Florida — the crowds at the amusements parks of Orlando, the clubs on South Beach, luxurious beaches on every coast, and retirees playing shuffleboard just about everywhere, it’s easy to think there isn’t a quiet, peaceful moment to be found in the entire state. What many people forget is Florida has an abundance of outdoor adventures and is willing to expose its natural splendor to those willing to look. While the traditional “roughing it” is an option, why not treat yourself to the outdoors with a little added luxury? The emergence of glamorous camping, “glamping”, has made its way to Florida; casual outdoors-people rejoice! Spend the day exploring Florida’s state parks then indulge in the optimal environment of a fully furnished glamping tent complete with air conditioning. Here are our choices for the best glamping destinations in the Sunshine State.
Griffin Ranch, a family-owned operation, is the ultimate rustic escape in Central Florida. Built on 30 acres of land speckled with numerous ponds and waterways, the main ranch cabin has large wooden decks encompassing the house, looking out on the scenery often frequented by ‘gators and cranes. Griffin is within close proximity to many activities including freshwater scuba diving and nature hiking, as well as kayaks available for hire at their retreat. Visitors can spend hours paddling through the maze of rivers and canals cutting through a densely-wooded area. While adventures are abundant, perhaps the greatest way to experience Griffin Ranch is giving in to the isolation by slowing down and reading a book in the comfy restraint of one of their many rocking chairs.
An ideal family getaway, the Westgate River Ranch Resort is a dude ranch resting on one of the rare pieces of natural Florida land, unspoiled by golf courses. Having a fun family option that doesn’t involve a certain famous, money-lover is a relief for both locals and tourists alike. Westgate is a massive undertaking as it was built on 1,700 acres of land. With all that room guests have a number of accommodation options including a traditional guesthouse, beautiful glamping tents, RV hook-ups, or the popular luxe teepees. While the teepees may seem simplistic from the outside, they are anything but. Inside you’ll find hardwood floors, floor to ceiling stone fireplaces, artwork, large beds, and clawed bathtubs. Because of the sheer size of the dude ranch, there is an unbelievable amount of activities offered — kids, and adults for that matter, may mistakenly think they are at summer camp. Some unique things to do at Westgate include rodeos at a 1,200-seat arena, fan boating, mini-golf, and horseback riding through miles of trails.
A new take on the town of Jupiter that’s unlikely known to outsiders, Headwaters Eco Retreat is tucked away amongst nature on the literal headwaters of the Loxahatchee River. As apparent from its name, the Headwaters Eco Retreat is very conscious of its environmental impact. Because of this eco-friendliness, the lodge is built in a distinctive manner. Headwaters is comprised of multiple used, repurposed shipping containers. The shipping containers have an industrial self-life and so there is a huge surplus of used containers wasting away across the globe. The owners of the retreat have relieved nature of a few of them. While a shipping container does not sound cozy, the rooms are fully equipped and extremely comfortable. TV is not an option, so instead guests can make use of their bikes, kayaks, and canoes. If lucky, those using the latter two could share the free-flowing river with friendly manatees.
Run by four generations of “Gladesmen”, Trail Lakes’ ultimate goal is to present as authentic an interpretation of old-school Floridian life as possible to those visiting. Gladesmen, for those wondering, are about what you would expect — someone whose main transport might be a fan boat and in their free time, they enjoy taunting alligators. With that being said, they also make perfect hosts, as they have an unrivaled familiarity with the local Everglades. Trail Lakes has multiple campsites, RV stations, and cabins available for those wishing to visit, but the most unique activity would be to spend an evening, or two, in one of their Chickee Huts. Chickee Huts are the traditional homes of local native Florida tribes like the Seminole and Miccosukee. The huts are constructed on wooden stilts and have a dense thatched roof. While the natural roof may not sound luxurious, it provides ideal ventilation for Florida’s muggy weather while also delivering complete protection from the elements.
Only feet away from a lake near Floral City, this tipi offers visitors a chance to stay in a unique space surrounded by the tranquility of a relaxed Floridian neighborhood. Not lacking in usual comforts, the tipi has WiFi, air conditioning, and a gourmet breakfast provided for guests every morning. Nearby to state parks and wildlife refuges, and with bikes at their disposal, glampers have ample opportunity for fun and the option of returning to their tipi, later in the day, where they can make friends around the communal fire-pit.