If you and your buddy are looking for an outdoor getaway less than 2 hours away from Tampa, FL, you’d be barking mad not to check out Highlands Hammock State Park! With so many things to see and do in this amazing preserve, it’d be a real shame to try and fit it all into one day. The good news is that you don’t have to -- the park’s furrifically Fido-friendly campground is a great place for you and your pooch to pitch your tent! You won’t need to sacrifice too many of your creature comforts, either -- the campground has hot showers, RV hookups for electricity and water, and the park even has its own restaurant. There’s also a small camp store, so there’s no need to waste precious luggage space on provisions!
There are a couple of drawbacks -- though dense vegetation separates the sites, they are a little cramped. The campground doesn’t have any quiet hours, either, so you might have to deal with some noise at night.
With such natural beauty and so many recreation options, though, who can complain! Hound-dog hikers will be glad to know that the park has some pawesome trails for you two to sniff and explore, wandering through ancient hardwood forest and tropical flora. Parts of the preserve seem to be completely untouched by humanity. The boardwalk trails through the swamps in particular are well worth a wander! Be sure to bring bug spray -- the wetland trails attract all sorts of buzzing, biting critters. Avid birders might want to keep an eye out for Florida jays, white ibises, and barred owls, among many other feathered friends. There’s also a tram tour and a museum, but your pup will need to stay outside the building and off the tracks.
Highlands Hammock has a $6 entrance fee per vehicle. A tent-only or primitive site will set you back $18, and RV spots cost $22 a night. The campground is pretty paw-pular during the summer months, so be sure to make your reservation early! Fires are permitted, and you’ll find drinking water available on-site. Unfortunately, wifi isn’t available, but most cellular networks should receive decent coverage. Remember to bring waste bags for your buddy, and have a grrr-eat time!