Florida Snowbird Nomadic RV Travel: Best Stops in The Sunshine State – Part 1

Venus the Airstream travel trailer at Monument Lake Campground Big Cypress National Preserve
Venus the travel trailer at Monument Lake Campground in Big Cypress National Preserve near the Everglades

Florida RV Camping in the Winter 

Are you planning to migrate south for the winter? Do you enjoy nomadic RV travel? We love to travel south for January and February without reservations. Yes, I said without reservations! Why? Because we love to explore new and different places and we like the flexibility to move on if a particular location is not what we expected. We also tend to travel to where the weather suits us. To achieve both those goals – flexibility and weather – we enjoy nomadic travel.  

Nomadic travel can work in Florida during the winter. We all know how hard it is to get reservations in the Florida State Parks during the snowbird season. However, if you are willing to move around a bit and own a smaller RV then you are in luck. Most parks have many more spaces available for smaller campers especially those under 25 feet. More spaces equal better chances for snagging very short notice reservations. We have found the small size advantage to be true for National Parks and Harvest Hosts also. However, on short notice, it is unlikely that you will be able to get reservations for weeks at a time (more likely 2 or 3 days). Short stays work well if you are happy to be a nomadic camper. We put together a list of 8 of our favorite camping spots where we have had luck without reservations. The list includes county, state, and national parks to explore. We’ve enjoyed everything from short overnight stays to more than a week in one park. 

Anatasia Island State Park – St. Augustine, FL

Venus the Airstream travel trailer at Anatasia Island State Park Campground
David and Lola at Anatasia Island State Park Campground

Our route to warmer winter starts down I95 (see our favorite Georgia stops). When we reach Northern Florida, we like to cross over to A1A to enjoy the beautiful drive along the coast. A favorite stop along the coast is St. Augustine. The oldest city in America is a must-see for its history and Spanish colonial architecture. Anastasia Island State Park is near the city and offers miles of hiking, biking, and uncrowded beaches to enjoy. If you want to drive a bit on the beach head just south to St. Augustine Beach.

Driving on St. Augustine Beach in Florida
Driving on St. Augustine Beach

Manatee Springs State Park – Chiefland, FL

a manatee in the river at Manatee Springs State Park FL
a local visitor to Manatee Springs

North Florida is home to many beautiful freshwater natural springs. If you love manatees and want to see these beautiful creatures up close then go to Manatee Springs State Park. Here you can paddle alongside the manatees as they swim into the park from the Suwannee River. The experience is unforgettable and almost surreal.

Trimble County Park – Mt. Dora, FL

Next on our list of favorite stops is the Central Florida region.

Venus the Airstream travel trailer at Trimble County Park Campground, Mt. Dora, Florida
Trimble County Park Campground

Mt. Dora is located just north of Orlando. The town has numerous antique shops and restaurants. Trimble County Park is located on Lake Beauclair just a few miles from the downtown area. The park is blanketed in beautiful moss-draped oak trees and has lake views all around. The loop trail is a lovely nature walk.

Wekiwa Springs State Park – Apopka, FL

Just down the road from Mt. Dora and closer to Orlando is Wekiwa Springs State Park. Known for its crystal clear springs to swim in, you can also hike, bike and paddle. Wekiwa is a great location to explore all Orlando has to offer.

Oscar Scherer State Park – Osprey, FL

Heading west to the Gulf Coast you’ll find our next stop.

People playing beach volleyball at Siesta Key Beach FL
Just before sunset at Siesta Key Beach

The Gulf Coast, known for its beautiful white sand beaches and sunsets, is one of our favorite places to visit. We love to stay in Osprey to visit the beaches and enjoy the Legacy Trail – an 18.5-mile multiuse trail connecting Sarasota to Venice. Oscar Scherer State Park is conveniently located on the Legacy Trail so bring your bike and enjoy a ride to Venice! It’s also close to the sugar sand beaches of Siesta Key 😎. One caveat, some of the sites are not pet-friendly due to the gators!

A gopher turtle nest on the Legacy Trail in Osprey FL
A gopher turtle nest on the Legacy Trail

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve – Okeechobee, FL

Two hours due east of Sarasota is our next pick of favorite places to snowbird travel – Kissimmee Prairie Preserve. Here you will find stunning sunrises over the dry prairie.

Sunset at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park FL
Sunrise over the prairie

The park has the honor of being designated as Florida’s first Dark Sky Park. You can take a guided prairie buggy tour and/or enjoy more than 100 miles of multi-use trails!

Jonathan Dickinson State Park – Hobe Sound, FL

Moving on south and east to the Atlantic coast is yet another fantastic Florida park – Jonathan Dickinson.

sunset at Jonathan Dickinson State Park FL
Sunrise at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Located with views of the Indian River, and Hobe Sound, and with access to the Loxahatchee River, Jonathan Dickinson is rated #2 for RV camping in the USA. We agree, there is much to love about this park.

You are also very close to Jupiter Inlet – another must-see location.

Monument Lake – Big Cypress National Preserve, FL

Our final favorite place to stop is a bit more remote and you need to be set up for boondocking without hookups. Take the Tamiami Trail (US 41) to Monument Lake at Big Cypress National Preserve and you will find it is well worth the journey.

sunset over Monument Lake Campground Big Cypress National Preserve FL
Sunset over Monument Lake Campground

The only place we have camped where you simply turn your chair around to see the sunrise and the sunset!

sunrise at Monument Lake Campground Big Cypress National Preserve
Sunrise at Monument Lake Campground

Just a couple of miles east of the campground on US 41 is the Scenic Loop Road. Take this 27-mile drive through a wildlife paradise! Countless bird species, tons of wild gators, turtles, and amphibians live here. Plus there are 35 species of mammals including deer, black bear, manatee, and panther. The road is partly paved and partly dirt but easy to access with any vehicle.

The campground is about a 20-minute drive from Everglades City where you can find Airboat tours and restaurants. If you wander past Everglades City to the community of Chokoloskee, you will find excellent homestyle Cuban seafood.

We hope you find our Snowbird blog series helpful as you migrate south for the winter! Stay tuned for Part 2 – Harvest Hosts for Nomadic Snowbirds.

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One response to “Florida Snowbird Nomadic RV Travel: Best Stops in The Sunshine State – Part 1”

  1. […] have fun meeting the hosts, learning about their businesses, and supporting them with a purchase. Part 1 of the series looks at Florida’s county, state, and national parks where we have successfully […]

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