Your smartphone or tablet are great tools for exploring Florida. In addition to GPS, you just need a few valuable apps.
We find these apps invaluable for exploring the Sunshine State.
Florida State Parks and Beaches — This interactive guide by Pocket Ranger is the official app for Florida State Parks to find parks. Location based, the app will find state parks near you or you can search for information about any Florida State Park. You can also search by activity or region from an interactive map. Another nice feature is the real-time download of state park news and events. FREE. By ParksByNature Network. Available for Apple | Android |
Allstays Camp and RV — This is my campground finder when I’m on the road. I use this app to find nearby campgrounds or scout ahead. The app also helps you find other services. even if I’m not in the RV or looking for a place to camp. In this wonderful piece of tech, you can locate services needed for any road trip – gas stations (I love me some truck stops), rest stops (shouldn’t have drank that 64 oz. soda), lots of stores that offer camping/trip supplies and lots more. $9.99. By Allstays LLC.
Dark Sky. This weather forecasting app is amazing, enhanced by community input. Notifications include alerts if rain is heading your way — and it forecasts rainfall at your location down to the minute you’ll see the first drizzle. The community reacts by confirming or denying rainfall in your area, enhancing its forecasting and reporting power. How can a paddler do without it? Isn’t this what we need when looking up at the sky during a four-hour paddle? This is my go-to weather app at home, on the road or on the water. It follows you around. Very reliable. Very addictive. Free. By DarkSky.net
Gas Buddy. This app is free, and it belongs on every mobile device. Gas Buddy will save you money, and not just nickels and dimes. Gas Buddy identifies your location and delivers the price of gas at every gas station within a pre-set distance, sorted by distance from your location or by price. The prices are updated frequently by a large community of users, and I have found it to be accurate. Did I say it was indispensable? FREE. By Gas Buddy.
WAZE. Another essential app to help make your journey a pleasant experience. The WAZE community, which includes you, keeps the app posted on problems that lie ahead. There are alerts for police, accidents, disabled vehicles, slow-moving traffic, obstacles in the road and more. It’s best to give control to your navigator, but you can alert WAZE to traffic problems with your voice. WAZE talks back to you with notifications from drivers ahead of you, and WAZE tracks your speed and path to alert drivers behind you. Easy to use and it’s FREE! by Google.
Audubon Birds. Several Audubon apps have turned to dust, but one good one is still around, Audubon Birds. The app has several features to love, including keeping a log of your own bird sightings and uploading your own photos. The features most of us will use is the “Explore Birds” tab, which helps you identify a bird by shape, by family or by name. You can even drill down your search with colors, wing shapes and, yes, by “song.” Excellent color photos help you narrow your search. Even if you are not into birding, you’ll have a lot of fun with this app. FREE. By National Audubon Society.
HOTELS.com. Even though you packed a tent or trailering your RV, some road trips require a hotel room for that quick getaway the next morning. I totally rely on Hotels.com to give me the skinny on nearby room rates when I get off the highway. Unless you are charmed, or signs say otherwise, the rate you get at the desk will be what is known as the “rack rate.” Top dollar. Hotels.com gives you the best available rate, and you can do a drive-by to see if the hotel suits your tastes. Then book it, walk in the front door, get the key and go to your room. FREE. By Hotels.com
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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 14 years ago.