Orange Park, Florida, is a town in Clay County and a suburb of Jacksonville, but the name also applies to the communities of Fleming Island, Lakeside and Bellair-Meadowbrook Terrace. In the 18th century, it was more simply known as Laurel Grove and was developed into a model farming plantation, before being destroyed by its owner. In 1813, East Florida was invaded by General Mathews, which triggered the Patriots Rebellion; the wife of then-owner Zephaniah Kingsley burned Laurel Grove to the ground, to keep it from being taken over by the Patriots.
In 1877, the Florida Winter Home and Improvement Company purchased thousands of acres within the area of Laurel Grove, intent on building a small farming community and southern retreat; it was incorporated as Orange Park by the Florida Legislature in 1879. However, in 1895, a great freeze destroyed the trees on this plantation and the fruit growing industry with it.
Today, Orange Park covers an area of 5.3 square miles, of which 1.7 square miles is water, which in addition to its warm weather, makes it a friendly and hospitable place to visit. When you book an RV in Orange Park, you can explore nearby towns and cities including High Springs, Gainesville, Palatka and St. Augustine.
Famous people hailing from Orange Park include Billy Powell, keyboardist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Adrian White, NFL defensive back and current assistant coach for the Buffalo Bills, Dez White, retired NFL wide receiver, Kat Cole, CEO of Cinnabon, and singer Walt Whitman.
The Great Outdoors
Those who want to put a few miles on the Orange Park rental motorhome and some trail miles on their boots will be most interested in Osceola Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and Osceola National Forest to the west, and in Ocala National Forest and Lake George to the south.
Osceola National Forest offers everything you could possibly want to do: hiking, camping, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and more. Hikers here should be cautious of bears and wear bear bells; most bears are as afraid of you as you are of them and will disappear if they hear you approaching, making the bell an important hiking tool. Staff at this area can provide more information and help visitors to be prepared. The Osceola WMA can inform visitors of the area’s rules and regulations, as well as provide them with maps and brochures.
Ocala National Forest also offers hiking trails, plus more than 600 lakes, rivers and springs where guests can swim, dive and snorkel. Lake George Conservation Area hosts hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, but the lake itself doesn't allow for swimming due to its conservation status. It does provide opportunities to view the wildlife in their natural habitat. Any of these areas could be a good place to stop and set up your Orange Park luxury rental RV before heading out, so at the days end, your home away from home is right at your feet.
There are more than a few beaches to choose from along the coast, starting from Atlantic Beach directly west of Jacksonville and heading south past St. Augustine to Crescent Beach. Keeping your Orange Park rental camper nearby will solve the problem of washrooms & change rooms if there are none within close range. Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve is in the middle of these and allows for hiking and picnics, as well as bird and animal watching. Hiking here will provide some amazing opportunities to observe the local fauna and plantlife; don't forget to bring your camera.
Rent a motorhome in Orange Park and you will have the comforts of a five star hotel with you no matter where you are. North of Jacksonville, you will find Pecan Park RV Resort, Flamingo Lake RV Resort and Big Tree RV Park. On the coast, just north of Atlantic Beach, you have Little Talbot Island State Park, Huguenot Memorial Park and Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park. Within Jacksonville, there is Fleetwood RV Park, a mixture of permanent and seasonal residents.
South of Jacksonville and east of Orange Park, there are dozens of RV resorts situated right on the coast, within walking distance of the beaches. A few of these include North Beach Camp Resort, Anastasia State Park, Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort and Faver Dykes State Park. Most of the RV parks in this area have all the basic accessories, such as water, electricity, swimming pool and more.
Exploring The City
Between the weather, parks, and beaches, visitors to Orange Park should expect to work up an appetite. The cure for this is one of Orange Park’s locally owned restaurants, and there are a few. Seafood is big here and that is no surprise; what does surprise is the range of prices you'll pay it. Visitors can choose a snack hut, serving up delicious but inexpensive shrimp and fish plates, or find an eat-in establishment for something more relaxing. Portions are typically large and there is no shame in taking what you can't finish in one sitting back to your Orange Park rental RV, to be enjoyed at a later time.
Orange Park has its fair share of golf courses, recreation areas, museums and more, but one activity widely associated with Florida, and not to be missed, are the greyhound races. Bestbet Orange Park has the races plus an upstairs card room (Blackjack and variations of poker).