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Stephen Foster is known as "the father of American music." He wrote over 200 songs in his lifetime, including "Old Folks at Home", a tune that immortalized Florida's Suwannee River. Today, the museum dedicated to Foster's music — the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center — sits on the banks of the river and is also the site of a beautiful state park. Located about 13 miles out of Lake City in the state's north, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park offers fascinating historical exhibits, excellent hiking, and several watersports.
It's a park with a little something for visitors of all ages, and with a 45-site campground just a stone's throw from the river, it's also a lovely spot to enjoy an RV camping vacation.
The best way to start your visit to Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park is to check out the museum. Built in 1950, it features dioramas, historic pianos, and the desk where Foster wrote "Old Folks at Home". There are demonstrations of blacksmithing, quilting, and a variety of other crafts, but the highlight is the 97-bell carillon system that belts out Foster's music at concerts held three times a day.
Once the history lesson is over, it's time to enjoy some of the outdoor activities the park offers. If you're a keen hiker, you'll love setting out to explore Stephen Foster’s Hammock Loop Trail. This eight-mile trek leads you through the unique terrain of the Upper Suwannee River Valley, including pine flatwoods, rocky outcrops, swamp forest, and of course beautiful views of the river itself.
Along the way, you might spot a few of the native creatures that call this area home. From wood ducks and gopher tortoises to alligators and many species of birds, there's a wide range of wildlife to be spotted if you know what to look for.
For other visitors, however, the ideal way to spend a day in the park is to make the most of the river itself. Fishing is a favorite pastime for campers, with the river well known as an excellent freshwater fishing destination. Largemouth bass, speckled perch, sunfish, channel catfish, and many more can all be caught here, but take note that you may need a fishing license.
The best fishing opportunities can be accessed by canoe, but paddling is also an excellent choice if you want to do some sightseeing. The rocky outcrops and small caves along the edge of the river are well worth exploring in a canoe, and rentals are available from local businesses.
If you want to camp in an RV at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, rent a camper in Hamilton County and find yourself a spot in the well-shaded campground.
Situated near the river, the camping area features 45 sites, all of which are accessible to people with disabilities. Each site has electrical and water hookups, along with its own picnic table and fire ring. The maximum RV length permitted in the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park campground is 100 feet.
Two ADA-accessible restroom buildings are provided and both feature showers. A dump station is provided, hiking and biking trails are just a short walk away, and leashed pets are welcome.
Finally, there are also five riverside cabins available in the park for visitors who want a few extra creature comforts during their stay.
When the time comes to finish your Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park RV camping adventure and hit the road, you'll be happy to discover that there are stacks of other great attractions worth visiting nearby.
If you want to continue exploring some of Florida's best state parks, Big Shoals State Park is just ten minutes away. Famous as the home of the largest whitewater rapids in Florida, it's quite a spectacular place to visit.
If history is more your thing, take the one-and-a-half-hour drive west to Tallahassee to check out the city's many great museums. The Museum of Florida History is a particular favorite.
Alternatively, if you decide to steer your rental RV to the east, you'll be in Jacksonville in a little over an hour. While you're there, make sure you take a ride on the St. Johns River Taxi and enjoy the spectacular city views from the water.
When you rent an RV near Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, there's a long list of activities and attractions to enjoy both in the park and in surrounding areas. If you're planning a vacation in the area, you'll find plenty to excite and entertain you from start to finish.