Explore America's Campgrounds
With hundreds of miles of beaches, bays, cays, canals, inlets and oceanfront playgrounds, the state of Florida embodies the poetic phrase, "water, water everywhere." It stands to reason then that RV campers have a better-than-average chance of snagging an ideal spot right on the beach. From the world renowned Florida Keys to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, sleeping on or near the sand is a reality for thousands of RV enthusiasts every year.
The Florida Keys
With dozens of inhabited islands dotted along either side of the 100-mile-long Overseas Highway, which runs through the Florida Keys, RV campers who book ahead are sure to enjoy prime beachfront campgrounds. Bahia Honda State Park at Big Pine Key is a favorite, with two of the three beach campgrounds suitable for RVs. The largest one, Buttonwood, accepts RVs up to 71 feet in length in some spots. The smaller Sandspur campground accommodates RVs that are 14 feet long or shorter. Long Key State Park, situated at Mile Marker 67.5 on the Atlantic Ocean side of the highway, offers RV camping on or near the beach, but spots are limited. In addition, RVs at Long Key cannot exceed 38 feet in length due to shoreline erosion.
Southwest Florida's Gulf Coast
Fort De Soto Park, situated at the entrance to Tampa Bay, comes complete with full-service RV spots. In addition to the basic necessities for longer term stays, amenities at the campsite include bike and kayak rentals, two fishing piers, play areas and a camp store. The park also features an historic fort that is worth visiting. RVs are allowed in 151 of the park's 236 campsites. The Red Coconut RV Resort sits on 450 feet of beachfront sand at Fort Myers Beach, with 60 spots catering exclusively to RV campers. Overflow space is available across the nearby road.
Florida's Atlantic Coast
Although the central and northern Atlantic Coast region of Florida boasts several waterfront state parks, not to mention a national seashore, most campsites in this area are reserved for tent campers only. An exception is Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach. The campground, which sits on the primary dune area of the 1/2-mile stretch of beach, has 36 campsites that can accommodate RVs up to 47 feet in length. The park provides kayak, canoe and bicycle rentals, as well as a lending library stocked with children's books. Sebastian Inlet State Park, where anglers come to haul in snook, redfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel from the park's saltwater jetties, provides facilities for RVs up to 40 feet in length just a short walk from the beach.
Populated by more pine trees than palms, the coastline of Northwest Florida is cooler and less crowded than its sandy counterparts in more southern parts of the state. But that's the draw for savvy RVers who desire nature more than man-made tourist attractions. Across the bridge from Perdido Key, near Pensacola, Big Lagoon State Park spreads out over 655 upland acres of beaches, bays, saltwater marshes, pine flat woods, boardwalks and nature trails. RVs with a maximum length of 40 feet are welcome at the park's 65 full-service camping spots. Located along the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico not far from Pensacola, Fort Pickens Campground, which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, has 200 camping spots situated nearby miles of sandy beaches. Here, RV sites can accommodate rigs up to 50 feet in length.
- Visit Florida: Florida Beach Camping Guide
- Florida State Parks: Bahia Honda State Park
- Florida State Parks: Long Key State Park
- Pinellas County, Florida: Camping Area of Fort De Soto Park
- Red Coconut RV Park
- Florida State Parks: Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach
- Florida State Parks: Sebastian Inlet State Park
- Florida State Parks: Big Lagoon State Park
- National Park Service: Fort Pickens Campground
Wendy K. Leigh is a travel writer and photojournalist from Seattle. She is the Editor of Islands America, a travel website for visiting islands within the United States. She also writes about home design, food and historical architecture. Leigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington.