A Summer RV Road Trip on Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast

The July 2016 issue of Motorhome Magazine features our story about taking an RV roadtrip along the seashore at the top of the Sunshine State. It’s called Jewels of Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast.

Jewels of Florida's Northern Gulf Coast Trailer Life Magazine July 2016

Motorhome Magazine – July 2016
Article: Emily Fagan, Photos: Emily & Mark Fagan

We have ventured to the northern part of Florida several times during our years of RVing, and we have enjoyed it immensely.

Most seasonal and full-time RVers think of Florida as a warm destination and a good place to escape the cold of winter. So it may seem odd for this article to appear in the July issue.

However, as anyone who ventures to northern Florida in January quickly discovers, the peak season for beach-goers along Florida’s panhandle is actually summertime!

Crazy as it seems, the winter months generally isn’t warm enough for swimming or even for sunbathing in Florida’s panhandle! We were shocked to find ourselves shivering in our jackets and long pants on this part of the Gulf coast when we were there one January.

By March, however, it was lovely on the beach, and we were assured that by summertime the water is downright toasty for swimming. And that’s when the RV park rates go up.

So, for RVers planning a winter trek to the northern Gulf Coast, it may be chilly but the RV parks will be cheaper. Summer visitors might pay a premium, but they’ll have one big beach party!

Northern Florida Emerald Coast

What a spot for a stroll!

The coast around Pensacola Beach and Panama City Beach is called the Emerald Coast, and it is for good reason. The water is a stunning shade of green.

Emerald Coast beaches Florida Gulf Coast

The Emerald Coast beaches have vivid aquamarine water and incredibly white sand.

And the sugary sand is blindingly white, super soft, and fun to play in.

Gulf Island National Seashore Florida

Sand or snow?!

One of our favorite areas is the Gulf Islands National Seashore between Pensacola Beach and Navarre. This is a thin 10 mile long strip of barrier island that has a paved bike path and a paved road connecting the communities at either end.

On one side of the Gulf Islands National Seashore barrier island there is a calm bay that is wonderful for kayaking.

The bay side of Gulf Islands National Seashore

The bay side of Gulf Islands National Seashore is calm and was ideal for our Hobie inflatable kayak.

On the other side the open ocean is emerald colored and there are endless miles of white sand beaches.

Vivd green water on the Emerald Coast

The Emerald Coast is just that!

Playing in the white sand of Florida Northern Gulf Coast

This place is one huge sandbox!

The beaches are busy at each end of the strip near the communities of Pensacola Beach and Navarre. But for the many miles in between there is nothing but sand and ocean. And the beach is sensational at sunrise.

Sunrise Florida Gulf Coast beach

Sunrise can be breathtaking on this coast.

There are lots of beautiful beaches along Florida’s northern Gulf coast, and they range from remote and peaceful to urban and bustling. Panama City Beach is loaded with highrises.

Panama CIty Beach Florida

Panama City Beach is full of high rises but is still a great beach for strollling, body surfing and sun bathing.

The fun thing about Florida is that as soon as you drive into the state you feel like you’re on vacation. Riding our bikes along the beach, we found ourselves riding past resorts with beach bars, live music and a tropical feel.

On vacation in Florida's Panhandle

You can get beers to go and hear live music at the beach resorts.

Florida has lots of beautiful state parks, and three we enjoyed in this area were St. George Island State Park, St. Joseph State Park and Ochlockonee River State Park. The first two parks not only have beaches loaded with seashells, but they have cool boardwalks. The third has stands of tall trees and pure white squirrels. And they all have RV camping too.

Florida Gulf Coast beach sunrise

Orange light at dawn.

No matter where you go along the waterfront, seagulls will be hanging around and squawking!

Seagulls Florida Northern Gulf Coast

Seagulls line up along a fence by the beach.

The town of Apalachicola has lots of history and is home to a large shrimping fleet tied up at the docks. There are also some fun restaurants and neat little shops too. For oyster lovers, there are many places to get a plate of oysters.

Shrimp boat Apalachicola Florida

Apalachicola is a small working town with a big fleet of shrimp boats.

We have lots of blog posts about our RV travels in and around Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast at these links:

On the beach Florida's Northern Gulf Coast Emerald Coast

Standing up or lying down, there are many ways to have a great time on the Gulf Coast.

Motorhome Magazine is a terrific magazine that is published every month. Besides highlighting fun RVing destinations like Florida’s northern Gulf Coast, it also has lots of articles about RV maintenance, RV repair, and reviews of recently released motorhome models.

Sugar sand beaches line the Emerald Coast

The sand is like sugar…

For those interested in learning about RVing, Motorhome Magazine is a great way to pick up little golden nuggets of info about RVs and where to take them! An annual subscription to either the print or digital edition is not expensive and can be obtained at this link:

Subscribe to Motorhome Magazine

We have been publishing articles in Motorhome Magazine for a few years now, and some of our articles, including one about RVing full-time, are posted on Motorhome’s website at this link:

Motorhome Magazine articles by Emily & Mark Fagan

Sunset Pensacola Beach Florida

Pensacola Beach at sunset…

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6 thoughts on “A Summer RV Road Trip on Florida’s Northern Gulf Coast

  1. Just make sure your A/C on your RV is working when you get back from the beach. Its blooming stifling hot here in FL with high humidity

    • It is the Hobie i14t inflatable tandem kayak. We have a detailed review of it at this link: Hobie i14t Kayak Review. We just loved it! We used it for several years in our RV and then we used it on our sailboat throughout our cruise of Mexico. When we sailed back to San Diego we sold it along with just about everything else on our boat because we no longer had room for it in our trailer. Fabulous boat… loads of fun… highly recommend!!!

  2. My grandparents lived in Apalachicola and my folks retired there. We spend several months in the winter in and around the area—along with Apalachicola, St. George Island and Ochlockonee River SP are two of our favorite places. It really is a wonderful part of Florida. Lovely photos!

    • We’ve really enjoyed the Apalachicola area each time we’ve visited, and I love that it’s called the “Forgotten Coast.” There’s something neat about a part of Florida being “forgotten” because so much of it is very much not forgotten and very busy. But this little region is very unassuming, has a really down-to-earth feeling to it, and has an interesting history to boot…


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