Camping & Campgrounds
Enjoy the great outdoors sleeping under the stars at the many campgrounds and camping sites along the Florida SunCoast!
Camping & Campgrounds in Sarasota
Camping is an old outdoor activity as anyone can experience. Close to the ground in a tent, feeling next to nature. Nothing comes close to the experience. While scouting out locations, checking into necessary gear and packing up for the trip, there is lots to know about where and how to camp safely in and around Sarasota. From De Soto National Memorial park to forest preserves and beaches, tent camping or even glamping are hugely popular in this area. Find out some logistical things to get you on your way to having a great time in the wilderness.
Tips for Travel
Tent camping is allowed in Florida’s national parks but some campgrounds close for maintenance during the year. Monument Lake Campground opens August to April while other campgrounds are open year round. Definitely check ahead of time before going out into the wilds.
Approximately 50 percent of campgrounds in Florida allow campers and RVs. Look at Burns Lake Campground and Mitchell’s Landing Campground. No amenities are offered so it is a bit off the grid for some folks but check specific sites for getting connected.
Know the Weather
Dry season in Florida is December through May. Tent campers know well the extent of weather patterns that wreak havoc on their plans. During the wet season, high rainfall numbers can make for a soggy start to camping. Temperatures might be nice but humidity can be high some parts of the year. Make sure to have fly traps and waterproof coverings for tents.
Many people dread permits but an off-road permit might be required for some spaces. Display this on the dash where it can be seen at all times. Backcountry camping involves parking at access lots and hiking up with a tent. National parks often allow this with a permit and it must be displayed on the outside of the tent. Check with each location prior to heading out as to what’s required and where to purchase. Most outdoor fitters will have information or access to permits.
Getting the right gear is so important when going camping. Don’t get caught in the cold. Yes, it can get cold at night at certain times of the year in Florida. To ensure getting the right gear, check out a few stores in Sarasota:
- Survive Anything Sarasota: Check out Coleman and Streamlight products, to name a few. This camping gear is some of the best. Look for first aid kits, spare batteries, and matches along with traditional camping gear and clothing
- Environeers Sarasota: this group has it all with tents, sleeping bags, outerwear and brands like Patagonia and Osprey to keep the adventure going. Shop online or in store
- REI and Dicks are around the area that offer clothes, gear, and lots of options to keep the camping experience fun for everyone
Hit the Parks
There are some great places to check out around Sarasota. Between state parks, beaches, and more there is a place for everyone to pitch a tent or glam it up in style while still ‘roughing it.’ Take a look at some of the local parks and some of the logistics of hanging out at their campsites.
Myakka River State Park
With 90 campsites and 3 campgrounds, there is plenty of space to camp. Comes equipped with water, grills, picnic space and restrooms with showers. Primitive campsites varry and some palm log cabins are updated with indoor plumbing and kitchen with bed essentials. Don’t miss:
- Deep Hole, a massive 200 foot wide sinkhole with hundreds of alligators (if that’s your thing)
- Bike and canoe rentals, boat tours, canopy walkway, playground and more
Unique feature: Myakka is a spoiled piece of heaven for many visitors. The cabins were built in the 1930s and make for a unique experience. Best time to stay in them is December through April with reservations required. Handicapped accessibility in Cabin no. 1 for wheelchairs.
Cost: around $5 per person for primitive camping, $26 a night for campsites and $70 a night for cabins
Dangers: always be mindful when camping of wildlife. Here it is American alligators, bobcats, birds, feral pigs, and deer.
Reservations recommended for high season
While it may not occur to some people, horse lovers everywhere might love to learn there is equestrian camping right at Myakka River State Park. Horse around with:
- 15 mile four-loop trail through prairie, hammocks and hook ups in T. Mabry Carlton Preserve. Direction markers lead the way through for a great day and night in the park’s primitive horse camp.
- Two enclosed paddocks next door, room for up to six horses, and far from crowds
- Riders check in and out at State Road 72 ranger station. Bring negative Coggins test proof along
- Wear a fitted helmet (required by law for anyone under age 16) and respect other horses and riders
- Check trails in advance and bring plenty of water and supplies
- Best months are December to May
- No mod cons to be had (electricity, running water, bathroom)
- Campsite is accessible by four wheel vehicles
- Reserve ahead of time and let them know you’re heading in
Oscar Scherer State Park
Head out to Osprey for some fun in the sun. With 104 campsites, tent and RV camping with all mod cons, this place is a great one to camp with families or by yourself. Primitive camping included.
Fun fact: Lake Osprey is the only freshwater swimming lake in Sarasota
Cost: Around $26 per night with discounts for residents of Florida over age 65. Children’s fees are $1 under age 18 and $5 per adult with youth camping outing
Hang out and paddle in South Creek, go on the trails or even rollerblade the Legacy Trail
Danger: alligators, deer, and birds are the biggest threats
Sun-n-Fun Resort and Campground
The Sun-n-Fun Resort and Campground is unique in that it is a massive luxury resort close to downtown. Tent camping is available May through October with RV camping and full hookups on offer. Fishing, disc golf, an art studio, pickleball, everything a family or people could want in a resort is on offer. Make this a memorable experience for the kids and adults will enjoy some quiet in some parts of the resort. A dog run is also available.
Turtle Beach Campground
With 39 RV and tent camping sites with full hookup, this campground is located right on Siesta Key Beach. Go swimming, kayaking, or walk the trails nearby and check out Siesta Village for a bite to eat. Campsite is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 pm during the week and until 4 pm on the weekends. Reserve online and check out rates. Enjoy the beach, cook out and have a blast. Campsite is a tree lined with picnic tables and launch site for boats and watercraft.
Tiny House Siesta
Looking for a unique experience but not in a tent, look no further than a tiny house rental. These permanent RV fixtures near Siesta Key have running water, showers, toilets, and sleep up to six people. These efficient homes are for rent with pets allowed and near Siesta Village, Turtle Beach, and more.
For those fancy campers, check out Fancy Camps glamping experience. Nothing like being outdoors in style. These have camping gear, tents, and comforts of home offered all around Florida. The idea is to offer a posher camping experience with air conditioning, heating, pillows, and soft comforts of home in the great outdoors. Expect:
- 200 square foot tents
- Large and small event offerings
- Bring whatever you bring for a hotel stay
- Cookout provisions offered
- Parks and state facilities provide toilet space
- Little camper packages offer sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and pillows for parties and more
- Handicap accessible for individuals who ask
- Book ahead for best experience and options for the best camping spots around