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Old 12-12-2019, 06:58 PM   #1
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Florida - Panhandle to Fort Myers

Looking to travel south after this Christmas sometime from Illinois. Have used RV Trip Wizard so far from Illinois to the Florida Panhandle area. Would like some recommendations in traveling roughly 550 miles from the Panhandle to Fort Myers area. Only plan to travel say between 150-275 miles a day staying 2-3 nights at each stop. So looking for places to stay with a 40-1/2 ft 5er and things to do at each stop.

Also recommendations for campgrounds in both Panhandle and Fort Myers areas. I have a couple in mind but haven't made any reservations yet. (I know I late in making them)

All suggestions welcomed.
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Old 12-12-2019, 07:57 PM   #2
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Wow, going to follow this thread. If folks know of places available this time of year in Florida I want to know! Good luck, thinking you will need Walmarts, rest areas (which florida has every 40 miles it seems) any other spots you can boondock.
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Old 12-12-2019, 08:13 PM   #3
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Where in the panhandle? It is late for reservations. Also, I travel between the panhandle (Pensacola to East central Florida often) Not many destination campgrounds.
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Old 12-12-2019, 08:19 PM   #4
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Where in the panhandle? It is late for reservations. Also, I travel between the panhandle (Pensacola to East central Florida often) Not many destination campgrounds.
Was thinking Destin area. But sounds like there may be few and far between.
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Old 12-12-2019, 09:39 PM   #5
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We have stayed a couple of times at Pensacola RV Park. I’d stay there again.

In Destin, we got a beach from spot at Camp Gulf. Lots of sand and stupidly snug with the neighbors, but you couldn’t beat the view. Expensive even with 4 free nights on a 1 week stay (we had one 2 x 2 free night gift certificates).

At I-75 and I-10, we have stayed at what was called Oaks N Pines campground. I think that’s Lake City there. The campground has a new name but you can still find it with the old one.

And then running south, we have been hitting Bass Pro Shops in Gainesville. Doesn’t sound like it interests you.

Then we have stayed in Bradenton at Winter Quarters Manatee park. Not a bad place but a lot of highway noise.

Did the Walmart in Bushnell one night.

I’m currently at, and love, Royal Coachman in Nokomis. This is our second full December and third Christmas here.

We have stayed a couple of times at Harbor View. This is more of an upscale mobile home park than RV park. Depending on your spot, you could be squished between park models. Friendly enough people. Once we stayed a month and Christmas there (I want to say 2016).

We’ve stayed at Pioneer Village in North Fort Myers. Very tight but friendly people.
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:15 PM   #6
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We have stayed a couple of times at Pensacola RV Park. Id stay there again.

In Destin, we got a beach from spot at Camp Gulf. Lots of sand and stupidly snug with the neighbors, but you couldnt beat the view. Expensive even with 4 free nights on a 1 week stay (we had one 2 x 2 free night gift certificates).

At I-75 and I-10, we have stayed at what was called Oaks N Pines campground. I think thats Lake City there. The campground has a new name but you can still find it with the old one.

And then running south, we have been hitting Bass Pro Shops in Gainesville. Doesnt sound like it interests you.

Then we have stayed in Bradenton at Winter Quarters Manatee park. Not a bad place but a lot of highway noise.

Did the Walmart in Bushnell one night.

Im currently at, and love, Royal Coachman in Nokomis. This is our second full December and third Christmas here.

We have stayed a couple of times at Harbor View. This is more of an upscale mobile home park than RV park. Depending on your spot, you could be squished between park models. Friendly enough people. Once we stayed a month and Christmas there (I want to say 2016).

Weve stayed at Pioneer Village in North Fort Myers. Very tight but friendly people.
Thanks for your suggestions. Will definitely look them over.
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Old 12-12-2019, 10:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for your suggestions. Will definitely look them over.
I have pictures of at least my site in almost all of them if any catch your fancy.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:49 PM   #8
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You did not mention WHEN you are doing your traveling...

Your best bet to even find a location for a day or two or three is to stay away from the beach areas... stay along I-10, then south a bit east of Pensacola to pick up Rt 98 which is a great road to travel East-West in panhandle.

The places I mention below I believe are your best bet to find a place to stop at least for an evening, if not more.

from West to East, these are some suggestions...

Gulf Shores S Park in ALABama off I-65, nearly 500 sites at this campground... can usually get in for a night or two

Blackwater River S Park near Milton, FL off I-10, small but nice... Milton FL has anything you could need

Presnell's Bayside RV Resort near Port St Joe... Port St Joe nearby...

Stop in Apalachicola, FL to sample the great oysters in this area.

St George Island S Park, St George Island, beautiful island and campground

Carabelle Beach RV Resort, Carrabelle, FL Rt 98

Ochlockonee River S Park, near Sopchoppy, FL off Rt 98 and 319... a little primitive for a state park but can usually find a site

Ecofina RIver S Park, off Rt 98

Manatee River S Park, near Cheifland, FL near Rt 98... swim with the manatees in the park

Finding spots in the panhandle in January is not as tough as finding a spot in February or later. Getting down into Tampa area and south of that, beach areas near the gulf are gonna be crowded. Stay inland ( east of I-75) to have a better chance.

EG Simmons Regional Park, near Ruskin, FL south of Tampa is a county park with no reservations that often has a spot or two available. Nothing special around here, but some cheap eateries if you look around.

Good luck
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Old 12-13-2019, 12:22 AM   #9
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You did not mention WHEN you are doing your traveling...

Your best bet to even find a location for a day or two or three is to stay away from the beach areas... stay along I-10, then south a bit east of Pensacola to pick up Rt 98 which is a great road to travel East-West in panhandle.

The places I mention below I believe are your best bet to find a place to stop at least for an evening, if not more.

from West to East, these are some suggestions...

