaks, canoes, scuba divers and every other human powered vessel as well but that just gives Ginny it’s vibe. What most people don’t realize is that if you get to the spring EARLY in the morning you can have it mostly to yourself and that includes the spring run and river too!
The biggest dichotomy of Ginny Springs is how can something with constant pressure and crowding over decades remain so incredibly beautiful?
If you have an open mind and can adjust your schedule to work around some of the crowded and go with the flow when you can’t it’s hard not to have a great time and appreciate the beauty of this magical place! It is and will always be one of my favorite places.
I had relatively low expectations of Silver Springs mostly from childhood memories of hot, humid, crowded and touristy. Well, it was a real retro experience and I'm happy to say that not much has changed and that's a good thing!
The camp ground was exceptional with lots and lots of room. The river, as pristine as ever. The tour boats were the very same vessels of my childhood memories and provided a great backdrop to the overall setting.
I think we were in spot 51 which was a pull through and probably the very largest campsite we have ever had and it dwarfed our little travel trailer but we loved it.
It pretty much rained most of the weekend but we still enjoyed our long paddle with all kinds of wildlife INCLUDING THE MONKEYS!!!
The only reason I give this park a 4 and not a 5 star is you have to drive to the kayak launch which is in the same parking lot as the access for the day guests (and there are many).
I applaud Florida State Parks for managing such a great facility in spite of all the pressure over the years. WE WILL RETURN.
Sometimes I have mixed feelings about sharing secret spots as they become more and more crowded. I love this park within the State Forest. Nice sites, small and quiet with a great hiking trail and river to paddle. Staff is excellent and park is very clean. In the winter firewood is available with an honor system for payment. Nice amenity.
The only reason for not giving it 5 stars is the very reason we love it and that's because the hookups are water only and no electricity. This keeps the big rigs out and campers who want to bring their entire house with them.
What no electricity really means to us is we can't camp at Hog Island in the Summer because what we do like on weekends is sleep we don't get during the work week. Just too hot without AC for us.
Other than that, this is a really secluded park with a great hiking trail and paddling on the Withlacoochee. Other than that, bring your own fun as it's kind of a hike to the nearest town (Brooksville or Inverness)
Lake Griffin State Park is a classic case of under promising and over delivering. On the surface we didn't expect much of this park from size or the fact it was just off a major roadway but we were very pleasantly surprised.
We arrived the first day after camping resumed after the Covid-19 closure. Everything was very normal and the staff, while probably more separated than normal, very welcoming.
The campground is very compact and not too large, but the sites are mostly all very shaded and afford privacy. The real gem however is the adjacent park, boat/kayak launch and paddling run to Lake Griffin. Very beautiful. Amazing actually.
In addition, there is a beautiful trail loop that is approximately 1.5 miles out and back and several spurs throughout the park. I give the trails an A+ for beauty.
In addition, guidance suggested the bathrooms be cleaned regularly due to the pandemic and they were. I would have driven up to the park from our home in Sarasota, FL just for a shower in the bath house. We actually felt more welcomed, better service and cleaner accommodations in Lake Griffin State Park than we received at the Marriott on Hutchinson Island the week prior and that is not an exaggeration.
Thank you for a wonderful weekend. This park makes me proud to be a Floridian.
Let me say first that St. George Island State Park is perhaps the main reason we purchased our small travel trailer in the first place and found groups like The Dyrt for insight for other places to explore. We visited St. George Island in May on Florida’s“Forgotten Coast” but the State Park on the island really stole the show.
The first thing you’ll notice about both the island and in particular the State Park is how remote it is. The beaches are seemingly empty even during busy seasons. It has one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire state of Florida and as Floridian’s we are pretty particular. The beach is lined with beautiful sand dunes from one end to the other. The island is narrow with a single road maybe 5 miles long. The road was closed after the camp ground as they are still repairing the park from the last hurricane that hammered The Panhandle area of Florida. Not sure what's taking so long as State Park HQ is in Tallahassee only an hour or so away.
The park has one camp ground and sites are very hard to come by. One visit and you’ll see why. Facilities are very well maintained with a friendly staff which is true for most Florida State Parks. There was a good mix of people camping in tents, small trailers and big rigs which is nice as many places in Florida are dominated by people who camp with everything they own and have rigs bigger than our house.
You bring your own fun here so just chill on the beach. If you have kayaks or paddle boards bring em. If you have bikes, those would be good too. Fishing(check). You could probably catch dinner as there is little pressure on these waters. There is some hiking but just walking on the beach is great. Nice flat beach at low tide with hard packed sand from the outgoing tide will make it a great walk.
Be sure to visit Apalachicola across the bay. A really good place to eat is the Owl Cafe and if you can get there for a Sunday Brunch, all the better. Very local, very southern, very authentic.
We will be back for sure whenever we can secure a camping spot that fits our schedule. Hope it won't be too long!
Myakka River State Park is a not to miss Florida State Park. Don't let the proximity to Sarasota Fool You! It is very close to Sarasota which makes it a good stop if you are visiting the area or an outstanding stop if you are from out of town as you can enjoy a little bit of Surf and Turf.
As a Sarasota local who loves the outdoors, I've visited most of Florida's State Parks and this is one of my favorites for sure. We tend to neglect what we can do and see everyday and this is no exception. I'm always amazed.
This time we camped out for the weekend even though we live about 10 miles away and we have never felt so far from home while being so close. Probably my first"staycation".
You can paddle, hike, ride or just chill in this really large state park. Super clean and well run. All the staff are really nice and you can tell they enjoy being there.
This park is the real deal and you will feel you are in another world. Get out and explore!
Sidebar: A lot of people ask me why I share my favorite"secret" places with total strangers and the answer is that the very best places everywhere are under tremendous pressure from growth, development and environmental pressure. Once you see a place like this you will forever be changed and hopefully become an advocate for preserving them wherever you may be.
Fort De Soto Park is amazing. It offers something for everyone whether you are there camping or simply for the day. The beaches are amazing with TONS and TONS of parking. Great cycling, paddling, walking, exploring, fishing, kiting, or anything you want to do. It can get busy in season but the area is designed to accommodate the crowds except for the one lane road to and from so plan your visit according to your threshold for traffic and crowds.
I'm a Florida local from Sarasota and have visited many times but never to camp. We came with a small travel trailer and were lucky enough to get a site right on the water as many are which by itself is rare. Great weekend and honestly one of the nicest parks I have ever been to.
Its great that possibly the most valuable real estate in all of Florida's Gulf Coast was reserved for a county park in lieu of private condos and resorts. The park has a no alcohol policy which honestly is fine. Being such an urban destination I could imagine things getting way out of hand there to the detriment of more chill folks without the ban. Even though I like a cocktail as much as the next guy, i'll take the pleasant environment over the beer any day.
Thanks Pinellas Parks for such a great place for locals and guests to visit.