Kayak & Canoe / Lodging / Southeast Florida

Jonathan Dickinson State Park cabins make it easy to explore a great park

Cabins at Jonathan Dickinson State Park: Good base and much to explore near Jupiter

Jonathan Dickinson State Park cabin

“Cabins”at Jonathan Dickinson State Park are small modular houses in a beautiful wooded setting.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park is such a big, varied park with so many natural wonders nearby that you could spend days there and not run out of things to do.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park cabin

Cabin kitchen at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Even if you’re not a camper, it’s easy to stay overnight in the park.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park cabin living room

Living room in cabin at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Twelve cabins are available in the park at reasonable prices — $95 a night for up to four six people in winter; $80 a night off-season. With full kitchens, these cabins can make an economical getaway for a couple or small family.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park hiking trail

Hiking trail lined with wild flowers at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

It’s a stretch to call them cabins, though.  They are actually new, miniature trailers/modular homes. The smallest have less than 300 square feet of space.  They lack that rustic cabin ambiance, but they do have complete kitchens; small bathrooms with tubs, plus heat and air conditioning.

There’s a full-size refrigerator, a small stove and oven and enough pots, pans and dishes to do all your cooking if you so choose.

In the four-person cabins, there is a tiny bedroom just big enough for a queen-size bed and the living room has a queen-size sleeper sofa.  The dining room table seats four.

Two of the cabins are a bit roomier with large front porches. Cabins 6 and 7 have two queen beds in the bedroom and sleeper sofa in the living room, accommodating six. No matter how many people you have, they’re the top choice if available.

Outside the cabin there’s a picnic table and fire ring for that “comfort camping” experience.

Linens are provided.

Like cabins in all state parks, these tend to be reserved for weekends in advance but weekdays are much easier to book.  There is a two-night minimum for weekends.

Your best bet is to plan ahead. Reservations are made via ReserveAmerica.com, except for one cabin, which is set aside for walk ups. According to a park ranger, three out of four weekends, someone shows up and reserves the walk-up cabin. If you plan to give that a try, check on Thursday whether there is already someone in the cabin who will extend their stay. If not, you can show up early Friday morning and hope to be the first to do so.

Jonathan Dickinson’s cabins are beautifully situated in a shady grove of pine trees near the Loxahatchee River and the large new Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center.

The river, with its kayak and canoe rentals and boat tours, is a football field away. (The Loxahatchee is one of two nationally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida, and is a favorite paddling destination.)

If the idea of cabins in state parks intrigues you, here’s more about the 19 parks with cabins.

And if you’re a camper, well, Jonathan Dickinson is one of South Florida’s favorite camping destinations, for all the reasons described here!

A weekend getaway in Jupiter/Hobe Sound area

Our recent visit to Jonathan Dickinson State Park illustrates why it makes a great weekend getaway.

A deer along Kitching Creek at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

A deer along Kitching Creek at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

We loved our canoe trip, paddling from the park’s boat dock up the Loxahatchee River to Kitching Creek, a magical narrow stream with cypress trees and alligators. We saw a deer so unafraid of us that we drifted close enough to hear it munching on leaves at water’s edge. Our canoe trip was about three hours round-trip, but it would be easy to extend it by going further up river. (There are also other excellent paddling options on the Loxahatchee.)

Early in the morning, we took a long hike on some of the miles of trails and were delighted with the wild flowers and the silence broken only by the sounds of birds.  (On previous visits we brought our bikes and enjoyed the extensive trail system.)

Jupiter Lighthouse, Florida

A guided tour ready to climb Jupiter Lighthouse

Another highlight was exploring the immediate area. Within 15 minutes of the park is Jupiter Lighthouse . We climbed the tower and toured  its interesting and impressive local-history museum, housed in a World War II Navy barracks.

Coral Cove Beach, Tequesta, Florida

Coral Cove Beach has water-sculpted rocks emerging from the waves.

In a five minute drive from the lighthouse, we were at one of Florida’s most interesting beaches: Coral Cove Park, where water-sculpted coquina rocks jut out of the sand, creating tide pools and splashing interplay between waves and rocks.  (Even more dramatic rocks in this formation are seen at adjacent Blowing Rocks Preserve, which you reach by walking north on this beach or driving north on A1A.) Coral Cove and Blowing Rock are good places for snorkeling from shore too.

Guanabanas, an outdoor, waterfront restaurant in Jupiter, Florida

Guanabanas, an outdoor, waterfront restaurant in Jupiter.

We dined at a terrific nearby seafood spot, Guanabanas, a completely outdoor waterfront restaurant with a huge banyan tree, chickee huts, waterfalls and lush landscaping.  The place would be worth visiting just for its appearance, but its fresh, locally sourced seafood was outstanding as well.

At night, back at the park, we took a walk under a full moon and enjoyed fireflies flickering in the brush.

If we had had time, we could have done more paddling or hiking or biking or visited nearby Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, a spectacular hidden beach, or bicycled Jupiter Island or paddled the Loxahatchee starting at Riverbend Park.

See what I mean? There’s a lot to do.

Planning your visit to Jonathan Dickinson State Park:

What’s nearby? Things to do in the Hobe Sound, Jupiter and Tequesta area:

  • Bicycling Jupiter Island.
  • Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge and its spectacular hidden beach
  • Blowing Rocks Preserve, an outstanding and unique beach very nearby
  • The historic 1860 Jupiter lighthouse, 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter, which is one of the few lighthouses you can climb. The waterfront museum in the newly restored WWII building offers indoor Florida history exhibits, outdoor exhibits and the Tindall Pioneer Homestead. It’s $9 for adults, $5 children ages 6 to 18, ages 5 and under free.
  • Riverbend Park, trails for family biking
  • Square Grouper Tiki Bar, 111 Love St., Jupiter:  This is such a classic beach bar that it was used as the locale for the “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” music video featuring country music artist Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett.  It’s right on the sandy beach of the Loxahatchee River overlooking the 1860 lighthouse and the inlet. It’s very popular; best time to visit is in the afternoon.  Here’s what Yelpers say and here’s the “Five O’Clock Somewhere” video.
  •  Guanabanas, 960 North Highway A1A, Jupiter, a completely outdoor waterfront seafood restaurant with a huge banyan tree, chickee huts, waterfalls and lush landscaping.

 

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