Top Florida Beach State Parks for Camping
Florida has 13 beach state parks with campgrounds. We’ve visited four of them and our goal is to visit every single one. We tend to go back to the same four numerous times since we love them so much.
Florida beaches are renowned for their beauty. The ability to walk from your RV to enjoy them is one of the best experiences. Each Florida park is a little different. But they all give you nice facilities, friendly rangers, and some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine.
Florida State Parks is the nation’s only three-time winner of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence. In fact, no other state has won twice, so Florida knows what they’re doing when it comes to managing their state parks.
I have volunteered at two of the florida parks and personally seen the dedication that the park rangers have towards making visitors feel welcomed and making sure they have a great experience at the park. I’ll detail below each park we’ve visited to give you some insight on the park and the surrounding area.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Topsail is in the panhandle of Florida. It was originally a private RV campground so it’s the best of both private and state park systems. You get all the amenities of a private park while only paying state park fees.
The park has a pool, shuffleboard, laundry facilities AND sewer hook-ups, which no other florida state park campground offers.
It has the highest rating possible from Trailer Life & Woodalls, placing the resort in the top 1% of the nation. We stayed here with friends in their Class A motorhome in May and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.
The campground sites are not on top of one another and we found it easy to back in and out. The campground is about a mile from the beach, which is accessed via tram, biking or walking. If you have kids and a lot of stuff to bring to the beach, take the tram since you’ll still have to walk a little bit to get past the large sand dunes.
If you don’t require much while enjoying the beach then walking or biking is a great way to enjoy the natural surroundings before getting to the beach. There is also a concessionaire located when the tram drops you off that you can rent chairs and umbrellas and they’ll set them up wherever you want on the beach.
The beach was so white and clean that it looked like sugar and the water was a deep emerald green. We spent a lot of time at the beach soaking up the sunshine and ocean breeze. We also enjoyed relaxing in the water until the shadow of a large manta ray scared both of us out of the water. Our friends on the beach got a good chuckle seeing me almost walk on water heading towards the beach after seeing the shadow.
Unlike some Florida public beaches that are so busy and packed with people that you can barely see the sand, there was plenty of room to spread out and relax in peace. You will need a car if you want to access anything outside of the park as there is nothing within walking distance.
There is a Walmart supercenter and Publix grocery store within a few miles of the park and some great shopping and restaurants at the Grand Boulevard SanDestin town center. One of our favorite shops in the town center was Orvis, which happened to have a free fly fishing class the weekend we stayed. Like all of Florida’s popular state park beach campgrounds, you will have to plan early to get a camping spot at Top Sail but it’s one of the best RV campgrounds in the nation.
Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach state park campground is 10 miles down the road from Topsail. It’s also in the panhandle with the same gorgeous beaches.
Unlike Topsail, you don’t need a car to access the nearby city of Seaside, Florida. It’s less than two miles from the campground and the city is a quaint beach town that has a farmers market every Saturday morning.
The town has many unique shopping and restaurant experiences and was recently named the “Best Beach on Earth” for families by Travel + Leisure magazine and included in USA Today’s “Top 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida (2013) by “Dr. Beach.”
The campsites at Grayton are nestled in a bit of pine trees yet is only a mile away from the sandy beach. One loop of the campground has more pine trees for privacy while the other loop doesn’t have as much foliage and the sites are closer together. We camped at Grayton several times during the years and have enjoyed every single time.
Bahia Honda State Park
Bahia Honda state park is in the Florida Keys. It’s located 37 miles from Key West and a few miles from Big Pine Key, which is considered the lower keys.
If you want to camp here, start planning a year in advance as they stay booked year round. It is one of the smallest Florida state parks, but also one of the busiest.
The campground sites are varied with some having privacy with mangroves in between to some located right along the waterline. They even have primitive camping located right on the beach as well as boat camping complete with electrical and water hook-ups.
There is a boat ramp to launch your boat which we saw many RVs towing boats coming into the park. The beaches are some of the best in all of the Florida keys. You can book a snorkeling trip to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.
We had the opportunity to stay at the park for 3 months through my volunteering position. It was during the summer months and it was very hot. If you’re not used to Florida during the summer, it takes a little bit to adjust to the heat and humidity.
Our RV air conditioning had to work overtime to keep everything cozy inside plus we’d get in the water once my shift was over to cool down. The water was definitely warmer too but it felt nice to soak in and take in the beauty.
Luckily, unlike some other state parks, they actually kept mosquitos at bay by dropping pellets from a helicopter monthly so you could actually walk around outside without worried about getting bitten all the time.
The great part of the park is how quickly you can access the beach since the campground is located adjacent to the beach. Our evening ritual was to go for a soak in the water, come home to grill dinner at our site, then take our dog for a walk and go see the sunset on the old railroad bridge.
We had a car when we stayed at Bahia but we also took the bus that travels the entire length of the lower keys and has a stop right outside the park. We’d take the bus to Key West when we didn’t want to have to worry about parking while enjoying the Duval street area. It ran every 2-3 hours so was great for a longer trip but wasn’t very convenient if you just needed groceries.
We have many fond memories of Bahia Honda and hope to go back soon.
Anastasia State Park
Anastasia State Park is located in St. Augustine Beach along the beach and a few miles from St. Augustine. It’s considered the oldest city within the continental US. It’s one of the most visited cities in Florida with many activities for families to enjoy.
Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States and run by the National Park System. There is also a lighthouse that you can go up in and view the coastline as well as an alligator park and walking along St. George Street for shopping and eating.
Since the city is so old, there also are many ghost tours that take you through many unique spots in the city. The campground itself, is large with two distinct camping loops. Each camping siteis large and set around large trees to give you plenty of privacy.
It is a bit of a walk to get to the beach, so plan accordingly if you have a lot of stuff and don’t have a car to park adjacent to the beach. There is a concessionaire that you can rent kayaks, canoes or SUPs to paddle in the lagoon and a food concessionaire store next to the beach.
Every Saturday morning there is a large farmer’s market that is in front of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre with many artists and food vendors. The amphitheatre is accessible from inside the park which makes it ideal when there is a concert taking place.
The beach is nice and unlike the west coast and in the keys, has waves that you can boogie board or body surf and the water also tends to be colder on the east coast.