New state park cabins offer grand accommodations for nature lovers
|Lake Louisa State Park of Clermont, Fla., is located at 7305 U.S. Highway 27. Cabins rentals cost $110 per night, plus tax. For more information, call Lake Louisa State Park at (352) 394-3969. For reservations, call (800) 326-3521 or log on to www.reserveamerica.com.
State park cabins are infamous across the nation. Typically stereotyped as a rickety wooden structure with a breezy and dingy makeup, these cabins tend to be the last resort for vacationing families.
Florida State Parks recently introduced a new sort of cabins at the 4,500-acre Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, Fla., and to most visitors there is no comparison to the older version.
“There are other state parks that have cabins, but we’re the first to have these types of cabins,” said Chuck McIntire, Park Manager for Lake Louisa. “There not what I would call a rustic state park cabin, this is more like home.”
The amenities of the 20 cabins trump even some hotels. The spacious cabins feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master bedroom has a queen-sized bed, the other bedroom has two twin beds and a sleeper sofa is in the living area. The kitchen offers dishes, glassware, coffee pot, microwave and stovetop.
“We basically provide everything, except the food,” McIntire said.
Other amenities of the cabins include an outdoor charcoal grill, a propane gas fireplace in the living area, central air conditioning and screened-in porches overlooking Lake Dixie. The cabins are also equipped with solar-powered hot water heaters.
Other typical hotel features intentionally missing from the cabins are telephones, televisions, Internet connections, radios and clocks. The cabins were designed without these amenities to encourage guests to explore the natural beauty of the state park.
On one fall morning, deer and wild turkeys could be seen from the cabin porches. Other than wildlife viewing, Lake Louisa State Park is a popular spot for fishing, canoeing, bird watching and hiking. The 25 miles of trails accommodate hikers and horseback riders.
“We encourage activities that utilize the natural resources,” McIntire said. “This is a gorgeous part of Florida that doesn’t really look like Florida. Being on the Lake Wales Ridge brings us a lot of diversity you don’t see anywhere else in the state.”
Perched atop the ridge, Lake Louisa State Park features rolling hills and six lakes. Anglers can fish in four of the park's six lakes, but gasoline-powered boats are not allowed; only boats powered by trolling motors or without motors are permitted. From the park’s fishing pier or on a small boat, largemouth bass and speck are popular catches for anglers.
With the cabins lining Lake Dixie, another popular feature of the state park is the 60-site RV camp on the other side of the lake. Future improvements at the park include 30 more campsites, paved trails to connect the camping and cabin facilities and a playground.
While the official grand opening of the cabins was in December 2005, the park had been taking limited reservations since July.
“To this point, they’ve been very popular,” McIntire said. “They’ve been real popular with family reunions and weddings. We’ve had families come in here and rent seven or eight cabins.”