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Old 08-27-2013, 04:20 PM   #29
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I need to find my Florida map!!
It wouldn't hurt
If you go 75 there is one toll at Naples alligator ally that has 2 cash lanes if you go US41 there is NO tolls.
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:30 PM   #30
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That's more accurate but, in general, if going south from Rainbow River I'd go east to I-75 south.
I would agree, but the OP initially said that he wanted to go the "Coastal Route", so that's the way I suggested. I-275 is a very nice ride over causeways and the Skyway Bridge. Besides, if he was lucky enough to book a stop at Desoto Park, he would be going real close to it, as opposed to being on I-75.
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:47 PM   #31
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I would agree, but the OP initially said that he wanted to go the "Coastal Route", so that's the way I suggested. I-275 is a very nice ride over causeways and the Skyway Bridge. Besides, if he was lucky enough to book a stop at Desoto Park, he would be going real close to it, as opposed to being on I-75.

Agreed ... actually I meant I-75/I-275 as opposed to U.S. numbered highways like 19/41/etc. I lived in St. Pete Beach for years (when the admission charge to Ft. Desoto was about $.35) .... sigh.
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:09 PM   #32
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The OP has a lot of experienced information, to rely on, since I have a lifetime in the Tampa area (less 22 years in the Miami area). You have many years in the St. Petersburg area and Tom77Hmstd, has 45 years in the Miami/Homestead area. One couldn't ask for more! Good luck to you, Reubenray, what ever you decide!
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:41 AM   #33
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Collier-Seminole Closed!!

I found the following note on the Collier-Seminole website so this campground is not available for my dates. I am now looking at either Koresham SP or Midway CG in Big Cypress NP.

"Notice: Collier-Seminole State Park's campground, sites 20 through 120, will be closed starting March 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014 for renovations. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are remodeling these campsites in order to improve your future camping experiences. The tent camping loop, sites 1-19, will remain open."
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:27 AM   #34
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I found the following note on the Collier-Seminole website so this campground is not available for my dates. I am now looking at either Koresham SP or Midway CG in Big Cypress NP.

"Notice: Collier-Seminole State Park's campground, sites 20 through 120, will be closed starting March 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014 for renovations. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are remodeling these campsites in order to improve your future camping experiences. The tent camping loop, sites 1-19, will remain open."
Another alternative would be to cross the state further north (than Naples) and use Highlands Hammock SP in Sebring then go west to the Florida Turnpike south or I-95 south. Depends on whether you want to see the Naples area. The actual crossing of the state is not particularly memorable once you are south of Tampa ... looks pretty much the same.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:37 AM   #35
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Another alternative would be to cross the state further north (than Naples) and use Highlands Hammock SP in Sebring then go west to the Florida Turnpike south or I-95 south. Depends on whether you want to see the Naples area. The actual crossing of the state is not particularly memorable once you are south of Tampa ... looks pretty much the same.
I will check into that one. I am now back looking at two national campgrounds off of Hwy. 80. They are W. P. Franklin and Ortono South. Being I will be adding Pennekamp into the trip these will be only for an overnight stay. If I choose Ortono it may change my route some from Rainbow Springs. Not going through the Tampa area is not a big deal being I will be there in less than two weeks for a week.
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Old 08-28-2013, 08:59 AM   #36
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I will throw one more qualification out there, I worked my last 10 years at Bellsouth maintaining vehicles from Homestead to Key West. We would go to KW at least one time a week and was in the keys daily. At 4 am you can get to Key West from here in 2hrs 30mins but the return trip at 9am takes 3-3 1/2 hrs.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:25 AM   #37
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I will check into that one. I am now back looking at two national campgrounds off of Hwy. 80. They are W. P. Franklin and Ortono South. Being I will be adding Pennekamp into the trip these will be only for an overnight stay. If I choose Ortono it may change my route some from Rainbow Springs. Not going through the Tampa area is not a big deal being I will be there in less than two weeks for a week.
What is your route up until you enter Florida? We might have some other recommendations. For instance, if you are coming across the panhandle, Three Rivers SP is a terrific overnight (or longer) stop.

