The Florida Heartland
The Florida Heartland spans six counties in lower central Florida, butting up against Lake Okeechobee. All six of these counties are sparsely populated, with a total combined population of less than 230,000. It is humid and hot in the summertime, and extremely mild in the winter. Being a landlocked part of the state, there are no sparkling beaches to draw tourists in, so this area should definitely be considered off the beaten path. As such, it’s not for everyone, but as you will see, it’s got a lot to offer for the right kind of adventurer.
Popular Tourist Attractions
This area has not been heavily developed, so it lacks a lot of the amenities and cultural trappings of some of the more settled areas of the nation. It really is a bit of a wilderness. That said, it’s not all wilderness, there’s more to do here than just hike and fish on Lake Okeechobee, although that is certainly one of the area’s biggest draws. Here are a few of its other attractions!
Airboat Wildlife Adventures
If you’ve never been on one, airboats are a lot of fun, especially when you’ve got a seasoned pro at the helm. It’s a fun way to see many of the hidden vistas that the region has to offer, and there are only a few areas in the country that conducive for travel by airboat, so this isn’t a passion you can indulge just anywhere. It should definitely be in your bucket list.
Highlands Hammock State Park
Truly, there’s not another state park in the United States quite like this one. From the moment you set foot in it, you will feel like you’ve stepped back to the prehistoric days. After spending an hour or so exploring, it wouldn’t surprise you in the least if a living dinosaur popped out of the thick, primeval forest. Of course, the only dinosaurs you’re likely to see are the park’s thousands of alligators, but that in no way takes away from the magic and mystery of the place. You’ll be completely enchanted and want to come back again and again.
Sebring International Raceway
Racing is not for everyone, but if you’re a fan, then you can’t come to this part of Florida without checking out the raceway. Enjoy a race or several races, and be sure to check out the Hall of Fame.
Campgrounds Near The Heartland
Given the somewhat wild nature of the area, it should come as no surprise that there are campgrounds aplenty in the region. Here are some of our personal favorites:
Highlands Hammock State Park
With 143 campsites, and given the secluded location, you do not have to worry about not finding a suitable spot. There’s a playground for the little ones, clean showers and restrooms, a general store and small restaurant, plus a dump station, but you won’t find many other amenities here. Even so, you could spend your entire vacation right here, hiking in one of the nine trails or just taking in the sights. You’re also just six miles from Lake Jackson, one of the premier fishing spots in the region. The Highlands Hammock State Park is pet friendly too, making this an excellent all around choice.
Sebring Grove Campground
Just north of the town of Sebring, Sebring Grove Campground is a favorite destination for locals, so if you love interacting with the locals, this is an excellent pick. With 114 sites, offering water and electric services, you’ve got all the basics covered for an RV rental in Heartland, Florida. Even better, you’re near both Lake Arbuckle and Lake Jackson, so again, if you’re here to fish, you’ve certainly come to the right place.
Bonnet Lake Campground
Located on the shores of Bonnet Lake and roughly ten miles from Sebring, the Bonnet Lake Campground is one of the few campgrounds that also offer Wi-Fi, so if you can’t bear to be without internet connectivity while traveling, then this one probably moves to the very top of the list. You’ll also find a heated pool, laundry facility and horse shoes/shuffleboard, making this one of the more deluxe campgrounds for an RV rental in Heartland, FL.
Also not surprisingly for a relatively undeveloped area, there aren’t many planned and scheduled events here, though there are a few. Two of the most interesting we found takes place in the town of Sebring, which is the largest town among the six counties that make up the Heartland region.
It’s a car show with an attitude, which makes sense, giving its proximity to the International Raceway. For three days in late September, you can watch a burnout show on Mango Street in downtown Sebring, followed by an extended party on the Sebring Circle with plenty of food vendors and fun.
Every Saturday night in October, from 7-10pm, you can take a terrifying Halloween style hiking tour through some of the creepy parts of the town. Granted this form of entertainment isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t scare easily, you should come check it out. Boo!
A visit to the Heartland region of Florida isn’t for everyone. It is still, in many ways, an untamed wilderness, and it is that very feature that makes it such an irresistible lure to some. If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, and aren’t afraid to step away from the usual amenities, then this region has a lot to offer you.
Safe travels from all of us here at RVshare!