Central Florida has big thrills, beach breaks, and wild Lakelands in equal measure.
The world’s go-to destination for amusement parks and Disney-dream vacations might not seem like the obvious choice for a camping trip. But theme parks are just one string to Central Florida’s bow. This sunny central region has everything a camper could want: white-sand shores stretch along the Gulf Coast to the west of the Gulf Coast; wild beaches and barrier islands dot the Atlantic Coast to the east; and vast Lakelands encircle the hub of Orlando. Time your camping trip for fall through spring if you can, or bring your RV—the summer heat can be unbearable for tent campers.
Orlando’s theme parks might pull in the crowds, but the city is also surrounded by lakes and forests, affording plenty of options for fishing, paddling, and lakeside camping. Explore the hiking and horseback riding trails around Lake Apopka, cool off swimming and kayaking at Wekiwa Springs State Park, or seek out a tranquil campsite in Seminole State Forest. Further north, Ocala National Forest has 12 developed campgrounds and miles of backcountry camping.
Just a 40-minute drive from Orlando, the Canaveral National Seashore has some of the best backcountry camping along the Atlantic Coast, where you can boat or kayak to remote islands and pitch your tent right on the beach. Further north, there are plenty of RV parks and campgrounds between New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, and Palm Coast, with easy access to the beaches, dunes, and lagoons.
Urban campers have plenty of options around Tampa, the gateway to Central Florida’s Gulf Coast. Pitch your tent by white-sand beaches at Fort de Soto Park or Cayo Costa State Park, go fishing and hiking at Little Manatee River State Park, or enjoy some of Florida’s only whitewater rafting at Hillsborough River State Park.