Have you ever wondered how a princess would live in the USA?
You can find out along the Atlantic coast of Florida, near Palm Coast, at the Princess Place Preserve.
It starts, as so many things in Florida do, with a land grant from the King of Spain.
Just after Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, one of the first orange orchards on the continent, the Cherokee Grove, was established here.
The trees were descended from those brought to Saint Augustine by Ponce de Leon three hundred years earlier.
How Princess Place Preserve came to be
Henry Cutting, a wealthy New York sportsman, bought the property in 1880 and built a home here.
Unique among local dwellings, the home is a New England-style hunting lodge with big stone fireplaces and a full wraparound porch. It sits on a point overlooking Pellicer Creek and across Anastasia Island to the Atlantic.
Cutting didn’t stint on the buildings. His new wife was an equestrian, so he built a large and spacious stable, as well as the first in-ground swimming pool in Florida, fed by an underground spring. Beside the pool is a changing house with heat and running water.
While sailing down from Saint Augustine one day, Cutting died aboard his ship. The cause is a matter of some speculation.
How his widow became the real Princess behind Princess Place Preserve
He left his 26-year old wife and two young children to go it alone at Cherokee Grove. On a return trip to her home in New York, Angela Cutting met, and later married, an exiled Russian Prince.
Cherokee Grove came alive again, with frequent parties and visitors from New England and Europe. And it got a new name, Princess Place.
Eventually, Princess Place was sold to Flagler County and has been in public hands for almost seventy years.
Princess Place now sits on more than two thousand acres of estuarine research land. Miles of trails offer a chance to walk through wetlands, along the coast, among cypress and mangrove swamps, and through the hardwood forests of the coastal uplands.
Is there an RV Campground at Princess Place Preserve?
There are picnic shelters and benches liberally scattered through the grounds. And even though several websites say that RV camping is available, it seems that only tent camping is allowed at the moment. You can always call ahead and ask (386) 313-4020.
You could easily spend several days enjoying what this park has to offer, hiking and fishing, walking the grounds, and poking through history.
Or you could do what we did. Bring a thermos and a pair of binoculars and settle into a rocking chair on the big porch overlooking the estuary and just relax, right there off the beaten path.
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Looking for exciting RV trip ideas and travel suggestions?
We've written a library of RV Travel books that lay out guided RV explorations of scenic areas of the US that we'’ve explored and think would make an excellent RV trip for you.
In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.
You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.
Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them. We’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages! Instant download. CLICK HERE for information on our RV Travel Guides