Visiting the Gulf Coast in an RV


Wade Thiel

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Wade divides his time among various outdoor activities in both urban and rural environments. An adventurer by nature, he is always up for a challenging hike, fun hunt, or day out on the water with friends and family. When he isn’t enjoying the outdoors, he’s writing, reading, or tinkering with motorcycles and cars.

This year is all about traveling. We’ve all spent too much time and home, and it’s time to safely see the areas of our country that we haven’t had a chance to visit yet. And the best way to do that is in an RV.

One destination that thousands flock to every year is the Gulf Coast, and for good reason. It’s sunny, sandy, beautiful, full of wildlife, and full of fantastic towns, cities, parks, and landmarks. This year, instead of renting a beach home, why not take your home with you? Yep, your trip needs an RV.

The Gulf Coast is home to some of the best hospitality the South has to offer. Not to mention the fact that it features one of the most beautiful coastlines in the entire United States. The coast stretches from the southernmost tip of Texas all the way over to Florida. Here, we want to focus on Louisana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Along the coast, you’ll find white sandy beaches, dynamic and vibrant cities, amazing food, unique wildlife, and plenty of activities to keep you and your family busy for weeks on end. Even if you don’t have a long time to spend iin the Gulf, you’ll find you leave satisfied.

Weather in the Gulf Coast

Camping in the Gulf Coast can get quite hot, so keep this in mind when you’re in your RV. You’ll want to time the conditions right. Think of the features and amenities of the campgrounds you’ll be staying at. Does your site have hookups so you can run your air conditioning?–a must. Does the campground have a pool to cool off in?–never a bad idea. Otherwise, think of the general area where you’re camping, what does it offer? With all this in mind, let’s look at some of the great places you can visit in this area of the country.

Highlights of the Gulf Coast

gulf coast water
(Image by John Price from Unsplash)

The Gulf Coast is full of beaches you can lounge at, fishing boats you can charter, and seafood you can eat. It’s a destination you won’t soon forget, and there are countless places and points of interest for you to fall in love with.

You’ll find plenty of campgrounds along the Gulf, ranging from rather primitive accommodations to full luxury beachfront RV resorts. The campground you stay at is up to you, but here are some local highlights you won’t want to miss while you’re here.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Alabama’s Gulf Coast presence is rather small compared to the states around it, but the city of Gulf Shores is a must-see. Go east from the vibrant, southern town of Mobile, Alabama, head toward the water and you’ll find the town of Gulf Shores.

One of the most beautiful and relaxing spots of all, Gulf Shores and the surrounding area is absolutely stunning. Nearby, you’ll find Gulf State Park, which is home to some of the most unique bird species in the South. Gulf Shores itself features many world-class restaurants, unobstructed views of the ocean, shopping, and more.

sunset Gulf Shores, Alabama
(Image by Brock Kirk from Unsplash)

Beach and nature excursions are just a short trip away, and all you’ll need to do is walk down to the nearest beach. The city is home to many events as well as opportunities for all sorts of activities including bicycling, golfing, boating, snorkeling, fishing, and more. There’s also the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and a thriving nightlife scene, with concerts, shows, and clubs.

When it’s time to relax, you can head to the beach, or you can head back to your campground, of which there are several in the area.

Campgrounds Nearby

Gulf Shores is a small community, and there are many other small towns in the area like Orange Beach. With them all being so close together, anywhere you can find to camp in your RV that’s close will work well.

Here are a few places you can consider that are in or close to Gulf Shores:

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mississippi

Just to the east of the beautiful city of Biloxi, across the Biloxi Bay Bridge, you’ll find the Gulf Island National Seashore. It is one half of the park, which runs into in Florida. We’ll focus on the Mississippi side here. Home to many historic places that have played a role in America’s early history, this national seashore provides everything from educational tours to coastal recreational activities.

The National Parks Service has worked for decades to preserve this seashore and keep the wildlife thriving and the beaches looking pristine. There are numerous islands just off the coast you can take a short day trip to, including Cat Island, Horn Island, Ship Island, Petit Bois Island, and West Petit Hois Island.

Gulf Islands National Seashore Mississippi
(Image by Jason Patrick Ross from Shutterstock)

You can also stay on the mainland and enjoy the beaches, marshlands, and woodland areas. Additional opportunities for exploring include the Davis Bayou Area, Fort Barrancas Area, Fort Pickens Area, and the Naval Live Oaks Area. Patrons of the park can enjoy bicycling, bird watching, boating and sailing, fishing, hiking, snorkeling and diving, swimming, and waterfowl hunting—if the season is in.

