Camp and Bike Florida
Updated: Mar 7
We spent nearly three weeks camping and biking through Florida. Florida's state parks are amazing and have wonderful campgrounds. Florida has miles of bike trails to explore.
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St George Island State Park
The state park on St. George Island is one of our favorite places on the planet! The Island is primarily residential with the state park occupying the eastern third of the Island. The state park campground is on the bay side of the Island, but just a short walk or bike ride to the gulf side beach. The campground is very nice, shaded and private. It is great for RV or tent camping and the facilities are well maintained and clean.
St George Island Bike Path
There is a bike path on the Island that runs from the state park to a private housing area on the west side of the Island. It's about six miles long. The road in the State Park is five miles long and is bike friendly. It's easy to get in a 22-mile ride round trip from the campground. It's also possible to ride on the bridge across the bay to East Point or Apalachicola.
St. George Island, Apalachicola, and Eastpoint
This area is old Florida at its best. St. George Island has gorgeous beaches, the best sunrises and sunsets, an old lighthouse, several restaurants and bars. Check out the raw oysters, cheeseburger wrap and the live music at Paddy's Raw Bar. Get in line early in the morning for donuts from Weber's Little Donut Shop - they sell out fast! The Blue Parrot is a nice beachside restaurant with great grouper sandwiches. We also love Some Like it Hotter, a little wine, beer, cheese shop with fresh bread and homemade key lime pies for sale.
Eastpoint is across the bridge from the Island and is fast developing into a cool small community. Sit on the dock of the bay at Eastpoint Beer for beer and pizza. Visit Lynn's Oysters for lunch and buy some fresh seafood to take home for dinner. Or stop in at Bayside Coffee shop for some fresh roasted coffee.
A little further to the west is Apalachicola. This little town has something for everyone - shops, ice cream, restaurants, breweries, farmer's market, bookstore - and the friendliest people you will ever meet. As many times as we have been here we never tire of spending an afternoon shopping, eating, and finishing our day with a beer from the Oyster City Brewing Company. We like all the restaurants we've tried - Tamara's for mediterranean food, Up the River for seafood, the Raw Station for oysters and for a more upscale dining experience, The Owl.
Manatee Springs State Park
What a wonderful campground! Private, wooded campsites with many trails for hiking and running. The big attractions are the springs and the manatees. It was a bit cool for us to go swimming in the springs, although that didn't stop everyone! We did see lots of manatees from the boardwalk leading from the springs to the Suwannee River.
Nature Coast State Trail
There was a nice bike lane on the road leading to the State Park. We were able to ride on it for 7 miles to the Nature Coast State Trail, where we rode from Chiefland to just beyond Fanning Springs. We turned around at the old bridge that crossed the Suwanee River. The bridge was the high point of the trail. In total we rode for 35 miles.
Withlacoochee State Trail
We drove from the State Park to Citrus Springs (about an hour away) and rode on the Withlacoochee Trail - fun to ride and say! This path was very well maintained and there were few intersections to cross. We rode 37 miles roundtrip from Citrus Springs to Floral City. I would say that the southern section of the trail was more scenic. Lots of lakes. The Withlacoochee is 46 miles long in total.
Cedar Key and Shell Mound
We visited Cedar Key, a little fishing village on the gulf. There are a few stores and restaurants to visit. Tony's Restaurant is in Cedar Key. They serve the award winning Tony's Clam Chowder. The restaurant wasn't open when we were there, but we were able to buy some cans of the clam chowder. It is delicious!
We also went to Shell Mound, an archeological site in the Lower Suwannee National Refuge. Shell Mound is an ancient Native American site at the southern end of the Refuge. The primary shell mound is a construction of oyster and whelk shells plus fish, turtle and deer bones mixed with household debris built up over about 3,500 years (from 2,500 BCE to about 1,000 years ago) by Native Americans.
3. Lake Okeechobee KOA
This was our first experience with a true retirement RV community. The campground was fine and it seemed like those who stayed for the winter really enjoyed their time there. There was a golf course, pickle ball courts, club house, pool, exercise room, etc. We probably wouldn't choose to stay there again, however.
LOST - Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail
We were so looking forward to riding on this trail which ostensibly will eventually go around the entire lake. When we were there several sections of the trail were under construction so we had to go out and around. It was okay, not great.
4. Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Jonathan Dickinson is a really great state park. There are two camp grounds in the park. We stayed in the older section called River Campground which was smaller and very nice. Very spacious and shady sites. The other section, Pine Grove, had less shade but full hook-ups. There is so much to do in this park - ride bikes, kayak, hike, run, mountain bike. It is very close to Jupiter, Florida. The park is unique in that it has many different environments - coastal sandhills, upland lakes and scrub forests. Be sure to climb to the top of the Hobe Mountain Tower for a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
We rode bikes within the state park on paved roads and trails. There are several mountain bike trails in the park which are very popular. We also rode on a bike path on the side of the road from the state park out to the Blowing Rocks Nature Conservancy which was on Jupiter Island. It was a 21 mile roundtrip ride.
5. St. Augustine KOA
This was just an okay campground. The sites were dirt and when we were they it was really dusty, but it could have been really muddy if it was raining. It was about a mile from the beach. Next time we would stay in the campground in Anastasia State Park which is right next to the beach.
Palatka-to-St. Augustine State Trail
This was another surprise for us. This trail was really great. We rode 36 miles roundtrip from St. Augustine to Palatka. Parts of the trail went through open farmland - I had never seen cabbage farms before - but much of the trail had tree cover. It crossed over creeks, swamps and small lakes. There were restroom facilities and picnic areas at the trailheads. From Palatka the trail goes 30 miles to Lake Butler.