While South Florida is known for its big-city metropolitan allure, it’s also home to some amazing wilderness, indicative to the area’s layered identity and history. The city dweller in you may be hesitant about “roughing it” in typical campsite surroundings but still have a thirst for exploring the wilderness. This “Best Of” list offers options to explore the abundant wilderness in and around South Florida, while enjoying the comforts of home or a hotel. With these options and a short drive, retreating to the wilderness has never been so comfortable.

Bahia Honda State Park

36850 Overseas Highway
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872-2353

Florida state parks are an excellent place to explore the wilderness, especially because of the native animals and local vegetation available to explore. Bahia Honda State Park is just far enough away from South Florida to make a trip feel like a real getaway, but close enough that it only takes about two hours to get there. In addition to its expansive campgrounds, Bahia Honda State Park offers cabins that provide an authentic at-home experience in the wilderness. The duplex-designed cabins offer a full kitchen, a dining area and a living room complete with a sofa bed. Five of the six cabins have two bedrooms and can accommodate up to six people. Cabin number two, while it only has one bedroom and holds four people, is wheelchair accessible.

Oleta River State Park

3400 N.E. 163rd St.
North Miami Beach, FL 33160
(305) 919-1846

For an in-town wilderness retreat, Oleta River State Park is an excellent option to experience the great outdoors in the middle of a thriving metropolis. The state park offers an abundance of options to experience the surrounding wilderness, including canoeing, off-road bicycling, kayaking and exploration of the mangrove forest along the river. The park houses 14 cabins, most equipped with bunk beds and a double bed. One the cabins is ADA compliant and can comfortably accommodate special needs guests. The cabins don’t have kitchens, which would aptly suit a person looking to be in the wilderness without having to prepare meals. The park’s central location in North Miami Beach puts it in close proximity to a score of local eateries featuring a variety of cuisines. Near to the cabins is a restroom facility complete with showers for the guests’ convenience.

Related: Best Places To Get In Touch With Nature


River Wilderness

210 Collier Blvd.
Everglades City, FL 34139
(239) 695-4499

Immersed in the the Florida Everglades, River Wilderness offers the unique experience of city living among the surrounding wilderness. The waterfront villas available are complete with full kitchens and bathrooms, and large living rooms. Guests can choose a one- or two-bedroom air conditioned villa, and enjoy onsite amenities like free continental breakfast, swimming pool and outdoor rec space for barbecuing. There’s also available dock space for boaters, as well as canoes for a relaxing trip on the river. Nearby Everglades attractions include two national parks (Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Reserve) and local ground tours, including the Alligator Farm Tour.

Miami Everglades Resort

20675 S.W. 162nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33187
(305) 233-5300

Resort-style living in the middle of the wilderness may sound far fetched, but Miami Everglades Resort makes this a reality in southwest Miami-Dade County. In addition to standard camping and RV space, the property offers cabins and lodges to fit a variety of needs and preferences. For large groups, the onsite Bunkhouse works well, with a kitchenette and full bathroom, and its ability to accommodate up to 16 people. A Deluxe Camping Cabin holds up to six people and offers a kitchenette and half bathroom. For the full comforts of at-home living, the Two Room Lodge sleep up to six people and offers a full kitchen and bathroom. Cable TV, bike rentals, clubhouse and swimming pool and hot tub are just some of the choice amenities available during your stay.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

16450 S.E. Federal Highway
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
(772) 546-2771

Nestled among more than a dozen natural communities near the Loxahatchee River in Hobe Sound, Jonathan Dickson State Park is a wilderness oasis. Home to local wildlife and the first federally designated wild and scenic river, this state park takes you to another world while located just outside of the busy metropolitan areas less than two hours outside of South Florida. Jonathan Dickinson State Park offers fully furnished one-bedroom cabins that can accommodate four to six people, depending on the type of cabin selected. Bedrooms come with a queen or full bed, full kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining area. Bedroom and bathroom linens are included. For additional enjoyment, cabins also come with outdoor picnic tables and outdoor cooking facilities.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip To The Everglades

For nearly 20 years, Shawanda James has been actively involved in creative writing in Miami, Florida. In addition to her work as a freelance writer, she is actively seeking publication for her debut novel and collection of poetry. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.