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14 enchanting Central Florida state parks with camping

From the crystal clear springs and rivers of its interior to the beaches and waterways along the Atlantic coast, Central Florida is home to a diverse selection of Florida state parks with camping.

What makes this section of the state special is their proximity to the Orlando area’s many theme parks and moderate climate*, not to be outdone by abundant wildlife and refreshing swimming holes.

Florida State Parks with camping
Second in a series

Manatees invade Central Florida’s waterways and spring runs to seek winter shelter at many of these state parks, while migrating birds offer and endless show of colorful plumage and sweet songs from fall until spring.

There’s a Florida state park with camping for everybody, even if you don’t own a tent or RV.

* Best months to go camping in Central Florida are October through July; Heat and humidity peak in August and September, which is also peak hurricane season.

Florida residents can book campsites at Florida State Parks up to 11 months in advance, a 30-day head start over non-residents. This does not apply to state forests, national parks, county or municipal campgrounds, where rules vary.

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Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring Run
Swimming is only allowed during the summer months in Blue Spring Run. During the winter, the spring run becomes the exclusive domain of manatees. (Photo by Bob Rountree)
RV, tents and cabins

Manatees by the hundreds rendezvous at Blue Spring State Park to warm up in winter, replaced by swimmers trying to cool off in summer. The clear and constant 72 degree temperature serves both seasons well.

Blue Spring State Park is on the eastern edge of a vast basin of preserved lands, wildlife refuges and state parks that protect the watershed of the oddly north-flowing St. John’s River, making this park an ideal launching pad for paddlers.

Blue Spring State Park’s 51 campsites all have water and electric, picnic table and grill. Restrooms with hot showers nearby, and there is a dump station on site. The park has six cabins. Pets are welcome at the campground, but not in the cabins. Maximum RV length = 45 feet, but most are 30-35 feet

Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W French Avenue, Orange City FL 32763. Daily camping fee: $24 plus $7 utilities and a one-time booking fee of $6.70. Cabins: $95. For reservations, book online at or call 800-326-3521.

Read more: Manatees in winter; tubing and swimming in summer

Pets are allowed in all Florida State Park campgrounds, but restrictions may apply to other areas of the park. Alcohol is permitted within the confines of your campsite.

Colt Creek State Park

Trail at Colt Creek State Park
Trail at Colt Creek State Park (Kyle Albinus photo)

Colt Creek State Park is one of Florida’s newest state parks, offering 12 miles of well-marked trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.

The park has two campgrounds, one for RVs and tents (27 sites) and another without amenities for equestrians (20 sites). For hikers and equestrians, there are two primitive campsites along trails.

RV sites include water and electric (30/50 amp), and there is a dump station in the campground. There are no amenities in the equestrian campground other than trailer parking. Maximum RV length is 70 feet.

Colt Creek State Park is part of the massive Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve northeast of Tampa.

Colt Creek State Park, 16000 State Road 471, Lakeland, FL. 33809. Daily RV rate: $24 plus $7 for utilities and a $6.70 one-time booking fee. Tent rate: $24, no utility fee.Book online at or call 800-326-3521. Glampers can reserve the two glamping tents at

Read more: One-night stand at Colt Creek State Park

Gamble Rogers State Park

gamble rogers state park beach campground
Beach campground at Gamble Rogers State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)
RV and tent

Gamble Rogers is not very big state park, but it has a beautiful orange sand beach, an oceanfront campground and a second campground inland on the Intracoastal Waterway.

The inland side of the 145-acre park has a boat ramp and hiking trails with boat access to coastal marshes that are common along this section of the coast, making it an excellent launch point for kayaks and canoes seeking to explore quiet inland waterways.

Bicyclists can access a sunny, paved bike path runs along A1A to the nearby North Peninsula State Park. 

All 68 campsites have water, electric, picnic table and a fire ring.  A dump station is on site.  Pets are allowed.  Maximum RV length is 40 feet.

Gamble Rogers State Park, 3100 S. State Road A1A, Flagler Beach, FL 32136. Daily Camping Fee: $28 plus $7 utility fee and $6.70 booking fee. Reservations can be made online at or call 800-326-3521.

