Recommended Campgrounds in the Florida Panhandle
Campgrounds in the Florida Panhandle:
Alabama has a wonderful State Park with many RV sites all less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico. When in Gulf Shores one should visit Ft. Morgan and even consider taking the ferry from Ft. Morgan over to Dauphin Island and back. Some individuals just ride the ferry over and back for the boat ride and leave their automobile in the parking lot at Ft. Morgan.
Between Pensacola and St. George Island in Florida's Panhandle you will encounter possibly the most pristine 200-mile stretch of beach in the world. RV'ers on a budget can enjoy these sugar white beaches on a shoestring. The State of Florida has a plethora of State Parks scattered along that stretch of coast starting with St. George Island State Park in the east, St Josephs State Park on Cape San Blas near Port St Joe and Port St Joe Bay, St. Andrews State Park in Panama City Beach, Grayton Beach State Park and 10 more miles west is Topsail Hill Resort (State Park) and Campground then another 10 or so miles west in Destin there is Henderson Beach State Park. Then you have a 50-mile skip to Big Lagoon State Park in Pensacola. Each of these State Parks offer LOCATION, LOCATION, and LOCATION.
St. George Island is just east of Apalachicola, Florida. While the beaches are not quiet as white as you will find 100 miles to the west the unspoiled beaches in the state park are unequaled anywhere. If long walks on a secluded beach are your cup of tea this is the place for you. Snowbirds like the RV campground in St. George Island State Park in the winter. Do not look for commercial activities like restaurants and theme parks around here.
St Josephs State Park near Port St. Joe is the beginning of the snow-white pure quarts sand that make these beaches famous. The RV campground will hold around 60 units. During the summer the campground is full of families in tents, pop-ups and travel trailers. During the winter Snowbirds with 5th wheels and motorhomes, steak their claim to this beach. Like St. George Island there are not any amusement parks and restaurants to entertain you. You are 20-miles from Port St. Joe. From the RV-park to the end of the State park you can take a leisurely 7-mile walk on one of the countries most pristine beaches.
St. Andrews State Park has several hundred RV sites and is located on Grand Lagoon on Panama City Beach. From the Campground you are an easy walk to the Gulf. St. Andrews Sate Park is located a few short miles from everything available to hundreds of thousands of vacationers paying BIG money for condominiums and motel rooms. Unlike State Parks to the east St. Andrews is within easy access to hundreds of restaurants, and a multiplicity of other entertainment not to be equaled outside of Disney World.
Grayton Beach State Park returns to rustic. The RV spaces are adequate but are on hard packed sand. Sites are "natural" with a lot of vegetation. Grayton Beach is known for its spectacular beaches. Campers also have easy access to some "high-end" shopping in nearby communities.
Topsail Hill Resort State Park appears to be a typical "high-end" private RV-Resort. During the summer tourist fill the park, in winter it fills up with snowbirds. Unlike other State Parks Topsail Hill does not have a maximum stay (in Florida RV'ers are usually limited to 14 days) in fact in the winter they offer drastically reduced rates for 30, 60, 90 and 120-day stays. As one would expect, this park has paved sites with manicured grass lawns cable TV and full hookups with 50-amps. This ain't your typical State Park campground!!
Eden Gardens State Park is located a few miles from Grayton Beach State Park. Anyone in the area would enjoy visiting this place. The name "Eden Gardens" is a bit misleading. The actual attraction is a 6,000 square foot restored Southern home full of some of the finest antique furnishings anywhere. The "gardens" consist of around 12 acres of manicured grass under a canopy of beautiful live oaks replete with Spanish moss and resurrection fern. To find Eden Gardens from highway 98 turn north on SR-395 and follow the signs (less than 5-miles). The home's original owner was an early 1900s lumber baron. In the 1960s a wealthy northern spinster (Lois Maxon), residing in the area, purchased the house and "restored" it to look like one of the plantation homes common throughout the ante-bellum South. She needed the house to display her collection of heirlooms and antiques. In addition to Lois Maxon's collection of antiques the State of Florida is using the residence to store other donated significant period pieces awaiting placement in other museums and places of public display around the state. An excellent docent gives tours every couple of hours. Don't miss this if you are in the area. Note that Eden Gardens SP does NOT have accommodations for RVs. In fact I would not venture into Eden Gardens with an RV over 25 feet in length because there is no parking for anything larger.
Henderson Beach State Park in Destin is across the street from the super WalMart and in the middle of the action yet tucked away in several thousand acres of undeveloped dunes surrounded by top end condominiums. They sport 60 brand new RV sites with level gravel spots. These sites really look good and only a slight step down from having a concrete pad. Unlike most State Parks they also have a number of pull-through spots and they can accommodate today's largest RV's.
Big Lagoon State Park. Located approximately 5 miles out the back gate of the Naval Air Station in west Pensacola.. The State Park is on Big Lagoon; however, the camping spots are not on the water. Everything in the park is within walking distance of the water. This park has many hiking and nature trails. Cost around $14.00 plus tax.
OTHER PUBLIC CAMPGROUNDS
Ft. Pickens National Park. Is located on the Barrier Island south of Pensacola this is a local favorite. Rates were around $18.00 per night for spots with water and electricity. They have dump stations. The attraction is the sugar white beaches and the old Fort.
Military Campgrounds are only available to active duty or retired military, DOD civilians and retired DOD civilians with a copy of their last form 50 or a retiree ID card. (Some DOD retirees have laminated a copy of their last form 50 to use in the military campgrounds).
Oak Grove RV park located on NAS Pensacola ½ mile west of the National Museum of Naval Aviation. The price is right, $11.00 per night for civilians, military even less. The campground is located in an Oak Grove on Pensacola Bay. This place is beautiful. If you are there during the spring and early summer see if you can spot the osprey's on their nesting platform across the street from the park. There is a good jogging trail. Also you can walk for miles on the beach. All this for less than $11.00 per night! A lot has changed on NAS Pensacola since 2004 when hurricane Dennis destroyed much of the infrastructure. Historical buildings are no longer on the base.
Blue Angel Park, is located at the site of old Bronson Field, which is on HWY 98 about 2 miles east of the Perdido Bay bridge going into Alabama. This is a nice campground that almost always has vacancies. Rates are $9.50 per night for civilians with military being even less. Cheap, on Perdido Bay and within 8 miles of the Naval Aviation Museum what more could you ask for?
Ft Walton Beach:
Hurlbert Field has a Military Campground near the corner of US-98 and the entrance to Hurlbert Field. The campground is located on the south side of US-98.
On the bay in Destin proper Ft Benning operates an RV-Park/Campground
On the bay at the foot of the toll Bridge to Niceville (north end of the bridge) Ft Benning operates another RV-Park.
I think that Eglin AFB also operates a campground in the area.
There is a military campground on St Andrews bay in the confines of the Navy Base located at the west end of Hathaway Bridge on US-98.
There is a military campground on Tyndall AFB east of Panama City. The campground is located 1/3 mile east of the US-98 bridge entering Tyndall.