White, sandy beaches. Hot summers and mild winters. Doesn’t that sound heavenly? Soak it all in for a weekend or weeks at a time when camping in Florida Panhandle State Parks. Stay at one or park-hop for a couple of months to get your fill of the region. As you’ll see in this article, the views and activities are endless.
Why You Should Visit the Florida Panhandle
The Florida Panhandle is the most western region of Florida. It’s approximately 200 miles long and 50-100 miles from north to south. Stretching along the Gulf of Mexico to the south, it shares a land border with Alabama and Georgia. Tallahassee is the largest city in the panhandle, and two of the most popular beach towns are Pensacola and Panama City.
Emerald Coast and Forgotten Coast are two phrases to describe particular stretches of the panhandle’s waterfront. The Emerald Coast, named for its emerald-green waters, spans from Pensacola Beach to Panama City.
The Forgotten Coast, located east of the Emerald Coast in Franklin County, is known for its unspoiled beaches and communities. If you desire areas with fewer tourists, the Forgotten Coast is a great option.
Camping in State Parks vs RV Parks
One of the most memorable ways to experience the coastline is by camping in Florida Panhandle State Parks. While private RV parks have their advantages, Florida State Parks give you a unique glimpse into the state. From wildlife and bird watching to hiking and paddling, the activities are endless. And the rangers’ vast knowledge offers you the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the area’s history and geography.
Not to mention, state parks are often more cost-effective than private RV parks. They can also allow for a more rustic camping experience while still choosing amenities like electric, water, laundry, and more. You may find full hookups at some state parks or at least a dump station. Since state parks are government-owned and operated, you can typically rely on consistency across parks in the same state.
→ Does an RV park sound more your speed? Check out these great RV parks in Pensacola for panhandle camping near the beach.
Camping in the Florida Panhandle State Parks
Florida State Parks are excellent options for your stay across the panhandle. The maximum number of consecutive nights you can camp is 14 in one park. You need to be out 3 nights before returning to the same park.
Most Florida State Parks are open year-round, and maximum RV length varies from park to park. Some campgrounds provide cabins for rent in addition to RV sites. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance online or via phone.
Florida Panhandle State Parks Camping Near the Beach:
Below, you’ll find recommendations for Florida Panhandle State Parks near the beach. These parks are close enough to each other that you could stay at a couple or all of them during your travels.
Staying at more than one can maximize your experience camping in Florida Panhandle State Parks and help you figure out which ones to come back to a second time!
Big Lagoon State Park
Located in Pensacola, Florida, Big Lagoon State Park puts you in the middle of nature. Campsites are steps away from the Big Lagoon, which offers swimming, boating, and fishing.
For the adventurers, the park also provides access to the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail – a 1,515-mile sea kayaking route that goes around the entire state.
Price: The cost to camp at Big Lagoon State Park is $20 per night for electric and water, plus fees and taxes.*
Henderson Beach State Park
Henderson Beach State Park is on the Emerald Coast in Destin, Florida. A prime spot for beautiful blue waters and white-sand, this state park offers a true beach vacation.
There are also plenty of restaurants and shops nearby to keep you entertained for days. Henderson Beach is a fantastic option if you have limited time for camping in Florida Panhandle State Parks.
Price: The cost to camp at Henderson Beach State Park is $30 per night for electric and water, plus fees and taxes.
Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park
Nestled along an aquatic preserve in Niceville, Florida, Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is a former WWII gunnery and bombing practice site. Now, it has been transformed into a must-see getaway.
While hiking, biking, or kayaking, you may run into some wildlife in the area. The State Park is also a short 15 min drive to the Gulf of Mexico.
Price: The cost to camp at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is $16 per night for electric and water, plus fees and taxes.
Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach State Park sits on the shores of Western Lake in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. It’s the perfect location for hiking and paddling. You can rent canoes or kayaks from the park to explore Western Lake, but that’s not all.
The Gulf of Mexico is only a short walk from the campground. There you’ll find Grayton Beach, a white-sand paradise that you’ll quickly come to love.
Price: The cost to camp at Grayton Beach State Park is $30 per night for electric and water, plus fees and taxes. Bonus – some sites have sewer hookups!
We’ve also listed Grayton Beach State Park as one of the 10 Most Beautiful Oceanfront Campground in Florida.
Saint Andrews State Park
You’ll find Saint Andrews State Park only 5 miles from Panama City Beach in Panama City, Florida. With a prime location, the park has something for everyone – bird watching, water sports, diverse beaches, and the warm ocean breeze. You might even see some alligators in this area. Keep a lookout for them and other water creatures.
Price: The cost to camp at Saint Andrews State Park is $28 per night for electric and water, plus fees and taxes.
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park
In 2018, Hurricane Micahel caused severe damage to St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, a gorgeous destination in Port St. Joe, Florida. It hasn’t reopened as of Feb 2021, but there are plans to open the campground in the future. When it does, it’s a must-visit!
Sitting on a narrow peninsula in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll feel as if you’re on your own private island. Watch for announcements regarding re-opening!
Day use is currently open but limited. Check the website for restrictions and fees.
Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park
On a barrier island between Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. The inspiring views start on your drive out to the island.
While the campsites don’t provide ocean views, they’re only a quarter-mile walk to the beach. From the beach, you can catch the sunset. You may also spot dolphins playing in the water, and it’s easy to find sea turtles in the summer months.
Price: The cost to camp at Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park is $24 per night for electric and water, plus fees and taxes.
Camping in Florida Panhandle State Parks: An Unforgettable Experience
Camping in Florida Panhandle State Parks near the beach is an unforgettable experience. There’s nothing like walking on a sugar-white sandy beach or dipping your toes in the Gulf of Mexico. The panhandle coastline is truly one of the most beautiful in Florida.
State parks are the best places to stay and experience all the Florida Panhandle has to offer. Book your campsite today, and be sure to let us know in the comments all about your adventures!
*Camping rates reflect 2021 prices and are subject to change. Florida residents over 65 years old or persons with a government-issued disability award certificate may receive a 50% discount on camping fees.
Become A Mortons On The Move Insider
Join 10,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!