Are we there yet?
Crossing the state line into Florida is just the beginning. It’s likely you still have a long way to go to your destination, so stop and smell the sunflowers. Kick back for a day or two at one of Florida’s award-winning state park campgrounds near the interstate highway.
There are dozens of Florida’s award-winning state parks once you cross the state line, and we thought we’d share the ones we like the most north of Orlando that are within 20 miles of I-10, I-95 and I-75.
- Are we there yet?
- I-95 State Park Campgrounds
- I-75 State Park Campgrounds
- Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park — I-75 Exit 439 (4.2 miles)
- Suwannee River State Park — I-75 Exit 460 (17 miles)
- O’Leno State Park – I-75 Exit 414 (8 miles)
- Manatee Springs State Park — I-75 Exit 404 (47 miles)
- Silver River State Park — I-75 Exit 358 (15 miles)
- Rainbow Springs State Park — I-75 Exit 352 (18 miles)
I-95 State Park Campgrounds
Fort Clinch State Park — 17 miles from Exit 373
You may find Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach irresistible. There’s a lot of history here: a real fort guarding the mouth of the St. John’s River, and Fernandina Beach is a historic seaport. The campground has 61 sites in two campground loops – 40 tree-shaded sites along the Amelia River and 21 beach sites behind the dunes in the Atlantic Beach Campground. Each site has a fire ring, picnic table, water and electric hookups. Pets are OK. $26 per night.
Little Talbot Island State Park — 18 miles from Exit 362 A
With five miles of white-sand beaches, Little Talbot Island is one of Florida’s few remaining undeveloped barrier islands, and it is the campground anchor for six other state parks clustered around it, collectively known as the Talbot Islands State Parks. There are 40 campsites tucked into the sand dunes, surrounded by a maritime hammock of live oaks and magnolia trees. Each site has electric and water hookups, fire ring and picnic table. The campground has a laundry facility and two bathhouses with hot showers. $24/night. Pets are OK.
Anastasia State Park — 11 miles from Exit 311
Four miles of pristine beach and historic St. Augustine make this state park a big attraction. Perfect layover for visitors to the nation’s oldest city who also want to hike through the dunes, bicycle on the beach, paddle, sail or fish. Anastasia has 139 camping sites for RVs and tents. Sites are located in the hammock forest, away from blowing sand and salt spray, but most are within easy bicycling or walking distance from the beach. Hammock plants provide visual privacy between most sites, which vary from 10 feet to 40 feet. ADA accessible sites are available. All sites have electricity and water, a picnic table, an in-ground grill and a fire ring. A communal dump station is free for park campers. Please put your trash in the compactor near the entrance to the campgrounds. Pets are allowed in all areas of the park except the restrooms and beach. (Maximum RV length is 40 feet.)
Anastasia State Park, 1340-A State Road A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080. 904-461-2033. Camping Fee: $28.
Faver-Dykes State Park — I-95 Exit 298 (2 miles)
This tranquil park is framed by open marshes with kayak access to the Intracoastal Waterway. One of the most popular in the state for bird-watching during the spring and fall migrations. Pellicer Creek is a designated state canoe/kayak trail. The campground has 30 sites in a shady hardwood hammock, each buffered from neighboring sites by natural vegetation. Each site has water, electric, fire circle with grill and a picnic table. A dump station is in the campground. Pets OK. $18 per night.
Faver-Dykes State Park, 1000 Faver-Dykes Road, St. Augustine, FL 32086. 904-794-0997. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/faverdykes
Gamble Rogers State Park — I-95 Exit 284 (7 miles)
Gamble Rogers is not very big park as state parks go, but it has a beautiful 1/2-mile orange sand beach, and an oceanfront campground with 34 sites. The inland side of the 145-acre park has a boat ramp and hiking trails that open up on the Intracoastal Waterway and the saltwater marshes that are common along this section of the coast, making it an excellent launch pad for boats, kayaks and canoes seeking to explore a multitude of quiet inland waterways. A paved bike path runs along A1A to the nearby North Peninsula State Park. All 34 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. 386-517-2086 Camping Fee: $28 per night. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/gamblerogers
Tomoka State Park — I-95 Exit 273 (5.5 miles)
A watery paradise with excellent paddling, biking, boating and fishing. This beautiful state park is on the Scenic Ormond Loop Trail, and it is one of the premier stops along the Florida Birding Trail with more than 160 species sighted either in residence or passing through during the spring and fall migrations. There are 100 well-shaded campsites, and most are quite deep, spacious and affording considerable privacy. All but a few pads are hard-pack sand and coquina shell, so they accommodate tents as well as RVs. Each campsite has electric and water hookups, picnic table, lantern post and a grill. Dump station on site. The campground, which stretches out in an elongated oval, has three restrooms with showers. Pets are allowed. (Maximum RV length is 34 feet.)