The opportunities are nearly endless, and if you’re unsure of where to start, you can take a guided tour and ask the park rangers all of the questions you can think of.

Campgrounds Nearby

Gulf Shores Islands National Seashore maintains two developed campgrounds. One is in Florida and one in Mississippi. The Mississippi one is Davis Bayou Campground located in Ocean Springs.

The Campground has sites for tents and RVs. You’ll find standard electrical hookups at the RV sites within this campground. Note that there are maximum lengths for RVs that vary by the campsite, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when reserving your spot. Reservations are highly encouraged, and you can do so at the government’s website.

This campground can and does fill up around peak season. If the dates you want to visit are booked up, you can check for campsites at RV parks and resorts nearby.

Here are a few places you can consider that are close to Gulf Islands National Seashore:

Gulfport, Mississippi

The small city of Gulfport is just west of the better-known Biloxi, which is immediately west of the Gulf Island National Seashore. Gulfport is perhaps best known for its many water trails, but there’s truly so much to do here.

Kayakers and paddleboard enthusiasts will find this coastal town to be an absolute paradise, and once they’re done paddling around, they can board a ferry to the nearby islands or to Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. It’s just a short ferry ride to West Ship Island, one of the many barrier islands along the coast that provides access to breathtaking wildlife, sandy dunes, and beaches.

A sand beach in the Gulf of Mexico, in Gulfport, Mississippi - USA
(Image by Rui Mesquita Cordeiro from Getty)

Fort Massachusettes is the place to go to learn about this unique spot’s colonial history. Once your head is full of stories, you can walk the soft white sandy beaches—there are over 25 miles of beaches right by Gulfport.

Additionally, the city itself offers a great arts scene. Fishbone Alley is where you should go to check out some funky art and there are often festivals, concerts, and other live performances in the area.

Campgrounds Nearby

When it comes to finding a good campground in the area, you should have no issues finding a place to stay. Gulfport and Biloxi both have a plethora of options for you to choose from, and that means you should be able to find campgrounds with a wide range of features and amenities at various price points.

Here are a few places you can consider that are right in Gulfport, Mississippi:

New Orleans, Louisana

New Orleans is home to many things, but everywhere people know it for its Mardi Gras festivities. The city is so much more than just Mardi Gras. It’s a wildly unique blend of cultures and people.

The Big Easy has a long and rich history, and major connections to the French and Spanish during the colonial era. These ties continue to shape the city’s identity today. You’ll find no shortage of places to eat and live music to listen to. New Orleans is one of the nation’s hotbeds for music, food, and culture.

New Orleans, Louisiana
(Image by mana5280 from Unsplash)

While you could spend years just exploring the city, there’s also plenty of wildlife preserves and areas nearby. If you feel the pulse of the city is beginning to get to be too much, then take some time visiting the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge or the Biloxi State Wildlife Management Area.

The bottom line is that there’s just so much to do in this city and this general area of Louisiana, that you’ll have no trouble staying busy and enjoying yourself.

Campgrounds Nearby

There are several campgrounds in New Orleans and even more just outside the city. You might be surprised just how close you can get to the hustle and bustle of the city center. Some of the RV resorts near the French Quarter can be quite expensive, but look north and you’ll find plenty of great options.

Here are a few places for you to consider right in New Orleans:

Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana

The Creole Nature Trail is an All-American Road that encompasses many of the areas in and around Lake Charles, Louisiana. It’s one of the best ways for you to see some of the most impressive wildlife and locations that Louisiana has to offer.

Along the trail, you’ll come across coastal wetlands, beautiful beaches, wildlife refuges, and rippling marshes. Following this route is a no-brainer in an RV, and there are plenty of places to stop all along the route.

Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana
(Image by Malachi Jacobs from Shutterstock)

If you’re a birdwatcher or a bird lover, you’ll not find a better place to see all sorts of bird species. For a truly Louisiana experience, you can take a guided tour and see some alligators in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes open, you might even come across some even when you’re not searching for them!

Lake Charles is another interesting city full of unique experiences. It offers a thriving restaurant and casino scene and is home to several museums, including the Mardi Gras museum. If you’re following the Creole Nature Trail, make sure you stop in Lake Charles to enjoy yourself there, too.

Campgrounds Nearby

Campgrounds are not hard to come by in the Lake Charles area. While you can get something closer to the coastline, there are plenty a little further inland that are suitable, too. Using the Creole Nature Trail as your route means you’ll be moving about quite a bit anyway, so it makes sense to get something a little closer to Lake Charles.

Here are some places you can consider in the area:

What Gulf attractions did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.

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