How long can you stay at a Florida rest area? Is overnight parking allowed at rest areas in Florida? Can you sleep in your car at rest area? Is camping allowed? What are the full Florida rest area rules?
Florida Rest Area Rules
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has adopted a set of administrative rules with respect to public use of rest areas, welcome centers, truck comfort centers, and wayside parks. Below is a synopsis of these rules…
- Camping is prohibited.
- Consuming alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
- Maximum time limit is ten (10) hours for commercial vehicle operators, and three (3) hours for all other drivers.
- You must park in designated parking spaces.
- Disturbing, picking, removing plants, flowers, nests, eggs, animal habitats, rocks, et al, is prohibited
- Fires must be contained in cooking grills, and be limited to facilities where cooking grills are provided.
- Trash be placed in trash receptacles.
- Vehicles cannot hook up to rest area electrical or water outlets.
To read the full set of these rules, word-for-word, read, “Rules for Using Rest Areas in Florida“.
Types of Rest Areas
The State of Florida operates six different types of rest area facilities…
- Rest Areas – these are the classic rest areas most of us are familiar with.
- Welcome Centers – These are similar to rest areas, but with the purpose of providing travel information to tourists.
- Truck Comfort Centers – These are weigh stations that also have rest area facilities.
- Truck Parking – These area along the side of a highway where trucks can pull over temporarily.
- Wayside Parks – These are small greenbelt areas along the side of a highway, often with picnic tables and historical information.
- Service Plazas – These have convenience stores, fuel pumps, and restrooms, located along the Florida Turnpike.
Rules for rest areas apply to the first five types above. Service Plazas have different rules. See, “Florida Service Plaza Rules” below.
How Long Can You Stay at a Florida Rest Area?
The maximum is three (3) hours for most all drivers, but ten (10) hours maximum for commercial vehicle operators.
Is Overnight Parking Allowed at Florida Rest Areas?
Yes, overnight parking is allowed. However, due to the short three hour time limit, it’s not very practical. But because these rest areas are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can arrive late at night, and effectively stay overnight. Keep in mind that all Florida rest areas have 24-hour security on site. If you are too tired and need more than three hours, and decide to stay longer, then explain to security that you are still too tired to continue driving and need more time.
Can You Sleep in Your Car at a Florida Rest Area?
Yes, you can sleep in your car. There are no laws or rules against sleeping in a vehicle while parked at a rest area. Getting some rest and sleep is expected, and the State of Florida does not want drowsy drivers on its highways.
Is Camping Allowed at Florida Rest Areas?
No, camping is prohibited. There is an actual rule that bans camping at rest areas.
However, most rest areas and welcome centers have facilities that are consistent with recreational camping. These include picnic tables and shelters, cooking grills, scenic walkways, viewing areas, pet areas, historical and information kiosks. It appears that the State welcomes its rest area visitors to enjoy some level of camping. It’s our understanding that camping is fine as along as you don’t erect any tents or shelters, sleep on the grass, or organize group events. If you can keep your camping activities discreet, and don’t extend them beyond three hours, you’re fine.
Florida Service Plaza Rules
Service Plazas are found only along Florida’s Turnpike System. Service Plazas have fuel stations, convenience stores, and restrooms. While they still operate under the Florida Department of Transportation, they are not subject the rest area rules published above.
The only rule that exists for Service Plazas is that overnight parking is not allowed. Otherwise, there is no maximum time limit for staying at a service plaza.
Where Can I Find a List of Florida Rest Areas?
The Florida Department of Transportation publishes map of its rest areas and service plazas on its website… https://www.fdot.gov/maintenance/Rest-Area-App/restareainfo.shtm