We are less than two months to take off and we have only one campground reservation and only a basic idea of where we want to go. We want to follow the good weather – sticking to the northern states in the summer and heading south and southwest for the winter.
Here’s a general sketch of places and people we’d like to see along the route. Organize alphabetically by state. This list is not complete – not even close – but it’s a start. We haven’t even really begun to research and plan. It’s a brainstorm of sorts.
We will be updating this list as we get closer – and of course, sharing our adventures as we go!
If you have a favorite place you think we should see – leave a comment and let us know!
Mobile – Visit Jeremy’s brother and family
Mesa – Visit Heather’s grandma and extended family
Phoenix – Visit more of Heather’s family
Anaheim – DisneyLand
Carlsbad – LegoLand
Redwood National Forest
Post Falls – Visit Heather’s grandmother and extended family
Orlando – Visit DisneyWorld
Tampa – Visit Heather’s childhood best friend and her kids.
Atlanta – Visit Jeremy’s aunt and family
Guyton – Visit Jeremy’s cousin and family
Nebish – Visit Heather’s grandfather’s and uncle’s grave in Nebish, Minnesota. See where Heather’s grandparents farm back-in-the-day and visit extended family.
Cape Girardeau – Visit Heather’s childhood friend and her family
Kimberling – Visit Jeremy’s uncle and family
Glacier National Park – Meet up with Jeremy’s brother and his family
Socorro – Visit Heather’s college friend Jamie
New York City – Not with the trailer. 🙂 Day trip into city?
Rochester – Visit Heather’s cousin
Jackson Center – Visit the Airstream Factory and see how Airstreams are built.
Cottage Grove – Visit Heather’s childhood family friend
Portland – This might just be our last stop and where we plan to call home. Close to our dearest friends, this might be the end of the road for us.
Land Between the Lakes
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Arches National Park
Dead Horse Point State Park
Zion Nation Park
Yellowstone National Park
More thoughts about where we’ll go
We plan to stay in as many state parks as possible, as private campgrounds are more expensive and lack some of the character and nature that we’re seeking. We hope to participate in the Junior Ranger programs at the state parks. Plus we want to hit up a few professional sport games, local plays and theater shows and festivals/events as they fit into the travel.
If you have ideas for things to see or do – please leave a comment!
I don’t see Nebraska on that list. Central and Western Nebraska are worth getting off the interstate for in spring, summer, and fall. Prairie Plains in Aurora is an entire center for reclaiming prairie land, fantastic learning center. And of course the Edgerton Center…Harold Edgerton invented the strobe light and changed photography forever. Born in Aurora, schools come to the Learning Center on buses from all over. Excellent learning pops for your kids, I’m sure I could arrange a farm tour and there is an awesome theater studio. All in Aurora. So come.
Hi DawnMarie! Thank you so much for the recommendations! Both Prairie Plans and Edgerton Center sound like fantastic learning opportunities for our kiddos (and us). I’d love to see you, too!
Scottsbluff National Monument, WIldcat Hills, Farm & Ranch Museum, Lake McConaughy, Lake Minatare, Agate Fossil Beds, Chimney Rock…..depending on your timing – Sandhill Cranes. Riverside Discovery Center & Zoo, Fort Robinson. Yep, you could stay busy for a little while in Western Nebraska – swing through after discovering the Colorado Rocky Mountains on your way to Mt. Rushmore 🙂
Kary Rowland says
Hi Heather, love love love you’re beginnings. I have so many things running through my mind!! I would love to stay in email contact with you, if you wold like. We’ve been on the road for a couple of years in our Flying Cloud, have a blog and are from Salem, OR. We are retired so we’re at the other end of the spectrum. Thanks, Kary Rowland
Hi Kary – We’d love to stay in touch! Our email is takethatexit (at) gmail.com. Look forward to running into you on the road!
Doug DuKane says
We were full timing when Rich Luhr (Airstream Life) started full timing with his wife and associate back in 04 /05. The internet was slow and not too popular on the road (especially), Running a business was very difficult with technology available in the A/S 10 years ago. Being in our 40’s with a baby and a dog we did it for 3 years and loved it. Whatever we do at home….. we could now easily do on the road for business. That wasn’t the case before so that to me is a one of the big game changer’s.
Honestly… people ask us why aren’t you full timing? Opposed to when we started it was exactly the opposite question. Things have come full circle…. those that embrace current trends and modern day living in small spaces are living remotely now. (thanks to improved technology)
Best of luck..visit Colorado/ and the Panhandle/ West Coast of Florida. Tons of blogs and full time airstreamers out there to get inspiration from. Make it to one of Rich Luhr’s events soon as well.
Gosh, so much to add! I don’t see Yosemite, Sequoia, or Joshua Tree NP on the list—all are don’t miss to me. Also, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Dinosaur, and all the NP in Colorado.are worth a look.