Related story: Gamble Rogers: A celebration of song and sea

Florida State Parks with Camping

Highlands Hammock State Park

Cypress Swamp Trail at Highlands Hammock State Park in Sebring.
Cypress Swamp Trail at Highlands Hammock State Park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)
RV and tents

Old-growth live oaks dripping with air plants and Spanish moss dominate the landscape throughout much of this 9,000-acre state park, one of Florida’s original state parks developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

Highlands Hammock has a paved 2.2-mile bicycle-friendly loop road through a scenic forest, leading to a dozen interconnected hiking trails and boardwalks, an off-road multi-use trail, a Civilian Conservation Corps museum, tram tours and the shady campground.

The campground has 159 campsites with water and electric hookups, rest rooms with showers, and a drive-up laundry. There are 16 wilderness tent sites, each with a fire ring and picnic table, served by a single pit toilet. Maximum RV length is 50 feet. 

Highlands Hammocks State Park, 5931 Hammock Road, Sebring, Florida 33872. RV camping: $22 plus a $7 utility fee and one-time $6.70 booking fee. Tents: $18, no utility fee. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Read more: Ancient oaks caress the soul at Highlands Hammock State Park

Florida State Parks with Camping

Hillsborough River State Park

Kathy paddles the Hillsboro River
Kathy paddles the Hillsborough River (Photo by Bob Rountree)
RV, Tents and Glamping

This fabulous state park along the upper Hillsborough River has 112 sites with water, electric, picnic tables and fire ring. No hookups for sewer, but there is a dump station. The sites are spacious and shady, although ground vegetation is sparse between some sites.

The Hillsborough River cuts through the park with opportunities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Additional river access is available downriver at three public parks — Morris Bridge Park, Trout Creek Park and John B. Sargeant Park, where there is a concession with kayak rentals.

Hikers can explore 7 miles of nature trails, including a 1.2-mile nature trail that takes you through the woods to Class II rapids on the upper river. Bicycles are permitted on the 2.2-mile Park Loop and the 1.6-mile Wetlands Restoration Trail.

The campground has six “safari tents” for glamping, managed by a private concession, with prices ranging from $150-$175/night, plus a $60 cleaning fee per visit.

HILLSBOROUGH RIVER STATE PARK. 15402 U.S. 301 North, Thonotosassas, FL 33592. Camping: $24 plus $7 utility fee, tax and a $6.70 non-refundable booking fee. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521. For Glamping reservations, book online at or call 866-854-5267.

Read more: Hillsborough River State Park adds ‘glam’ to its camping options

Florida State Parks with Camping

Hontoon Island State Park

Rustic cabins at Hontoon State Park provide a more camping-like experience
Rustic cabins on an isolated island at Hontoon State Park. (Photo by Bonnie Gross
Boat camping, tents and cabins

Editors’ Note: Hontoon Island was badly damaged in 2022 by Hurricane Ian and is currently open for day-use only. Reservations for cabin, tent and boat camping are available beginning November 2024.

Hontoon Island State Park is for primarily for boaters on the St. Johns River with 42 slips with water and electric. The park does have a campground with a handful of primitive cabins (6) and tent sites (6), which can be reached by the park ferry or boat.

There’s a kayak launch for paddlers, and eight miles of trails on the island for hiking. The island makes a great base for paddling the St. Johns and fishing.

The cabins and tent sites each have a picnic table, ground grill and access to potable water. All campers, whether in tents, cabins or boats, use the same central bath facility.

The rustic cabins have only bunk beds with vinyl-covered mattresses (you bring the sleeping bag), ceiling fan, overhead light, one electrical outlet, screened porch with table and chairs.

Hontoon Island State Park, 2309 River Ridge Road, DeLand FL 32720. Boat camping (max=60 feet): $18 per night plus $7 for electric and water hookups. Primitive tent campsites are $18. Cabins are $30 to $35 per night. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521.

Read more: Hontoon Island: Camping, cabins, great kayak trip in wild setting

Pets are allowed in all Florida State Park campgrounds, but restrictions may apply to other areas of the park. Alcohol is permitted within the confines of your campsite.

