State Park/County Campgrounds

Blackwater River State Park, Florida

clean, level full service campsite at Blackwater River State Park

Clean, level campsites at Blackwater State Park

Whether you are looking for a convenient overnight stay when traveling along Florida’s I-10 or the ideal vacation spot for your active family, you may want to consider Blackwater River State Park.

Blackwater River State Park is a 590 acre park located on the Blackwater River, halfway between Milton and Holt, Florida, along the I-10 corridor. Camping, swimming, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, fishing, cycling, geocaching, you name it, this park appears to have it all. Did I mention the river that is famous for its sandy bottom and white beach sand bars?  It is no surprise that Blackwater is listed as a Florida Canoe Trail.

Forgot your water toys? Fear not, local outfitters are plenty.

RV Camping

I have visited many state parks; but I don’t think I have ever been to one as clean and organized as this one.  From the bath house, playground, to the campsites, I found this place to be immaculate. Because of the high volume of traffic through the park, keeping it pristine cannot be an easy task.  Clearly, this park is deeply cared for by its volunteers and rangers.

If you are thinking of camping at Blackwater River I suggest a reservation. The campground consists of only 30 sites, and that includes sites for the hosts.  For $22 a night, a campsite at Blackwater includes water, sewer, electricity, cable, picnic tables, fire pits and grills. All the sites are level and paved, and many are able to accommodate large rigs.

** Note cell service is spotty.  I could not get service at my site, but I was able to at the dump.

Reservations:

Reservations can be made online at Reserveamerica.com or by calling (800) 326-3521.

https://www.reserveamerica.com/unifSearchResults.do

Due to its popularity and small size, reservations are highly recommended.

To contact the ranger station at the campground, call (850) 983-5363

Open 8 am till sundown

** If you are not camping and wish to make it a day trip, please note there is a daily fee for park admission;

$4 per vehicle

Address

7720 Deaton Bridge Road

Milton, Florida 32564

Directions

From I-10 west, take EXIT 45. Follow signs to Holt. Turn left on US-90 W. Go 12 miles then look for Deaton Bridge Road on your right. Follow Deaton Bridge Road to Boat Ramp Road and the  entrance. (4 mi)

From I-10 East, take EXIT 31. Follow signs to Milton. Turn right on US-90E. Go 6 miles; take Deaton Bridge Road on your left. Follow that 4 miles to Boat Ramp Road and entrance.

** GPS is not very reliable for this address. Once you leave the highway follow the state park signs (brown).  If you need help, call the ranger station directly at (850) 983-5363.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/blackwater-river-state-park

Supplies

The park does not have a concession stand or store. Supplies can be bought in Milton or Holt before heading out to the park.

Cycling

Blackwater Heritage State Trail

The southern trail head is located just south of Milton off Route  19 ( Munson Highway). The Blackwater Heritage trail is a non-motorized paved trail that is 8.1 miles long. The trail follows the old Florida and Alabama railroad and is part of the rails-trails program. The Heritage trail travels through rural country, small towns, woods, including 9 bridges across various water ways.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/blackwater-heritage-state-trail

Dark river and white beach sand bar.

Blackwater’s sandy bottom, with its white beaches and sand bars.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida

Western sky reflected on the river just after sunset.

Early evening by the riverside.

If you are looking for a state park that offers something for everyone, then Jonathan Dickinson is it. Located south of Stuart, Florida on the Loxahatchee River, Florida’s first federally designated “wild and scenic river,” Jonathan Dickinson has two campgrounds. That’s 140 sites located on 11,000 plus acres, within 5 miles of the beach, great restaurants, and some hidden gems of the Treasure Coast. The park is not far from home and we are frequent visitors.

The largest campground within the park is the Pine Grove Campground. It has 90 full hookup sites, most of which can handle large rigs. Pine Grove offers four updated bathrooms with showers. In this area, however, you will find very few pull through sites and very little shade despite the description on the park’s own website. https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Jonathan-Dickinson This campground is located close to the entrance and four miles from the river, concessions stand, playground, and visitor center. However, since it does take the big rigs it’s a very popular campsite for the snow birds and getting reservations in this campground can be a challenge, especially on the weekends in high season.

The second campground, known as the River Campground, has 50 sites but with services limited to electric and water only. The sites in this part of the park are ideally located next to the docks and all the other amenities that Jonathan Dickinson has to offer. It also has two brand spanking new bathrooms! Unfortunately, these sites are not big rig friendly. The sites range in size from 18 feet to 36 feet, with very few pull through sites. In this part of the park you will definitely find more shade.

Since I travel in a 24 foot RV, and do not have a tow, we find that the River Campground is more convenient and ideally suited for my young active family. Otherwise, it’s four miles on by bike from one end of the park to the other and that does not work for me. The down side is that it requires that we use the dump station on the way out. I can deal with that.  I also like the fact that it’s a bit scrubby. It makes me feel like we are in the woods, as opposed to being parked in a huge lot where my only view is of the next RV. The sites in this part of the park are situated close to neighbors but with enough brush in between to offer privacy.  The pads are gravel, but the roadways in and around are paved. This makes it ideal for the kids and their bikes. From here they can bike to pretty much everything. That includes that concession stand that’s open on the weekends. Located on the porch of the River Store and overlooking the Loxahatchee River, the concession stand serves up reasonably priced hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue, sodas, and beer. I find this to be extremely convenient for late arrivals or for times when I just don’t want to cook.

​ When you first enter the park you will receive a flyer on “25 Things to Do at Jonathan Dickinson State Park”. Getting it all done on your first visit is probably not practical. There really is quite a lot to do.

For our family the big attraction is the network of mountain bike trails. The park has quite an extensive mountain bike course that winds about 9 miles through scrub land with routes for beginners to expert cyclists. There is also a small mountain bike skills course located at the trail head.

If it’s too hot to bike, geocaching always provides hours of fun.  This park is famous for its many geocaches. At one time there were more than two hundred caches.  That figure is now reduced; but there are still lots of geocaches hidden throughout the park. Just make sure you download the app before you go and have your phone charged and ready. Once the kids get started you may not see your phone again until its battery is dead and the kids have to come back to the RV.

Canoes and kayaks on a dock by the river.

Explore the river in a canoe or kayak and discover its wildlife.

The park is also well known for its great kayaking and canoeing. We have never kayaked at JDP because my kids are too young. But we have canoed and that was great fun for them. The rental cost was reasonable: $18 for a couple hours and those two hours of paddling were enough of a work out for me. I have to admit I was not all that comfortable with canoeing on the Loxahatchee. As beautiful as the river is, I was distracted the whole time. Canoeing where alligators live makes me very nervous. I spent the whole canoe trip on the “lookout” and after spotting one very large beast, I was looking for any excuse I could use to find my way back to shore.

Another neat opportunity the park offers is horseback riding, my daughter’s personal favorite activity. At $30 an hour for a guided trail ride, I found the rate pretty reasonable. My daughter also enjoyed it immensely.

One place we always find time for during our stays in Jonathan Dickinson State Park is the Elsa Kimbell Environmental Education and Research Center. They always have something for kids to do there including programs conducted by park rangers to arts and crafts. It’s also an air conditioned building. During the heat of the day it’s a great place to escape to. The other reason you will want to visit the center is because it is the only spot in the park that has Wi-Fi. You will find plenty of outdoor seating on the porch as well as plenty of electrical outlets. If it’s after dark and the kids aren’t back at the RV, this is where you will find them.

Nearby attractions:

If for some reason the hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, geocaching, boating, and swimming do not provide enough to do, consider visiting the Hobe Sound Nature Center. It is only 2.5 miles away. http://hobesoundnaturecenter.com

For the beach lover, Blowing Rocks Preserve is located 10 minutes away at 574 South Beach Road, Hobe Sound, FL 33455-2804. Located on Jupiter Island, the preserve offers miles of sandy beaches and craggy rocks. This wild and wonderful beach is looked after by The Nature Conservancy. It is very much worth taking the time to explore this very different beach experience.

Hobe Sound Beach is a public facility also on Jupiter Island and located only five miles away from the park.

The Loggerhead Marine Life Center is one of Florida’s unique attractions and is located less than ten miles down Federal Highway (U.S. Route 1) in Juno Beach. Loggerhead Marine Life Center is a turtle research and rehabilitation center. For young and old alike, it’s worth the visit. https://www.marinelife.org/

Hungry?

Whether you turn left or right you will find a Publix Super Market a couple miles down the road.

For the more ambitious, here are some suggestions:

Harry and The Natives, harryandthenatives.com

“Harry’s” is located up the road, north on Federal Highway, in Hobe Sound, offers a laid back menu in a tropical setting. Family owned and run, it is quite popular with the breakfast crowd, offering music some evenings.

Flash Beach Grille, http://flashcatering.com/flash-beach-grille.php

An upscale alternative to Harry’s, Flash Beach Grille is another Hobe Sound favorite. Flash Beach, which offers original Caribbean inspired food, serves plenty of it and is consistently good. Flash Beach Grille has indoor and shaded outdoor seating with music on the weekends. It’s a great place to go for “date night”. I crave their lobster roll. This is my favorite place to dine.

