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Old 10-12-2010, 02:40 AM   #1
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Campground on Gulf coast

We are looking for a nice campground on the Gulf coast( MS, AL, LA) definitely close to the beach if not on it. We have three kids 11, 8 and 5 so somewhere with lots of activities for the kids either in park or close by. We are going in 2 weeks. Nothing like last minute planning huh????????
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Old 10-12-2010, 07:17 AM   #2
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We have stayed at Top Sail Hill Preserve in Santa Rosa Beach, FL many times and it is probably the fanciest state park we have ever seen. However, getting to the beach is a little of a chore. At Top Sail, you have to take a trolley or ride bicycles to the beach...you can't drive a car, or even golf cart (we asked) to the beach. In peak season the trolley runs on the half hour and on the hour in the winter. There is a heated swimming pool in the main campground area as well as tennis courts and shuffle board court. I think you have been to the Can Opener if memory serves so you know this campground already. Being Florida's top state park, they charge more for the sites. I think the price is approximately $38/night.

We actually like staying at Grayton Beach State Park just a little east of Top Sail more than Top Sail. Grayton Beach has two sections. The older section is water/electric only. The newer section is water/electric (20/30/50) and sewer at each site. The older section has dense vegetation that screens you from your neighbor, but doesn't provide much shade. The newer section has nicer sites, but very little in the way of vegetation, so far. At Grayton Beach you can drive a car or bicycle (or a golf cart) from the campground to the beach. It is really close, but not really walking distance. Being a state park, you can expect approximately $20/night in the older section and $28/night in the newer section, if memory serves me right.

I have a camping report with some photos on my blog for Top Sail at: The First Can Opener | streaminacrossamerica.com

and I have a camping report (also with a couple of photos) on my blog for Grayton Beach at: Grayton Beach Memoirs, revisited | streaminacrossamerica.com

Neither camp ground is really convenient to entertainment options for teens and younger. I have never stayed at St. Andrews Bay State Park in Panama City Beach, FL, but it gets good reviews here on the forums. Reviews I've read say you can stay at the park and feel as if you are in the middle of nature but when you step outside the front gate you are in the middle of beach shops, mini-golf, and all the other tourist type activity you can imagine. Being a state park, the rate is approximately $28/night making it a great value. However, it is on the Bay and not the Gulf so you will need to drive to the public Gulf beach access. But there is swimming in the bay, though, with no waves. Many of the sites are water front. For reviews of other Panama City Beach campgrounds, go to RV Park Reviews :: Panama City Beach, Florida ( FL ) - RV Parks and Campground Reviews
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Old 10-12-2010, 08:50 AM   #3
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We stayed a few days at Gulf State Park in Alabama in October of 2009. It was very clean, many things have been rebuilt in the area due to past hurricanes.
You will have to drive to the beach. If you like fishing there is a 1500' long public fishing pier about 1 mile from the campground. The USS Alabama is not too far of a drive along with historic Fort Morgan.
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Old 10-12-2010, 09:00 AM   #4
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One of the very favorites, Buccaneer State Park, near Waveland and Bay St. Louis in Mississippi reopened this past summer. It took a direct hit from Katrina, but reviews I've seen say it back as good as it was before. See: Buccaneer State Park, a Mississippi State Park near Diamondhead, Gulfport, Long Beach, New Orleans, Pass Christian
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Old 10-12-2010, 09:02 AM   #5
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Rocky Bayou

Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park is a small campground on the Choctahatchee Bay on the Gulf. It is a little known small place. The town of Niceville is where it is located. There is water and electricity at $16/night. It is waterside. White sand beaches are located not too far away. Here is the link: Welcome to Florida State Parks

We haven't been there this year. Maybe some of the folks closer can provide more info.
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Old 10-12-2010, 12:16 PM   #6
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Thanks for responses, we are leaning in the direction of Buccaneer St. park, MS, Gulf shores st. park AL or Ft. Pickens AL/MS.
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Old 10-12-2010, 01:42 PM   #7
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Has anyone stayed at Dauphin Island Campground? It's run by the city of Dauphin Island Park and Rec. board. Beach is 300 yds away but can't see it from campsites because woods are between. Not so touristy but can still take ferry over to Gulf Shores for some kid activities. If anyone knows the good or bad of this place I would appreciate it. Thanks.
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Old 10-12-2010, 02:47 PM   #8
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The Dauphin Island campground is okay???? But your idea of taking the ferry is not quite as simple as it seems as you then have to drive for ever to get to Gulf Shores. The Alabama State Park is a better option with kids or Buck... in Ms. Dauphin Island is one of our favorite golf courses and it is a great place if you don't want to leave. It is to hell and gone to go anywhere else.
Alabama is wonderful we were on our way to TX as full timers and are still living here.
mareinmn but really alabama
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Old 10-12-2010, 04:00 PM   #9
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Wow, you are looking at all the good ones!

Dauphin CG seems to be an older one, I've never stayed there but have been right by it a dozen times or so. The downside is the water quality is affected by Mobile Bay and tends to be cloudy everytime I've been there. Lots of biking on the island and the best Po-Boys I have ever eaten at the Marina Cafe. Probably a great way to have a lazy stay on an island! The ferry is right across the street and it's like $5 per bike for an adventure riding a ferry...

We haven't been to Ft. Pickens or Bucaneer since they reopened but I do recall Bucaneer being remote...Ft Pickens was our fav - the kids were free to ride bikes and the fort always made for a great way to spend a hot day exploring a cooler area.

We went to Gulf Shores during the oil spill, there is a fair amount to do in the area but ya need a car to get to the fun stuff.

Keep us posted!
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:29 AM   #10
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Well I went ahead and booked at Buccaneer State Park. Some of the amenities won't be open until next summer but enough are and the reviews are pretty good with several attractions "nearby".
Does anyone think it would be worth driving to New Orleans for the day? Will kids enjoy the sights of New Orleans, is it still ugly and mostly under construction? Traffic? Etc.?
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:04 PM   #11
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we go to New Orleans about once every couple months as a day trip. it is fine during the day the French Quarter is nicer/cleaner than before Katrina. The Muesuems are great the trolley cars a hoot/ central grocery has the best muffelettas and cafe du monde the greatest beignets. We took my husbands parents for the day when theycame down from MN and they had a great time. If you can go during the week the parking is better but the weekends are all about the show and it is quite a show. The mule/carriage rides help get an idea of the layout. Take a day trip to Ocean Springs Ms it is cute and quaint. The Phoenician for lunch is to die for. CrabonCrab or the Sea food Diablo would be our choices if the Crawfish Etouffe is not on the specials. Note only for lunch dinner is astronomically expensive.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:26 PM   #12
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A visit to New Orleans would be on my list of "to do" things when visiting that portion of the gulf coast. Definitely go on the weekend and enjoy Jackson Square. It will be alive with activity and entertainment! Great fun!
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Old 10-13-2010, 01:21 PM   #13
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Thanks again for the suggestions. Looks like a day in New Orleans may be in order. I've also booked a day trip to deep sea fish. I cant wait to tell my sons we're deep sea fishing, they're gonna go nuts. Mama said her and little Carrie are fishing too. This is going to be a fun trip.
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