Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ft. De Soto State Park, Florida

We stayed at Ft. De Soto on our way home from The Keys at the advice of our James Island neighbors. We only stayed 1 night, but we were very impressed with how beautiful this campground was.
The sites were shaded and private.
They were fairly wide, we just happened to get a site that had a tree in the way of the drive, so it took a few tries to get the trailer in. It would have been extremely difficult if we had a larger camper/trailer.
Each site has water & electricity; there are sanitary disposal stations. Grills are also provided. There are no fire pits, but campers can rent one from the store for a small fee.
Each of the waterside sites had a grassy area, then a small private beach.
 Private beach:
From the beach looking back at the site:
Another view from the beach:
We aren't certain what the sites on the other side of the campground are like since we didn't take the time to ride around and look.
The bath houses are large and appear to be well taken care of. There are washing machines that are coin-only just outside of the bath houses.
Right when you pull into the campground, there is a small store with staples. They also appear to sell pizza and other small snacks. A Snack Bar is also in the park, but it was closed when we arrived. It is a short drive to grocery stores and restaurants.
According to their website, there is also primitive camping available, but pets are not allowed in that area. A permit is required to camp on Shell Key Reserve.  
There are 7 miles of  paved walking trails connecting the "keys" within the park. There is a fort, a quartermaster museum, dog park, canoe trail, as well as a ferry to Egmont Key.  
We definitely want to go back to Ft. De Soto State Park to take in everything it has to offer!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Knights Key, Florida

Between Christmas and New Year's, we have spent the last 3 years in The Keys. We found a very nice private campground in the Mid-Keys, right before you go over the 7 Mile Bridge: Knights Key. It's close enough to Marathon that you can ride a bicycle to just about anywhere you want to go. It's close to restaurants, shops, and convenience stores, but you would probably want to drive to a grocery store.
Compared to other private campgrounds in The Keys, the sites are decent size. The following is a picture of the site that we've had all 3 years. Our next door neighbors drove their camper to the beach for the day, so the picnic table you see in is theirs.
The views from the campsites on the water are beautiful:
There are some sites that come with a place for your boat:

All sites have water & electricity, but no hookups. They do offer a service that will come and take care of your toilet needs for $10 each time. The only exception is the tent area, which is really just a big field:
The campground has spacious, clean bathrooms.
 There are laundry facilities onsite that take credit cards. There are 4 washing machines, and 6 dryers. 
There is a restaurant in the campground that serves everything from fish to lasagna to sandwiches. They also serve breakfast. Customers can eat inside, or at one of the many outside tables in the shade. the food is excellent, but have cash on hand...the restaurant doesn't take credit/debit cards. There  this also a "Tiki Bar", but be aware that it does not have a liquor license so only beer, wine, and what I call "over the counter drinks" (drinks you can get at the grocery store) are served. It also doesn't take credit cards.  (The website indicates that the restaurant and Tiki Bar are only open December-March.)
If you are there for an extended time, the campground has a book club that meets, as well as other activities.
Everyone at the campground is extremely friendly, which is one of the reasons we keep going back. They have a wonderful New Year's Eve party, complete with a pot luck, DJ, and dancing. The party is at the Tiki Bar, which is where everyone gravitates at sunset to view the end of the day with the 7 Mile Bridge in the background.
If you're looking for a campground in The Keys, this is definitely the place to be. To visit their website, view rates, and make reservations, click here.

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