History buffs, surfers, and beach lovers will all be charmed by Florida’s "Ancient City".
Proud of its status as the “oldest city in the US”, St Augustine is brimming with colonial architecture, National Historical Monuments, and period-costumed tour guides. Thankfully, this coastal city is as rich in natural sites as it is in history, and you won’t have to look far to find a state park campground or a coastal Hipcamp. Snag a beachside campsite at Anastasia State Park, a favorite for surfers, birders, and paddlers; explore miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails at Matanzas State Forest; or go canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding around the marshes at Faver-Dykes State Park.
White-sand beaches and some of Florida’s best surf breaks tempt swimmers and surfers to the Atlantic Coast, and St Augustine makes a strategic base camp. Daytona Beach, Flagler Beach, and New Smyrna Beach are all surf hotspots, while campers can head to Tomoka State Park or escape the crowds at a kayak-in campsite at the Canaveral National Seashore.
Lakes, rivers, and forests sprawl north of Orlando, providing a natural playground within easy reach of the city’s theme parks. Escape to the shady campgrounds of Ocala National Forest, where you can cool off in the natural springs, rent a cabin in the woods, and take your pick of fishing and boating lakes. Nearby, George Lake, and Crescent Lake are equally popular with campers.
A 45-minute drive north of St Augustine, Florida’s most populous city, Jacksonville, is a surprise hit with campers. Sitting pretty at the mouth of the St John’s River, it’s the gateway to three national parks, seven state parks, and 400 parks and gardens. You’ll never be far from a campground, whether you want to go birding at Huguenot Memorial Park, pitch your tent on the beach at Little Talbot Island State Park, or gallop a horse along the beach at Amelia Island State Park.
St Augustine’s subtropical climate and year-round sunshine allow for beach days right through winter, but the varied seasons mean campers need to come prepared. Visiting in summer? Expect afternoon thunderstorms (this is hurricane season, after all). Winter camping? Pack warm clothes as temperatures drop sharply after sundown. If you have to avoid one season, make it fall. September through November sees the highest rainfall, but the silver lining is low-season prices and fewer crowds.