Florida State Parks with Camping

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park

Night sky at sunset. Photo by Dick Scott,
Night sky after sunset in the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve. Long exposure captures the lingering glow of the sunset. (Photo by Dick Scott,
RV, tent and equestrian

If you are looking for the purity of a night sky and the majesty of wide-open prairie in the middle of nowhere, then Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is for you.

The shady campground is in an isolated stand of trees deep within the 54,000-acre park, which is surrounded by cattle ranches and even more prairie. The nearest town is Okeechobee, 25 miles south.

Looking for dark skies? Kissimmee Prairie Preserve even has astronomy pads and is recognized as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association.

More than 100 miles of trails and service roads for off-road bicycling are shared with hikers and horseback riders, who come to this park for its diverse wildlife, especially for bird-watching.

The campground has 35 campsites for RVs or tents with water and electric hookups. Restrooms have showers and laundry. Maximum RV length is 65 feet.

Kissimmee Prairie State Park, 33104 N.W. 192nd Ave., Okeechobee FL 34972. Camping: $16 plus $7 for utilities, taxes and a one-time booking fee of $6.70. Reservations online at or call (800) 326-3521.

Read more: Stargazing in the grasslands: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve

Florida State Parks with Camping

Lake Griffin State Park

You need a person to stand next to the live oak at Lake Griffin State Park to see how giant it is. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The oak tree is so big, I couldn’t get far enough back to get it all in the photo. (Here’s more about its dimensions.) (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

Lake Griffin State Park is home one of the largest and oldest live oak in Florida. Tourists have been visiting it since the 1800s. The 620-acre park is forested with even more large, moss-draped oaks.

The park wraps around the Dead River Marsh, which leads to Lake Griffin, the eighth largest lake in the state and one of nine lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes. Launch your kayak at the boat ramp, or rent one.

There are 40 campsites, many under a live-oak tree canopy. All campsites have water and electricity, 10 sites have 50-amp electric service, seven sites are pull-through sites, and seven sites have sewer hook-ups. The nightly

Lake Griffin State Park, 3089 U.S. Highway 441-27, Fruitland Park, FL 34731. Camping fee is $18 plus $7 for utilities, taxes and a nonrefundable $6.70 reservation fee. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Read more: Lake Griffin State Park for famous tree and more

Florida State Parks with Camping

Lake Kissimmee State Park

lake kissimmee state park glamping
Glamping tent at Lake Kissimmee State Park. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)
RV, tent and Glamping

Lake Kissimmee State Park is in cow country. Oh, yeah, it also has a lake and paddle trails, trails for hiking and biking and a quiet, shady campground where you may see sandhill cranes, bald eagles, wild turkeys, deer and maybe even a bobcat.

It’s hard to pick a main attraction at this family-friendly park, but if we were to choose one, it would be the living history experience of early Florida “cow hunters” in the park’s 1876-era cow camp.

The park has plenty of open space, lots of trails for people and horses, and three lakes for open paddling. And it’s in a remote area, allowing campers to spread out and enjoy the night sky without interference from ambient light.

There are 60 campsites with electric, water hookups and a dump station in a grove of shady oak trees. Sites 15, 9, 49 and 52 are wheelchair accessible. Max RV lenght is 55 feet. 

Primitive tent campsites are available for hikers and equestrians.

In keeping with the cow camp theme, the Glamping experience is available in “Pioneer Tents,” furnished with queen bed with linens, end tables with lamps, interior and exterior seating areas, power outlets for charging smartphones, K-cup coffee maker, heat and A/C.

Lake Kissimmee State Park, 14248 Camp Mack Rd., Lake Wales FL 33898. Camping: $20 plus $7 nightly utility fee, tax and nonrefundable $6.70 reservation fee. Book a campsite at or call (800) 326-3521. Glamping: $120/night, reserve at Primitive camping: Call 863-696-1112

Read more: Lake Kissimmee State Park: Where Old Florida lives on

Florida State Parks with Camping

Lake Louisa State Park

The cabins at Lake Louisa State Park
Spacious cabins overlook Lake Louisa. There’s a campground in another area of the park. (Photo by Bob Rountree)
Cabins, RV and tent

Lake Louisa is one of Florida’s newest state parks, situated in a sea of rolling hills covered with citrus trees. The park itself is a former citrus grove acquired by the state, and parts of it are still maintained as a working grove by local farmers.

