Summer is here, folks, and with it all the joys that season has to offer. Many families plan to take at least one small vacation during the next three months. Florida gets a lot of hype about it’s beaches and amusement parks but there’s a simple and fun family vacation hiding out here. Campgrounds! Camping is the quintessential summer activity. Whether you want to go hardcore camping with nothing but your tent, a fire, and the stars or something more along the lines of “glamping”, there are campgrounds in Tampa Bay for you.
J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park Campground. 10500 Wilderness Park Blvd. New Port Richey, FL (727) 834-3247 | This is a tent-only campground part of a 18,000 acre water-management preserve. There are hiking and bike trails connected to the Suncoast Trail. Rates are $10 per night. Reservations are tricking as you need to make them in person but it allows local residents a better opportunity to enjoy the grounds.
E.G. Simmons Park. 2401 19th Ave NW Ruskin, FL (813) 671-7655 | The campground is located directly on Tampa Bay. Each of the 88 campsites is equipped with a fire ring, picnic table, and hookups. You can launch small boats from the canal that backs up to each site or access the public beach and boat launch. There is also fishing piers and shore fishing area. Rates are $24 per night with a discounted rate of $18 per night for senior citizens. No reservations are accepted, it’s first come, first serve and cash only.
Edward Medard Park. 6140 Turkey Creek Rd. Plant City, FL (813) 757-3802 | A smaller campground, there are only 44 campsites on this 1,284 acre park. Each site features hookups, picnic tables, and grills. The park has fishing, a boat launch, picnic areas, horse trails, a boardwalk connected to a small island with an observation tower. Rates are $24 per night with a discounted rate of $18 per night for senior citizens. No reservations are accepted and cash only.
Alafia River State Park. County Road 39 S., Lithia, FL | Off-roader bicyclists will want to visit this park. It boasts 17 miles of bike trails varying in elevations. Hikers and equestrians will enjoy the 20 miles of trails available to them as well. The park features lakes and access to the river for kayaking and canoeing. Thirty campsites are available with hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings. Rates are $22 per night. Reservations are accepted by phone or online through ReserveAmerica.com
Myakka River State Park. 13208 State Road 72 Sarasota, FL 34241. (800) 326-3521 | This is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks. It features not one but two campgrounds, each with 76 campsites equipped with fire rings, hookups, and picnic tables. There are paved park roads and backwoods dirt roads for biking. Canoes and kayaks can be launched into a large lake or into the Myakka River. Reservations are accepted by phone or online through ReserveAmerica.com.
MacDill FamCamp. 10303 Marina Bay Dr. MacDill AFB, FL. (813) 840-6919/6920 | Located on MacDill AFB, this campground is open to both tents and RVs/Campers. The campground is open year round with 366 full service sites equipped with hookups, waste disposal, cable TV, and phone serve. There are also 14 partial hookup sites and 60 dry-camp sites. Visitors are able to enjoy the base beach, vollyball courts, picnic areas, horseshoe pits, pet friendly areas, and boat launch into the Tampa Bay. Reservations are required and rates vary. Use of the facilities is limited to active duty military members, retireed military members, Reserves members, National Guard members, 100% DAV military members, and DoD civilians.