We discovered Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, Fla., totally by accident, while driving from Georgia to Florida on a coastline tour we took this past spring. We needed a place that was reasonably priced and relatively close the highway, but far enough to feel like we were escaping into a wooded retreat.
We found Hillsborough River State Park, but since it was the same day, we took a big chance by driving all the way over without the ability to make a reservation for one of the few sites they had left.
We pulled in and registered at the check-in station, then followed the map to the site. The drive was wooded on both sides, with many pull offs along the way, like the poolside café, trail heads, dump station among others.
Our site was level, gravel and backed up to the group campfire pit. Because it was the weekend, and close to spring break, the campground was crowded and in full swing of family fun and excitement.
During our stay we ate breakfast daily at their poolside café, which offered a full menu with breakfast lunch and dinner options. We also enjoyed traditional camping fair around the campfire at our site, while waving to the guests taking the Friday night tram tour.
The campground boasts a huge swimming pool, one of the largest in the state, which although tempting to take a dip daily, the $4 per person per day fee- stopped us on more than one occasion.
We did however enjoy a nice family hike on the River Rapids Trail. It’s a self-guided interpretive tour, that was not only fun and educational for the kids, but also really interesting and relaxing for my husband and I.
At three-quarters of a mile, taking a little over an hour to complete, the trail winds through dense hardwood forests right along the river banks and offers an abundance of sightseeing and picture opportunities along the way.
Featuring 22 identification markers that keep everyone on the lookout and entertained with the natural ecosystem surrounding us, the kids were able to read the information provide for each marker and learn about specific plants in their natural settings.
Our stay was filled with family fun, and even though the rentals, like canoes, golf carts, and bike rental were a little too high priced for our travel budget, they were a nice addition to the traditional state park amenities.
Daily Price: $24 per night
- Large wooded W/E sites
- Picnic tables and fire rings at each site.
- Open year-round
- Recreation Hall & Pavilion rentals
- Guided Historic Tours
- Full service poolside café
- Group campfire programs
- Friday night Tram tours
- Canoe & kayak rentals
- Bike & golf cart rentals
- 7 milers of marked trails
- River access with class II rapids
- Suspension Bridge
- ADA Accessible Pool
- No full hookup sites
- Very crowded on the weekends.
- Prices for additional amenities are a bit pricey.
- Swimming requires payment of $4 per person
Hillsborough River State Park
15402 US 301 N
Thonotosassa, FL 33592