12 Best Places to visit on the Gulf Coast – 2020 Guide

Last updated on December 17th, 2021 at 11:32 am. Originally published on August 9th, 2020

The Gulf Coast is a beautiful place to spend an RV vacation – down by the white sandy beaches and near the crystal blue waters. You can fish and try catching something for dinner, or surf, or just relax on the beach in the warm sun.

There are a variety of campgrounds along the Gulf Coast in several states. Whether you want to set up camp in Texas, Alabama, Florida, or elsewhere, you have plenty of choices for a Gulf Coast vacation!

Best Places to visit on the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast stretches from the tip of Florida to the lowermost tip of Texas and includes Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. From the best beaches to the best campgrounds, here are the 12 best places to visit on the Gulf Coast.

Best Gulf Coast Beaches

There are many Gulf Coast beaches where you can take in and sand and the surf. Here are some of the best Gulf Coast beaches you can visit.

1.) Sanibel Island, Florida

Many people consider Sanibel Island one of the best beaches in Florida. You can go shelling or fishing, hang out at Lighthouse Beach and see the 100-year old lighthouse. Or bike or walk the boardwalks and trails. You may also spot manatees, sea turtles, or crocodiles at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

2.) Mustang Island, Texas

This beach area near Corpus Christi is a great, inexpensive spot to vacation! The island is home to Mustang Island State Park, and visitors can kayak, fish, swim, and more.

3.) Naples, Florida

Naples’ clear blue water brings people from around the world, and Vanderbilt Beach has restrooms and parking for visitors. Naples Municipal Beach is family-friendly, and has a fishing pier and concessions. It’s also home to many multi-million dollar homes, making it a fun spot to scope out how the other half lives.

4.) Orange Beach, Alabama

The Orange Beach area has miles and miles of sandy beaches and grassy dunes. Wander along the beach, or sit by the crystal waters with a good book and enjoy the scenery.

5.) St. Pete Beach, Florida

St. Pete Beach is about half an hour from Tampa and is home to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the country. You can take out a see-through kayak to discover dolphins and manatees swimming underneath you as you paddle, or enjoy the vintage Florida motels and architecture in the area.

Gulf Coast Camping

The Gulf Coast boasts lots of state parks along the shores, many with hookups and other amenities that make camping easy and enjoyable right near the water.

Gulf Coast RV Parks on the beach

Gulf Coast RV parks are a one-of-a-kind camping experience. Many of them are just steps from the beach…or right on it, letting you take in the beauty of the coast right when you open the door. Try one of these Gulf Coast campgrounds on your trip!

1.) Malaquite Campground, Padre Island 

Malaquite Campground is just $14 a night for a spot just steps from the shore, among the dunes. The campground is just half a mile from the visitor center. There are no hookups, but there is a dump station available, and campsites also have a picnic table, and sites on the Gulf side have shade structures and grills. There are flush toilets  and cold-water rinse showers at the campground.

2.) Galveston Island State Park, Texas

Galveston Island State Park is about 12 miles south of Galveston and 60 miles south of Houston. The park has a vast and varied landscape, which covers over 2,000 acres of the island. With its boardwalks, bayside trails and beaches, Galveston Island State Park attracts many visitors. It also has its own set of campgrounds for RVers. Spaces start at $15 for those without electrical hookups and $20 for those with hookups. Water is included at all sites, and most come with a picnic table and fire ring. You’ll also have access to nearby showers and restrooms.

3.) Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana

Grand Isle State Park, off the coast of Louisiana, serves as a breakwater between the Gulf and the many bayou rivers and offshoots of the Mississippi River. It’s a great base camp for deep-sea fishing and heading out into the open water. The warm water is a draw for visitors year-round who want to enjoy the mild climate and be able to swim in any season.  Grand Isle State Park has 49 pull-through campsites that include water and electrical hookups.

4.) Buccaneer State Park, Mississippi

See moss-draped oaks, marshlands, and the Gulf of Mexico at this unique park, which is also home to the Buccaneer Bay Water Park – a popular summer attraction! Buccaneer State Park has 206 campsites with full amenities, and 70 sites on a grassy field overlooking the Gulf that only have water and electricity.

5.) Gulf State Park, Alabama

Gulf State Park is about an hour from Mobile, and has two miles of beautiful white sand beaches and lots of shells and ocean wildlife. The boardwalks wander through swamps and dunes and down to the beaches, and there’s even a dog pond for pets. Gulf State Campground is just 1 1/2 miles from the beach and has full hookups with picnic tables and grills. There are showers, a camp store, laundry, a swimming pool and splash pad, and a nature center.

6.) Henderson Beach State Park, Florida

This state park near Destin has sand dunes that tower over 30 feet tall. You can also swim, fish, or picnic along the shore on the sugar-fine sand of the Florida beach. Rates at the park campground start around $30 per night. There are water and electric hookups and the campground is pet friendly.

7.) Grayton Beach State Park, Florida

Grayton Beach often makes lists of the most beautiful beaches in the country. You can fish or kayak in Western Lake, walk the coastal trails, or sunbathe on the fine beach sand. The campground has 59 sites with electric and water hookups and a dump station available.

Where is there to do on the Gulf Coast?

There is so much to do on a gulf coast vacation! Deep-sea fishing and renting kayaks with see-through bottoms are unique experiences you can’t do just anywhere. The coast also has world-class shopping in some of the most expensive areas of the country…or more economical shopping if your budget can’t stretch quite that far. There are also historic sites like Jackson’s Ridge at Buccaneer State Park, which was a base for Andrew Jackson’s military operations. And of course, there’s also surfing, swimming, or hiking and biking the beach trails. Nearby towns also have numerous art galleries, restaurants, and museums.

Whether you want to hike and explore, learn about the history of the area, or just relax on the world-renowned beaches of the Gulf Coast, there’s something for everyone to do!

Looking for more places to camp on the water? Check out the 10 Best Waterfront RV Campgrounds.

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