Guanabanas in Jupiter, http://guanabanas.com

Guanabanas is an open air restaurant serving island food on the water that offers entertainment in the evenings. It’s a bit pricey. This place is all about the atmosphere. They have done a great job with creating an island feel. It is definitely a fun place to go — except when it rains! Guanabanas does not take reservations and is big with the young crowd in the evenings during the season. So plan accordingly if you wish to go.

Scooters in Hobe Sound, https://www.allmenus.com/fl/hobe-sound/31007-scooters/menu/

A very reasonably priced “hole in the wall” type sports bar with great family atmosphere and the best burgers in town.

Rancho Chico, http://ranchochico.net/

Located off Federal Highway, in a strip mall in Tequesta, this restaurant serves some pretty some Mexican food. With plenty of seating, it’s a good place for large groups.

Summary

For a state park, you can’t beat Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This park really has it all. But, shaded areas are limited. The kids are already asking to go back. I offered to go for a day trip but that didn’t fly. That’s okay. The fact that my kids are excited about going camping means I must be doing something right. So what do I think about JDP? I love it!

View of a shaded RV campsite.

RV campsites within the park interior feature shade.

Campground Information

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Ranger Station (772) 546-2771

16450 S.E. Federal Highway, Hobe Sound, FL 33455

Reservations can be made through in person on the web at http://www.reserveamerica.com

RV Park Features and Amenities:

Cost: $26

Sites: 140, reserve online or first come basis. 10% held back for same day walk up.

Check in: 3:00 p.m.

Check out: 1:00 p.m.

Park Hours: 8:00 a.m. to sunset 365 days of the year.

Power: 50/30 amps

Water: Yes

Pets allowed: Yes

Length of stay: 14 days. May return after 3 days

Big Rigs: Yes, Pine Grove campground.  Call in advance.

Pads: Gravel

Restrooms: Yes

Showers: Yes

Laundry: Yes

Dump Station: Yes

WIFI: only at the Kimball Education Center

Cell Phone Coverage: Yes, ATT, Verizon

Tents allowed: Yes

Additional Amenities: Dock, boat launch, covered picnic areas, concession stand, visitor center, play ground, walking and biking trails, canoe and kayak rentals,  guided tours, geocaching,

Admission Fee to the Park:

$6.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.

$4.00 Single-occupant vehicle or motorcycle.

$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass.

Map of the park:

http://www.mappery.com/maps/Jonathan-Dickinson-State-Park-Map.mediumthumb.pdf.png

Army Corps of Engineers (COE)

Coe Landing Tallahasee

A secluded wooded lakeside setting at Coe Landing.

A secluded wooded lakeside setting at Coe Landing.

Coe Landing is an Army Corps of Engineers campground offering the charm of old Florida located just thirteen miles from Tallahassee’s city center on the shores of Lake Talquin off Route 20. We stumbled across this on our whirlwind road trip in the wake of Hurricane Irma. This quiet secluded campground offers a great respite for the weary road traveler. We loved it so much that we put this on our “revisit” list.

This is a small campground with only 20 RV sites situated around one big loop. Each site offers 30 amps and water with a dump station located at the exit of the park.  All of the sites are in the shade or have some shade. The sites are laid out in a big circle which puts half of them along the shore of Lake Talquin. This is an older campground and the bathrooms reflect that; the facilities are older but clean and with plenty of hot water.

We were traveling in a 24 foot RV and found that we could use any site, back in or pull through. However, I did notice that large travel trailers or class A RVs found it a bit challenging to work the loop. Of the 20 sites only 5 can accommodate anything close to 40 feet.  

What I liked most about it was its serene setting on the shores of this man made reservoir. The forest canopy offers ideal shade with lots of wild life. The campground pier provides the perfect spot for the fisherman in your group.  The nearby boat ramp is the ideal place to launch your canoe or kayak. I also loved the fact that there were no long term tenants. I understand the cost factor sometimes requires campground to accommodate long term renters. But when I am on the road, I prefer to stay places where folks are not living. My ideal RV park is one that does not look like a parking lot but rather a camp ground, still has modern conveniences like WI-FI and cell phone coverage Coe Landing fits the bill.

Lake Talquin is a man made lake that was formed in 1927 when the Jackson Buff Dam was built. The Jackson Buff Dam was constructed as part of a hydroelectric project along the Ochlocknee River some 20 miles west of Tallahassee. The reservoir covers 10,000 plus acres and for the fisherman, the lake offers large mouth bass, shell cracker and speckled perch. For the rest of us, hiking, picnicking, and boating. Swimming is not allowed due to the large amount of logs and stumps in the lake. Overall it is just a great place to sit back and enjoy a slice of nature just 20 minutes from downtown Tallahassee.

Unfortunately, like many Army Corps of Engineers camp grounds this one does not have a camp store. I suggest before arriving that you plan on stocking up if you are staying for any length of time. Once you set up, you may not want to leave. Fortunately there are plenty of options along Route 20 before you get there, including a couple gas stations with convenience stores just a few miles down the road.

If you are lucky enough to be able to spend a few days at Coe Landing I suggest you take in some of the wonderful sites the Florida capital city Tallahassee has to offer.

Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park:

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Lake-Jackson

This is actually a very interesting place for a picnic or a walk. The area was said to have been inhabited sometime between 1050-1500 AD by ancestors of the Aplalachee. The mounds throughout the park were built by hand for agricultural and ceremonial purposes.

Tallahassee Museum

https://tallahasseemuseum.org/

Located downtown this outdoor museum encompasses 52 acres of nature trails, wild life, living exhibits, historical buildings as well as an aerial adventure and zip line course. There is something here for everyone.

Tallahassee Automobile Museum

https://www.tacm.com/

This museum is great for a rainy day. It offers a wide collection of just about everything; from Steinway Pianos to adding machines,from spark plugs to motorcycles.

For those interested in history try

Mission San Luisa de Apalachee

https://www.missionsanluis.org/index.cfm

This reconstructed Franciscan mission was declared a landmark in 1960 and depicts the way of life in the 17 century.

Knotthouse Farm

http://www.museumoffloridahistory.com/about/sites/

On the steps of this house, the emancipation of proclamation was read in 1865 signaling freedom to slaves in the Panhandle.

Florida Historic Capital Museum

http://www.flhistoriccapitol.gov/

This museum offers a look into the history of local government in Tallassee.

Hungry?

Here a few suggestions:

Maple Street Biscuit Company for break, lunch or both

https://maplestreetbiscuits.com/

Momo’s Pizzeria for the very hungry

http://www.momospizzeria.com/

Wells Brothers Bar and Grill for the best burgers in town

http://www.wellsbrothersbarandgrill.com/

Miccosukee Root Cellar a farm to table café with live musicon the weekends and will appeal to those looking for an upscale restaurant.

http://miccosukeerootcellar.com/

Summary

In a nut shell, I would go back tomorrow if I lived closer.My kids probably would not agree since there was not much for them to do at CoeLanding. I, on the other hand, loved it for that very reason. 

Campground Information

Reservations for Coe Landing can be made online at https://reservations.leoncountyfl.gov/

If you arrive without a reservation, there is an envelope available at the gate for your fee and a host available for any questions you may have. 

Coe Landing RV Park

1208 Coe’s Landing Road

Tallahassee, Florida 323044

850-350-9560

Park Features and Amenities:

Cost: $27, payable online or at the gate in cash/check.

Sites: 20, reserve online or first come basis.

Power: 30 amps

Water: Yes

Pets allowed: Yes

Extended stay: No

Length of stay: 10 days

Big Rigs: 4 spots only. Call in advance.

Pads: Gravel

Restrooms: Yes

Showers: Yes

Laundry: No

Dump Station: Yes

WIFI: Yes

Cell Phone Coverage: Yes, ATT, Verizon

Tents allowed: Yes

Additional Amenities: Dock, Boat access, Covered Picnic

Map of Lake Talquin:

https://www.tidewater-florida.com/images/state-forests/map-lake-talquin01big.jpg

For more information on the Jackson Buff Dam:

http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/hr/print/volume-31/issue-05/article/dam-safety-adding-a-spillway-protects-integrity-of-jackson-bluff-dam.html

Boardwalk leading through trees to Lake Talquin.

Boardwalk Access to Lake Talquin

Phipps Park Campground , Stuart, Florida

View of spillway below dam at Phipps Park

Waterside at Phipps Park Campground

Phipps Park Campground is a no frills RV park located right off I-95, Exit 101, in Stuart, Florida and a stone’s throw from the Florida Turnpike. It is part of a 55 acre park that sits along the Okeechobee Waterway and it’s maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of Martin County. The sites at Phipps are big, open and if you are looking for an overnight site, preferring one that does not remind you of a parking lot, this is it.

Phipps Park has a total of 58 camp sites but only 18 with partial hookup (water and 30 amp electric). There are no sewer hookups at Phipps but there is a dump site available to overnight campers in the park. The drawback to this is that it is kept under lock and key which makes it a bit inconvenient if you are trying to get an early start.

