U.K. 9 June 2020 - For those not ready to jump straight into hotels and holiday crowds after months of lockdown, the Sunshine State has plenty of camping, glamping, and remote places to stay that offer a refreshing change of pace to a Florida holiday. From swamp camping in the Everglades to glamping in a tepee on a dude ranch, these budget-friendly stays invite holidaymakers to experience a different side of Florida on their next visit.
Snooze cowboy-style in a luxe tepee
At Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo in Central Florida, guests can unleash their inner cowboy and camp-out in a tepee. This glamping experience offers American-themed decor complete with a doublesided stone rock hearth fireplace, cowhide furnishings, a porcelain cast iron claw bathtub and access to the resort’s 1,700-acre dude ranch. You even get a personal “glamping” concierge, who can arrange tickets for you to the Westgate Rodeo, pony rides and swamp buggy rides. Stay in a Luxe Tepee from £95 per person, per night, based on four sharing.
Overnight in a treehouse
Just south of Jacksonville in Green Cove Springs is Camp Chowenwaw Park, which first opened as a Girl Scout camp in the 1930s. In this nature-rich park, guests can spot bald eagles along the hiking trails and canoe alongside manatees as they paddle on the river. The park has nine screened treehouse structures, each sleeping four people and kitted with bunkbeds, which are available to rent from just £18 per night.
Rest up in a converted freight train carriage
Situated on the Alabama-Florida border, Coldwater Creek in Pensacola, is Katie’s Kaboose – a converted freight train carriage, complete with a mini kitchen, small shower and full-size bed. Outside you’ll find a charcoal grill, fire pit and a hammock. During the day, guests can take an action-packed zipline canopy tour across the creek or tube down the crystal-clear streams through the Blackwater River State Forest. Stays at Katie’s Kaboose start from £130 per night. Secluded cabins, stilted lodges and camping are also available.
Camp in the wilderness of the Everglades in a native chickee hut
Not for the fainthearted, this BYOT (bring your own tent) experience takes camping to a new level. Experienced adventurers can navigate their way through the mangroves by kayak to one of the chickee sites that are dotted throughout the Everglades. Chickee huts are sheltered camping platforms used where dry land is inaccessible - it’s a man-made miniature island in the open water of a mangrove swamp. Wilderness permits are required for overnight camping and cost £12 per person, plus an additional £2 per night.
Semi-adventurous travellers should head for the Trail Lakes Campground, located in the heart of the Big Cypress Western Everglades, which provides a chickee hut glamping experience in chickee huts made by local Seminole native Americans. Whilst the thatched chickees are rustic with no water or electricity, they are situated by the campground wash facilities. They sleep up to four people and cost from £150 per night. Link: www.evergladescamping.net
Splash out a little and sleep with the fishes in an under-water hotel
Jules’ Undersea Lodge is the United States’ only submerged recreational hotel. The famed lodge (opened in 1986) is located at Key Largo Undersea Park and its entrance is 21 feet beneath the surface. It features two bedrooms and can comfortably host a maximum of six scuba-certified guests. Guests can order fresh local pizza or choose gourmet meal options of filet and Florida lobster and homemade Key lime pie. This overnight experience costs from £700 per night, based on two adults sharing. Link: https://jul.com
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Budget-friendly Remote Florida Stays