Tomoka State Park, 2099 North Beach Street, Ormond Beach, FL. 32174. 386-676-4050 Camping Fee: $24. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/tomoka
I-75 State Park Campgrounds
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park — I-75 Exit 439 (4.2 miles)
Way down upon the Suwannee River, and very close to I-75, you’ll find this classy state park an excellent stopover for learning about American composer Stephen Foster, who never actually saw the Suwannee River! A museum features exhibits and a 97-bell carillon that plays Foster’s music throughout the day. Hiking, bicycling, canoeing and kayaking are popular here, all near the campground’s 45 oak-shaded sites with electricity, water, picnic table and fire ring. All campsites are ADA accessible. Two ADA accessible restrooms with showers are located within the campground. A dump station is available. Pets are welcome. (Maximum RV length is 45 feet.)
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, U.S. 41 North, White Springs, FL 32096. Camping Fee: $20. Also, two-bedroom cabins for $100. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/stephenfoster
Suwannee River State Park — I-75 Exit 460 (17 miles)
At the junction of the Withlacoochee and Suwanee Rivers, this is a great state park to get a little exercise paddling your kayak or canoe. Or, you can choose no exercise at all and drop a fishing line in the river. Best of all, Suwannee River State Park is just a short hop off I-75. The park’s 30 campsites that can accommodate tents and RVs. Each campsite has a picnic table, grill, clothesline, 50 amp electric service, water and sewer hook-ups. An accessible restroom with showers is centrally located in the campground. Pets are welcome. Firewood and ice are available for sale on-site. (Maximum RV length is 45 feet)
Suwannee River State Park, 20815 County Road 132, Live Oak, FL 32060. 386-362-2746. Camping Fee: $22. Also, two-bedroom cabins for $100. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/suwanneeriver
O’Leno State Park – I-75 Exit 414 (8 miles)
This scenic state park is situated along the banks of the Santa Fe River, one of the best paddling destinations in Florida and there are miles of hiking, bicycling and nature trails, one of which takes you to the point where the river dips underground for three miles. The park is rated as one of the “100 Best Campgrounds in America” and is one of Florida’s original state parks, developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The park features sinkholes, hardwood hammocks, river swamps and sandhills. O’Leno has two camping loops with 61 campsites, each with water, electric, in-ground grill, picnic table and a centrally located restroom in each camping area. A dump station and dumpsters on site. Pets are allowed within the two campground loops but not in the swimming area, river, youth camps or buildings. (Maximum RV length is 50 feet.)
O’Leno State Park, 410 SE O’Leno Park Road, High Springs, FL 32643. 386-454-1853. Camping Fee: $18 per night. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/oleno
Manatee Springs State Park — I-75 Exit 404 (47 miles)
A little off the beaten track, but if you have the time, it’s definitely worth the side trip. And there’s a big bonus – you’ll be near the remote and quaint fishing village of Cedar Key, the nation’s No. 1 supplier of farm-raised clams, succulent reddish littlenecks. The spring at this park produces an average of 100 million gallons of clear, cool water daily. In winter, West Indian manatees swim upriver to the warmer waters of the springs. The park features 78 campsites in three loops. Each loop has its own hot shower restroom, and all sites within easy walking distance of the spring. There is electricity and water at each site. There is no sewer hook-up, but a dump station is provided. Pets are allowed. (Maximum RV length is 40 feet.)
Manatee Springs State Park, 11650 NW 115th Street, Chiefland, FL 32626. 352-493-6072. Camping Fee: $20 per night. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/manateesprings
Silver River State Park — I-75 Exit 358 (15 miles)
The Silver River is one of the most beautiful and peaceful rivers you will ever paddle, and paddling a canoe or kayak are popular activities here. The park also has 15 miles of hiking and biking trails that cut through 10 distinct natural habitats.The park has dozens of freshwater springs that pop out of the ground and feed the river. Fifty-nine spacious sites can accommodate large RVs. Each site offers water and electric hook-ups with 30 amp service; ten sites offer 50 amp service. All sites have fire ring, a barbecue grill and a picnic table. A separate dump station for holding tanks is located in the park. Campsites 20 and 53 are wheelchair accessible. Please ask park campground host (sites 4 and 46) for the key to the ADA shower and restroom facility. Pets are allowed in the campground but not in cabins. (Maximum RV length is 50 feet)
Silver River State Park, 1425 NE 58th Ave., Ocala, FL 34470. Camping Fee: $24 per night. Also, cabins available for $110 per night. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/silverriver
Rainbow Springs State Park — I-75 Exit 352 (18 miles)
Florida’s fourth-largest spring, Rainbow Spring and the Rainbow River has been a draw to humans for thousands of years. Today, it is a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking and tubing. There is a newly renovated 105-site campground with full hookups about 1-½ miles downstream from the main headspring and day-use area. Campers can launch their own canoes or kayaks on the river near their campsites, and you can rent them at the concession at the headspring for the 5.6-mile paddle along the Rainbow River to the Withlacoochee River at Dunnellon. All sites have water, 20-, 30-, and 50-amp electric and sewer hook-ups. ADA accessible restrooms are available. A dump station is located between the upper and lower campgrounds. Amenities include a campground store, laundry facilities,recreation hall, showers and restrooms, laundry, (Maximum RV length is 40 feet.)
Rainbow Springs State Park, 19158 SW 81st Place Road, Dunnellon, FL 344434. 352-465-8555. Camping Fee: $30 per night. State Park web site: floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings
Notes from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning visits.
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 12 years ago.