I am a St. Louis native and think it would be a great addition to your tour. So much to see and appreciate with kids. Also, hit up Hannibal and pair it with some Tom Sawyer reading for a fascinating piece of US history. Cape Girardeau is lovely and you will be able to enjoy all this in one shortish trip.
If you go to St George, Utah in S. Utah by all the national parks, you MUST go to Tuacahn theater. Also, Salt Lake City/Park City is a must in the spring. And, then head north to Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. You really shouldn’t by step those places. They have a magic air to them all.
Definitely Devil’s Tower in Wyoming! Lots of fun hikes and an awesome learning experience.
I second Devil’s Tower. The KOA there has an awesome location, very beautiful!
We live in eastern Washington near Spokane.. Dry Falls and grand coulee dam are neat to see and there are campgrounds all over Lake Roosevelt. Also if you are going thru SD The little house on the prairie museum is great and certain times of the year they put on plays in the middle if the field. There is a ton of stuff to do around Mt Rushmore as well. Also I don’t remember if I saw Yellowstone on the list and outside there is the Cody night rodeo every night in summer .. have fun what a blast!! Wish we could even drive 2 hours down the road, but with 8 kids under 10…yepp…no major travel plans:)
Boston!!! So much history and great museums. Maine is beautiful and only a few hours away.
Since you will be close you should check out Itasca State Park and the Mississippi Headwaters so the kids can step over the Mighty Mississippi before you head south. Minnesota State Parks have great programs available during the summer months for kids and families. We really like Sibley State Park near New London MN. Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior are fabulous in the summer as is the South Shore of Lake Superior.
My husband works at Airstream. You probably already know, but the tours are only on weekdays at 2 but get there a little early. And Alumapalooza is the week after Memorial Day and that is a pretty big event. Have a safe trip. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity.
Niagara Falls,NY is just about an hour and a half NW of Rochester. The falls are magnificent. Just 30 minutes from there is the Buffalo, NY Zoo. You could spend an entire day there, it is so huge.
Enjoy your wonderful trip.
The kids would probably enjoy White Sands in south-central New Mexico or Great Sand Dunes in south-central Colorado. (Try not to go in the heat of summer.) We live in the Albuquerque area. When our girls were 10 and 12 we took them on a 52-day driving trip in a Suburban from NM to the east coast. Since were were studying American History in our home school, we thought it would be good for them to see Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Williamsburg. We went through the mid-west to the northeast and down the coast to Florida, then across to Texas and back home to NM and stayed with friends, family, and at hotels along the way. I also wrote a blog about our experiences and it’s fun to go back and read it, recalling some things we have forgotten. What great family memory-maker! I’m jealous! Enjoy!!!!
Pennsylvania, especially Gettysburg, has a lot to offer.
When you visit Mt. Rushmore, the Gamelodge Campground in Custer State Park is a wonderful place to stay. Your Airstream would easily fit in the campground and it’s not too far of a drive to Rushmore (much of the Needles Highway – a definite not to miss experience – would be a nightmare towing it through). Custer State Park has a buffalo herd that just might walk right by your camp and you can almost always find them along the Wildlife Loop (just stop at any Ranger station to find out where they’ve been spotted last) and you will also likely see antelope, big horn sheep, mountain goats, etc. Since you have the truck you could also drive French Creek Road – just ask the Rangers about it. Hill City is nearby and have a couple of really nice wineries if you’re into that. Deadwood is also close. Inside Custer State Park is also the Mt. Coolidge Lookout & Fire Tower. On clear days you can see the Badlands and the Airforce Base in Rapid City.
Kentucky’s state parks are not to be missed! Cumberland Falls has the only moonbow in this hemisphere, and the landscape at places like Natural Bridge and Land Between the Lakes are breathtaking! We also have Mammoth Cave. They are incredibly friendly to the camping population; of course, I’m a little biased! Come and visit soon!
you should really consider St.Louis as well! It is so family-friendly and lots of free stuff for the kiddos. The history, science, and art museums are all free and the zoo is also free and you’d be amazed at how great it is! We are transplants to St.Louis and have been here 6 years but we are so glad we get to raise our kids in this great city!
I have driven cross country quite a few times and ironically live close to you–yelm–and am soo excited to hear about your adventures. Definitely check out Indiana Dunes state park on one of the great lakes, can’t remember. And in MD Assateague Island state park (there is a national park too). Very wild and protected ocean with wild horses. It’s amazing there. Also, Santa Cruz and Solana Beach in CA–if you are beach people. The 101 is pretty breathtaking if you have the time to travel it! Happy Travels!