When we visited, the campground was a bit sparse, even ragged, but the rise of new vegetation gave promise to a more secluded future. The spacious, modern cabins overlooking the lake may be the best choice here.

The park’s 20 cabins string out along a ridge overlooking the lake, and the campground features 60 sites with full hookups, including 50-amp electric. Campsites 1, 34 and 36 are fully accessible with a level concrete pad and connected to the bathhouse by a paved sidewalk. Big rigs up to 75 feet on some sites.

Lake Louisa State Park, 7305 U.S. Hwy 27. Clermont FL 34714. Camping: $24 plus a $7 daily utility fee, taxes and a nonrefundable $6.70 reservation fee. Cabins are $120. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Read more: Nature near Orlando with great hiking and cabins

Florida State Parks with Camping

Rainbow Springs State Park

rainbow springs florida state parks with camping
Paddling the spring run at Rainbow Springs. (Can Stock photo)

Rainbow Springs, Florida’s fourth largest spring, has dozens of bubbling vents producing a swimming area at Rainbows Springs State Park in Dunnellon that looks like one of the cleanest pools you’ve ever seen.

In summer, the Rainbow River sees hundreds of people on tubes float down its pristine waters every day. Tubing season runs April to October. From fall to spring, the Rainbow River belongs to kayakers, and it makes for an outstanding outing.

Rainbow Springs was a commercial roadside attraction from the 1930s to 1973, but when the newly built Interstate system sucked traffic out of small towns, it could not compete with the likes of Disney, which opened in 1971. After shutting down, the community rallied to save Rainbow Springs from development and it became a state park that opened in 1992.

The campground has full hookups at every site and has an entrance separate from the park’s day-use area, which gets extremely crowded on weekends and holidays. Max RV length is 103 feet.

Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, FL 34432. (352) 465-8555. Camping rate is $30 and $7 utility fee plus tax and a one-time booking fee of $6.70. Reservations at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Read more: Rainbow River: Pure spring water makes kayaking, tubing tops

Pets are allowed in all Florida State Park campgrounds, but restrictions may apply to other areas of the park. Alcohol is permitted within the confines of your campsite.

Florida State Parks with Camping

Sebastian Inlet State Park

aerial of the sebastian inlet
Sebastian Inlet State Park frames both sides of the inlet. The campground is at right. (Photo courtesy John Massung)

Kayak to Pelican Island, the nation’s first wildlife sanctuary, or hike the Hammock Trail.

Explore the McLarty Treasure Museum’s relics from a 1715 Spanish treasure fleet scuttled by a hurricane, while the Sebastian Fishing Museum chronicles the history of the area’s fishing industry.

Sebastian Inlet State Park’s 51 RV and tent campsites are on a slope overlooking the inlet. All sites have water and electric, but no sewer hookups. There is a dump station on site, and rest rooms with showers are convenient to all campers. A camp store sells the basics, including bait for fishing.

Sebastian Inlet State Park, 9700 South Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach FL 32951. 321-984-4852. Rate: $28, plus $7 daily utility fee, taxes and a one-time reservatioin fee of $6.70. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Related story: Flock to a wonderland of birds on tiny Pelican Island

Florida State Parks with Camping

Silver Springs State Park

Glass bottom boats at Silver Springs State Park are identical to the originals (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Glass bottom boats at Silver Springs State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
RV and tent camping

Florida has many state parks built around springs, but Silver Springs State Park is the best of them all. One of Florida’s original tourist attractions with glass-bottom boats as long ago as 140 years.

Those glass-bottom boat tours are still marvelous, still operating, gliding quietly around the spring and spring run, allowing you to peer deep into clear waters filled with fish.

Kayakers won’t find a waterway with more varied scenery or easy-to-see wildlife, from wild monkeys to manatees, alligators, otters and birds.

