Campground with tents
We’re pretty lucky to live in a part of Florida with so much natural, pristine beauty around us and the bonus of a temperate winter climate. Central Floridians tend to be fairly outdoorsy; we’re horse people, farm people, water and boat people, and we just like being outside this time of year. It’s no surprise that we’re chocker block full of national, state, and municipal parks and campgrounds; sometimes ‘getting away from it all’ means jumping in the RV or packing a tent in the car for a weekender in the woods.

There are plenty of campgrounds and parks within a short car trip offering quiet, peaceful retreats – or, if you prefer, more convivial ones with lots of activities and people around. You can be near the water or in the deep woods, roughing it in a tent or plugging a Winnebago in; the options are diverse, so why limit yourself to just one?

Here’s the Five By Five:

Citrus County


a selection of artisan cheeses

Encore Crystal Isles RV Resort

Close to the beaches on the Gulf coast, Encore RV Resort is a fantastic, relaxing, and idyllic place to stay and take in everything the West coast can offer. You can hit the golf links, hang out on the wide, sandy beaches, go fishing in the local streams and lakes, or swim with the legendary manatees at nearby King’s Bay. The resort is full of convenient amenities for travelers and vacationers, with a comfortable clubhouse, shower and laundry facilities, boat rentals, a swimming pool, and a children’s playground. It’s also pet friendly, so it’s perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

a cooter turtle sunning on a log

Lake Rousseau RV Park

A year-round spot on gorgeous Lake Rousseau in the Nature Coast area, this park is ideal for lovers of great scenery and wildlife. Heron and egrets make their home along the shores of the lake, and you can indulge your water (fresh or salt; there’s access to both!) passions with plenty of boating and fishing – Rousseau is famous for their large bass and bluegill – plus scalloping trips and manatee tours. The park has its own boat launch in a secluded area on the lake that has easy access to the Gulf of Mexico, and plenty of hookups available for your RV. Showers, laundry, restrooms, and kitchen are available for campers, as well as a bait and tackle supply shop, recreation hall, and picnic area.

Kids riding bikes on a paved trail

Nature’s Resort RV Park

Homosassa is at the heart of the Gulf waterway in Citrus County, with flowing rivers, small streams, and fresh springs winding their way through the diverse and vibrant ecosystem. Nature’s Resort is right on the Halls River, tucked into a secluded wooded area where campers can almost literally hop into a boat and head straight into the Gulf of Mexico. The park has full RV hookups on solid concrete pads, with 30 or 50 amp electric service, water/sewer cable TV, and free WiFi – so it’s easy to plug in and feel right at home. There’s also a Country Store for picking up last-minute supplies, clubhouse with heated swimming pool, arcade/game room, laundry facilities, and plenty of outdoor basketball, volleyball, and playground space for everyone. You can rent an RV Site, fully furnished A-Frame Chalets (if you prefer glamping to camping), and Park models for as little as a day and as long as a year on both the waterfront or snug in the woods.

A table with fall theme and two scarecrows

Holder Mine Recreation Area

The Withlacoochee State Forest has no shortage of camping/RV options for everyone to pick and choose from; Holder Mine is one of the most popular ones for hikers and mountain bikers because of the pristine, scenic beauty, diverse trails from the easy ones to the challenging, and the abundant wildlife. Located in Inverness, the Recreation area is part of the Citrus Tract of the State Forest, and is also part of the Citrus Wildlife Management area – where hunting is allowed, so be aware of sport seasons when you’re visiting or hiking. The campground has 27 sites, all with electric and water service, picnic table, and fire ring. Some standing grills are also available. If you prefer to really rough it, primitive camping areas are on a first-come, first served basis. All campers are able to use the two bathhouses on the grounds, and a covered pavilion keeps people shaded. An RV dump station is also on site, making everything much easier and more convenient, and pets are permitted on-leash.

A child sliding on an inflatable slide.

Flying Eagle Preserve

Managed in cooperation with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Flying Eagle Preserve is part of the Withlacoochee River watershed, located in the Tsala Apopka lake chain near Inverness. It’s an amazing natural tapestry of lakes, estuaries, marshes and swamps that make up the unique ecology of Florida’s wetlands. The Preserve offers 13 miles of trails as well as separate areas for equestrian, group, and individual camping; each site features picnic tables and a fire ring or grill. If you want to go for a horseback ride, there are nine miles of dedicated trails just for that; children under 16 are required to wear a helmet, and all riders must provide proof of negative Coggins testing. If you have a permit for boat transport, you can paddle in the creeks and marshes and perhaps spot a wild hog, gopher tortoise, or the legendary American Alligator. Campsites are free, but a reservation is required, and dogs are allowed on-leash except during hunting season.

