By Dakota Parks for Visit Florida
If you aren’t quite ready to rough it in the great outdoors, glamping at Fancy Camps is like staying in a boutique hotel in the woods. Located in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Northwest Florida, you can fall asleep under the stars and wake up to deer grazing lazily in the field beside your tent. With the Gulf only a quick walk, bike or tram ride away from the campground, you can even sip your morning coffee on the beach, searching for dolphins surfacing as the sun rises.
Tucked inside a 16’ canvas bell tent, Fancy Camps offers the comforts of home with a pillowtop queen bed, linens, boho furnishings, a 2-burner camping stove, indoor and outdoor seating areas and most important, air conditioning to beat the Florida heat. This two-night stay takes the hassle out of planning a camping trip and allows guests to focus on making memories and exploring the state park.
Here’s a guide for planning your Instagram-worthy glamping trip— from how to pack your bag and navigate the park to what to do after you’ve packed your suitcase to leave.
Fancy Camps is at minimum a two-night stay, which allows guests to explore Topsail Park’s three miles of white sand beaches, three coastal dune lakes and sprawling coastal forests with 15 miles of hiking trails. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the woods for an even longer vacation, guests can book up to 7-nights.
DISTANCE FROM POPULATION CENTERS
WHAT TO BRING
Glamping is designed to make your stay as carefree as possible. Unlike a traditional camping trip where you’re hauling all the dusty gear out of your garage, Fancy Camps provides nearly everything you need to make yourself at home— including your morning joe. Each camper gets one complimentary coffee and pastry each day from Kith & Kin, a boutique coffee shop located on-site in Topsail Park near the entrance to the camping loop on Pampas Grass Boulevard.
While Fancy Camps provides a 2-burner camping stove and a fire ring with an attached grill grate and firewood for cooking and roasting marshmallows, guests will need to bring their own lighter, food, cooler, dishes and utensils for food preparation. Luckily, the parking spots are located directly next to the glamping tents, so you won’t work up a sweat unloading the car.
If you forget something for cooking dinner though, don’t fret—civilization is still nearby. It’s only a five-minute drive to Walmart and an 11-minute drive to Publix from the Fancy Camps campground. Although Fancy Camps is immersed in the serene wilderness of Topsail Park, it is centrally located along 30A—home to incredible views, great bites to eat and plenty of things to do, which means you can pop down the road for a quick outing during the day and come back to cozy up around the campfire at night.
In addition to your comfy exploring clothes and hiking boots, you may also want to bring:
Toiletries, towels and shower shoes
Food, water, cooler and ice
Cooking supplies: plates, cups, silverware, pans, spatula
Lighter for the camp stove and a cheap fire starter or kindling for the fire pit
Bug spray and flashlights
Sun block, bathing suit and beach umbrella
WHAT TO EXPECT/PHYSICAL DEMANDS
Like a choose your own adventure book, your stay at Fancy Camps can vary from a quaint and relaxing weekend contained to the campground with delicious food, a nice book and good company— to an adventure-packed stay exploring the beaches, hiking trails and even the scenic sights of 30A on Timpoochee Trail, a 19-mile, mostly flat bike trail, which begins near the entrance of Topsail and stretches the entire length of 30A.
Fancy Campers also has all-inclusive access to bike rentals, seasonal beach chair service set up and watercraft rentals from the Fancy Camps campground store, including kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and canoes to use either at the beach or at Campbell Lake, a rare coastal dune lake. This 100-acre dune lake surrounded by ancient dunes, bald cypress trees and water lilies is part of a rare ecosystem that only exists in a few locations around the world. To ensure rentals will be available during your stay, you can call and reserve these before your trip.
Topsail State Park is named for its towering sand dune ecosystem, which you can weave through, meandering past 25-foot sand dunes, rare freshwater coastal dune lakes and endangered pitcher plants on the 15-miles of marked hiking trails within the park. Along Deer Track trail, you can spot carnivorous plants and take in the beauty of Campbell Lake. For a more challenging hike through the white sand along the dunes, you can venture to the western portions of the park on Morris Lake Trail. Be sure to pack plenty of water and pick up a park map from the ranger station to help you navigate the trails.
GENERAL INFORMATION: HOURS, LOCATION, RENTALS
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days a year. Campers who arrive after sunset should call the park at 850-267-8330 to get the gate combination and instructions. Fancy Camps check in is at 3 p.m. and checkout is at 11 a.m.
The Fancy Camps campground store, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and Kith & Kin coffee shop, open 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, are located near the entrance to the park—both of which are easily viewed and navigated on Apple Maps and Google Maps. The camp store has snacks, ice, firewood, T-shirts, ice cream and basic camping items and the coffee shop boasts locally sourced coffee, gourmet sandwiches and pastries, tea and smoothies.
The glamping area is adjacent to the tent camping loop, and the sites are a 20-minute walk or a 6-minute bike ride to the Gulf. A tram runs from the campsite to the beach every half hour during the summer season from 9 a.m. to sunset and every hour during the winter season from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There’s an ADA-compliant restroom facility in close proximity to the Fancy Camps tents, which is used by other tent campers and equipped with bathrooms and hot showers. There is also an ADA restroom in Topsails’ day-use area parking lot near the tram station and trail heads and a second restroom near the beach boardwalk at the end of the tram road.
ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL ACCOMMODATIONS
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park offers several accessible campsites, bungalows and cabins—in addition to Fancy Camps. Visitors can enjoy easy access to the beach from the campground using the wheelchair-accessible trams and boardwalk overlooking the water— or take a dip in the pool which features a powerchair lift. The Beach Tram trail and the Campbell Lake Bike trail are both accessible and paved, making them perfect for either a bike ride or casual stroll among the longleaf pine trees. Beach wheelchairs are also available for free at the ranger station.
*Travelers who use a wheelchair should note that the campground has gravel terrain, and the glamping tents are set up on an elevated platform—though the inside of the tents can be rearranged for easier mobility. For more information, contact Fancy Camps directly.
Fancy Camps’ glamping tents can be enjoyed year-round as they come equipped with air conditioning for the summer and heat for the winter. Tourism in the state park is busiest in the spring and summer, though the campground remains steadily occupied throughout the off season as well.
If you’re planning a romantic getaway or want to surprise your friends and family with a treat when you arrive, Fancy Camps also offers custom charcuterie boards to elevate your stay. These can be requested as an add-on during booking and can be made vegetarian, vegan or nut free.
At Topsail, personal watercraft are prohibited so they do not introduce non-native plants into the dune lake. All rentals are included in the stay for Fancy Campers.
Quiet hours in the campground are observed at 10 p.m.
Fancy Camps is dog-friendly though they abide by the Florida State Park Pet Policy. At Topsail, pets are not allowed on the beach, tram, boardwalks, buildings, dunes, lakes or ponds, and pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
AFTER THE ADVENTURE
Nothing beats a cold beer after a camping trip. Once you check out of Fancy Camps, head down to the iconic Red Bar at 70 Hotz Ave in Grayton Beach, known for its funky bohemian beach shack vibe, good food and live music. While you’re down there, you can take a stroll through Seaside, the infamous and picturesque community where The Truman Show was filmed.
If you’re looking for more family fun after your camping trip, Fancy Camps is a quick 30-minute drive to Destin’s HarborWalk Village, a waterfront boardwalk with food, shops, games, dolphin cruises and boat tours to entertain the whole family.