On the panhandle of Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, where white sand beaches meet crystal clear waters, you’ll find a tiny town called Miramar Beach. Although it’s just shy of five square miles, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in sheer beauty. It falls along the Emerald Coast, a 100-mile stretch of shoreline that spans five counties along the gulf. Some people call this stretch of coastline the “most beautiful beaches in Florida,” but we’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Camp Gulf sits between Destin and the Scenic Highway 30A. It has 200 RV sites across four tiers of locations, from the beachfront to the upper park, with prices that correspond to your proximity to the beach. They also house 20 cabins, in case you want to meet up with friends or family who haven’t yet realized the full glory of RV life. Amenities include two heated pools and a waterslide, a playground, basketball and shuffleboard courts, and an on-site grocery store and gift shop. You can rent golf carts, beach carts, Segways, wagons and more, and there’s high-speed WiFi for all sites—perfect for living high like a true Florida retiree! Between the white sugar beaches, super-clean bath houses, and incredible location, the only downside we can find to Camp Gulf is that they don’t allow pets.
Rates for Camp Gulf start at $75/night for winter 2019-20, with the best discounts given to snowbirds who can make three-month commitments. Spots fill up fast, book yours here.
The Track Family Recreation Center
When you’re a kid, there’s no thrill more potent than sliding behind the wheel of a go-kart. The subversive, forbidden delight of driving a car meets with the raw thrill of competition to turn anyone under the age of sixteen positively corrupt with power.
Which is why, if you remember that feeling at all, you’ll treat your kids to a day at The Track. With five go-kart tracks (two are multilevel!), two mini golf courses, blaster boats, bumper cars, the Skyflyer and the Hurricane 360, a day at The Track may knock your kids out cold for a solid twelve hours sleep. And if you’re traveling with a mixed-age group, Fat Daddy’s Arcade is good for all ages, while tamer rides like a ferris wheel, carousel, kiddie karts and spinning tops will delight the little ones. (As well as less-adventurous parents.)
You don’t even have to have kids to appreciate the all-ages fun you can find here—it’s enough to be young at heart. Although, if you want to earn karma points, you’ll take someone else’s kids. There’s plenty of room for RV parking in their lot during the day, so you can bring the whole rig with you. And the best part is, it’s open seven days a week, year-round.
North Beach Tortilla Co.
At a restaurant with over 100 choices of tequila, you may be surprised to find such tasty gulf-to-table and farm-to-table food. Fusing Spanish, Southwestern and Floridian cuisines, North Beach Tortilla Co. offers tasty food made from scratch, in a prime location right on the water. The open-air bar gives you the best views of the sunset, and if it’s a bit cold out, they’re quick to provide blankets and heaters to ward off the chill. Or you could play a game of cornhole to warm up, supplementing with a delicious adult beverage from one of the master bartenders.
With such a great view, North Beach Tortilla Co. can get busy, flooded with tourists and locals alike looking for some tasty fish tacos. So while plan A may be dining on the patio as the sky changes colors and the sun dips below the horizon, plan B should definitely be sipping on a margarita while your to-go order gets thrown together in the back. In our estimation, guacamole and chips tastes even better from the comfort of your own campsite.
Point Washington State Forest
Point Washington State Forest is a 15,000-plus acre forest comprising diverse natural terrain, including sandhill, basin swamps, wet flatwoods, wet prairie and cypress swamps. A number of threatened and endangered species of plants and animals call the forest home, including the American kestrel, gopher tortoise and flatwoods salamander. With keen eyes, you might even spot the carnivorous white-topped pitcher plant. (Carnivorous plants are a real crowd pleaser for all ages.)
Several hiking and biking trails cross the forest. With 3.5-mile, 5-mile and 10-mile loops, there are hours of activities for sporty types. The intra-forest roads aren’t great for driving or pulling RVs, but nearby state parks adjacent to the forest provide opportunities for parking or camping. Grayton Beach State Park, just to the south of Point Washington, has more than 50 RV-capable sites for let, and Deer Lake State Park has ample day parking just off Highway 30A.
And if you just can’t leave your rig behind, US Route 98 cuts through Point Washington State Forest, giving you a taste of the scenery without having to stop and unload the whole crew. Come in the fall to enjoy the riotous color from native wildflowers blooming; just be sure to take proper precautions during hunting season to avoid becoming a permanent fixture in the forest ecosystem.
Crab Island is the kind of place whose reputation precedes it. Though there once was a crab-shaped strip of sand jutting out of the water, the “island” has long-since taken a dip in the azure waters that surround it. Now, Crab Island is more of an idea—a place defined by the people who meet there each day to swim, socialize and sun themselves at the sandbar.
The water is shallow, only 1- to 4-feet in most locations, making it an ideal hangout spot, regardless of your swimming abilities. And it’s naturally protected by land, which means that while the water can flow in and out of the gulf, you’ll stay protected from surf and waves. Crab Island is only accessible by boat, so look for a rental or hustle to make new friends when you roll into Destin.
Once you get to Crab Island, what is there to do? It’s basically an underwater picnic spot, so pack snacks, bring Frisbees, inflate some rafts or bring a good book. The point here is not in the doing, it’s in the being. So chill some bevvies, crank the tunes, kick back and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins.