Cheap Florida Panhandle Vacation

An Early Morning View of the Beach at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
The Long, Secluded Beach at Topsail Shortly after Dawn

For a low-cost Florida Panhandle vacation, Topsail Hill Preserve State park can serve as your lodging place.

Topsail is located on Florida's beautiful Emerald Coast, as the crow flies, about 12 miles east of Destin. It's quite unlike any other Florida State Park that I know of. You see, Topsail didn't start out as a state park. Actually, it was originally a private RV resort that was purchased by the state. So, it's somewhat less woodsy and somewhat more manicured than other state parks.

A View at the Entrance to One of the Camping Loops here at Topsail Hill State Park
More manicured, less woodsy

The big draw here at Topsail is, of course, its three miles of exquisite Emerald Coast beach. Although, the beach is about three-quarters of a mile from the camping area, a paved tram road will take you right to it, and its a pleasant walk or bike ride. Also, for your convenience, a tram makes runs to the beach every two hours.

A View of the Paved Tram Road to the Beach
The Tram Road to the Beach

The Topsail Hill State Park Tram Picks Up Two Passengers
The Tram Runs Every Two Hours


At one time when it was a commercial park, I'm told camping at Topsail meant you had to have an RV. Not any more. Besides RVs, the Park also has a tent camping area, located somewhat closer to the beach than are the RV sites.

The Topsail Hill State Park Tent Camping Area
The Tent Camping Area is Less Manicured and More Ruggedly Wooded


The Park has plenty of washrooms with hot showers. Plus, the park offers excellent laundry facilities.

An Interior View of the Laundry Room Showing Washers and Dryers
Pleasant Laundry Facilities

For those items you may have forgotten, the camp store just might have them. Stop in for sunscreen, insect repellant, flashlights, antifreeze, ice cream, and other incidentals.

An Exterior View of the Camp Store
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Camp Store

NOTE: For major grocery shopping, there's a Publix Supermarket 2.2 miles to the west along US Highway 98. Stock up for a few days, and you're all set for some Florida fun-in-the-sun relaxation.

Other Lodging Available

A cheap Florida Panhandle Vacation doesn't necessarily mean that you must stay in an RV or a tent. Depending on the size of your group, you might find the Park's rental bungalows and cabins to be relatively economical.

An Street View of a Bungalow
Rent Your Own Bungalow

Although the bungalows are pricier than camp sites (naturally), they're not too costly. Can you picture yourself staying here for a week or so enjoying the Emerald-Coast beach and the pleasantness of this Park? When it's time to go, you might not be ready to leave.

I hope the bungalow photo above shows you what I mean when I say Topsail Hill is unlike any state park I've ever seen. It's not necessarily better. That depends on what you're looking for. It's just different. And that difference can make for a pleasant change.

Besides the bungalows, the Park offers rental cabins.

An Street View of a Cabin
How About a Cabin?

These cost more than bungalows, but they have two bedrooms and two baths, plus they can each sleep up to six people. Seems like a good solution for a family holiday. While we enjoyed the park from our RV, I did speak with people who were staying in the cabins, and they loved it. Maybe you would too.

More Photos

So, how's that for a fine Florida Panhandle vacation? I enjoy these kinds of reviews where I have the opportunity to help people discover what they might not otherwise know about. If you stay at Topsail, I'd love to hear from you, and find out your thoughts on the place.

Wishing you great time on your "real Florida" vacation.

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