What is really nice about this park is that all of the sites are super large and each one comes with a picnic table and a fire pit. The other nice feature about these sites is that many run right up to the waterway. Although you cannot see the waterway from your site, you can with a chair, get close enough to enjoy it. This I highly recommend. There is a downside though to these super large sites and that is the layout. Each site shares an electrical pole.  This puts you darn close to your neighbor on one side. I also noticed that out of the whole campground only two sites, (1   and 2) have shade. When we were there we had a lovely breeze and the heat was not a factor. However, I think on a hot day it might be tough. As for turnpike noise, I have to admit I barely noticed the sound of traffic. I think it would have been more noticeable if I were staying in a tent as highway noise at night always seems a bit louder. 

Since this is a county park, and the buildings are older (cement block type), when I first pulled up I did not have high hopes for the bathrooms. Surprisingly, I was wrong. They really were not bad, the main bathroom that is. It’s quite large but it was immaculate. Joe, the park supervisor, no doubt has a lot to do with it since the cleaning crew apparently only shows up once a week. Off the main bathroom there is also a washer/dryer which I really appreciated and found very convenient.  As for the smaller bathroom, located by the camping sites, OMG, I am going to pretend it doesn’t exist. No words can describe it. As for why they were let go? It’s mind boggling. They could have been so nice. But for this inexplicable lapse the park would be perfect. Instead it left me wondering if this bathhouse is haunted!Playground equipment in grassy area.

Phipps Park Playground

Phipps Park Campground is a no frills RV park located right off I-95, Exit 101, in Stuart, Florida and a stone’s throw from the Florida Turnpike. It is part of a 55 acre park that sits along the Okeechobee Waterway and it’s maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of Martin County. The sites at Phipps are big, open and if you are looking for an overnight site, preferring one that does not remind you of a parking lot, this is it.

Phipps Park has a total of 58 camp sites but only 18 with partial hookup (water and 30 amp electric). There are no sewer hookups at Phipps but there is a dump site available to overnight campers in the park. The drawback to this is that it is kept under lock and key which makes it a bit inconvenient if you are trying to get an early start.

What is really nice about this park is that all of the sites are super large and each one comes with a picnic table and a fire pit. The other nice feature about these sites is that many run right up to the waterway. Although you cannot see the water way from your site, you can with a chair, get close enough to enjoy it. This I highly recommend. There is a downside though to these super large sites and that is the layout. Each site shares an electrical pole.  This puts you darn close to your neighbor on one side. I also noticed that out of the whole campground only two sites, (1& 2) have shade. When we were there we had a lovely breeze and the heat was not a factor. However, I think on a hot day it might be tough. As for turn pike noise, I have to admit I barely noticed the sound of traffic. I think it would have been more noticeable if I were staying in a tent as highway noise at night always seems a bit louder.

Since this is a county park, and the buildings are older (cement block type), when I first pulled up I did not have high hopes for the bathrooms. Surprisingly, I was wrong. They really were not bad, the main bathroom that is. It’s quite large but it was immaculate. Joe, the park supervisor, no doubt has a lot to do with it since the cleaning crew apparently only shows up once a week. Off the main bathroom there is also a washer/dryer which I really appreciated and found very convenient.  As for the smaller bathroom,located by the camping sites, OMG, I am going to pretend it doesn’t exist. No words can describe it. As for why they were let go? It’s mind boggling. They could have been so nice. But for this inexplicable lapse the park would be perfect. Instead it left me wondering if this bathhouse is haunted!

Nearby Attractions:

We are active family with young energetic kids so unfortunately this no frills park has little to offer them except a playground that they’ve out grown.  Normally we enjoy parks with great open spaces perfect for games of tag and Frisbee with other campers. Unfortunately this time we were unable to meet up with other families to play with. I am guessing our timing was off. Either that, or maybe because the park allows for  90 day reservations, the draw is really for the older seasonal crowd.  (It definitely drew the fisherman I noticed,as fishing is permitting along the banks). For this reason we spent our day time not at Phipps, but at Holipatiokee Park (no camping), which is located 2 miles away. The playground at this park is newer and has shade which I would think would appeal to a lot of parents. In addition to the numerous sports opportunities there, tennis, soccer, baseball, hiking, there is also a mountain bike trial that is suitable for all levels. It is also mostly shaded and for my fair headed crew that’s a big draw.   https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/florida/halpatiokee-lake-trail

What I like most about Halpatiokee is there is enough in this park to keep my kids busy so I did not have to suffer a day at The Family Fun Center located just another mile down the road. http://golfworld76.com/index.html

Or have to brave a canoe or kayak trip. Lucky me they werenot paying attention when we drove by the sign. Paddling in waters where alligators live just doesn’t work for me. The kids of course find this to be “cool”. For the more ambitious type, I do hear its well worth it. https://www.southriveroutfitters.com/

Hungry?

If you do happen to arrive on an empty “tank” just down the road,on the other side of I-95, you will find gas stations and plenty of fast food. From McDonalds, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts and my family’s favorite, Cracker Barrel.

Just a little further down the road, 3 miles from the campground, you will find a Publix Supermarket and a Walgreens.

Charlie’s Bar and Grill, is only 1 mile further, or 4 milesfrom Phipps Park. Charlie’s is a family style sports bar that serves up everything from hamburgers to BBQ. http://www.ilovecharlies.com/default.aspx

Looking for a taste of the treasure coast? In Port Solerno,just seven miles from the camp ground, you will find quite a few fun restaurants on the water, all with adequate food and on the water seating.

Manatee Island Bar and Grill:  http://www.manateeislandbarandgrill.com/

The Twisted Tuna:  http://thetwistedtuna.com/

Shrimpers:  http://shrimpersgrill.com/

Getting Grabby: http://www.gettincrabby.me/

Just opened is the District Table and Bar.  https://www.districttableandbar.com/

This new eatery is getting good reviews. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations so plan accordingly. They have indoor and outdoor seating and located in the center of Port Solerno.

An additional nine miles away you will find historic downtown Stuart with shops, cafes and plenty more restaurant options.  http://www.historicdowntownstuart.com/

Luna, for some great pizza. https://www.lunadowntownstuart.com/

Riverwalk Café,  known for its oyster and wine bar, a greatplace to take your date ;  http://riverwalkoysterbar.com/

Maria Café, for a more then you can eat great breakfast:

Summary

So what do I really think of Phipps Park? Would I go backagain? Considering that there are very few options in the area where I can take my RV and still feel like I am camping, the answer is definitely yes. It may not have held the attention of my kids on this trip but I am sure that had we gone with another family it would have been different. I also imagine if I had gone without kids, I would have really enjoyed the setting. Next time I willjust have to plan better.

Campground Information

Phipps Park

2175 SW Locks Road

Stuart, FL 34997

772-287-6565

Reservations made online at https://econnect.martin.fl.us/Start/Start.asp

Highly suggest you park office as the only booking is very cumbersome.

Gate Hours and Information:

The front gate opens at 6:00 AM and closes at 7:30 PM.Campers are provided a gate code to enter and exit the park after hours. Gate codes changed weekly

RV Park Features and Amenities:

Cost for sites with electric $20 plus tax resident, $25 plustax non-resident.

6 person max per site.

Cost for primitive sites: $15.20 plus tax resident, $19.00plus tax non-resident.

Sites: 18 RV sites, 58 total.

Check in: noon

Check out: noon

Length of stay: 90 days

Water: Yes

Electric: 30 amps

Pets: Yes, on leash. Limit 2

Pads : Sandy/grass

Restrooms: Yes

Showers: Yes

Laundry: Yes

Wi-Fi- NO

Cell Coverage: Yes

Tents allowed: Yes

Additional Amenities:

Dump station, Nature Trail, Playground, Picnic Pavilion, Boat ramp.

St. Lucie South CEO Campground, Florida

View of concrete camping pad by he river.

Waterfront Campsite on the River

You will find the St. Lucie South COE Campground just off I-95 in Stuart, Florida (Exit 101). Located on the St. Lucie Canal portion of the Okeechobee Waterway, this area is referred to as the St. Lucie Lock Recreation Area. This is a really tiny campground and RV Park but with one terrific location. ( Next door to Phipps Park)

St. Lucie South has only 9 limited RV sites with an additional 3 sites for tents only and 5 cruiser sites for boat campers. The RV sites at this COE campground are all back-ins. They are level with cement pads, including shaded picnic tables, 30/50 amp electric and water hook ups. The sites are located in a circle with half of them overlooking the canal and locks. You could not ask for a more perfect RV site (except maybe one with a full hookup). I only wish they had more sites available. It seems such a shame that they went through all the cost to build this really nice park and were not able to add more sites. The lucky few who can get a site will not be disappointed.

During the season (December – March) this super little campground is almost impossible to get into. However, I think it’s worth calling in case there is a cancellation. If you are unable to get into St. Lucie South, you may consider Martin County’s Phipps Park Campground, which is located a stone’s throw down the road and on the same side as the canal.

