We departed Rambler’s Rest RV Resort on New Years day, having bumped up against their Passport-America blackout months. Winter is the high season for Florida RV parks, and those that are PA affiliates cease offering the discount for anywhere from three to six months. Between two different visits this December we were fortunate enough to take advantage of the 50% rate at Rambler’s for nearly the maximum 14 day annual limit, and we are likely to be back sometime in late 2016, but for the rest of the winter its not an option.
Unlike our foolish departure from The Sunshine State in the middle of winter last year, we don’t plan on leaving Florida this time around until the spring. This means finding affordable campgrounds in the state during the peak season. We could spend the entire time at the Key West Naval Air Station, but we don’t want that to be our only option, especially as we work our way north come April. Thus we have been doing some research to find alternatives in Venice and other Florida locations near family and friends.
We looked into Camp Venice Retreat, just up the road from Ramblers, but during the peak season it’s $70 per night ($67 per if you book a full week,) too rich for our blood. We drove by a couple of other private parks that we knew to be part of the Encore Resort group, as is Ramblers, but they are also high priced with no high season discounts. We passed a few more affordable private campgrounds, but as they did not look appealing we focused on the various state and county parks. We usually consult the RV Park Reviews and Campendium websites, and the former had several very positive reviews for Oscar Scherer State Park. We also started bringing it up in conversation with other RVers, soliciting opinions and advice. During the cocktail/social hour gathering at Periwinkle RV Park, one of the guests gave an enthusiastic endorsement of Oscar Scherer as well.
As expected, its a popular campground this time of year, but fortunately not as hard to get in as Bahia Honda or any of the other Keys state parks. We were able to secure five days, but only by making three different consecutive reservations at three different sites. Ah well, not ideal, but we really wanted to experience some other campgrounds in the region.
Oscar Scherer is a nearly 1400 acre park with a tidal black water stream, a small swimming lake, plenty of hiking and biking trails (including the paved Rails to Trails legacy trail) and is a significant bird sanctuary. The 96 site RV campground is located along the South Creek tidal stream, with about 2/3 of the sites backing directly onto the creek shore. Like most of the Florida State Parks at which we have stayed, the campground is heavily wooded with plenty of green space privacy between the sites.
Almost all spots have 30 amp electrical and water, while sewage is handled by a dump station at the entrance. The only negative I can think of: the water connection at many sites is very far from your usually RV connection, requiring up to 100 feet of hose! If you stay here, call the park to ask about the water connection so you can bring extra hose if needed. Since we only had 25′ we just used our stored water and water pump after topping off.
The hiking and biking trails are great, though the latter can be a bit of a sandy slog in spots. I took advantage of both to do some geocaching, and in a future stay with hopefully less rain, I hope to find the rest within the park boundaries. The Nature/Learning Center offers free wifi in an adjacent screened in porch, 24 hours a day. We found it quite usable for basic internet use and even video streaming depending on how many other people were present.
Last comment, while the entry road is wide and easily managed, the bridge crossing the South Creek into the campground is a bit tight due to the high railings on one side and the flexible pole barrier separating the pedestrian walkway on the other. I mention this not so much as a knock on the park, but rather as a lesson learned regarding my poor method of hanging our bikes on the rear ladder rack. Notice how far out the wheels stick on my left in this picture?
Now see all those yellow poles in this pic of the bridge I borrowed from fellow full time RVers and bloggers Bill and Nancy?
Yeah, I slapped pretty much all of those with the bike tires on the way out. My set up was probably in violation of some traffic safety rule, and I have since found a better, safer method of racking them.
After leaving Oscar Scherer we headed nine miles back down the road to Bill and Gloria’s (Momma Bayba) where we third visit within a month. They are always welcoming, letting us park our behemoth in their driveway, providing a room, and welcoming our cat. And oh do we always eat well. Sometimes it’s bill grilled pizza, once my brined and spatchcocked turkey, but this time it was Gloria’s alcapurrias. We arrived just in time for me to assist in the final few steps, which is ironic since fifteen years ago when Rosemarie took me to New York to meet her mom, the first night I helped with alcapurrias as well.
So, any other Florida campground recommendations? We are particularly looking for places in the southern third of the state, in central Florida near DeLand/Lake Mary, and a bit further north near Gainesville.