One of the best things to do in Destin, Florida, is to go camping at Henderson Beach State Park. There’s something about being in the middle of everything, but feeling like you’re 1,000 miles away from everything, and this certainly applies here.

The 208-acre park hugs the coastline and provides the amenities of home (washer and dryers, restrooms, showers) and the feeling of escape. You’re a few miles from a water park, miniature golf, grocery stores, restaurants, and bowling alleys, but that’s easy to forget when tucked among the scrub oak and dunes, with only the sounds of waves crashing as you head towards the beach.

All 60 campsites have water, electricity, a ground grill, and a picnic table. And, unlike many state parks, pets are welcome at campsites and along the nature trail. However, for everyone’s safety and comfort, the beach is a pet-free zone.

You might be familiar with packing for a day at the beach, but there are a few items that could come in handy while camping, in addition to your RV or tents.

Double-Duty Gear

Do yourself a favor and take beach gear that works for the white-sand beaches and the campsite. Collapsible low beach chairs, a cooler, a beach tent or sunshade, and quick-drying towels come in handy when you’re looking for dolphins and, later, when it comes time to prep the s’ mores.

Bug Power

We hate to say it, but yes, Florida can get a little buggy. The beach breeze helps keep mosquitos at bay, but grabbing a bottle of DEET containing bug spray or a portable bug repeller might not be a bad idea. Citronella candles add a bit of romance to the picnic table, and a small outdoor fan keeps you fresh while blasting away flies.

Kids and Dogs

For the (human) kids in your life, a headlamp will let them roam the nature trail or chase ghost crabs without the hassle of a heavy flashlight. Solar lanterns and a string of lights add a bit of magic to a tent or an RV. And, if they’re up for it, a kid-sized fishing pole. Of all the things to do in Fort Walton Beach and Destin, the thrill of that first tug on a fishing line is something they’ll never forget. And don’t forget the bikes to go exploring!

For the furry kids, don’t forget a collapsible water bowl, treats, a favorite toy, and a campsite dog tether system, so your beloved pet can move about freely, but stay close by.

Extras

It’s a shared secret among Destin-Fort Walton Beach locals to never head to the beach without a small bottle of baby powder in the beach bag. A little sprinkle on your feet and calves will keep that beautiful white sand from sticking. An extra-large tote bag is your camping workhorse. Use it to carry beach gear, food from last-minute grocery runs, and shampoo, soap, and a change of clothes when using the park’s showers.