This post is sponsored by Kampgrounds of America and all opinions are the writer’s.
I’ve shared before how a weekend camping trip at a KOA campground helped us reconnect with our teens. There’s just something about being in close quarters and in nature, away from our daily obligations, that helps families relax and bond. If you’ve considering going camping before, but have yet to do so, don’t feel bad –you’re definitely not alone! According to the annual North American Camping Report issued by Kampgrounds of America, three million U.S. households were new to camping last year and almost three in ten U.S. Latinos specifically are new to camping in the past few years.
There are many ways to camp now. Gone are the days when camping only meant pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere and cooking on an open fire. That was the case when I was a kid and camped with my dad and my younger sister. Nowadays, however, we can choose whether we want to stay in a tent, an RV, a cabin, or even a treehouse or yurt, to name a few. My family of five loves the Deluxe Cabins at KOA, which offer full baths and bedrooms and can sleep as many as eight people, offering convenient amenities such as kitchens or kitchenettes, climate control, KOA Patios™ and more.
Within the KOA family of campgrounds, which includes over 500 locations in the U.S. and Canada, you’ll find KOA Journeys, KOA Holidays and KOA Resorts, offering added amenities and services to make each stay more complete – whether you’re on a road trip or seeking a vacation destination. Since we’d already experienced a KOA Holiday campground earlier this year, we opted for Okeechobee KOA Resort for our most recent trip, located a two-hour drive inland from our home in Sarasota, Florida. KOA Resorts offer a carefree vacation in the great outdoors and are the ultimate getaway with robust recreation and staff-led activities, as well a resort-style pool and dining accommodations on the campground.
This tropical vacation campground featured a palm-fringed nine-hole golf course, driving range and putting green, as well as tennis courts, and golf cart and bike rentals for the entire family. You can also choose to cool down at one of the campground’s three pools (including a kid-only pool, a family pool, and an adult-only pool).
Nearby, Lake Okeechobee, known as Florida’s Inland Sea and referred to as the “Big O,” is the largest freshwater lake in Florida offering the best boating and fishing in the area. We took the kids to the pier and the scenic walking trail around the lake and walked downtown, where we had lunch. The nearby flea market is also a must-see, and walking distance from the campground.
Also read: 7 Tips to plan your next camping trip
We had dinner out the first night in a nearby restaurant, and enjoyed cooking hotdogs around the campfire on the second night. I’m always amazed by how attractive the fire pits are to the kids. My husband brought his guitar and my youngest sang along to his fine music. It’s what they do. We can sit with them for hours, chatting, singing, cooking and stoking the fire. Whenever we needed more firewood, all we had to do was contact the front desk and they would promptly deliver it to us in a golf cart. Talk about camping with convenience.
By the second night, we were drained from another full day out-and-about and let the kids enjoy some downtime watching TV shows in the living room, while my husband and I chilled in the bedroom. As a college professor who teaches writing, he had to grade some student papers. Fortunately, all KOA campgrounds have free access to Wi-Fi – and there’s no shame in connecting to technology when traveling! In fact, having access to connectivity is what allows us to get away in the first place. I found through the North American Camping Report that us Latino families extend our stays by one day, on average, compared to other campers, thanks to the ability to stay connected to our work, family and friends.
The staff at Okeechobee KOA Resort was just as friendly as the folks we’ve encountered in previous stays. Most KOA campgrounds are family-owned and some are owned by Latino families, but this particular location is owned and operated by KOA. The manager had recently moved to the property and was incredibly helpful and insightful about the advantages of visiting central Florida. Our family lives in a beach town, so being inland is a bit of a treat. But for anyone seeking sand and sun, Vero Beach is only an hour drive from the campground and worth the visit.
In our experience, any KOA Resort campground destination is a good vacation choice for the entire family. In fact, my husband and I are planning to celebrate our birthdays at a different KOA campground this August! I encourage you to visit the KOA website or download the free KOA app to find a campground near you, book your reservation, and access trip-planning tools to will help you find exactly what you want!