As winter eases into spring, snowbirds trickle home and Spring Break fizzles, a lot of beautiful weather remains for locals to enjoy before we get whacked with the humidity of our rainy season.
Hidden from the hustle and bustle yet close enough to sneak home for a missing tent pole are eight parks where you can spend one night (or three) in the great outdoors.
Some of these campgrounds already have your tent or cabin ready, so just bring your sleeping bags, chow, kayaks, hiking shoes and other gear.
Online reservations are available for all parks on this list except Sawgrass Recreation Area and John Prince Park.
Camping less than an hour from Fort Lauderdale
C.B. Smith Park. Best known for the annual KISS Country Chili Cook-off, 299-acre CB Smith features 71 campsites with concrete pads and full hookups for recreational vehicles. Or you can park on the pad and pitch your tent in the grass. Enjoy the golf driving range, bike trails, fishing in the lakes, a tennis center and playgrounds for the kids. Boat rentals are also available. $40/night for non-residents; $30 for tri-county residents. 900 N. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines, FL, Book online. Phone: 954-357-5170. E-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
Easterlin Park. The focus of this park are the natural areas, and it is home to the most heavily wooded campground in Broward County. The park is small, only 47 acres, but it’s a genuine, pristine hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhoods. The campground has 55 sites — 45 with full hookups for RVs and 10 sites set aside for tents only. $40/night for non-residents; $30 for tri-county residents. 1000 NW 38th Street, Oakland Park, FL, Book online. Phone: 954-357-5190. E-mail: email@example.com
Markham Park .At 666 acres, Markham is the big mama of Broward County parks with 10 miles of mountain bike trails, a 1.5 mile nature trail, a gun range, fishing in the adjacent Everglades, a field for radio-controlled airplanes and a tennis center with racquetball, volleyball and a swimming pool..There are 88 sites with full hookups, picnic table and fire ring/grill for RV and tent camping, $40/night for non-residents; $30 for tri-county residents.16001 West State Road 84, Sunrise, FL, Book online. Phone: 954-389-2000. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
T.Y. Park. The kids love Topeekeegee Yugnee for its very cool water park with swimming pool, waterfalls and playground. Also enjoy the two-mile multi-use trail, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. There is plenty of shade in the park, but not so much in the campground, which is designed for recreational vehicles. The 61 paved RV sites have full hookups, grills and picnic tables.%40/night for non-residents; $30 for tri-county residents. 3300 N. Park Road, Hollywood, FL, Book online. Phone: 954-357-8811 for campground reservations and park information. E-mail: email@example.com
Quiet Waters Park. Wall tents on platforms are already provided at this regional park in North Broward, so you can pack light and just bring your sleeping bags, food and cooking gear. No RVs allowed, but there are two teepees can rent for a family pow-wow. The kids will also love the water park, paved and off-road bike trails throughout the park and the main attraction — Ski Rixen cable water skiing (ages 12 and up). $35/night for 4 campers; $3 each for extra campers. (Tents sleep six.) 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach, FL, Book online. Phone: 954-357-5100. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sawgrass Recreation Area. This funky fish camp in the swamp is not for those desiring all the comforts. You can camp here, but the main camping area doesn’t have much to offer. A few sites have hookups. If you have a group, call and ask about camping on one of their islands. We’ve done that and had a ball. Be prepared for relying on your own resources, including electric and water. Camping is first-come, first served. Call for rates. 1006 N. U.S. Highway 27, Weston, FL. Phone: 1-888-AIRBOAT (888-424-7262) for more information.
For more on camping in Broward County, read this article: Camping Near Fort Lauderdale
Palm Beach County
John Prince Park. A huge county-run campground for boaters with access to 338-acre Lake Osborne and inland canals navigable south to Lake Ida in Delray Beach. Four launch areas for kayaks and canoes, a ramp for motor boats, 4.5-mile bike path, a mile-long exercise path, basketball, tennis, volleyball, bocce and petanque courts, playground, splash park and freshwater fishing. The 48-acre campground has 300 sites for RV’s and tents with electric and water hookups (198 have sewer),and there are 50 waterfront sites. $24 for Palm Beach County residents; $27 for Broward and other non-residents. Add $2 for sewer hookup; $4 for extra vehicles or trailers; $4 for extra people. 4759 South Congress Ave., Lake Worth, Florida 33461. Phone: (561) 582-7992. E-mail: email@example.com
Oleta River State Park. Cabin camping only but still a great local getaway to a popular day-use park with paddle sports, swimming beach and off-road bike trails in North Miami. Kayak expansive inland at Haulover Inlet or paddle up the Oleta River, fish from the pier or take advantage of the groomed mountain bike trails. The park has 14 cabins in a quiet corner of the park near water. Two cabins are set aside for walk-ins. Each cabin has a covered porch and picnic table. Most cabins are equipped with one double bed, a bunk bed and air conditioning. Linens are not provided. $55/night. Book online or call (800) 326-3521. 3400 NE 163rd St, North Miami, FL 33181.
— Bob Rountree