Chillin’ at the Beach – Fort Lauderdale FL

RATING: ♦♦♦

This winter is the first time that we are staying for an extended period in one park, i.e. three months at Three Flags RV Park in Wildwood FL. As much as we like it here, we also wanted to see some other areas in the state. We had an old timeshare week and decided to use it at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.

Our hotel was across the street from the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, which was the site of the South Florida Folk Festival. We decided to attend the Festival since it was running on our first full day in town. The Festival has been around since 1990, and bills itself as a combination music fest, family reunion, community gathering, and weekend musical retreat. It was clear that most of the attendees knew each other. The quality of the music mediocre, but the venue was unique. There were two stages, with one under a huge banyan tree. 

The weather was perfect, so we had a nice time all things considered. Unfortunately, the rest of the week the weather was not on our side. Way too cool and windy to spend on the beach. We did have a couple of hours at the pool, which was sheltered from the wind, but it was still cool.

We cut our week short by two days, but not before a visit to Los Olas Blvd, which is an upscale shopping area. Had a nice lunch there at the Cheesecake Factory on our way out of town.

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Three Flags RV Park (TT) – Wildwood FL

RATING: ♦♦♦♦♦
  • Length of stay: 102 days
  • Cost of per night: 12 days @ $0 plus 90 days @ $15.50 seasonal rate ($465/month)
  • Discount: Thousand Trails
  • Hook ups: 50 amp electric, water, and sewer. No cable TV.
  • Site number/quality: #112 in back section. Large site, level and mostly grassy, lots of shade and privacy between sites, backs up to woods to the southwest. Rig faces Northwest.
  • Park Quality: This is our most visited Thousand Trails park. We stayed here five different times last winter. Nice neighborhood feel. Also close to a new church we started attending last winter, Live Oaks Community Church.
  • Access: Off FL-44, near I-75.
  • Connectivity: Verizon strong, AT&T strong with antenna, T-Mobile strong with antenna. OTA TV reception is very poor.
  • Return yes/no?: Probably
  • Notes: We are staying here on a seasonal rate from January through March. Plus we came in 12 days early at the end of December under our regular TT membership rate of “free”. We like it here. The campground is close to The Villages as well as Leesburg and Ocala FL. Lots to do in the area, especially for retirees.
  • REPEAT STAY: See previous
  • Website: Three Flags Campground

Lake Griffin State Park – Fruitland Park FL

RATING: ♦♦♦
  • Length of stay: 5 days
  • Cost per night: $11.00
  • Discount: Florida Senior Discount
  • Hook ups: 50 amp electric, water, and sewer. No cable TV. 
  • Site number/quality: #10. Large dirt site. 
  • Park quality: This is a small state park in a very populated area in Central Florida. Only 40 sites. Despite the name, the park is not on Lake Griffin. Rather it is on the Dead River which empties into the lake. 
  • Access: On US-441.
  • Connectivity: Verizon very strong, AT&T strong without antenna, T-Mobile strong with antenna.
  • Return yes/no?: Maybe.
  • Notes: A 300-500 year old live oak is the main attraction of the park. 
  • Website: Lake Griffin State Park

Good Natured River Tours – Palm Shores FL

RATING: ♦♦♦♦

We were camping in Melbourne, which is on the Indian River across from Merritt Island, which in turn is separated from the coast by the Banana River. Lots of water. So we decided to take a two hour boat ride from Palm Shores, which is just north of Melbourne, down the Indian River, around the southern tip of Merritt Island, then up the Banana River.

It was a very nice day, mid-seventies, and the water was fairly calm. A perfect day for a boat ride. The Indian River is wide and shallow, and attracts dolphins and manatees. Our boat pilot was quite skilled at finding them. The dolphins were especially numerous. We saw several pods, including a mother and baby dolphin. Very cool.

The damage from Hurricane Irma was everywhere. The shoreline showed a lot of erosion, and nearly all of the private boat docks were in disrepair. There was even a sunken sailboat in the middle of the Banana River. Irma was the second major hurricane to strike the area in two years. Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016. So repair work is slow going. But the natural beauty of the area means that those who can will still want to live here even with the threat of recurring hurricanes.

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Wickham Park Campground – Melbourne FL

RATING: ♦♦♦♦
  • Length of stay: 5 days
  • Cost per night: $23.60
  • Discount: None
  • Hook ups: 50 amp electric, water, and sewer. No cable TV. 
  • Site number/quality: #C-81. Large grassy area. No defined site. More of an open field. 
  • Park quality: Wickham Park is a Brevard County park in the middle of the city of Melbourne FL. The campground is in one corner of the park. The rest of the park is more like a typical city park with ball fields and ponds. There are three sections to the campground. Sections A and B are for smaller rigs and tents. Section C is for big rigs and has very large sites. The hook-ups are side by side, which makes for some interesting camp sit-ups. Campers can park any which way: back in, front in, or parallel. We parked diagonally, and there was still a lot of room around us. The park had a drive through Christmas lights display, which is a fund raiser for the Boy Scouts @ $15 per car. But since we were camping in the park, we did not have to pay the admission fee.
  • Access: Just a few miles off I-95.
  • Connectivity: Verizon very strong, AT&T strong with antenna, T-Mobile strong with antenna.
  • Return yes/no?: Maybe.
  • Notes: Close to historic downtown Melbourne (had a great breakfast there at the Backwater Restaurant). We took a nice boat ride on the Indian and Banana Rivers. Saw manatees and dolphins. We drove about 15 miles up FL-A1A to Cocoa Beach to see the SpaceX launch on Tuesday, but it was postponed. Very disappointed. However, we did get to see the launch at a distance from our campground in Melbourne just as we were packing up to leave on Friday.
  • Website: Wickham Park Campground