Friday, April 20, 2018

Cabin fever? A list of Florida parks with camping cabins

Interested in spending time outdoors but not so crazy about the idea of sleeping in a tent? Did you know 20 state parks in Florida have cabins to rent? The cabins, in parks from the Keys to the Florida Panhandle, vary in size and amenities. Some cabins have air conditioning or linen service. Each park offers a different experience.

• At Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key, camp in duplex cabins on stilts. Five cabins have two bedrooms plus a living room with a sofa bed to accommodate up to six people. A sixth cabin, with a wheelchair lift and full bathroom, sleeps up to four between one bedroom and the sofa bed in the living room. All of the cabins have central heat and cooling.

Special access is required to some parks. For example, at Bahia, vehicles are limited in height to 6 feet, 8 inches to fit under the Bahia Honda Bridge.

• Two parks are accessible only by boat. Both provide a shuttle service to haul your gear to the rustic one-room cabins with bunk beds. At Hontoon Island State Park near DeLand, each cabin has a ceiling fan, overhead lighting and one electrical outlet. Cook your meals on a personal camping stove or on the ground grill. Rest rooms and showers are found in the center of the campground.

At Cayo Costa State Park, about two hours south of St. Petersburg, cabins have porches, some screened. No cabins have electricity or water but outdoor grills are provided for cooking. The park has rest rooms, cold water showers and portable water. Captiva Cruises provides ferry service to the park from Punta Gorda, Captiva Island, Boca Grande and Pine Island.

• Headed to Miami but don't want to stay at a hotel? Check out Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach and not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, it has 14 cabins with covered porches and picnic tables. Most cabins have a double-bed and bunk bed but no kitchens. This park has a restroom with hot showers.

• At Rock Springs Run Reserve enjoy a weekend with the family on the Wekiva River. The sole cabin in this park, called the Hammock House, has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a stone fireplace and decks to enjoy the view. It also has a pool table, two canoes and a nine-stall barn if you bring your own horses. If you don't have a horse, guided horseback riding trips are available.

• Some parks provide privacy between cabins with space and trees while cabins at other parks are close to each other. At Fanning Springs State Park, the five cabins are cozily located on a small street. At Silver Springs State Park, the cabins are located on a loop road and have trees between cabins.

• At Myakka River State Park, stay in historic palm log cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1934 and 1941. These cabins include a kitchen, shower, porch, fireplace and a large common room that sleeps up to six.

Activities available at the parks range from hiking to kayaking to fishing to bicycling. Some parks have boardwalks for hikes or to watch the birds and wildlife. Ask about guided ranger tours. At Myakka River State Park, take an airboat ride.

Reservations are required and can be made up to 11 months in advance. Rates range from $16 a night for the one cabin at Three Rivers State Park not far from the Georgia border to $250 for The Hammock House. Weekly rates are also available. Cabins are popular so book one as far ahead as possible. If cabins at a desired park are booked, monitor the online reservations in case of cancellations. Speaking of cancellations, there is a $17.75 cancellation fee. Cancel on the day of arrival and you might be charged for the first night. A two-night minimum stay may be required on weekends.

For photos and details, such as whether pets or fishing is allowed and how to make reservations, follow the link below for state parks with cabins.

By the way, state parks are not the only ones with cabins. In the Tampa Bay area, two different-sized cabins are available for rent at Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park. The small cabin holds a maximum of four people and is $20 to $25 a night. The large cabin is $30 to $35 a night and sleeps up to eight people.

Also, try your luck and enter the lottery for the Sweetwater Cabin, a rustic two-bedroom cabin with a full bathroom that sleeps 12, located near Silver Springs in the Ocala National Forest. The lottery runs from Jan. 1 to May 31. Winners are notified in June. The weekly rate is $935 with tax plus a security deposit of $100.

Pick a park with cabins to visit and enjoy some outdoor adventures.

Contact Carolyn Edds at [email protected] Follow @carolyn_edds

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