St. Lucie South COE Campground sits along the canal of the Okeechobee Waterway. This is a great location to observe boats and manatees as they move through the locks. If you are not in one of the waterfront sites, the viewing spot would be from the deck of the visitor center.  Yes, there is a visitor center! This tiny campground has a really nice visitor center with interactive displays, samples of wildlife and educational videos. My kids loved the visitor center and the camp hosts who work at the center are an absolute delight.  St. Lucie South Visitor Center is a great place to sign up for a dam tour, or to learn about the locks and the wildlife populating both the waterway and residing around the campground such as manatees, bob cats, and alligators. I did not have the chance to view these wonderful creatures while I was there; but I was assured that it is only a matter of how long a visitor can wait. The creatures will come!

The campground boasts a bath and shower house with super large and clean showers plus a playground. The amenities include a play set, a horseshoe pit, and a picnic pavilion. For the fisherman, there is also a pond for fresh water fishing in addition to the canal. And don’t overlook the hiking trails. You might just meet a bobcat!

A view of he boat locks on the Okeechobee Waterway.

The Locks on the Okeechobee Waterway.

There are many other attractions nearby these two terrific campgrounds:

Halipatiokee County Park. https://www.martin.fl.us/location-master/halpatiokee-park-1231

Seabranch State Park: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Seabranch

St. Lucie Inlet State Park:

http://www.americasparks.com/seabranch_preserve_state_park_in_florida.html

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/hobe_sound/

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary:  http://www.buschwildlife.org/

Loggerhead Marine Life Center: https://www.marinelife.org/

Jonathan Dickinson State Park:  https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Jonathan-Dickinson

John D MacArtur Beach State Park: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/MacArthur-Beach

Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center:  https://www.floridaocean.org/

There are varied dining options:

Just down the road, on the other side of I -95, you will find gas stations and plenty of fast food. From McDonalds, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts and my family’s favorite, Cracker Barrel.

Just a little further down the road, 3 miles from the campground, you will find a Publix Supermarket and a Walgreens.

Charlie’s Bar and Grill, is only 1 mile further, or 4 miles from Phipps Park. Charlie’s is a family style sports bar that serves up everything from hamburgers to BBQ. http://www.ilovecharlies.com/default.aspx

Port Solerno provides a great taste of the Treasure Coast. Justseven miles from the camp ground,  youwill find quite a few fun restaurants on the water, all with good food.

Manatee Island Bar and Grill:  http://www.manateeislandbarandgrill.com/

The Twisted Tuna:  http://thetwistedtuna.com/

Shrimpers:  http://shrimpersgrill.com/

Getting Grabby: http://www.gettincrabby.me/

An additional nine miles away you will find historic downtown Stuart with shops, cafes and plenty more restaurant options.  http://www.historicdowntownstuart.com/

Luna, for some great pizza. https://www.lunadowntownstuart.com/

Riverwalk Café,  known for its oyster and wine bar, a great place to take your date ;  http://riverwalkoysterbar.com/

Maria Café, for a more then you can eat great breakfast. They do not have a website but you can find out all about them on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Marias-Cafe-373061616675/

Summary

I enjoyed my short stay at St. Lucie South COE. It was a very nice, small RV campground.  I also enjoyed the campground hosts. They were a pleasure to meet and were very knowledgeable and helpful. I left with fond memories of a sunset cocktail on the deck of the Visitor Center overlooking the canal. The kids left with packets of information and coloring pages on life on the waterway. It was a good stay for all.

Campground Information

St. Lucie South COE Campground

2170 SW Canal Street

Stuart, Florida 34997

772-219-4575

Reservations 877-444-6777

https://www.recreation.gov/camping/st-lucie-south/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=73419

Savannas Recreation Area, Florida

Savannas Recreation Area Waterside Campsite

Savannas Recreation Area Waterside Campsite

The Savannas Recreation Area is located in St. Lucie County, Florida at the very southeastern tip of Fort Pierce. The area is famous for its fishing and wild life viewing and has a great campground with full hook-ups.  You would never imagine that a campground so close to a major road (right off U.S. Route 1) could offer such a taste of the Florida wilderness experience.

The Savannas is a 550 acre protected preserve that was created in 1963. It’s the home of a wide sample of Florida’s wildlife. At any time you might spot an Osprey, a Sandhill Crane, a Blue Heron, a Gopher, an Alligator, maybe even a Bobcat or a River Otter. It’s an area favored by fisherman. Besides fishing it offers great bird watching, hiking, picnicking, kayaking, canoeing, and biking.

For RV and tent camping, the area offers level sites with picnic tables and fire pits. Sites are available with or without full hook-ups, each with plenty of room for slide outs and big rigs. The amenities include bathrooms with showers and a laundry room. The bathrooms are old and reflect their age but they are clean. In addition to plenty of open space for games of tag or touch football, there are two huge dog runs. There is also a bike path and miles of trails for hiking. The campground it situated along a canal with many sites adjacent to the water, providing easy access for wildlife viewing.

Abundant Open Space is Featured at Savannas Recreation Area

Abundant Open Space is Featured at Savannas Recreation Area

Having checked a few online reviews before heading to Savannas, I noticed some folks were not happy with the way the campground is set up. The sites are all located next to each other leaving lots of open space. Obviously some campers would have preferred more space at the sites, which would lend a more rustic feeling. However, that would result in less open space for everyone to enjoy. Another complaint, and one I understand, is the booking process. This campground is run by the county and there is a 155 day limit in a 12 month period on how long you can stay. The rates, which have not changed in years, are also really reasonable: $25.25 a night for full hookup, including Wi-Fi, and only $700.25 monthly. At those rates, I understand why some campers would like to enjoy an extended stay. With limited sites available, it makes it really hard for locals to find a spot during the winter season. Snowbirds book this place up by the first of the year, every year, for the winter. The best time to find a spot here would be in the fall. As for the rest of the year, it’s pot luck. However, if you can find a spot, I do recommend it.

Amenities:

  • Sewer dump
  • Boat Ramp (5 hp max)
  • Private island rentals (for picnics and family gatherings)
  • Pavilions
  • Trading post
  • Canoe / Kayak Rental – $5 per hr, $15 for 4 hrs, and $20 for 8 hours

Activities:

  • Fishing (license required)
  • Bird watching
  • Nature trails
  • Playground
  • Volley Ball Net
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Golf ( nearby)
  • the beach ( nearby)

Campground Information

Savannas Recreation Area

St. Lucie County Parks and Special Facilities

http://stlucieco.gov/parks/savannas.htm

1400 E. Midway Road, Fort Pierce, Florida, 34982

Located 1.5 miles east of US 1

(Exit 126 off Interstate 95 and Exit 152 off the Florida Turnpike)

(772) 464-7855

(800) 789-5776

FAX (772) 464-1763

Savannas@stlucie.org

Reservations can be made by phone, fax or email.

Rates: (Not including taxes)

Primitive $10.25

Unimproved (tent) $15.25

Full (Water, Electric, Sewer and Wi-Fi) $25.25

Monthly Full $700.25

Key Deposit (Cash only, and refundable) $20.00

** Fees allow for a maximum of six people per site.

*** Sewer Notice. All sewer lines must have a graduated “donut” style nozzle and be off the ground and supported by a “slinky” type rest.

Nearby Attractions:

We are an active family with young energetic kids so unfortunately this no frills park has little to offer them except a playground that they’ve out grown.  Normally we enjoy parks with great open spaces perfect for games of tag and Frisbee with other campers. Unfortunately this time we were unable to meet up with other families to play with. I am guessing our timing was off. Either that, or maybe because the park allows for  90 day reservations, the draw is really for the older seasonal crowd.  (It definitely drew the fisherman I noticed,as fishing is permitting along the banks). For this reason we spent our day time not at Phipps, but at Holipatiokee Park, which is located 2 miles away. The playground at this park is newer and has shade which I would think would appeal to a lot of parents. In addition to the numerous sports opportunities there,tennis, soccer, baseball, hiking, there is also a mountain bike trial that issuitable for all levels. It is also mostly shaded and for my fair headed crew that’s a big draw.   https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/florida/halpatiokee-lake-trail

What I like most about Halpatiokee is there is enough inthis park to keep my kids busy so I did not have to suffer a day at The FamilyFun Center located just another mile down the road. http://golfworld76.com/index.html

Or have to brave a canoe or kayak trip. Lucky me they were not paying attention when we drove by the sign. Paddling in waters where alligators live just doesn’t work for me. The kids of course find this to be“cool”. For the more ambitious type, I do hear its well worth it. https://www.southriveroutfitters.com/

Hungry?

If you do happen to arrive on an empty “tank” just down the road,on the other side of I-95, you will find gas stations and plenty of fast food.From McDonalds, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts and my family’s favorite, Cracker Barrel.

Just a little further down the road, 3 miles from the campground, you will find a Publix Supermarket and a Walgreens.

Charlie’s Bar and Grill, is only 1 mile further, or 4 miles from Phipps Park. Charlie’s is a family style sports bar that serves up everything from hamburgers to BBQ. http://www.ilovecharlies.com/default.aspx

Looking for a taste of the treasure coast? In Port Solerno,just seven miles from the camp ground, you will find quite a few fun restaurants on the water, all with adequate food and on the water seating.