The park also has some of best cabins in the state park system and a beautiful shaded campground with 59 spacious sites with water and 50-amp electric, picnic tables and fire rings.

Silver Springs State Park, 1425 N.E. 58th Ave., Ocala FL 34470. Camping: $24 plus $7 utilities, taxes and $6.70 booking fee. Cabins: $110, $7 utility fee (2-night minimum) and the booking fee. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521

Read more: Silver Springs State Park: Famous spring plus cabins, hiking, history

Florida State Parks with Camping

Tomoka State Park

tomoka state park florida state parks with camping
Photo by Gina Studganm courtesy Tomoka State Park

A watery paradise with excellent paddling, biking, boating and fishing, Tomoka State Park is on the banks of the Tomoka River, and it’s the gateway the Scenic Ormond Loop with access to five sister state parks.

A premier stop along the Florida Birding Trail, Tomoka State Park boasts sightings of more than 160 species of birds.

There are 100 well-shaded campsites, and most are deep, spacious and private. All but a few pads are hard-pack sand and coquina shell for tents as well as RVs. Each campsite has electric and water hookups, picnic table, lantern post and a grill. Dump station on site. Maximum RV length is 34 feet.

Tomoka State Park, 2099 North Beach Street, Ormond Beach, FL. 32174. 386-676-4050. Camping Fee: $24 plus a daily $7 utility fee for RVs, taxes and a one-time booking fee of $6.70. Book online at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Related story: Tomoka State Park: Gateway to the Ormond Scenic Loop

Florida State Parks with Camping

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs
The spring head swimming area at Wekiwa Springs. (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Wekiwa Springs is one of Florida’s largest state parks, a 7,800-acre wonderland of 19 distinct plant communities and the source of one of the state’s two designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Wekiva River.

The spring feeds the river at the rate of 42 million gallons every day into pristine pools for swimmers and snorkelers, then spills downstream to join Rock Springs Run and form the slow-moving Wekiva River, a paradise for paddlers that meanders 9 miles to the St. John’s River.

The campground’s 60 renovated sites for RVs and tents. Maximum RV length is 50 feet, when available.

Wekiwa Springs State Park, 1800 Wekiwa Cir., Apopka FL 32712. Camping fee: $24 plus $7 for utilities, taxes and a one-time $6.70 booking free. Reservations online at or call (800) 326-3521. 

Read more: Wekiva River Basin’s stunning beauty invites paddlers, campers, hikers and bikers

FAQ / Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions apply only to Florida State Parks camping, not campgrounds managed by other agencies, such as Florida State Forests or water management district recreation areas. Nor do they apply to federal and county campgrounds.

Is park admission included in state park camping rates?

Yes. Park admission is included in the base camping rate.

Do Florida residents have any benefits when reserving campsites in state parks?

Yes. As of January 1, 2024, Florida residents can book campsites at Florida State Parks up to 11 months in advance, a 30-day head start over non-residents.

Are Florida residents entitled to discounts?

Yes. Florida residents 65 and older are entitled to a 50% discount off the base camping fee. The discount does not apply to utility or booking fees, which are additional. 

A 50% discount on the base camping fee is also available to families from a Florida-licensed foster home and to Florida residents with a Social Security disability award certificate or a 100% disability award certificate from the federal government. 

Can an individual reserve more than one campsite?

No, at least not for the same dates in the same park. However, some parks have group camping areas with some restrictions and qualifications, such as youth groups or non-profits. Contact the individual parks directly.

Can I reserve a campsite for someone else?

No. Registered campers must produce identification to rangers upon arrival at the campground, and the ID must match the name on the reservation.

Is there a limit on how long I can stay?

Yes. There is a two-week limit for a reservation at any one state park, and there is a waiting period between bookings at the same park. Reservations are matched in the database to ensure compliance.

Are pets allowed in state park campgrounds?

Yes. Pets are allowed in all Florida State Park campgrounds, but restrictions may apply to other areas of the park, such as beaches or trails. 

Is alcohol allowed in state park campgrounds?

Yes. Registered campers are permitted to use alcohol within the boundaries of their campsite.

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