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Gulf Coast RV Camping & Itinerary

Enjoy a camping trip along the middle of the Gulf Coast with this camping guide and itinerary. The best campgrounds in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are included.

sunrise over the gulf of Mexico

In November, we purchased a new motorhome. We were excited to get on the road and decided to go camping for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We only had a few days off for Thanksgiving, so we stayed in Illinois. We drove south, ending up at Wayne Fitzgerald State Park at Rend Lake. It was a bit chilly, so we knew that we would have to drive much further south in December. Land Between the Lakes would be too cold in late December.

After researching weather averages, the decision was made that Camping on the Gulf of Mexico was required to find warm weather. This keeps us within 800 miles, which allows us to drive over 2 days. We like to set up before dark, which means getting off the road by 4 pm.

Gulf Coast RV Park Vacation Itinerary

A search for Alabama and Mississippi Gulf Coast Campgrounds came up with our trip plan. Our Gulf Coast Itinerary included Buccaneer State Park, Davis Bayou Campground, and Dauphin Island Campground. Combined this with our previous visits to Gulf State Park and Big Lagoon State Park in Florida, and you have a great middle Gulf Coast camping trip!

OpenStreetMap of Gulf Coast with Campgrounds Marked

Beachfront RV Parks Gulf Coast in MS

There are some great campgrounds along the coast in Mississippi!

Buccaneer State Park

Our first Gulf Coast Camping stay was at Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi.  There was a cold snap going on while we were there, so we kept our coats on when we walked along the water.

beach at Waveland Mississippi

Buccaneer State Park is located about 30 minutes west of Biloxi. The campground has 276 campsites spread out over eight loops. Most of the campsites can be reserved ahead of time. Each has a paved parking pad, full hookups, a picnic table, and a grill. The seasonal overflow sites are popular because they are across the road from the gulf. This is a wide-open unshaded area with electric-only spots. These sites do not have a table or grill. These seaside campsites are close together, but several have a great view of the water.

sunrise at Buccaneer State Park

Sunrises and sunsets are amazing from this Mississippi beach campground. We set an alarm and woke up early to a beautiful Christmas morning sunrise. The wind broke that afternoon, which made the temperature more comfortable.

Sunset from Buccaneer State Park

Check out our full review of Buccaneer State Park.

Camping Near Biloxi at Davis Bayou

After a 2-night stay, we took Hwy 90 across Bay St. Louis, through Gulfport, to Ocean Springs. It was interesting to see all the improvements and rebuilding that had been done to the Biloxi area since Hurricane Katrina. We went down on a relief trip to this area as a family 15 years ago. There was some evidence of damage visible from Hurricane Zeta, which hit at the end of October.

View of the Bayou

The next two nights were spent at Davis Bayou, which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We really liked this hidden gem because of its classic national park feel. It felt like traditional camping to us.

The best parts were seeing an alligator in the bayou and spending time along the water at the pier near the visitor’s center.

See our Davis Bayou Campground review.

alligator in the Mississippi bayou

We plan to explore all of this national seashore, including another Gulf Coast Camping Trip to this location in the future, along with Shepard State Park.

Gulf Coast RV Parks on the Beach in Alabama

We continued east to Alabama.

Camping on Dauphin Island

Our next destination was Dauphin Island Campground. This barrier island is by the mouth of Mobile Bay. We discovered it about 5 years ago on a spring break trip to Fort Morgan, which is just west of Gulf Shores. We took the Mobile Bay Ferry for a day of adventure, which took us to this quiet island.

sunrise at Dauphin Island

The ferry stop is right next to this Alabama Coast Campground. We knew back then that we would return and stay at this campground. We booked for 3 nights and decided to extend 2 nights to avoid driving home through bad weather.

Those two extra days were such a nice bonus because the Audubon Bird Sanctuary reopened after being closed from Hurricane Sally damage. We also enjoyed beach walks, ship watching on the bay, Fort Gaines, and the lovely weather which allowed us to sleep with open windows.

Dauphin Island beach

Many snowbirds come down to this campground for the winter. We hope to be a pair of them when we retire. I do not think we could get bored there.

Gulf State Park

Gulf State Park is a popular state park located in Gulf Shores. This large park has nearly 500 campsites, many of which are suitable for RVs.

The park is popular for fishing, hiking, boating, golf, swimming, paddling, and more. There is so much to do that you could spend a week here.

This park sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Sally in 2020, closing it down for several months.

Gulf State Park Pier

Camping in the Panhandle of Florida

The final destination of this middle Gulf Coast trip is Big Lagoon in Florida.

Big Lagoon State Park

Big Lagoon is a great state park located along the Intracoastal Waterway southwest of Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle. In addition to camping, the park has swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing, and hiking.

The campground is small, offering a quiet setting. We really like how there are so many places to explore in the park, but you feel like you are away from it all. See our review of Big Lagoon State Park.

Where to Stay Midway Down

For campers coming from the Midwest who do not want to drive to the coast in one day, we recommend a stay at Persimmon Hill Campground in Northern Mississippi. This Army Corps of Engineers recreation site, located a little south of Memphis, was clean, quiet, and well maintained. We would definitely stay there again.

When we looked at Google Maps for the drive home, Route 45 was one of the recommendations. Since we drive slower than most vehicles on the interstate, we decided to take it north. It was such a pleasant drive without wind or truck traffic.

We stopped for the last night at Chickasaw State Park in Tennessee. This is a nice park with many activities, although not in January. We got a level full hookup site. This allowed us to dump and winterize before pulling out of our site.

As you can see, we had a great time on our Gulf Coast RV Park Adventure. We were able to maximize our relaxation time because we premade and froze all of our dinners to take with us. That also helped cut down on the number of dishes that had to be washed. Doing meals, this way is a big benefit of owning a motorhome. We did much the same on our Alaskan RV Adventure.

More Camping Itineraries

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