Gulf Shores S Park in ALABama off I-65, nearly 500 sites at this campground... can usually get in for a night or two

Blackwater River S Park near Milton, FL off I-10, small but nice... Milton FL has anything you could need

Presnell's Bayside RV Resort near Port St Joe... Port St Joe nearby...

Stop in Apalachicola, FL to sample the great oysters in this area.

St George Island S Park, St George Island, beautiful island and campground

Carabelle Beach RV Resort, Carrabelle, FL Rt 98

Ochlockonee River S Park, near Sopchoppy, FL off Rt 98 and 319... a little primitive for a state park but can usually find a site

Ecofina RIver S Park, off Rt 98

Manatee River S Park, near Cheifland, FL near Rt 98... swim with the manatees in the park

Finding spots in the panhandle in January is not as tough as finding a spot in February or later. Getting down into Tampa area and south of that, beach areas near the gulf are gonna be crowded. Stay inland ( east of I-75) to have a better chance.

EG Simmons Regional Park, near Ruskin, FL south of Tampa is a county park with no reservations that often has a spot or two available. Nothing special around here, but some cheap eateries if you look around.

Good luck
Thanks for your suggestions. Hadn't thought too much about Alabama.
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Old 12-13-2019, 10:56 AM   #10
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Gulf Shores S Park in Alabama is a huge campground. I have driven through to look but I have not camped there. I visited the state park but stayed in a cabin this year in October during the Shrimp Fest there, and was able to book a spot for February 2021 for a month long visit. It is not far, maybe a mile or less to the gulf seashore from the campground. lots of hiking paths in the campground area. If you look at the map you are not far from Pensacola at that point. With all of the campsites, there is bound to be a few spots open on any one night I figure.

https://www.alapark.com/parks/gulf-s...ive-campground
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:26 PM   #11
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I would also suggest you check out Topsail Hill State Park which is located in Santa Rosa Beach which is a few miles east of Destin. This is my favorite state park for staying in an RV. This park has full hook ups and cable tv. Almost all of the pads are concrete and it is kept up very well. The sites are not on the beach but they have bike paths and a tram to take people to the beach. I was there this past week and was surprised at how many empty sites there were.
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:51 PM   #12
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Early January is not too bad for finding space. Download RV Parky or Allstays. These apps are free and the give location's prices, phone number and ratings.
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Old 12-13-2019, 01:56 PM   #13
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I haven't been on that road for about 10 years but, If you decide on Rt 98, and like history, the inventor of the air conditioner system for homes lived along that route, can't remember the town but its in the area of where 98 turns south. Not far from there, Chieftain I think, is the North Florida Forestry Museum, We found that place to be well worth the stop. Also, just north of Crystal River is a town where Elvis and Co filmed "Follow That Dream". Check out the restored courthouse.
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:22 PM   #14
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Try Ja-Mar Travel Trailer Park in Port Richey. We stayed there 2 years ago and it had activities and was decent place. It was Passport America if i remember correctly.
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:24 PM   #15
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Strongly suggest taking either I10 toTallahasee or 98 along the gulf. Pick up 19/27 . Great 4 line divided highway. Nice quiet drive. New park in Chiefland called Strawberry Fields. It is wide open but paved pull thrus with full hook ups. $25 a night. Good place to explore the coast. Great young couple working hard. Eventually 400 sites. They are working on phase 2 now. There is another new park in Chiefland behind the walmart if you want to spend $60 a night. Enjoy your travels.
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:28 PM   #16
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When reading your initial post, the first thing that came to my mind was "I hope he is not wanting beaches or easy coastal access". The gulf is completely different from the east coast. Very few beaches and limited access to the gulf. Telling us what activities you are seeking will help in making suggestions.
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:31 PM   #17
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We stayed at Ft Pickens NP (Pensacola Beach) this fall and loved it. Avoid loop A with a big rig.

We've used Manatee Springs SP as a stopover. It's not far from Rt 98. Campground road is small, but there are good sized sites.
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:52 PM   #18
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We stayed at Ft Pickens NP (Pensacola Beach) this fall and loved it. Avoid loop A with a big rig.

We've used Manatee Springs SP as a stopover. It's not far from Rt 98. Campground road is small, but there are good sized sites.
Be aware Ft. Pickens does not have full hookups but they have 30 Amp, water and a dump station. Pretty cheap if you have your inter-agency pass. About $25 if I recall.

We stayed at Gulf State park at Gulf Shores the month of Oct. Lots of activities and bike paths, the pier and beach. Big camp spots with 50 Amp full hookups. Some great gulf coast restaurants within a few minutes. About $50
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Old 12-13-2019, 02:56 PM   #19
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I agree with PORTLIZ about routing. If you are looking for a leisurely ride take US 98 along the coast. If you're looking to make better time, I-10 is the better way to go. US 19/27 South from just east of Tallahassee all the way south to Tampa keeps you off the Interstate (75) and is four lane divided highway the whole way. We use this route ourselves when heading to central Florida.

FLARIDER is right about Topsail State Park. It is in the Destin area and used to be a private RV Park until the State bought the property, ostensibly to limit "commercial" developers from taking the property. So it has full hookups and can handle all sizes of rigs. We've camped there more than once and enjoyed it.

St. George Island State Park is further east than the Destin area. The Park was seriously damaged during Hurricane Michael. Some areas are still closed. The campground is closed right now for repairs but will re-open Monday 12-15-19.

We've used Rock Crusher Canyon RV Park for a couple of over-nights when heading to the Keys... it's in Crystal River and there are several good places to eat seafood there!

Happy Travels!
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Old 12-13-2019, 04:03 PM   #20
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From Destin to Santa Rosa Beach on Hwy 98 is under construction. YOU will do well to bypass that mess....
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