Florida Panhandle State and National Parks

Florida Rambler’s excellent blog post about beach camping in the Florida Panhandle http://www.floridarambler.com/florida-camping/beach-camping-in-florida-panhandle/ made me want to see some of the campgrounds there. That really was the start of planning our route to Yellowstone this summer.

Here are some notes about each place we stayed.

Saint George Island State Park

-Beautiful beach with white sand and green-blue water. Softest sand-like baby powder.

-Small sandy RV spots, but there are a few bigger sites with concrete pads. Must book 11 months out. Trees block neighbors a bit. Some sites are hard to back into with fences in front of them.

-Nice bathhouses, but only two showers for woman and two for men in each bathhouse.

-Nature trail to bay and beach.

-Very buggy with no see ums and little black flies. The beach breeze keeps them mostly off the beach.

-The beach is empty. Very quiet campers!

-Ranger programs. We attended a campfire talk. Great!

-Beach path is out by the road where you turn in. About a 10-15 minute walk.

-Sun rises on beach, but sets on bay side.

-Shells are plentiful. Many sea birds.

-Town is small. Lighthouse is pretty. Paddy’s Raw Bar has great oysters from the Apalachicola Bay. Apalachicola is a close town that looked cute.

-No WiFi.

Saint Joseph’s Peninsula State Park

-About and hour and a half drive from Saint George Island.

-Small sites, but plenty of trees in between your neighbors. A few concrete pad sites. Book 11 months out.

-Very buggy. Bring bug spray or cream.

-About four showers for women and four for men in bathhouse. Bathrooms separated.

-Very short walk to the beach on a boardwalk.

-Beach was much more crowded and many more waves than St George when we were there.

-Best sunsets of the three parks.

-Lots of teens in this campground. Looked like church youth groups.

-Quiet Campground.

-So many jellyfish on the beach. Maybe due to the rough waters while we were there.

-Camp store close by marina.

-WiFi at marina and screened in pavilion. Slow.

-No diesel gas close by. No stores close by.

Fort Pickens Campground at Gulf Shores National Seashore (Santa Rosa Island)

-Best Beach! Very white sand and emerald green water.

-Empty beaches. Many Ospreys and other sea birds. Great for birdwatching.

-Close walk for some campsites to the beach path. Longer for others. Long boardwalk to beach.

-Close to Pensacola and stores and restaurants.

-Campsites were wide open with little shade or privacy. Sites along the tree lines were the best.

-Very crowded campground with many families and tent campers. Kids riding bikes and skateboards everywhere.

-Small concrete pads and you must have your vehicle on the cement pad as well, or park in overflow parking.

-Bathhouse crowded. A few showers closed off so it only left three for a huge campground. Unisex showers. Separate bathrooms.

-Fort Pickens is a great day trip. 10 minutes up the road. Nice bookstore and ranger tours. Jr. Ranger program.

We really loved spending time at these beautiful beaches and walked them morning and night. Look at our Instagram page for many more pictures!

 

Castillo De San Marco and Fort Matanzas National Monuments

Beautiful. Old. Saint Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565. The Castillo De San Marco was started in 1672. The fort was declared a National Monument in 1924 and the site is about 20.5 acres. The fort was built with limestone called coquina. Because it is so porous, canon balls stuck in the walls instead of shattering them!

Saint Augustine is a great place to visit if you find yourself in Florida.  It is a nice day trip from Central Florida. There are lots of shops, restaurants and museums. 

We really wanted to visit to see the forts and get our National Passport book stamped!

The Castillo De San Marco was beautiful and the views of the ocean were really relaxing. We spent a lot of time walking around and looking at everything.

Fort Matanzas is located about 15 miles before Saint Augustine and the Castillo De San Marco. It was built by the Spanish in 1742 to guard Matanzas Inlet and Saint Augustine. It was also declared a National Monument in 1924. You reach the fort by boat and there are timed tickets you get at the visitor center/gift shop.  We missed a boat on our way in to Saint Augustine, so we got tickets for the last boat trip of the day. This wound up being great-Craig and I were the only ones on the boat. We got a private tour! They did not rush us at all and we were even able to lower the Spanish military flag at the monument.