Manatee Island Bar and Grill:  http://www.manateeislandbarandgrill.com/

The Twisted Tuna:  http://thetwistedtuna.com/

Shrimpers:  http://shrimpersgrill.com/

Getting Grabby: http://www.gettincrabby.me/

Just opened is the District Table and Bar.  https://www.districttableandbar.com/

This new eatery is getting good reviews. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations so plan accordingly. They have indoor and outdoor seating and located in the center of Port Solerno.

An additional nine miles away you will find historic downtown Stuart with shops, cafes and plenty more restaurant options.  http://www.historicdowntownstuart.com/

Luna, for some great pizza. https://www.lunadowntownstuart.com/

 Riverwalk Café,  known for its oyster and wine bar, a greatplace to take your date ;  http://riverwalkoysterbar.com/

Maria Café, for a more then you can eat great breakfast:

Summary

So what do I really think of Phipps Park? Would I go back again? Considering that there are very few options in the area where I can take my RV and still feel like I am camping, the answer is definitely yes. It may not have held the attention of my kids on this trip but I am sure that had we gone with another family it would have been different. I also imagine if I had gone without kids, I would have really enjoyed the setting. Next time I will just have to plan better.  

Campground Information

Phipps Park

2175 SW Locks Road

Stuart, FL 34997

772-287-6565

Reservations made online at https://econnect.martin.fl.us/Start/Start.asp

Highly suggest you park office as the only booking is verycumbersome.

Gate Hours and Information:

The front gate opens at 6:00 AM and closes at 7:30 PM.Campers are provided a gate code to enter and exit the park after hours. Gatecodes changed weekly

RV Park Features and Amenities:

Cost for sites with electric $20 plus tax resident, $25 plustax non-resident.

*6 person max per site.

Cost for primitive sites: $15.20 plus tax resident, $19.00plus tax non-resident.

Sites: 18 RV sites, 58 total.

Check in: noon

Check out: noon

Length of stay: 90 days

Water: Yes

Electric: 30 amps

Pets: Yes, on leash. Limit 2

Pads : Sandy /grass

Restrooms: Yes

Showers: Yes

Laundry: Yes

WiFi- NO

Cell Coverage: Yes

Tents allowed: Yes

Additional Amenities:

Dump station, NatureTrail, Playground, Picnic Pavilion, Boat ramp.

Anastasia State Park, Florida

Example of a campsite at Anastasia State Park

Shaded campsite at Anastasia State Park

Anastasia State Park is located in St. Augustine, Florida. It is one of Florida’s most popular state parks and there are plenty of reasons why.  Snuggled into the preserve, minutes from downtown St. Augustine, a bike ride from numerous dining options and outdoor entertainment and activities, with a sugar sand beach and shaded camping sites, it’s no wonder sites at Anastasia are hard to come by on weekends or during the season. Fortunately, like most Florida State Parks, there are always walk-up sites.  These sites will not be posted on the reservation system and are not available until the day of use.  At Anastasia the rangers usually do not release them until after check out time, which is 1:00 p.m.  So if you are willing to take a gamble, there is always a possibility of finding a site. (Just get there by 12:00 to be sure!)  Since I am not much of planner, that’s exactly how we got our sites the last two times we stayed at this incredible park.

At Anastasia you will find that all sites come with electricity and water hookups as well as a picnic table and a fire pit. A dump station is easily accessible and close to the exit (next to the trash).  The sites vary in size; but they can accommodate up to a 40 foot rig. Most of the 139 sites are reasonably level and generally speaking most are in the shade with enough growth between the sites to allow for privacy.

Unfortunately, the bath houses are what you would expect from a state park — reasonably clean with a variety of the local of bugs.  They do have nice hot showers and a laundry room, so I cannot complain.

If you look online, (Reserve America) you will see that there are 7 different camping loops. Depending on which loop you are in, you may have a bit of a walk to get to the beach. It’s not an insurmountable problem; but having a bike, especially for the kids, will make it easier to get there.

beach and sand bar at Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine, Florida

The beach at Anastasia State Park

Speaking of kids, they will have tons to do there so hold on to your wallet.  At the Water Sports Pavilion there are kayaking, canoeing and sail boat rentals. At the beach there is a great snack bar (with WIFI), which is actually quite handy and reasonably priced. Just outside the back gates is the St. Augustine Amphitheater, constructed in one of the old quarries and seats 3,500 people. If you happen to time it right, this venue hosts concerts all summer and season long.

Outside the front gates of the park is one of my kids’ favorite places, The Alligator Farm, which definitely rocks with its tree top zip line tour!

The lighthouse as seen from Anastasia State Park beach

St Augustine Light Station, built in 1874, an active lighthouse, as seen from the beach at Anastasia State Park

When you need a break from the beach and the many outdoor activates that Anastasia has to offer, (fishing, hiking, ranger programs, etc.) downtown St. Augustine is just a stone’s throw away.  From The Pirates and Treasure Museum, the Red Train Tour, Ghost Tours to Fort Mantanza there are a couple days worth of things to do and see.   Here is but a small sample of things to see in St. Augustine:

  • Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum
  • The Fountain of Youth
  • Mission of Nombre de Dios
  • San Sebastian Winery
  • Old City Gates
  • Castillo De San Marcos
  • Museum of Historic Houses
  • Flagler College
  • The Colonial Quarter
  • Scenic Cruise
  • Old Florida Museum
  • Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
  • The Lightener Museum…and more
  • Ripley’s Red Train Tour
  • St. Augustine’s Ghost Tours

Visit St. Augustine   https://www.visitstaugustine.com/

St. Augustine Amphitheatre   http://www.augustineamp.com/events/

The Alligator Farm​   http://www.alligatorfarm.com/

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum    http://thepiratemuseum.com/

Are you hungry or do you need supplies?

No matter from which direction you approach Anastasia, you will have numerous options to stop to load up on supplies.  There are plenty of strip malls and markets within 5 miles of the park. So if you wish to keep the food budget at a minimum, I suggest you plan ahead before reaching camp.  Otherwise, in addition to having all of St. Augustine just down the road, a snack bar open during the day at the beach, you will also notice upon entry there are dining options right outside the gate of the park.

Park Information:

Anastasia State Park

300 Anastasia Park Road

St. Augustine, Florida 32080-5422

904-461-2033 (Ranger Station, 8 am to Sunset)

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Anastasia

For Reserve America, 800-326-3521

https://www.reserveamerica.com/welcome.do

Check-out time 1:00 pm, Check-in time is 3:00 pm.

Pets are permitted but not on the beach

Maximum of 2 vehicles per site.

Camping fee $28 per night plus tax for tent or RV (not including any discounts you may be eligible for or the $6.70 reservation fee that Reserve America charges)

Gilchrist Blue Springs  Park, Florida

Crystal clear spring at Gilchrist Blue Spring Park, Florida

“Gilchrist Blue”

Just 10 miles off I-75, north of Gainesville and 5 miles outside High Springs, is a little hidden gem of a park. It’s not the park for every RV or trailer, but for those who are looking for a more natural, rustic setting, and a break from Wi-Fi and cell phone service, this might be just the place for you to experience Florida camping with the family.

Spring Swimming

There are a lot of springs in Florida but I believe this is one of the prettiest ones. Recently purchased through the Forever Florida Fund, the park boasts 407 acres of pristine Florida wilderness.  The main attraction is the “Gilchrist Blue” spring, which offers some of the best spring swimming around. Clear waters, a constant 72 degrees, turtles, (manatees in winter) , a diving platform,  it’s no wonder it’s a local favorite.

RV Camping

I caution that camping at Blue Springs is not for everyone.  To enter the park you must first navigate the dirt/sand road that is part of the entrance.  A small RV/trailer would be just fine.  Unfortunately it’s not a “road” that I would recommend to an owner of a 5th wheel, class A or large trailer as the road takes a little bit of maneuvering and patience to navigate, especially after a downpour.

In addition to the arduous entrance the campsites are similarly rough.  Blue Springs has just 25 sites, and only 17 sites have electricity (30 amps).  Few sites are level and some have a rut or two left by their previous occupant.  Water is available at the campground, although not at all sites. Some sites share water.  All sites have picnic tables as well as fire pits and a majority of them can be found in the shade, under a canopy of cypress trees.

As for the bathrooms, I found the conveniences to be quite clean considering the traffic. During the day, when the spring is hopping with day visitors, the bathrooms were exactly as one would expect:  wet and sandy. However by evening, when the park is closed to the general public, I thought the rangers did an excellent job of transforming the bathrooms into  very clean facilities.

Activities

In addition to swimming, activities available at the park include hiking, picnicking, tubing, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing and fishing.  If that’s not enough for you, then just head down the road to Ginnie Springs, a private facility that offers scuba and cave diving in addition to more spring swimming. (See web site for rates.)

For dining and shopping options, I recommend a day trip into the quaint town of High Springs, a town rich in history and referred to as the “Antique Capital” of North Central Florida.

Reservations

Reservations can be made online at Reserveamerica.com or by calling (800) 326-3521.

Due to its popularity and small size, reservations are highly recommended.