BTW, assuming you like the water, Rainbow River/Spring SP is one of my favorites. 2 hours of floating (tubing) down the river is about $10/person including shuttle tram back to campsite ... worth every penny.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:06 AM   #38
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I will be taking I-10 until the Tallahassee area.

My original plans was to stay about 3 nights at all of my stops. But now I am thinking of doing the 3 night (or more) stays at the Rainbow Springs and the Pennekamp stops. This will mean I will need an overnight stop between home and Rainbow Springs and then one between Rainbow Springs and Pennekamp. I will be staying at Bahia Honda for 7 nights and then 4 nights at Bluewater. It would be a plus if the overnight stops had pull-true sites where I would not have to disconnect the car. We have not decided on the return route yet.
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Old 08-28-2013, 04:00 PM   #39
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I will be taking I-10 until the Tallahassee area.

My original plans was to stay about 3 nights at all of my stops. But now I am thinking of doing the 3 night (or more) stays at the Rainbow Springs and the Pennekamp stops. This will mean I will need an overnight stop between home and Rainbow Springs and then one between Rainbow Springs and Pennekamp. I will be staying at Bahia Honda for 7 nights and then 4 nights at Bluewater. It would be a plus if the overnight stops had pull-true sites where I would not have to disconnect the car. We have not decided on the return route yet.

Three Rivers has a few pull-thrus ... they may not be listed that way but if you look at the campsite map they are parallel to the water. Suwannee River SP is roughly at the bend in the panhandle and is ok for overnight but showers/restrooms are disgusting. If you are self contained it's ok. Not much else between Tallahassee and Rainbow River.


If you crossed the state after leaving Rainbow River and went down East Coast you could try Jonathan Dickson SP enroute to Pennekamp.

BTW, any of the family snorkelers or scuba divers?
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:48 AM   #40
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My mind has become muddled since the closing down of Collier-Seminole SP. I have decided to work my way backwards and have reserved my dates for Pennekamp SP. I will now start looking for a campground 200+- North of Key Largo along several different routes for that stop. Right now I am leaning toward either Highland Hammock SP or Ortona NF for just an overnight stay. I can reserve Highland now, but cannot reserve Ortona for several more months.

I am also rethinking Rainbow Springs and may look into the Crystal River area. We want to see the manatee's more than do the tube floating. The DW will not do the floating if the water is deep. The water may be to cool also in the middle of May.

bruceisla - the Jonathan Dickson SP puts me on the route that takes me through the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale areas that I want to avoid. I snorkel, but the DW likes to just walk in the water and look with her mask. She likes the water, but is scared of it if she cannot touch bottom.
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:50 PM   #41
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My mind has become muddled since the closing down of Collier-Seminole SP. I have decided to work my way backwards and have reserved my dates for Pennekamp SP. I will now start looking for a campground 200+- North of Key Largo along several different routes for that stop. Right now I am leaning toward either Highland Hammock SP or Ortona NF for just an overnight stay. I can reserve Highland now, but cannot reserve Ortona for several more months.

I am also rethinking Rainbow Springs and may look into the Crystal River area. We want to see the manatee's more than do the tube floating. The DW will not do the floating if the water is deep. The water may be to cool also in the middle of May.

bruceisla - the Jonathan Dickson SP puts me on the route that takes me through the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale areas that I want to avoid. I snorkel, but the DW likes to just walk in the water and look with her mask. She likes the water, but is scared of it if she cannot touch bottom.
OK ... manatee season is "iffy" in May. Typically, manatee come into warm water to escape cold water ... that puts manatee season around Thanksgiving. That's because the Gulf is colder than the rivers.

Most areas in Crystal River and Rainbow River are spring fed ... they are 72 -74 degrees year round ... honest !! The Gulf and Atlantic vary ... Springs do not.

You cannot avoid Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area. It's just a question of where you cross the state. If you come in Alligator Alley you arrive in Ft. Lauderdale.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:00 PM   #42
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You can see manatee at Homosassa Springs SP, which is a few miles south of Crystal River. This is a former "Nature's Fishbowl" attraction that now houses quite a few injured or protected animals from manatee to gators to birds and bears.
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