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Back in 2012, we’ve decided to finally visit New Orleans as a family. We had two small kids, so driving seemed like the best option at the time. However, since it takes at least 11 hours to reach New Orleans from our home in central Florida, we opted to break up the trip. I don’t remember the Residence Inn where we spent the night on the way to Louisiana. It was perfectly fine, bland and unmemorable, the way a chain hotel should be.
But 8.5 years later, we were still reminiscing about our wonderful one-night stay at Grayton Beach state park campground located in Florida panhandle. We liked it so much, we decided to drive there this year. Not because we had other plans, Grayton beach state park cabin was the plan.
We don’t yet feel comfortable staying in hotels due to Covid-19 threat. But standalone cabins are in a different category. You don’t have to mingle with other people, and there are no facilities to miss out on. There are woods plus ocean, and lots of room to spread out.
In short, the word “spartan” comes to mind. It’s not for those who are used to luxury, that’s for sure. The accommodations are very much utilitarian, so if Hyatt is your cup of tea, you will be disappointed. I won’t lie, I certainly prefer nicer places to stay, but the simplicity of the cabin isn’t a deal breaker in any way. It was clean, mattresses were comfortable, and A/C cold. What more can one ask for?
There are two bedrooms: one with a queen bed, the other one with twins.
It’s definitely meant for a DIY kind of traveler. You put your own linens on beds but hey, at least you know they are clean, right?
The living room has a sleeper sofa, with a pretty comfortable foam mattress. So, in theory, you can fit 6 people, though it will be tight. You get towels, but no toiletries. Also, don’t expect any coffee/condiments in the kitchen. You get one trash bag, and that’s it. We knew that ahead of time, and prepared accordingly.
I loved the view from the porch, where you could hear the birds sing all day long.
The cost of the cabin is $110 per night during low season and $130 during peak months, which is extremely reasonable IMO. There are no cleaning fees, so staying for just one night on the way to your final destination can be a great value proposition. You can’t use points and you don’t earn points, you have to part with actual cash. But it’s worth it.
Keep in mind that cabins in this park are extremely popular, so you will have to reserve many months ahead or watch for cancellations.
Location, location, location
The whole reason to stay in this campground is its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico.
I was concerned that the water would be cold, but the weather in the middle of October was great, so me and the kids were able to swim. The sand at this beach is super soft, and the water is calm. The surrounding dunes give the area a unique look. The highlight of the day was watching the perfect sunset as a family.
If you don’t feel like walking through the woods, you can also reach the beach by car. It will only take a minute. The parking lot is reserved for those who are staying in the cabins, so you will see very few fellow travelers around.
We had such a wonderful time at this state park. In the year of cancelled vacations, it’s nice that something went right for a change. Even though it takes 7.5 hours to get there from our home, we may go back.
Some things are worth spending actual cash on, even for hardcore miles and points hobbyists such as yours truly. But first, I need to use up all the free night certificates that have been piling up in my accounts this year.
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.