Marion County


a girl holding a decorated mini pumpkin

Ocala National Forest (ONF)

If you’re looking for a wide range of options, you can’t go wrong with Ocala’s three National Forest areas; it has so many things to choose from, you may have to go back a few times to figure out which one you like best, from cabins to primitive camping. Two Civilian Conservation Corps cabins are available for rent and can accommodate large groups – one on Lake Dorr and the other on the Juniper Run freshwater spring. There are also 14 developed campgrounds – only Salt Springs has full RV hookups available – but most have dump stations and shower facilities, plus a variety of other amenities. If you prefer to be alone and rough it in a tent, there are plenty of secluded spots you can find, and conversely if you want to be with a crowd, the ONF offers more group campsites (by reservation only!) than you can shake the proverbial stick at. Finally, if you’re more a creature of comfort, partial and full hookups can be found at the largest of the Forest’s campgrounds, where you can enjoy running water and watch the new Frasier series on streaming.

a selection of antique tableware

Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Juniper Springs is one of Marion County’s oldest, most popular recreation areas, located just 30 minutes from Ocala, also in the ONF. Hundreds of springs, from tiny little brooks bubbling along to massive falls crashing out of the Earth’s nooks and crannies are laced throughout the area, which is shaded by a dense, almost prehistoric-looking canopy of palms and oaks. Reservations are required, which you can book online here, and then enjoy plenty of activities including swimming, canoeing, snorkeling, kayaking (rentals available on-site), hiking, and birding. Restrooms, dump stations, and showers are also available on the grounds, and campers also have access to a nearby convenience store with camping and beach supplies, drinks, ice cream, and other necessities.

a musician playing an acoustic guitar

Rainbow Springs Campground

The history of this land, with its brilliant blue, unspoiled fresh springs and fragrant mossy floor goes back over 10,000 years, when the First Nations lived here. The Campground is part of the Rainbow Springs State Park and is home to three facilities; A day-use area with the headspring and a variety of nature trails for the avid hikers and bikers among you, plus a tube rental facility for those who want to float leisurely along the Rainbow River, and the campground itself. There are 60 sites for both RV’ers and tent aficionados, and all the RV sites offer sewer and water/electric for 20, 30, and 50 amp hookups (Max length 103 feet). An ADA accessible restroom, showers, restroom and laundry are also on-site, plus a campground store where you can grab some last-minute staples. Pets are welcome anywhere on the grounds except in swimming areas or buildings.

a table with autumn leaves and wrapped gifts

Horseshoe Lake Park and Retreat

In Fort McCoy, you’ll find this rustic retreat on the shores of Horseshoe Lake, a beautiful spot that almost seems designed for ecotourism activities like canoeing, hiking, swimming, fishing, and geocaching. The Park’s cozy furnished cabins, dotted along the banks of the lake, can sleep from six to ten people and are each equipped with a kitchenette with microwave, mini-fridge, gas stove, and a refreshing screened-in porch overlooking the water. Restrooms, a picnic area and playground are on site, as well as a large conference room and mess hall. Pets and animals are not permitted, and stays are limited to a maximum of 14 days.

A view of a street with art vendors

Golden Acres Foxtrotter Ranch

Since this is The Horse Capital of the World™, it’s not unusual to find a lot of campers who want to bring their horses with them on a getaway; after all, horses are people, too, and they work just as hard as the rest of us. You can bring yours here and hang out on the serene and quiet Greenway Trails, where there are full accommodations for you and your four-legged companion. Trailer/RV hookups with 30 amp service are provided, or you can opt for the Western motif cabin with a comfortable deck and outdoor grill. Horses have a choice of large turnouts, with automatic water and shade trees, or spacious 12X12 stalls with fresh shavings to pamper their feet. Full barn access is included, with matted hot/cold wash racks, tack room with A/C, refrigerator, shower, and restrooms.

Remember to check the website of your preferred park or resort so you know the rules and pet requirements, as well as safety and age protocols.

It’s also important to know what kind of wildlife calls your sojourn home so that you can adequately prepare for things like food storage and trash disposal. So pack your gear and head out – the world is waiting!


Additional Links


Ocala Parks and Recreation 

Citrus County Parks and Recreation

Florida State Parks 

Florida National Parks 

City of Inverness Parks and Recreation

Crystal River Parks and Recreation