• Hillsborough River State Park
  • Withlacoochee State Park
  • Myakka River State Park
  • Fort DeSoto County Park

Tampa Camping

Families and individuals who enjoy camping, no matter what time of the year, have many options in the Tampa Bay area and, indeed, up and down the entire Gulf Coast of Florida.  Those who enjoy "roughing it" as opposed to booking accommodations in a hotel or resort will find that there are myriad RV parks and public and commercial campgrounds in the area, suitable for those who prefer to travel and stay in their recreational vehicle and/or enjoy being close to nature while on vacation.

Camping is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the Florida landscape and many campgrounds and RV parks provide close proximity to the beaches of the Gulf Coast and are within easy driving distance of the area’s top attractions, such as Busch Gardens Tampa.

Advantages of Camping in the Tampa Bay Area

For die-hard RVers and those who love to be outdoors, camping is the only way to go.  Camping has many advantages, the most obvious being that it helps vacationers save money while still enjoying a fun time in the Tampa area.  Camping in Tampa ranges from just a few dollars a night at state-owned campsites with few amenities – usually located in state parks - to as much as $70 or $80 for a hook-up at a full service commercial campground with amenities such as a swimming pool, hot tubs, tennis courts, a lake, huge clubhouses, and a fishing dock.  Some campgrounds also offer tents and cabins, which vary in price according to size and location.

Camping is also great for long-term stays and most Tampa area commercial campgrounds eagerly welcome those who want to live at their facility for an entire season.  These campgrounds or RV parks become a home-away-from-home for seasonal travelers and often, the same extended-stay tenants come back year after year, forming a community with others who make Florida their winter (or summer) home.



State and County Parks

By far, among the most pristine places to camp in the Tampa area are the state and county parks.  There are several within reasonable driving distance of the metro area and all provide the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful and sometimes wild subtropical ecosystem of Florida’s Gulf Coast region.  Parks to consider on your next camping trip to the Tampa Bay region include:


  • Hillsborough River State Park – One of Florida’s original state parks, this location offers 111 campsites, picnic areas, pavilions, a large pool, and the Spirit of the Woods Pool Side Café and Gift Shop.  Also in the park, guests can enjoy hiking trails and canoe rentals. Hillsborough State Park is just 9 miles from downtown Tampa.

  • Withlacoochee State Park – This state park in nearby Brooksville has 9 different camping areas.  Some have water and electricity, some just water, and others are quite primitive.  Tillis Hall Recreation Area also has horse stalls and a dining hall.  Pets are allowed at some of the sites. Another area is specially designated for motorcycle and ATV use.

  • Myakka River State Park – Located south of Tampa near Sarasota, wild Myakka River State Park is the oldest and largest state park in Florida.   Myakka, where guests can enjoy a fun airboat ride and an abundance of wildlife, offers low-priced primitive campsites as well as full-service campsites with electricity and water and basic cabins.  Prices are the same all year long. Pets are not welcome at Myakka.

  • Fort DeSoto County Park – Situated at the end of the barrier island in Tierra Verde, this 1,100-acre park consists of five interconnected islands.  Camping at Fort DeSoto includes 85 sites for tent, van, or pop-up camper and another 150 that can accommodate all camping units.  All sites have water and electric, and showers and modern restrooms are available.  Reservations can be made up to six months in advance and during the peak winter season, stays cannot exceed 14 days.



Commercial Campgrounds and RV Parks

The Tampa area is chock full of commercial campgrounds and RV parks, some run by well-known companies like KOA but many that are privately owned and operated. Locations vary, from the beach areas to quite far inland.

A majority of the commercial campgrounds welcome extended stays and some have sites that boast permanent owners who live there year-round or during the winter months.   Some of these campgrounds are quite elaborate while others are very basic.  The price you pay per night will largely depend on the amenities and location of the campground or RV park.

Because Tampa is such a popular winter resort, advance reservations are suggested at most of the RV parks and campgrounds in order to insure your space when you arrive.