To contact the ranger station at the campground directly, call (386) 454-1369.

Open 8 am till sundown

Camping Rates: $18 per night plus tax

Kayaks, canoes and picnic pavilions are available for rental through the concession stand.

** If you are not camping and wish to make it a day trip, please note there is a daily fee for park admission;

$6 per vehicle

Address:

Gilchrist Blue Springs Park

7450 NE 60th Street

High Springs, Florida 32643

https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/gilchrist-blue-springs-state-park

Ginnie Springs

http://ginniespringsoutdoors.com/

(386) 454-7188

Open 8 am to 6 pm daily

Located at 7300 NE Ginnie Springs Road, High Springs, Fl 32643

Entrance Fees and Rental fees

http://ginniespringsoutdoors.com/park-info/admission-fees/

hard packed camping site at Gilchrist Blue Spring Park

Camping site at Gilchrist Blue Spring Park Florida

Tombigbee State Park, Mississippi

One of 18 RV sites at Tombigbee State Park near Tupelo, MIssissippi

RV site at Tombigbee State Park, MS over looking Frisbee Golf Course

Located just 6 miles south of Tupelo is Tombigbee State Park.  For the road weary RV traveler Tombigbee offers a quiet stay with level sites and full hook ups .

(Trivia: Does Tupelo sound familiar? It was the birth place of Elvis Presley. )

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s this park is one of Mississippi’s oldest parks and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is 120 acres big and surrounds Lake Lee. In addition to RV sites, there are 7 cabins and 1 cottage available for rent.  All of which include their own baths.

As for the RV sites, there are only 20 of which 18 offer full hook up. Only two can accommodate super large rigs over 40 feet. All the sites at Tombigbee come with picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. The RV sites are located in a large open circle around the bath/laundry house, with some shade but little to no privacy in between sites. Because they are in a circle, the sites either back up to the woods or to the park/Frisbee course.  Our site looked right out on to the playground. For me, this was an ideal place since I could keep an eye on my kids playing Frisbee from the comfort of my camp site.

We visited Tombigbee on a one night stop over during mid week in summer. We arrived to a full campground with folks all about, on the playground, on the Frisbee course, and on the lake. However, once the sun set you could hear a pin drop.  If it weren’t for the RV’s parked around the circle, I would have thought we were the only visitors. It was really a nice to place to recover after a long day on the road.

Visitor Center and Activity Building

At the visitor center, which also houses the park office, you can find out about all the activities available at this great park: fishing, biking, hiking, picnicking, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, Frisbee golf, boating, to name a few.  (and yes, they have Frisbees for sale!)

***Unfortunately there is no swimming.

Address

TOMBIGBEE264 Cabin DriveTupelo MS 38804

Phone Number:

(662)842-7669

Open year round.

Reservations

www.reservamerica.com

1-800-467-2757

Same day reservations should be made by calling the park directly.

https://mississippistateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/tombigbee/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=MS&parkId=151817

Rates:

Entrance fee for day use-  $4 per car , up to 6 passengers.

Cabins – $60-$85 a night plus tax

( no dogs allowed in cabins, and there is a with two night minimum stay on weekends during high season.)

RV sites – Approximately $24 plus tax per night.

Tent sites – Located in the woods and within a ¼ mile to the bathhouse. There are only 4 sites but they are pretty impressive. Each site includes a fire pit, benches, work table , trash bin, hammock stand and a tent platform. https://www.mdwfp.com/media/253708/amenities-website.jpg

Official State Park Site

http://www.mdwfp.com/parks-destinations/state-parks/tombigbee/camping/

Directions

 

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):34.2325, -88.6297234°13’57″N, 88°37’47″W From Hwy 78, take Veterans Blvd. to Hwy 6 to State Park Rd.

From Hwy 45, take Eason Blvd. to Hwy 6 to State Park Rd. six miles southeast of Tupelo.

** Planning a trip to Mississippi with the family? I suggest you checkout the state parks by activities. I found this list to be quite convenient.

https://www.mdwfp.com/media/253708/amenities-website.jpg

(The kids have Buccaneer on their list for next summer!)

view of Lake Lee at Tombigbee State Park in Mississippi

View of Lake Lee at Tombigbee State Park, MS from Visitor and Activity Center

Andrew Jackson State Park, South Carolina

Andrew Jackson State Park in Lancaster, South Carolina, remains one of my favorite destinations. The facility is conveniently located less than 20 miles outside of Charlotte, North Carolina quite near the border between the Carolinas. We have used this park many times as a base for visiting our friends in Charlotte.  However, unlike North Carolina’s State Parks, the South Carolina park system offers electricity and water in all locations, which is why we choose to stay at Andrew Jackson rather than in a North Carolina park albeit closer to our friends in Charlotte.  There are only 25 sites at Andrew Jackson; but 3 sites are available with full hook up (electricity, water, and sewerage).

Reservations for Andrew Jackson State Park are made online at Reserve America. For last minute reservations you can call the park directly at (803)285-3344.  The office opens at 9 am and for those wishing to make same day reservations, calling the park directly is the only way to get a reservation.  If you are traveling, keep in mind the park closes at dusk, which is around 9 pm in the summer.  For weekend reservations you will definitely need to plan ahead. On the other hand, weekday spots are much easier to come by.

All 25 sites at Andrew Jackson State Park are located in the shade and each contains a fire pit and picnic table. Generally speaking all the sites are level but they do run small.  Only 5 sites can accommodate RVs up to 36 feet long with the remaining 20 spots handling up to 30 footers. All camping sites are located in a circle around the bathhouse and sites 16 through 19 overlook the lake.

The bathhouse is a traditional state park basic bathhouse. There is only one. It is older, but clean.  If the door was left open at any point, it may also contain a few “local residents”.  On a positive note, the showers are hot!

The History

The site of Andrew Jackson State Park was the first home of our 7th president. Born in 1767, his original home no longer exists but they have replaced it with a very nice replica of a school house. In addition there is also a museum and gift shop with artifacts from the Revolutionary War and Jackson’s life.  Not to be missed is the large bronze statue of a young Andrew Jackson by Anne Hyatt Huntington, a master American artist best known for her equestrian sculptures.

Activities

The park is 365 acres big with an 18 acre lake. If you cannot find something to do here, you’re not trying hard enough.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Boating (Canoes and boats can be rented from the ranger station at very reasonable rates)
  • Hiking (there are two hiking trails)
  • Amphitheater (Check with the ranger station for a list of events)
  • Fishing
  • Playground
  • Ranger Programs
  • Picnic
  • Geocaching
  • Biking
  • Bird Watching

Hungry?  Need supplies?

The best place to pick up supplies is when you first get off the highway.  To reach the park you’ll be taking secondary roads with fewer commercial options.  The closer you get to the park, the fewer those limited options will become.

If only a Wal-Mart can satisfy your needs, head to Rock Hill, which is 15 miles away but just outside Charlotte.

Park Information

Andrew Jackson State Park

196 Andrew Jackson State Park Road

Lancaster, SC 29720

(803)285-3344 direct

Reservations can be made through Reserve America or by calling (866)345-PARK

https://www.reserveamerica.com/camping/andrew-jackson/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=SC&parkId=10402

Cost:

Weekdays –  $18 water and electric /$22 full hook up

Weekends –  $20 water and electric  /$24 full hook up

Dump station is conveniently located on the way out, near the trash and before you get to the lake entrance.

FYI **NO WIFI**

 

Sesquicentennial State Park, South Carolina

path around the park lake at Sesquicentennial State Park

Sesquicentennial’s lake side walking and bike path

If you are traveling through Columbia, South Carolina, this great park should be on your list. Sesquicentennial State Park is located just a couple of miles off I -77, at Exit 17, on Two Notch Road, making it an extremely convenient location for road weary travelers.  Whether you are traveling with a big crew or just need a spot to hang your hat for a few days, this is the place. Sesquicentennial offers lots of things to see and do that just cannot be accomplished in a one night stay.  If all you have is one night, you will still be able to enjoy the great beauty this park offers. In my book, it certainly beats the alternative, a typical roadside RV park.

Sesquicentennial’s campground has 84 sites that can accommodate most trailers and RVs.  The majority of the sites are back-ins with approximately 12 pull through sites. The sites are gravel and generally flat.  Located in the woods, you will find plenty of shade in addition to the basics: picnic table, fire ring, electricity, and water. (The dump station is conveniently located at the entrance to the campground.)

For those concerned about the bath house, I would describe it as your typical bath house for a state park. It is old but clean, with the usual bugs. Being in a woodland location, I am not sure there is much they can do about the bugs.  Nevertheless, everything worked for us, including the nice hot showers.

Reservations can be made for Sesquicentennial by calling the campground direct at (803) 788-2706 or through Reserve America at (866) 345-7275.

For late arrivals the park closes at dark, so it is best to call ahead for the gate code.

If you are arriving without a reservation, check out the bulletin board upon entry.  Available sites will be listed there.  There is also an onsite host should you need help.

