21 Waterfront Restaurants
St. Johns River, Florida
21 Day Trip Ideas, Maps and Photos
Food, Views, Old Florida
Loughman Lake Lodge
Emerging from wetlands southwest of Melbourne, this section of the St. Johns was once a bass fishing mecca. Drainage canals and farming destroyed much of the natural wetlands. However, river restoration projects have been underway and conditions have improved dramatically. All 5 of the venues along the river here were old Florida fish camps. Today, all 5 are making a comeback with airboat eco-tours, food, drink, and weekend music.
Camp Holly... www.campholly.net 6901 U.S. 192, Melbourne, FL 32904 (2.8 mi. west of I-95)
First built in the 1920s, this fish camp is undergoing a reincarnation. The parking area has been raised and improved. Colorful and entertaining new look, with Tiki bar, gift shop, boat launch, observation deck, and weekend music. Currently it's bar, snacks, bait shop, and airboat tours only. Pulled pork coming soon. A new indoor restaurant is in the works. Look for completion in mid-2019. Tour boats include a few smaller (some say more fun) airboats.
Lone Cabbage... www.twisterairboatrides.com/fishcamp.html 8199 SR 520, Cocoa, FL 32926
West of Cocoa, near Orlando and Disney, airboat tourism is big here. Great water view, weekend music, and a variety of inexpensive food make this a popular getaway with locals. Beer is cold. Wine comes in plastic cups; the two options are red and white. A few "old Florida" buildings remain, providing fond memories. Tip: On the opposite side of the highway is a County Park with sweeping vista (and maybe a gator), with boardwalk/fishing pier next to boat ramp.
Loughman Lake Lodge... http://loughmanlakelodge.com/ 1955 Hatbill Rd., Mims, FL 32754
Salt Creek is a tributary of the St. Johns flowing through Loughman Lake to the river. Loughman Lake Lodge was originally built as a fish camp in the 1950s. The restaurant and store were rebuilt in 2010, close to the water. Airboat tours by appointment. Nothing fancy about the food; burgers, fries and beer are stables. Live weekend music. With a large, covered waterfront pavilion, and without the boat traffic on the main river, this can be a great place to relax and enjoy the views. Two adjacent Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) offer recreational opportunities. Located well off the beaten path (see map), but worth a look.
Jolly Gator... www.facebook.com/thejollygator 4650 E. State Rd 46, Geneva, FL 32732
This location offers expansive, unobstructed views along the waterway. Here the river becomes slightly larger, as the Econlockhatchee River enters about a mile upstream (south). For eats, definitely try the swamp cabbage. We also enjoyed the gator, a rare opportunity for blackened not fried. Most locally raised, but wild gator too during hunting season (8/15-11/1), so occasional chewier pieces in season, but still tasty.) The jam sessions on the 1st and 3rd Sundays are fun. (Jolly Gator, 11/20/2017, 2 min. Jam Session Video , a "cornucopia of musical talent.") Independent airboat tours operate from County Park.
Black Hammock... http://www.theblackhammock.com 2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd, Oviedo, FL 32765
Near Oviedo, located off the main river channel on Lake Jesup, this former fish camp has reinvented itself as a mini-attraction that kids of all ages will enjoy. Feed the parrots. Use a hot dog to "fish" for alligators. Take an airboat ride. Cool off in the bar and gift shop. Plus, a restaurant that uses real plates, metal utensils, and wine glasses. Civilization at last!