Camping in Florida is a little different than the rest of the country. There are no majestic mountains, enormous firs, or frequently chilly evenings. Instead, there are mangrove trees, magnificent sunsets, and plenty of water.

This is particularly true with campgrounds near Tampa. Surrounded on three sides by the Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is a prime spot for camping, be it with a tent or in an RV. On top of this, campsites in the area have a lot of activities for visitors. For example, here are 5 of the best campgrounds near Tampa.

Hillsborough River State Park

In this example, water is in the form of the Hillsborough River, which cuts through the park’s 112 tent and RV sites. Each has water and electric hookups but none for a sewer. However, there’s a dump station if needed.

Photo credit floridastateparks.org.

Water recreation includes canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The former two bring you along the shores of three public parks. Campers who want drier activities can traverse seven miles of nature trails to travel by foot or bike. One trail takes visitors to the upper river. There, they can cross the woods and see a set of Class II rapids.

Lithia Springs County Park

The primary feature of this Hillsborough County campsite is a natural spring that feeds the Alafia River. On a daily basis, 25 million gallons of 72-degree water is pumped into a swimming bowl for campers to enjoy. The river provides numerous opportunities to canoe and kayak.

Photo credit Lithia Springs County Park on Facebook.

In addition, Lithia Springs gives campers plenty of isolation through the 160-acre park. Shady sites are located on the other side of the springs. They offer electric and water hookups for tents and RVs. The most private sites are along the Alafia River.

 E.G. Simmons County Park

There are 103 campsites in this 469-acre park. All but a dozen of them are located on the waterfront. Furthermore, they include water and electric hookups for tent and RV campers.

Photo credit hillsboroughcounty.org.

Though visitors can’t swim from those locations (there’s a swim beach on Tampa Bay), they can launch a canoe or kayak. From there, they pass by bays and islands of mangroves to end up in the Tampa Bay. Along the way, they encounter plenty of Florida’s native flora, fauna, and animals.

Edward Meddard Conservation Park

At 1,469 acres, this park based in Plant City is one of the largest in the Tampa area. Its main feature is a 700-acre reservoir that is a favorite location for fishing. It also offers a boardwalk that leads to a small island with an observation tower.

Photo credit tampabay.com.

The park provides 42 camping sites that accommodate both RVs and tents. They have water and electric hookups and a nearby dump station. On top of the reservoir, the area also has a three-mile path for horseback riding.

Fort De Soto Park Campground

Situated in the barrier islands south of St. Petersburg, Fort De Soto State Park is the largest park and camping area in the area. Its 1,136 acres are surrounded on all sides by the Gulf of Mexico. On top of this, the park can be considered an eco-tourist site due to its biodiversity.

Photo credit visitstpeteclearwater.com

There are 238-sites within the park’s interior for both tent and RV campers. Each has hookups for water and electricity along with disposal stations. In addition to swimming, kayaking, and other water sports, Fort De Soto has seven miles of paved trails, an 800-foot boat launch, and a number of nature trails.

 

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