Camping on the Keys
Florida is a haven for winter-weary Northerners. Many of them are only too happy, upon arrival in the Sunshine State, to collapse into a lounge chair poolside at the condo complex. Others grab golf clubs, tennis rackets, or Disney World tickets and head out for some fun.
Some visitors, however, seek the"real Florida," the lush, wild landscapes encountered by Ponce de Leon's men as they searched for the Fountain of Youth. GORP presents four campgrounds perfect for exploring wild Florida, from fragrant slash pine forests to sugar-white beaches to coral reefs.
Bahia Honda's Sandspur Beach is rated among the best in the United States, and is located near Key West, so you can combine beach-combing, swimming and snorkeling with the culture/kitsch of Ernest Hemingway's old haunts. John Pennekamp State Park has the honor of protecting the only living coral reef in the United States and there's an on-site dive shop offering scuba rentals and certification. The Park also offers snorkel rental if you're feeling a little more laid back about your undersea adventures.
Long Key's vistas are stunning. Every campsite has an view of the teal-blue waters of the Keys. Long Pine Key, in Homestead, Fla., gives a good look at life in the Everglades. Set in an area known as the Pinelands, Long Pine Key offers miles of hiking trails through pine flatwoods, saw grass prairie and hardwood hammocks.
A note on the star rating system: Five stars represent an ideal; one star is acceptable.
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