Since this campground is located minutes from Columbia, I would keep in mind that it can be quite busy on the weekends.  A weekend spot will require a reservation. However if you are arriving during the week you will have a much easier time finding a spot at the last minute.

camp sites in the woods at Sesquicentennial State Park

Wooded Camp Sites at Sesquicentennial

Activities

This is a park that offers tons of activities for the whole family.   Here is a short list:

  • Mountain biking  ( 2 great trails)
  • Hiking on the nature trail or the lake loop
  • Picnic in one of the numerous picnic shelters
  • Play on the play ground equipment.
  • Rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat on the lake.
  • Fishing
  • Bird watching
  • Attend a ranger program
  • Play on the ball field or on the sand volley ball court
  • Or my kids favorite, play on the super size splash pad!

Splash pad at South Carolina's Sesquicentennial State Park

Sesquicentennial Park Splash Pad

Hungry?  Need supplies?

The camp store is located in the office building for basics and souvenirs.

At the boathouse, you will find the snack bar offering ice cream, drinks and t-shirts.

You will find everything else you many need just outside the park just off I-77 and route 1.

Summary

This is really a great park. Unfortunately we could only stay one night as we had commitments to meet. However, it is definitely worth a second and longer stay.  (That’s at the request of my kids which should give you an idea of what a great place this is.)  In addition to the park’s natural beauty and the numerous activities it has to offer, you could not ask for a more convenient location.

Campground Information

Sesquicentennial State Park

https://southcarolinaparks.com/sesqui/camping

9564 Two Notch Road

Columbia , South Carolina 29223

(803) 788-2706

sesqui@scprt.com

Office hours – 11 am to Noon, 4pm- 5pm

Park Hours – 8 am till dusk

Maximum length of stay is 14 nights.

One family or a maximum of 6 people per site

One trailer or RV per site and one tent.  OR, 2 tents only or 3 small 2 man tents per site.

Check in time is 2 p.m.

Check out time is noon.

Pets are allowed but must be leashed (no longer than 6 feet) or in your control at all times.

Rocky Bluff Campground, North Carolina

Campsite at Rocky Bluff Campground

Every once in awhile it pays to eavesdrop in the ladies’ bathroom; that’s how I heard about the Rocky Bluff Campground.   What a gem of a state park.  Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Madison County, North Carolina, the park is located just 45 minutes outside Asheville in the town of Hot Springs. With its 30 camping sites, many of which are secluded, and RV access for 18 spots, this campground has to be one of the best kept secrets in North Carolina.

Rocky Bluff is located in the Pisgah National Forest. The campground sits on 15 acres of land that was donated to the National Forest Reservation Commission in 1935. For $8 a night there are no hook ups, but there are spaces for RVs under 36 feet, flat tent sites, water, fire pits, picnic tables, very clean flush toilets, and a fabulous host, Art.  Art is very knowledgeable about the area and is sure to make everyone feel at home.

Activities at Rocky Bluff

If you are looking for a place to relax and just enjoy your mountain get away in a quiet picturesque campground, you will love Rocky Bluff. If you are the restless type, who loves to explore, you will find plenty to do in this small campground.

Hike the Spring Creek Nature Trail – A short 1.2 mile loop, which runs along the Spring Creek. If you are traveling with kids, be sure to pack towels and water shoes because there will be plenty of places for swimming, as well as fishing.

Hike the Van Cliff Trail Loop – a 2.6 miler for the adventurous hiker. This trail crosses streams, boulders, and includes a 600 foot ridge climb that descends into the hemlocks.

Hike to Spenser’s Overlook – A short walk up the hill, with a bench for sitting and viewing, offers a great look at the Spring Creek gorge.

Activities Nearby

Should you decide to venture out, you won’t be disappointed. The area has plenty to offer.

River rafting, kayaking, tubing, and fishing on the French Broad River. The visitor center in Hot Springs has information on all these activities and more.

Hike the Appalachian Trail – The trail runs through the center of town and near Rocky Bluff Campground.

Go Zip lining.

Head to the stables for Horse Back Riding.

The view from Max Patch, where the Smokies meet the Blue Ridge Moutains

The view from Max Patch along the Appalachian Trail.

Take the 14 mile drive to Max Patch – Just 15 miles past the campground, Max Patch offers a 360 degree view of the Appalachian Mountains including the Smokies and the Blue Ridge mountains.  A gentle hike to the top, suitable for kids, offers plenty of spots for picnicking and picture taking. The road getting their though is a bit rough and parking is limited so I don’t recommend it with a big rig or a trailer. I highly recommend this excursion.

The mountain is also bald so bring a jacket. It can get windy up there and the temperatures will be 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Tent camping is allowed in some restricted areas. (GPS Coordinates N35.797045, W82.956811)

Looking to pamper yourself ? Head to Hot Springs Resort and Spa– the Spa offers hotel rooms, massages, mineral baths as well as festival and concert type camping along the French Broad River, with full hook ups available. For reservations, and a festival schedule call (828) 622-7676. https://www.nchotsprings.com/

The Iron Horse and the Artisun Gallery, located in Hot Springs, North Carolina

Hot Springs, North Carolina

Spend the afternoon in Hot Springs. The town of Hot Springs is a scenic little village rich in history and charm. Originally named Warm Springs, the town was established as a resort destination in the early 1800s, first by the Native Americans and then later by the colonists, for the healing powers of the hot springs. It was not until the late 1800s that the name was actually changed to Hot Springs. Then during World War I, when fewer folks were coming for the water, the land was leased to the federal government and became an internment camp for hundreds of captured German sailors.

The town of Hot Springs is absolutely charming. It is basically two streets big. It does, however, have the necessities like a dollar store, laundromat, a couple of good options for food and entertainment, as well as a hardware store and outfitters. Our favorite spot is the Artisan Gallery, where you will find local crafts, great coffee, incredible smoothies and Wi-Fi!

Rocky Bluff Information

Open May1 to October 1

Fee: $8 per night, on a first come basis. 14 day limit

Rocky Bluff Campground is located off NC209, 3 miles outside the town of Hot Springs, and 32 miles from Waynesville.

Ranger District (828) 682-6146

For more reviews and to add your support, join the community of Rocky Bluff fans on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/rockybluffcommunity/

Private Campgrounds

Juno Ocean Walk RV Resort, Florida

Motorhome pads off a paved road.

Premium Spots Can Accommodate Larger RVs.

Juno Beach

Every once in a while we have friends from the north come down  to visit who want to stay in a resort type environment. Looking for a break from the north, they want a place with a pool that’s close to the beach and shopping. This place fits the bill.

Juno Ocean Walk is located right off U.S. Route 1. It is just a short walk to the beach, the pier, and great restaurants. Juno Ocean Walk is all about location. The resort is located twenty minutes from the mall, thirty minutes from downtown West Palm Beach, and it is truly your best choice.

All the lots in this park are privately owned and the few that are leased are handled by the office. This park is tucked away on what would be considered premium property so the sites tend to be small. They come with full hook up, pads are paved, level and come with picnic tables. The sites are located throughout the park between full timers and permanent mobile homes.  Unfortunately, some of these sites can provide a bit of a challenge to get into especially if you have a big rig. For those traveling in a big rig, I would recommend paying the premium for the bigger sites. This place reminds me more of an upscale mobile home park then an RV park, but that said, it is very neat and clean and the only game in town if you are wishing to stay in the area close to the beach and shopping.

Concrete RV Pad

A Premium Big Rig Spot at Jupiter Ocean Walk

In terms of amenities, this place has quite a few. In addition to a large pool and spa, club house with meeting rooms and exercise equipment, they have volley ball and pickle ball courts and petanque. The bathrooms are large and clean with an adjoining coin laundry. Adjacent to the office they have a reading room with access to free Wi-Fi, which is open twenty-four hours. (Wi-Fi at your site is an additional charge and available to long term guests.)

If you arrive hungry, there is a small shopping mall, The Bluffs Square Shopping Center, located at the entrance of the property. There you will find a Publix supermarket and a Walgreens pharmacy as well as a couple great dining options. Uncle Eddies is a superb Italian restaurant with a piano bar; Lanna Thai offers great, you guessed it, Thai food; Café Sole is for superb sandwiches; and, TooJays serves up just about everything; Elements Frozen Yogurt is sure to be a hit with the kids.

When you are ready for a swim, you will find Juno’s life guard beach with a pier just across the street. If you are beach walker, you will love this beach as it extends for miles. Not too be missed and a short walk down the beach is The Loggerhead Marine Life Center, a sea turtle rescue and rehab center, a great place for the whole family. https://www.marinelife.org/

In sum, once you park your RV you should be able to walk from this location to just about anything you need.

