We are currently tucked in near Tampa, Florida. Although we don’t have reservations past this Friday, we will are tentatively planning to spend the rest of January in Florida. . . we are enjoying the weather and the beaches so much more than I thought we would. We need to head back to Fort Myers next week to get our water pump replaced (it’s been ordered from Airstream) and after that we are free to move around the country. 🙂
Part of me wants to head back to the Eastern coast of Florida for some possible rocket launches in early February out of Cape Canaveral but then I’m anxious to get to the Emerald Coast and explore the panhandle, too. Choices, choices – what should we do? Maybe we’ll do both.
We have no time restrictions or dates – except I want to get to Phoenix by around March 20. My mom and dad are possibly flying in from Alaska to Phoenix to see us (and my grandma who lives in Mesa) and I really love Phoenix weather in late March and early April. We plan to spend around a month in the Phoenix area so I can spend some quality time with my grandma (and aunt/uncle/cousins).
And on the way to Phoenix we tentatively want to visit ::
- Florida panhandle
- Montgomery, Alabama – Jeremy’s brother and sister-in-law live here and we hope to spend 1-2 weeks in the area so the cousins can play together.
- Austin and San Antonio, Texas – We have always wanted to visit this area
- Socorro, New Mexico – Visit college roommate and her family
HELP US PLAN . . what cities, state parks, national parks, historical landmarks, campgrounds, attractions, restaurants along our basic route do you recommend! We aren’t set on this route . . . so we want your suggestions! We’ll drop pins on all the recommendations and we’ll calculate our routes trying to make the most of your recommendations. We have about 8 weeks to cover about 2,800 to 3,000 miles, depending on detours. . .
Have u made it to Weeks Wachee state park to see the live mermaid show . And hommossa state park. Both were nice . Hommossa was like a cool with a not ride educational to get over to the animals from parking lot.
Jess Curren says
I definitely vote rocket launch in early February. 🙂
Eat beginets in New Orleans. There’s a state park nearby that looks fabulous (I’d have to look it up on Campendium to get the name).
I still haven’t figured out anything for Mississippi, so let me know if you come up with something! We actually want to stop so we can officially count it!
I am having trouble finding a campsite over there that first week of February – plus I have so many recommendations for the panhandle, I’m starting to think heading East will just complicate things. Dilemmas! I’ll let you know what I find for Mississippi – I found a couple wildlife refuges (my favorite) down along the coast, we’ll have to see!
I don’t know if the Texas state fair will be going on then but that’s something my family has always wanted to do.
Kathy E says
Some suggestions for memorable experiences:
If near Crystal River, there’s a short tour option to take a quick bus ride to Three Sisters Springs (private access only) to view manatees in crystal clear blue water from a boardwalk. http://riverventures.com/three-sisters-springs-florida.html Their website promotes their snorkel & paddle with the manatees options, which I’m sure is amazing, but I was well entertained with watching them from the boardwalk. You might call first to ask about the best time to view – I think it was incoming tide but not sure. I went late afternoon last February and the manatees were coming in to the springs by the dozen.
Close by is the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Refuge park.
Both Emerald Coast and rocket launches, if you can swing it.
Depending on the route you take, consider:
Big Bend Ranch State Park in Texas – a gorgeous drive with many stop-and-short-walk options thru slot canyons & to beautiful overlooks.
Canyon de Chelly National Park – 2 campgrounds to choose from. Overlooks that rival the Grand Canyon, with many cliff dwellings.
Grand Canyon – so much to do here.
Kathy E says
A word of caution – only go to the canyons if you can totally trust your kids not to run off unattended. In these days of “overcaution” I was amazed that nothing guards you from the cliff edges except good sense. 🙂
Kathy – Good advice! In fact we were going to visit two summers ago and didn’t because we didn’t trust the kids. We had heard about the lack of railings. I’m confident now that we’d be okay.
The Alamo is a must while in San Antonio. I would also highly highly recommend the other Missions while there – I can’t remember their exact name, but there are 4 others that have just been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Texas Hill Country is breathtaking, especially if the blue bonnets have started! You may be a little early for them, but regardless, Enchanted Rock State Park & Fredricksburg will give you a great flavor of the Hill Country!
In Arizona take in some of the Mariner’s spring training. Tickets are cheap and you can sit in the grass on a blanket. Visit Slide Rock St Park in Arizona. My kids loved this place. We were there in summer so I’m not sure what its like in spring. But the water creates a natural water slide and my boys loved it. Wear cut offs though not swim suits they will get snagged. So many great ruins there as well. Montezuma Castle , Toozigoot Monument and so many others. Sedona is beautiful too.
I highly recommend the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Visited there on my honeymoon 10 years ago and really enjoyed it.
Lisa B says
We enjoyed this, too and found that “museum” didn’t really suit it, as it is more of a zoo with native animals in their native environment.
I highly recommend the Hot Springs, Arkansas area. You can visit the smallest national park in the country, take a riverboat cruise, or dig for diamonds and quartz crystals. Arkansas, along with Brazil, have the best quality quartz crystals in the world. Lots of rock shops to stop at and be amazed at what has been unearthed. Crater of Diamonds State Park is a must where you can dig for diamonds and keep what you find. Once in a while you will hear about a big find there. I did all of these things a few years ago and loved the week I spent there.
Make sure to go to a Spring Training game when you’re here in Phoenix!
St. Joseph’s st park at cape san blas is great. Beautiful are to hike and see undistuned beach dunes on the end of the cape! They have 2 rv parks in that state park!
