Poet John Masefield wrote, “I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” Along the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico you will find the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The Park begins just west of Destin, Florida and continues west to Perdido Key. The park resumes at Petit Bois Island, Mississippi and continues west to Cat Island off the coast at Gulfport Mississippi. It is actually a series of parks. The park is known for its sugar sand beaches which stretch for miles. It is also known for its history. There is a string of forts along the seashore which defended the southern shore of the U.S. for many years. The forts within the National Sea Shore are Advanced Redoubt, Fort Barrancas, Fort Massachusetts, Fort McCree, and Fort Pickens. Each of these forts played pivotal roles in the defense of our nation. More than 80 percent of the park is submerged lands teeming with marine life. Marshes collect fresh rainwater and support diverse communities of plants and animals. Live oak forests are home to resident and migrating bird populations. East to west the Gulf Islands National Seashore stretches about 160 miles east to west.

There are two developed Campgrounds in the park. Davis Bayou is located in Mississippi and has 52 campsites all with electric and water. We stayed at the Fort Pickens Campground which is just west of Pensacola Beach, Florida. Fort Pickens Campground has 169 campsites with water and electric and 43 sites with no hookups. Fort Pickens has shower houses in each loop. There are also laundry facilities available. Both campgrounds have dump stations.

We were in loop A at Fort Pickens Campground and it is absolutely beautiful. It is set among a Live Oak forest and only a short walk to the beach. It is also a short bicycle ride to Fort Pickens. One thing to note, because of the ample live oaks in the loop some sites are height restricted and some have restrictions on slide outs. One nature trail begins right in loop A. Looking out the rear window of Pete we could view a large tree with an Osprey nest perched near the top. Just about every morning just outside of loop A an eagle could be seen hanging around the top of the trees. The nature trail and walks on the beach were very relaxing. We were here for two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

There is plenty to do in the Fort Pickens area of the Seashore. There are miles of hiking and bicycling trails and miles of beaches. Each of the forts offer tours, except Fort McRee which now lies beneath the gulf waters. We took a guided tour of Fort Pickens and the Ranger did a fabulous job. We really enjoyed it. Down by Fort Pickens there is a fishing pier which is totally free, no license is required for fishing. At the fort during the summer there is a ferry which runs across the bay to Gulf Breeze, Florida. Just across the bay is the Pensacola Naval Air Base. It is the home of the Blue Angles. We saw the Blue Angels several times as they were practicing, sometimes right overhead. The aeronautical museum, we are told, is a must do. Unfortunately, we were in the area when the tragic shooting occurred at the Naval Base and it was closed to all but official personnel. This also caused us to miss touring Fort Barrancas and the Pensacola Lighthouse. Fortunately, we are not to far away and will see each of these sites sometime during our winter stay near Gulf Shores, Alabama. We did enjoy the Palafox Market in downtown Pensacola. This market happens every Saturday. Numerous local artists, farmers, chefs, and musicians highlight their products. If you enjoy markets this is a must do. If you enjoy flea markets, we went to two different flea markets. The T&W Flea Market in Pensacola is your typical experience it was fairly large with a little bit of everything for sale. The Gulf Breeze Flea Market is not worth bothering with. It was a real disappointment.

We tried a few seafood restaurants while we were in the area. The only one really worth mentioning is Peg Leg Pete’s, no relation to 5th wheel Pete. This restaurant was not only the best seafood we enjoyed but the most convenient to Fort Pickens Campground. It is just about a half mile outside the park entrance. It is your typical seaside restaurant decor. In addition to the sea theme, hundreds of auto license plates decorated the walls. We left our old Michigan tags behind to add to their collection. The food was great and the service was top notch. There are other seafood restaurants with big reputations in the area at least one of which we tried. But the food at Peg Leg Pete’s was by far the best we had while in the neighborhood.

We really enjoyed our time in this area. While it’s not the most convenient place to stay in relation to Pensacola I highly recommend you take advantage of the Gulf Island National Seashore and camp at Fort Pickens Campground.


  1. Mike and I enjoy reading your posts. We are planning on rving in the near future, after our house sells, so we have started to compile a list of places to eat and camp. Your posts have been most helpful. 🤗
    We are thrilled that the both of you are enjoying your retirement.


  2. Mike and I enjoy reading your posts. We may be rving in the near future, after our house sells, so we may see ya on our travels.
    I enjoy reading about the parks you’ve stayed at and what’s around them along with restaurants you’ve visited It gives us some ideas for our journey.
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. 🤗


  3. I am in love with that area and long to retire there, but am having great difficulty convincing Ricky. Maybe you could have a word with him! Glad you two are relaxing into retirement. Continued travel mercies.


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