If you are staying a bit longer and want to venture out, here are some suggestions:

Entertainment

Maltz Jupiter Theater for Florida is local theater at its best.

http://jupitertheatre.org/

Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas for the ultimate experience in moving watching. They even have a wine bar!

https://www.cinepolisusa.com/locations/cinepolis-jupiter

Attractions

The River Center is where you can learn about life on the Loxahatchee River through interactive exhibits and cool aquatic tanks.

http://lrdrivercenter.org/

The Jupiter Lighthouse offers the ultimate the view. The lighthouse was built in the 1860s.

http://www.jupiterlighthouse.org/

Shopping

The Gardens Mall located in Palm Beach Gardens is always good for a rainy day.

https://www.thegardensmall.com/

Harbourside http://harboursideplace.com/harbourside/ is located along the waterway, north of the park. In addition to shopping and dining, this place has a great vibe. There are fresh food markets on the weekend and outdoor music during the season. Here you will find Tommy Bahama and its restaurant as well as Tiger Woods’ dining spot, The Woods Jupiter. https://thewoods.tigerwoods.com/ Plus there are many other options.

More Dining

If you would like more dining options, then turn right out the door and head to the intersection of Donald Ross. Here you will find great food on each corner.

Juno Beach Fish House is a personal favorite. From fish to steak to pasta, I love it all. The fare is consistently good and the portions are generous. The atmosphere is casual, yet romantic. http://junobeachfishhouse.com/

Kee Grill is located across from Juno Beach Fish House. This restaurant offers a tropical Hawaiian ambiance and serves up a mixed menu from chops to fish. It has a relaxed atmosphere and is well recognized for its food and service in Zagat. https://www.keegrilljunobeach.com/\

Kirbys Sports Bar, located at the opposite corner, is just a great all around sports bar with good bar food and popular for its crab cakes. http://kirbysonline.com

The Thirsty Turtle, another local favorite is located on the SW corner of Donald Ross. The Thirsty Turtle is a very casual restaurant that has a sports bar atmosphere, that’s family and dog friendly. Music can be heard Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

http://www.thirstyturtlefl.com/

I think the only thing missing from this list is a good Mexican restaurant. And you will find just that a couple miles north at Cabo Flats, which offers indoor and outdoor seating, margaritas and a great cozy atmosphere. http://www.caboflats.com/

RV Resort Information:

Juno Beach Walk RV Resort

900 Juno Ocean Walk

Juno Beach, Florida 33408

Palm Beach County

561-622-7500

After hours park host 561-459-7052

Reservations are made by calling the office during office hours Monday – Friday 10 am to 5 pm and 10 am – 3 pm on Saturday.

Check in 11 am

Check out 2 pm

Rates are based on two persons, $3 charge per extra adult.

Summer Rates (April – November) Daily: $54.00 – $62.00Weekly: $329.00 – $377.00Monthly: $1,013.00 – $1,165.00

Winter Rates (December – March)Daily: $88.00 – $105.00Weekly: $533.00 – $648.00Monthly: $1,886.00 – $2,250.00

Pets: 2 max

No Tents allowed.

Port St. Lucie RV Resort, Florida

very crowed rv sites at Port St. Lucie RV Resort

The view from our RV site at PSL RV Resort

Port St. Lucie

This RV Park is located right off Rte. 1 in Port St. Lucie Florida. If you are on I-95, you will find it to be 8 miles off Exit 121.

Port St. Lucie RV Resort has a heated pool, and a large clubhouse with laundry facilities, all behind locked doors.  This park is located a block from the Port St. Lucie hospital and a mile from Wal-Mart, which should give you an idea of what the general area looks like. It’s an RV park in an urban environment.

Located directly behind a large strip mall, during the season this is one busy RV Park. There are 117 sites and when we were there it appeared that every space was occupied.  Even the 4 pull through sites, located before the main entrance, were occupied. Yes, it felt like a parking lot, which is why we only stayed one night. Fortunately, we were able to find a cancellation at The Savannas Recreation Area and Campground, located 6 miles north, where there is a playground, bike path and plenty of room for my active group.

Port St. Lucie RV Resort may not have been our kind of RV Park, but it certainly has its patrons. This park gets its main business from returning guests, many of them seasonal with monthly reservations, most of whom are down to visit family in the area. The majority of the guests we saw were in the 55 plus age group.  We saw very few families with kids. The reason we booked it was because the kids wanted to swim, and with word “resort” in its name, we thought it might have more to offer.  That being said, it did have a nice pool.  Overall we found the place, clean, and extremely organized with lots of rules. As for it being a “resort,” I personally think that sets your expectations too high.

Located near shopping, six miles from Stuart Florida, not too far from Jensen Beach or Hutchinson Island, this RV Park has its appeal for many. If you are heading further south it’s a good stopping point. With a Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and a ton of other vendors that crowd Rt. 1, it’s a good place to load up on supplies before heading down to the Keys. For this RV Park it’s really about location; and for the amount of traffic they get during the season, they actually do a good job at managing it.

Amenities:

  • Heated Pool (with adult hours in the evening)
  • Club house
  • Laundry
  • Horseshoes, Petanque, Bocce Ball
  • WiFi available at some sites

RV Park Information

3703 SE Jennings Rd, Port St Lucie, FL 34952

Phone: (772) 337-3340

Portstluciervresort@gmail.com

Rates:

Rates vary be season

Daily rates are from $48 to $52

Weekly rates are from $245 to $308

Monthly rates are from $600 to $1080

Additional charges for water, sewer and electric apply to monthly and annual guests.

They do take Good Sam discounts and offer a Passport America discount during off season based on 2 adults.

NO Early Departure Refund and they do charge for cancelations made outside of two weeks.

No Refunds for Cancelations made within two weeks of your reservations.

All reservations require full payment at time of reservation.

**There are quite a few more rules so if you are concerned about anything I suggest you call ahead.

Pet Policy

** There is a 2 pet policy.

empty pool during adult only hours

Adult only hours at the pool

Bradley’s Campground, North Carolina

RV camping at Bradley's Campground in Cherokee NC

RV Camping at Bradley’s Campground Cherokee NC

Cherokee, North Carolina

We booked one night at Bradley’s Campground in Cherokee, North Carolina and ended up staying four days. If truth be known, I could have stayed a lot longer. From hiking to biking to tubing, we had a ball in Cherokee. What made it so much fun was our location. Bradley’s Campground is located on the river’s edge, right next door to the town park and a stone’s throw from the center of town.  We could not have asked for a more convenient location for our vacation.

This is a private RV park and the owner lives on the property in the main house.  The sites, most of which are grass and some gravel, vary in size and are generally level.  There is little to no privacy between the sites. However, there is plenty of shade.  There appears to be long term guests but we saw little of them. It was really a very quiet campground. The only noise we heard was from the tents at the river. Those campers were clearly enjoying their stay in Cherokee!

The campsites are all located around one big circle and the bath house. The bathhouse is old and, in my opinion, not very well kept.  (My boys preferred to use the bathrooms at the playground next door.) I personally overlooked this niggle because the rates were extremely reasonable compared to the KOA and other campgrounds in the area and the location is ideal. For our family that cannot get enough of tubing, this was the perfect spot! We could set out upriver a couple of miles and pull out right at our campground. Not bad! For a teenage daughter obsessed with shopping, a walk across the park and over the bridge, gave her access to T shirt and souvenir shops galore.  Any time I can find a camp ground that doesn’t require my taxi service, I am a happy camper.

Activities

Without having to move our vehicle from Bradley’s,  we were able to do the following:

  • Fish
  • Tube
  • Kayak
  • Swim
  • Bike
  • Roller skate (awesome roller skate park across the street)
  • Play at the playground
  • Shop!

Nearby:

Located just two miles down the road is the Great Smokey Mountains National Visitor Center which lists ongoing activates throughout the park.

While you are there, check out the Oconaluftee Mountain Farm,  an open air museum consisting of buildings and equipment dating back to the early 1900s. (Free)

https://www.romanticasheville.com/oconaluftee.htm

https://www.romanticasheville.com/greatsmokymountains.htm

At Fire Mountain , mountain bikers will find themselves challenged over 10.5 miles of single track.

http://visitcherokeenc.com/itinerary-builder/poi/Fire_Mountain_Trails/

At the base of Fire Mountain there is the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a traditional Cherokee village open April through November.  Oconaluftee is a living history museum where you can interact with villagers as they go about their tasks including basket weaving, pottery making, and hulling a canoe.

https://www.romanticasheville.com/oconaluftee_indian_village.htm

On the way up the mountain you will pass through the parking lot of the Mountainside Theater where

Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama runs nightly during the summer months, June through August.

https://www.romanticasheville.com/unto_these_hills.htm

In town, (walking distance) you will also find the Museum of the Cherokee Indian,   a museum where the Cherokee community presents its perspective on their history and culture.

https://www.romanticasheville.com/museum_cherokee_indian.htm

Located just 12 miles from Cherokee is Bryson City, a charming town worth discovering.  The star attraction in Bryson is the Smokey Mountain Railroad.

For departures and ticket information please check their website.

https://www.gsmr.com/

From the Blue Ridge Parkway to its historic towns, this part of the Carolinas is worth the visit and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

 

Bradley’s Campground Address

1021 Acquoni Road, Cherokee, North Carolina, 28719

Check in : 3 PM

Check out: 11AM

Open Year Round

Telephone number828-497-6051

**Call for pricing as prices change seasonal. Regardless , you will be sure to get the best rate in the area.

40 sites total

16 with full hook up

24 with electric and water

playground located next door to Bradley's RV campground

Playground next door to Bradley’s Campground