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Van Life Florida: 3 Must-Explore Places

Florida is a hot spot for travelers year-round. With well-known destinations such as Daytona, Orlando, Miami, and Panama City Beach being popular choices for camping, there are many lesser-known but great locations to experience the best van life Florida offers. Check out these must-explore places.

Navarre Beach Camping Resort

Conveniently located between Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola, Florida, Navarre Beach Camping Resort is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Benefit from the waterfront sites on the Santa Rose Sound and the private beach. White sandy beaches paired with sparkling emerald waters right outside your van doors. Nearly paradise.

Need more? This camping resort provides more-lots more. Take a stroll down the pier, dip in the heated pool or take a relaxing break in the hot tub. Stop by the souvenir shop, freshen up those dirty clothes at the laundry mat, and stock up on items left at home with a browse through the camp store.

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Arial view Navarra Beach Camping Resort
Arial view of a portion of the resort. Courtesy of Navarra Beach Camping Resort

The sites are spacious pull-throughs with patios. Add a secured gate entrance, paved, shaded roads, and clean restrooms; you might not want to leave. As another bonus, this resort offers free cable TV, but with all the outdoor activities waiting, there might not be enough time to benefit from that free amenity.

Speaking of outdoor activities, there are options to rent a kayak or paddleboard. Spend some time with Fido at the onsite dog walk or participate in a few local attractions outside the resort.

Nearby Activities

  • Gulf Breeze Zoo– A short distance away in Gulf Breeze, Florida, take in the animal antics at the Gulf Breeze Zoo. There are hundreds of animals to see, more than 850 animals. See plenty of monkey business, hopping kangaroos, roaring big cats, and long-neck giraffes. There are 137 species of birds, and mammals, to view, and some are available to interact with. Feed the goats, llamas, rabbits, giraffes, pigs, and guinea pigs.
  • Gulfarium-In Fort Walton Beach, the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is all about inspiration, entertainment, education, and respect. All ages can learn about and connect with marine life here, with memorable experiences that can last a lifetime.
  • Pensacola Lighthouse and MuseumThe 1859 lighthouse is now a landmark, but tours to the top are offered daily in Pensacola. There are indoor and outdoor history exhibits, a gift shop for the perfect souvenir, and ghost hunts for the brave at heart.

Crystal River Isle RV Resort

For a comfy stay, park the van at the Crystal Isle RV Resort for a perfect blend of peace and pleasure. There are waterfront sites that provide tranquil settings. The resort is pet-friendly, with a limit of two dogs per site. Weekends require a two-night stay, while holidays require a 3-day minimum. If one night is all you need, consider booking a midweek campsite. Check-in is at 2:00 p.m., with check-outs no later than 11:00 a.m.

Resort Activities

For rainy, indoor days, there are plenty of planned activities to keep you busy. Aside from the free TV and clubhouse/lounge, there are weekly potlucks, bingo, live entertainment, arts & crafts, and dancing. There are also free children’s programs and other planned activities to provide a variety of fun and entertainment.

Check out the huge possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts: fishing, hiking trails, bike trails, a swimming pool, water aerobics, and boat rentals. Basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, shuffleboard, and a kids’ playground are also onsite.  

 While those are pretty standard outdoor activities, the manatee snorkel tour is one unique opportunity outside of the resort that shouldn’t be missed.

Unique Activity

The highlight of the Crystal River is the ability to swim with manatees. There are plenty of manatee tours that allow snorkeling up next to these gentle giants. Be sure to choose one of the tours that include a photographer so you will have a keepsake.

This is my personal favorite choice for those looking for the most van life Florida provides. Being able to experience Florida at its most natural state provides a unique and memorable trip.

Other Activities

For those wanting to stay above water to see the manatees, a clear kayak tour of Crystal River is a great option. Private fishing charters are available, as well as tandem kayak rentals for four hours. Scallop diving is another popular activity.

Westgate River Ranch

Located centrally within the state, this van life Florida location is ideal for anyone who wants an unforgettable weekend getaway. Westgate River Ranch provides a general store, a deli, a pizza shop, and a dine-in restaurant. The outdoor activities are the star of the show, though.

So Much to Do

This is the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi River and is jam-packed with over a dozen outdoor activities. Aside from horseback rides, there are swamp buggy rides and airboat rides. For a relaxing cruise, consider the one-hour pontoon boat outing.

 Additionally, there are pony rides, mini golf, an escape room, and a petting zoo. Each and every Saturday night, head over to the 1,200-seat rodeo arena and cheer on the local cowboys and cowgirls as they compete. After the rodeo, try your skill at the mechanical bull before heading over to the saloon for a cold beer. There is also a street dance that follows the rodeo.

For gun enthusiasts, or those looking to learn how to shoot, there is a trap and skeet range, along with an air rifle range. For more low-key shooting, take your turn at the archery targets.

A swimming pool and tennis courts round out the activities available at Westgate River Ranch.


While they don’t have an advertised van campsite, I did verify that as long as the van hooks up to electricity or doesn’t run overnight for air/power, it can park within the RV sites. To be safe, it is recommended to verify when you call in your reservation.

The RV sites are near the front of the property, adjacent to the rodeo arena and saloon. The grassy sites do offer electric hookups, and the bathroom and shower facilities aren’t too far away.

To call and verify van camping and to make a reservation, reach out to Westgate at 888.779.4104

While there are so many unique, fun, and water-filled locations for van life Florida experiences, these three locations can provide the starting point for your next adventure.

Plan Your Florida Van Adventure

Save time, plan safe routes, and find great places to camp with RV LIFE Trip Wizard before embarking on your Florida trip! This all-inclusive trip planning tool allows you, the driver, to customize your journey based on your travel style–taking the quickest route or the scenic one and pinpoints stops along the way like gas, shopping, and points of interest. RV Trip Wizard also helps establish a travel budget, among other convenient and user-friendly features!

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