Camp in a beachfront paradise near Tampa before setting out for island exploration.
On the east side of Florida on the Gulf Coast, Tampa delivers about 264 days of sunshine a year. Aside from downtown attractions like Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, and ZooTampa at Lowry Park, campers like to venture outside the city for kayaking in Lake Kissimmee State Park and hiking at Hontoon Island State Park, where there’s a 300-year-old oak tree. Campers can expect excellent boating access at Fort De Soto Park and opportunities to sit back and catch some rays on its white sandy beaches. Find more camping options nearby, including primitive backcountry campsites, glamping in air-conditioned canvas tents, and RV parks with full hookups.
Drive 1.5 hours east of Tampa to Lake Kissimmee State Park. Spend the day conquering the 10-mile long Buster Island Paddling Trail by kayak, or head to Joe Overstreet Landing for bird watching. Then, find a range of camping accommodations, from primitive campsites accessed by foot to drive-in campsites with laundry facilities, dump stations, and full hookups. For more luxury, go glamping in pioneer-style canvas tents with queen-sized beds and air-conditioning.
Two hours northeast of Tampa, Hontoon Island State Park is ready to wow campers with its natural scenery. The island is only accessible by boat, but there is a public ferry system and a marina. On the island, campers will find canoe, kayak, and bike rentals, as well as a hike to Bear Tree Landing, which features a 300-year-old living oak tree. Rent a rustic cabin with bunk beds, picnic tables, outdoor grills, and electricity. Or, opt for a tent campsite with shared restrooms and heated showers. The park does not allow motorized vehicles, so RV campers will need to enjoy the island as a day trip.
With over 1,000 acres of land, including seven miles of waterfront and three miles of sandy beaches, Fort De Soto Park is consistently rated one of America’s top beaches. Wander to North Beach for swimming, or take your furry friend to Dog Park Beach where they can run off-leash. Boaters will also appreciate the 800-foot launch area in addition to several floating docks. Then set up at campgrounds within the park offering grills, potable water, electricity hookups, laundry facilities, flush toilets, and showers. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and it’s recommended to book ahead.
Due to its subtropical climate, Tampa experiences a wet season and a dry season. Summers last from June until October and often see temperatures in the 90s, along with thunderstorms. The winters, running from November until May, are dryer and a little bit cooler, with an average high of 71°F in January. The weather in spring and fall is warm with a low chance of rain—a prime forecast for hiking and swimming.