By Alli Hill
Florida’s summer heat makes it almost unbearable for a night in the great outdoors, but fall can certainly make a campout more tolerable. There’s nothing like a fall evening gathered around the campfire with family and friends sharing stories, roasting marshmallows, and enjoying being in the midst of Mother Nature. If you’re looking for a great spot to camp this fall, look no further than these five perfect fall campsites in Florida.
Home to Florida’s highest waterfall, Falling Waters is a natural treasure trove just waiting to be discovered. The boardwalk leading to the falls is lined with fern-hidden sinkholes and massive trees. Even the falls drop into a deep sinkhole and its water’s final destination remains a mystery. Campers love coming here because of the area’s prime hiking grounds. Since Florida doesn’t exactly have mountains, the gentle slopes here can sate any hiker’s cravings while taking them on a magical excursion through Mother Nature’s changing seasons.
If you truly want to get away from it all, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for at Cayo Costa State Park. This primitive little island is only accessible by private boat. Once you make your way there, campers can set up base, then go explore the miles of pristine shoreline, watch for dolphins and manatees, or enjoy a seaside picnic. The island is chock full of crisscrossing nature trails that can show you the best sights and sounds of the island.
You might arrive alone, but you’ll never camp alone at this KOA campground. This is the state’s only campground where you can fall fast asleep listening to the sounds of more than 1,000 animals right outside your accommodations. Visitors can walk next door to the Lion Country Safari and get to see the animals up close, or simply enjoy their serenades as you take in all the campground has to offer. This campground is also a popular spot for Halloween weekenders looking for a fun-filled vacation— costume contests for people and pets, pumpkin carving, and trick-or-treating are just a few of the draws that make this a desirable spot for fall camping.
Whether you prefer backcountry camping or a full-service campground, you can take your pick here. The park offers over 13 miles of hiking trails that lets you take in all the sights and sounds of Florida in the fall. In addition, the area offers a scenic 10-mile paddling trail if you want to bring your kayak or canoe (or rent one at the park). It’s an excellent opportunity to see some of the Sunshine State’s native wildlife up close or through your camera lens.
If you’re looking to combine your camping experience with prime wildlife viewing, you’ll want to stake out a spot in the Osceola National Forest. Here you can take your pick of RV site, campgrounds, or “dispersed” camping that’s tucked away from the sounds of other campers. Be advised: bears call this forest home, and you should be prepared in case your paths cross.