Robin Love says
Ohio: Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, Cedar Point, Put-in-Bay (great camping) on Lake Erie, Columbus Zoo, Great American Ballpark, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
Definitely add Michigan to your list and visit some of the Great Lakes! I highly recommend Lake Michigan where there are tons of gorgeous beaches, some of the world’s largest sand dunes, and awesome small or historic towns (try Holland, Traverse City, or Ludington!).
I’d recommend the Beartooth Highway in Montana/Wyoming right outside Yellowstone. It’s a scenic byway & it’s truly breathtaking! Cody, Wyoming is a great place to watch a rodeo, too, since they perform all summer. Also, Grand Teton National Park is a favorite, just south of Yellowstone.
The state parks along the coast of Oregon are really great & scenic. Crater Lake National Park is nice, too.
I didn’t see Washington state on the list. Seattle is really fun with the fish market. Olympic National Park is also great, with 3 different areas (coast, mountains, rainforest).
I agree wth the recommendation for Bryce Canyon NP in Utah- one of my favorite parks.
New Orleans has the Insectarium- amazing place for kids to visit. We actually thought New Orleans had to offer- street performers, music, food and so much history. We were there only 3 days and wished we could have stayed longer.
If you are in or near Iowa Aug 13-23 you need to visit the Iowa State Fair, considered one of the best in the US. http://www.iowastatefair.org
See someone suggested Mt Rushmore – friends have been there and said the nighttime program is awesome.
Also, unless you are into motorcycles, avoid the Sturgis, SD area the first week of Aug. Friends of mine learned the hard way it is not easy to get around when the motorcycle rally takes place.
Have yourselves a safe wonderful adventure.
I’m so excited for you to be taking this journey AND a little jealous! Since you have New Mexico on the list, Carlsbad Caverns are awesome! I haven’t been since 1996, but what I remember of it I liked! There are free days to go also if the dates work for you.
Hi Ashley – Thank you so much for the suggestion for Carlsbad Caverns! We’ll add it to our list. 🙂
Your family should visit North Carolina. The state has a lot to offer. Mountains in the West, and the coast on the East. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Not to mention the Southern hospitality you’ll likely encounter. Also, Williamsburg, Virginia if you have time. Great history lessons for the children in both Virginia and North Carolina. 🙂
I am so jealous of the adventure you are going on! Definitely hit up the traverse city MI area, Mackinac Island (you’d have to camp on the mainland and take the ferry over), and Grand Haven MI. Colonial Williamsburg is amazing and very educational, so is Jamestown. St. Augustine would definitely be on my list as well as Boston and Maine.
You should add Maine to the list. It is incredibly rich in history. Be sure to make it to Eastport (and tell me when you are here).
I will be following your adventures. I plan on doing it myself in a few years when my son gets a bit older.
Erin C says
Since I live in NorCal, I have to plug our area….Yosemite is a must and Marin/Muir Woods is beautiful. I live up in Gold Country and there is a lot of history here of the Gold Rush (Sutter’s Mill/Coloma), its a great side trip on the way up to South Lake Tahoe.
I have to advocate for Colorado. I’m a Washingtonian now (and a Queen Bee fan) but am from Colorado. I see someone mentioned the Sand Dunes in SW Colorado, so fun but can be very hot. Rafting on the Arkansas River is a great family activity. I worked for a decade at Arkansas River Tours and they run a great half day trip for families. Highly recommend!
Additional, Colorado activities:
– Red Rocks park in Denver. The kids can run up and down the natural amphitheater.
– Water World in Denver- HUGE water park and a great way to cool off!
– Glenwood Hot Springs in Western CO- natural hot springs pools and fun small town to explore. The springs are somewhat sulfur so be warned about the ‘egg’ smell, but the pool is so fun for adults and kids alike.
– many of the ski areas have a chair lift or gondola running in the summer which is a fun way to get to the top of the mountain. Some places rent bikes that you can bring up the mountain on the lift and then either ride down the trails or down the gradual and more moderate sno-cat trails that criss cross the mountain. For this i’d recommend SteamBoat or Vail. Steamboat is a bit more of a western feel and less $$ than the Vail area. Many areas also have Alpine Slides which are cement or plastic LONG slides down the hill that you ride on a small cart. You can ride with kids or they can do their own cart. OMG so fun!
-Rocky Mountain National Park just outside of Estes Park, CO is amazing! If you are thru there in the fall you may be able to view the Elk butting (in preparation for mating season). The Elk frequently just walk thru town, often just right down the main street.
– YMCA of the Rockies offers reasonable camp sites and lots of YMCA type family activities from horses, fishing, crafts, etc. Great kid-friendly staff
Oh I could go on.
If you want somewhere really cool to stay in Ohio. I know a campground right on the edge of Mohican State Park. It’s Smith’s Campground. http://www.3smiths.com. It’s family run, not super expensive and an amazing place. They homeschool their daughters also!