Stars. Bright specks of light in the sky – remember?
It’s Ok, it happens. We spend too much time under the yellow haze of city lights or staring into the artificial blue glow of our smartphone or tablet.
It’s time to reconnect — or disconnect. It’s time to get outdoors. It’s time to go camping.
Cast a net for mullet. Paddle in protected waters teeming with sea life. Light a campfire under the stars. What’s that, marshmallows? Remember those days? Here are five of my favorite camping spots around the Pensacola Bay Area:
1. Fort Pickens
A preserved piece of Civil War history is tucked into the pristine sand dunes where Pensacola Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico. Across the narrow pass lies Pensacola Naval Air Station. More than 200 tent and RV campsites dot the park – the crown jewel of Gulf Island National Seashore. Fort Pickens is living history and living natural history. Nature and bike trails meander through ancient sand dunes – dotted by Civil War-era gun batteries.
I remember strolling along the sea wall when a pod of dolphins began sounding, leaping skyward one after the other. The show lasted 30 seconds. I was dumbfounded. I was out of film (yes, it was a while back).
The park is home to large colonies of shore-nesting least terns, plovers and majestic black skimmers. Osprey perch on trees to dine on their fresh catches. The fishing here is among the best in the area. You can cast for pompano from the shore at Langdon Beach, or take your tackle to the pier that juts into Pensacola Pass.
Quite simply an unforgettable place – whether you’re camping or just passing through.
2. Big Lagoon State Park
Salt marshes, dunes and natural stands of sand oaks and pine wrap this coastal gem along 700 acres that connect Perdido Key with the Gulf of Mexico.
The protected lagoon is ideal for paddle boarding and kayaking. Keep an eye out for the mullet, blue crab, redfish and flounder patrolling the shallows. From beaches and shallow bays to nature trails and open woodlands, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature. It’s gorgeous.
Camping is available with 75 sites in designated areas – with plenty of pine to keep things secluded. Each site is equipped with 30/50amp electric, water, a picnic table, and a fire ring/ground grill. Three full-service restrooms and a dump station are available. (Behaving) pets are welcome.
The park can accommodate RVs up to 40 foot. Reservations: 850-492-1595.
3. Live Large at Pensacola Beach RV Resort
Every luxury RV needs a luxury place to connect — even if you are disconnecting for the week.
Located in the heart of Pensacola Beach, the RV park is parked on the banks of Santa Rosa Sound — the massive flowing bay flanking the north side of the beach.
Swim or paddle in the sound, or relax by the park’s private community swimming pool.
Complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas accent the beach life, while a clubhouse with amenities such as washers and dryers, a meeting area and a Tiki Store to cover those last-minute supplies.
Each site comes with a picnic table. Gas grills are available at the Clubhouse, call 850-944-1734.
4. Pensacola RV Park
This spacious family-owned facility is located a mile from Interstate 10, about 7 miles from the Alabama state line.
With 23 large pull-through sites, the RV Park is the perfect place to bring the whole family – a tranquil place to relax while you enjoy the sights of Pensacola.
Kitchen facilities and laundromat, dog runs, and clean showers are available. Each site has its own 30/50 amp electrical hookup, free cable TV and the entire park is WiFi connected. 3117 Wilde Lake Boulevard, Pensacola, FL 32526. Call 850-944-1734
5. Freshwater Lake Life at Lake Stone
Lake Stone Campground harkens back to the old days of camping. A beautiful freshwater lake is wrapped in woodlands and open camp areas ring the lake that is located near the town of Century along Escambia County’s northern tier.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has stocked this 125-acre lake with largemouth bass, bream, sunfish, crappie and channel catfish. A fishing pier and boat ramp accents the lake — although no gasoline-powered motors are allowed.
Escambia County recently geared the park with its own WiFi service, and the 100-acre site can accommodate anything from tent camping to RVs and big rigs.
Campground Manager: 850-256-5555.
Whether you want to escape the city lights and sleep under the stars or take a slightly smaller version of your granite counter-topped, leather sofa home with you to a unique vacation spot, there’s a place for you in the Pensacola area.
We have places where blankets of galaxies cover the sky, places where you can get in tune with a secluded coast.