That should be area and undisturbed. Also all the missions in San antonio are full of history and interesting to see. The river walk canoe ride gives great info about the city.
Just lost my whole comment. 🙁 So here’s my suggestions in bullet points, maybe I’ll rewrite later
*Houston Museum of Natural Science
*The Chocolate Bar in Rice Village
*Alligators in Brazos Bend State Park
*Bat Colony in Austin
*Big Bend National Park
Lea Pochet says
Are you going to spend any time in New Mexico? I would suggest Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands… both awesome!! If you do Carlsbad Caverns, make sure you are there when the bats come out of the cave at sunset.
Cheryl I says
I can’t give you first-hand recommendations for the southeast, but I’ve hiked a lot in the four corners area and all-over Utah. Strangely enough, I have been in Socorro, but you got that area covered, right? You also probably have the NPs and monuments mapped out already, and they are great starting places for sure. If the weather permits, I recommend sleeping out under the stars in White Sands, Canyon de Chelly, and the Grand Canyon. The bats leaving the caverns for dinner was pretty memorable too. Another powerful experience was watching the Navajo and Hopi Indians perform. I am not sure how you find out about their performances though.So excited for you guys. Bummers that you guys didn’t make it up to KY or TN (not that you said you were going to). I was hoping to hear someone’s fairly recent acct of taking a family to attractions such as Graceland. Anyhow, safe travels to you.
Not sure how I forgot this one, but the Houston Children’s Museum is incredible – very, very interactive, with all sorts of exhibits. Just make sure it’s not Spring Break, or it will be nuts. I would recommend this over the Natural History Museum since you have kids the perfect ages to both enjoy and learn from the Children’s Museum.
Also, cliff dwellings in the New Mexico/Colorado area. Very fun to explore and learn about.
Whitney Y says
There’s a wonderful KOA we love in Flagstaff, AZ. It’s more fun for the kids in the Summer but both Flagstaff and Sedona are amazing.
Leslie in tx says
In Texas, if at all possible I highly recommend going to the hill country. We recently went to Lost Maples and Garner State Park and the beauty of it and the drive in such hills (mountains really to my native Texas mind) was breathtakingly beautiful. The Frio River is so beautiful it made me cry…clear water and we were there while monarchs were migrating. Lost Maples is small but great hiking and fishing. It might be a little out of the way but it would be totally worth it! And don’t let the scenery getting there fool you….all the sudden you come upon the hills and you feel like you are in another country. You have to go further south from Fredricksburg to see it. (Motorcyclists do something called Twisted Sisters. Google it and you will see the scenery I’m talking about.) Guadalupe SP outside of SAntone is beautiful, so many rivers in that area of Texas. New Braunfels has Schlitterbahn, but it also has access to parks where the river runs through and you can wade/swim safely…no deeper than your knees.
Would recommend a trip down to Tucson. The desert should be blooming then given the El nino. A visit to the Desert Museum is a must. Would recommend Gilbert Ray campground just a few miles from Saguaro NP and in a beautiful setting.
I would head up to Dallas and check out the JFK exhibit and also head south to Galveston and the TX coast. Very interesting areas both. I agree that the mountains and hills around Hot Springs AR are very nice to explore as well. There are tons of NP and NM to explore in AZ, UT and you should do that. We have been doing JR with our kids for many years and they are up to about 70 badges by now. They have basically grown out of it (13.5 and 16) but I might have to force them to do it to get the commemorative badge of the 100 year anniversary. That looks really cool!
I met you guys at Bahia Honda State Park. I suggest Topsail Preserve State Park in the Panhandle. Also, another option is Gulf Shores State Park in Alabama. North of Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana is Fountainebleau State Park which is great. Good food in the area. We are between Phoenix and Tucson at Casa Grand until April 1.
Thank you for the suggestions, David! Safe trails we might run into you in Arizona!
Gulfarium on Ft Walton Beach, FL (Usually free kids days this time of year); NAS Flight Museum in Pensacola, FL (Imax & Simulators), & Stay on the Beach at Ft Pickens campgrounds on Pensacola Beach (National Park)
Right now is crayfish season in Louisiana, too, and Mardi Gras is coming up! Most places have kid friendly daytime parades 🙂
Hi! If you travel I-10 from La to I know a great little freebie/rest stop. We never miss the Louisiana Oil & Gas park in Jennings. Great place for the kids to stretch their legs, chase a duckling or two around the BEAUTIFUL pond, and see an alligator. When the little office is open they can even hold a baby gator. It’s a small little jewel I have been stopping at since I was a child. Oh, it has a nice little playground too.
Bandelier National Monument is a pretty cool place in New Mexico. Some cave dwellings and short distance hikes that kids could make it all the way. Cool eatery in Albequerque, NM called the Owl Café.
If you could get to San Antonio, Tx before February ends, you can attend the month long rodeo. My two always enjoyed watching the barrel racing or the going to see the pigs and cattle raised by the teens in FFA. Fun Family environment.
There are concerts in the evenings as well.
Wonderful theater for the kids to enjoy is the http://www.magiktheatre.org/ near the downtown area.
We had season tickets there when my two were in elementary school. Of course do the Riverwalk cruise. Eat at Casa Rio on the Riverwalk area or enjoy yummy Texas size biscuits at The Guenther House, not far from the Magik Theater and the awesome playground nearby. And yes, drive to Fredricksburg and enjoy the Bluebonnets growing wild if you are there in March/April timeframe. Fiesta occurs in April for San Antonio http://www.fiesta-sa.org/events/parades