We loved this campground and the entire area. The park has two separate campgrounds - one along the river (40 sites)and the other on the Atlantic Ocean just a short walk from the beach(21 sites). We stayed on the Atlantic side and loved it for a couple of reasons - first we have a 38' fifth wheel and the sites there are easy to back into (the offical park website says 30' max for rigs, but there were other motor homes and fifth wheels there). Because is was April, we wanted sun and these sites have almost no shade. And, we wanted to be close to the beach. The sites on the river are much more shaded and we would have had a hard time getting into many of them. Each site has water and electric and there is a small shower building - older, but clean.
It took about a minute to walk from our rig to the beach and from there we could walk "forever." Hunted for seashells and sharks teeth. We had a lot of luck with shells, but struck out as far as sharks teeth. There is a very long fishing pier within walking distance from the campground. There is a large Navy base nearby and we saw three subs shipping out to sea. Very impressive. We also enjoyed walked through the large fort located within the park. It contains many artifacts from the 19th century fort. From the beach you can also see Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia. If you have the time, it's not an unreasonable drive head that way and take the ferry to the island.
If you need a shopping fix, Fernandina Beach has all the name-brand shopping you could ask for and the historic district is worth an afternoon if you are staying for several days.
We were lucky to get a campsite in April - there were two in the Atlantic campground that are first-come first served and we hit it just right. Otherwise, book early.
LOCATION: about 70 miles due west of Chicago and 7 miles east of I-39/51, off Rt 30. Address for GPS is 100 E Preserve Rd, Shabbona, IL. The park is 1500 acres with a 150-site campground and 318-acre lake built for fishing.
CAMPSITES vary - some sunny, some shaded, some level, some not. Pads are gravel with the exception of sites for those with disabilities, which are cement. Each site has a firepit. Several sites do have 50 amp service and big rigs are welcome although the number of sites is limited due to the terrain and trees. 50 sites can be reserved ahead of time between May 1 and Oct 31 by calling the park office at 850-824-2106. 100 sites are first come, first served. You must be ready to camp in order to obtain a site. The park is very popular during the months between May 1 and Oct 31st and often fills up by Friday. Cabins with a double set of bunks and one double bed (no cooking or bathroom)are located on the lakeshore. They can be reserved year round. ISSUES: Due to a lack of funding by the state, the campground does have some issues: watch for some potholes in the road. There is a large shower building with flush toilets which is adequate. There are several outdoor privies scattered through the campground. They are just that - privies.
The campground is open year-round to accommodate those who like to go ice fishing, however hours and rates change during the Off season from Nov 1 through April 30 when the shower building is closed. The dump station and drinking water are available year round.
AMENITIES: The park has about 7 miles of walking/mountain biking trails which are marked. Two trails begin within the campground which also has a nice playground for the kids as well as volleyball and badmintion pits and a small fishing pond for kids. There is a boat ramp in the campgound and a dock for boats used by campers. No fee to put your boat in. The camp store sells bait, tackle, fishing licenses and basic camping supplies and food. They also rent boats, pontoons and paddle boats. A restaurant and marina (with a second boat launch) are located within the park, outside of the campground. Several fishing tournaments are held throughout the year and at least 4 state-record muskie have been caught here.
NEARBY: A public "country club" golf course butts up to the north end of the park with a view of the lake. A small local grocery store and places to dine out are close by. The nearest town with "big box" stores is about 15 miles away.
DON'T MISS: Each year on July 4th catch the fireworks display over the lake and in February go night fishing on the lake.
For more information and to see photos of some of the trophy size fish caught at the lake do a search for "Shabbona Lake Online."