Kayaks on the beach at Cayo Costa

Cayo Costa island: A remote, romantic getaway that is wild Florida at its best

This wild island on the Gulf coast is never crowded — it’s too hard to get there. For those who drive to Pineland on Pine Island and then take the hour-long ferry to the state park, the rewards are many: Nine miles of perfect beaches, shaded jungle-like trails and wildlife that includes osprey nests, dolphins, stringrays and all sorts of bird and sea life.

Fort Clinch: Worth a drive to explore Amelia Island park with all sorts of fun

Fort Clinch: Worth a drive to explore Amelia Island park with all sorts of fun

This state park is so worth a drive to explore. It would take days to experience it all – a beautiful beach, an extra-long fishing pier, a well-preserved Civil War fort, hiking, wildlife, great camping.

One night stand in Colt Creek

One night stand in Colt Creek

Colt Creek State Park is one of the state’s newest, a former cattle ranch preserved forever when the state purchased it in 2006. Contributor Kyle Albinus backpacked to a remote campsite to see what it was all about.

Tent camping: The essentials checklist

Tent camping: The essentials checklist

Spring is the best time of year for tent camping in Florida. Campgrounds are emptying out as snowbirds flock home, and the weather is fantastic. Break out the gear and head for the woods!

Coral bean plant blooming at Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples

Collier-Seminole Park: Kayak trail, camping near Naples

In the wild and watery world of southwest Florida, Collier-Seminole State Park near Naples draws people who love the natural Florida for camping, hiking and paddling. It’s also home to the 1924 Bay City Walking Dredge, and how often do you get to visit a “National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark”?

Fort Desoto. Photo by Bob Rountree

Favorite campgrounds around the state

We thought it would be fun to share a few of our favorite campgrounds — and most of the best campgrounds are in Florida’s award-winning state park system.

Camping on the beach at Anclote Key State Park

Island Camping: Anclote Key Preserve is a sea-kayaking adventure

If pitching a tent on a tropical island is your thing, then add Anclote Key to your bucket list. Anclote Key Preserve State Park is in the Gulf of Mexico, three miles west of Tarpon Springs over open water, and it is accessible only by boat.

Lake Kissimmee State Park Cow Camp fire

Lake Kissimmee State Park: Where Old Florida lives on

This large state park in a rural, out-of-the-way part of Central Florida, preserves Old Florida cracker history. It offers great hiking trails and camping plus lakes to explore by kayak or canoe. Wildlife, from deer to alligators to sandhill cranes to eagles, is abundant.