Looking for Options To Camp In Florida Late December, Early January

beagles7278

Know Enough to be Dangerous
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
I am looking for suggestions on places to camp in late December and early January. Will not do the Fort based on $$$, already have a trip planned in the spring.

Last year we stayed at Tropical Palms and did Sea World, have done Universal in the past. Looking for something different. Would like it have a pool and be in Central or southern Florida so we have the best chance at good weather.

We have also done Fort Meyers Beach and stayed on the water at Red Coconut, but they do not have a pool. We stayed in the Keys a few years ago but I have been trying to get a reservation there for a few months with little success.

Would like a place with things close by to do, we have 2 kids ages 11 and 15. I already realize that getting a reservation this late will be a challenge but please share your options and experiences at some other campgrounds. We have a 40 foot motorhome if that matters.

Thank you in advance for your help.
 

2goofycampers

Sounds like something a camping trip could cure!
Moderator
Joined
Feb 10, 2008
We have stayed at Thousand Trails in Clermont Fl. Nice pool, mostly snow birds that time of year.
 

bama_ed

It's kind of fun to do the impossible-Walt Disney
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
beagles,

I can name several places in Florida that I have camped over the last two years in my pop-up. The thing is that Florida is a winter destination for so many snowbirds (retirees who spend the winter months in Florida) that many places get booked up well in advance. In May you might find some places to go but availability might be an issue.

Here is where I have been (and written about on the DIS Camping and Community Boards):

- Anastasia State Park (SP) in St. Augustine, FL. Be careful selecting a site here: some loops have small tent/popup/class b sites ONLY. St. A has lot of history and some tacky fun tourism (Pirate Museums, Ripleys Believe It Or Not, etc.). There is a KOA nearby too if the SP is full.
- Blue Spring SP - just north of Orlando. Camping with the manatees I called it. Best to see manatees when the weather is cold (40s) for about 3 days in a row. The spring puts out thousands of gallons of water at 72F which draws in the manatees as the spend the winter (sensitive to water temp changes).
- Jetty Park Campground - due east of Orlando at Cape Canaveral very close to the cruise ship port. It's a municipal campground and public beach and picnic ground on the cruise ship channel and the Atlantic. Spent this past spring break there going to Spring Training baseball games. Lots of snowbirds there and we saw a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral up close.
- down in the Florida Keys I booked time around New Years well in advance for John Pennekamp SP in Key Largo, FL. It's a long drive down there but if you've never been to America's tropical keys, even in winter, you should see it (been to Key West 3 times so didn't do it that trip-100 miles past Key Largo).
- did a day visit to Fort DeSoto Park campground just below Tampa/St Pete. It's a Pinellas County campground. Been voted best beach in America in the past. Has three loops with campsites (no pavement just gray sand) one for RV/Trailers, one for tents/popups/vans, one for pets. Weekends hard to get there. Waterfront sites get claimed first, interior sites last. County residents get a week advantage on booking.
- Lake Louisa SP just south of Clermont on Hwy 27. Only 30 min to WDW. Cheap rates. Few trees but it's nice during the time you'll be there. I use it as a one night stopover before rolling over to the Fort the next morning. Not a whole lot to do there otherwise but I like it for what it is.

Search the forums with posts for my name and any of these above. Florida SP use www.reserveamerica.com and folks use the trick of booking at the max window of 11 months out from your arrival day (system opens at 8am Eastern daily on the dot IIRC) and you can book up to 14 days out past arrival day. The trick is to book the window that puts your desired days at the end of the 14-day span then go back in in a few weeks and trim off the days you don't really need. If you need to do that then I can explain it better but getting Florida SP in winter in Central/South Florida (and Anastasia) is tough so you got to be up with the chickens to get your dates.

Good luck. If you have a question, ask me.

Bama Ed

PS I just re-read your OP, beagles, and if you're looking for a pool type of campground then my mostly county-state campgrounds don't fit the bill. Also IMO during that time of year I would south of Orlando if I wanted swimming time. You need more along the lines of what Tropical Palms has (a more upscale RV resort). Or a good KOA. There's a KOA near Fort Myers, FL that I've been interested in with things to do in the region. Also interested in the one down near Naples. These might be a little more expensive than an SP but that may translate into easier-to-get-into.
 
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tltay2005

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 20, 2015
If you are looking for something close in amenities to FW, try River Ranch RV resort. It is further south than Disney, but still in Central FL. My sister and her family stay there often. All lots are privately owned but rented out by the resort or by the individual. They have horseback riding, a full rodeo on the weekends, boat rentals, two pools, basketball, tennis, golf, fishing and much more. The sites are extremely nice, many with wood decks, swings, picnic tables and fire pits. There are even lots on the canal. www.riverranchrv.com
 

beagles7278

Know Enough to be Dangerous
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Thanks for the responses.

2goofycampers,

Thank for the recommendations, looks like a nice campground but they do not have availability for our dates.

tltay2005,
I looked into River Ranch, I have had it on my list as a place to stay based on a previous recommendation on the board, probably was from you.:disrocks: Unfortunately they do not book until 6 months out from your first day. I called and talked to the office and they said it was hit or miss that time of year since the lots are privately owned and I am looking for a couple of weeks. Looks really nice and definitely a place we will stay in the future, just don't want to take a chance and wait any longer to book. Thank you for the recommendation.

Bama Ed,

Thank you for the recommendations. I would love to do some of the Florida state parks, they look amazing. We have gone through a few, but we are usually camping when everyone else is based on kids schedules so it will likely be a few years before we can visit one.

We were in the Keys last year for Christmas, definitely on our list to visit again when we can get in. We stayed at Blue Water Key, but like all campgrounds in the Keys, you have to book far out. Fort Desoto has been on my list since we bought our first camper 14 years ago, but like I said earlier, we camp when everyone else does so we have never been able to get in. Will keep trying though and it will happen.

I looked at both the KOA's in Fort Meyers and Naples that you mentioned, they look like they would fit the bill and both have availability, thank you again for the recommendation. We have stayed in the Fort Meyers beach area before and love the area.
I am leaning towards Naples since we have not been to that area before. Ultimately it will be the wife and kids that make the decision though, I know my role, I just keep the wheels on the bus going round and round. :rotfl2:

I will definitely let you know what we end up doing since you are interested in the KOA's.

Thank you again to all that commented.
 

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