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  1. Default 5 week roadtrip starting in Florida

    Hi
    We are a family of 4 (teenagers 15 and 18) and have been to America a number of times but have never visited the south or the centre of America. We are looking at doing a roadtrip starting from Florida, but not sure what direction to head or where to end. We'll probably do this in a RV. There are a few things on the list I want to see, but open to any ideas!

    The list includes:
    Miami
    Everglades
    Orlando (will spend a few days around Disneyworld)
    New Orleans
    Memphis
    Nashville
    The southern plantation homes

    We've been to NY, Washington DC and Niagara, so don't really want to go up that way again. What route should we take?

    What is a convenient city for us to fly out of? (We're from Sydney and will no doubt fly home via LA or SF). We'll probably fly into Miami or Orlando.

    thanks for any ideas!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Deep South Loop

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Firstly, as to where to fly into. The beauty of a loop trip is that it really doesn't matter much where you start/end. Usually that affords you the ability to fly into the city on the loop that has the cheapest available flights. But in your case, I believe the driving consideration will be where are there the best deals on RVs, and I suspect that might be Orlando, because of the demand from people visiting Disney World, or possibly Miami. I think the places you've listed will make a good loop trip without too much driving between major stops, and they are representative cities of the Deep South. However a few places you should consider adding to your list include the Kennedy Space Center, the towns of Natchez and Vicksburg in Mississippi, at least a bit of a drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway, and the Okefenokee Swamp.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    I would suggest adding Savannah, Georgia to your list. It's quite typical "Old South". Charleston would be very similar -- and unless your timeframe is very generous, I wouldn't do both -- but I personally like Savannah better.

    Savannah is crowded during the summer months, and though you said you're thinking of an RV, I would suggest that you park it just outside town and choose a hotel in the historic area. Why? Because you'll be able to walk everywhere you'll want to go, and you'll literally never find a place to park if you aren't staying in that area. Another option is to park outside town and take a taxi in. Trust me on this one though. Parking in Savannah is some of the worst I've ever seen anywhere. If you do camp in Savannah, do not use the KOA campground; it's one of the few places I ever felt un-safe camping. You can find nicer campgrounds towards Tybee Island.

    But what can you do once you're there and out of your car? You can see some nice historic homes (though you'll see city houses, not plantations), eat at Lady & Sons restaurant, take a ghost tour, see places that were part of the Underground Railroad . . . it's a great place. The architecture is wonderful, and the whole place is filled with lovely old live oaks. It is very much a slice of the old south. On nearby Tybee Island you can see the lighthouse and the Marine Science Center.

    You can see true plantation houses near Nashville or Memphis. They are plentiful, and I'd recommend The Hermitage outside Nashvillle.

    Keep an eye open for $1 or $2 off coupons for these plantation houses. With so many of them available in the cities you've mentioned, they compete for your business. Americans know this, but you may not: Always stop at the first rest stop / visitor's center when you enter a new state. In addition to being good, clean places to stretch your legs, use the rest room, and even picnic, the first rest stop in the state almost always offers brochures, free maps, and coupon booklets. (Exception: The Wyoming visitor's center had two outhouses, and one had a snake in it. Admittedly, this was two decades ago, and it's likely better now -- still, it was so funny that it stuck in my memory.)

    I really cannot recommend anything about New Orleans; I know other people love the Crescent City, but the touristy areas all dirty and filled with beggers (the city was always in economic turmoil, but since the hurricane it is much worse). Many of the buildings -- which obviously used to be beautiful -- are boarded up and haven't had any attention since the hurricane. Even the cathedral is sadly in need of repair. Many of the old restaurants that served cajun and creole food have been replaced with chains like Margaritaville and Bubba Gump's Shrimp Factory. Everyone, of course, who goes to New Orleans must eat beignets (French doughnuts) at Cafe duMonde -- my youngest came home and learned to cook these! You can take the (free) ferry across to Algiers, where you can see the warehouses where they build the MardiGras floats, but be aware that it's a place to visit during daylight hours. An accident prevented us from making it out to the swamps to take a tour; I think I would've like that better. For my family, the negatives greatly outweighed the positives. Finally, New Orleans is off your path and would "cost" a great number of miles.

    If you want to visit the Everglades, you really should fly into Miami. If you fly into Orlando, you'll have to backtrack to get to the Everglades, and believe me, Florida is one looooong state. In the general area of the Everglades, you can see the winter home of inventor Thomas Edison. Also, St. Augustine is a nice stop; there's an old fort and it's a nice little town.

    Americans can get FREE tickets to Kennedy Space Center by writing (well in advance, and keeping in mind that the number of free tickets is limited) to their congressmen. I doubt this would apply to visitors from other countries, but I'm throwing it in for the benefit of any Americans who might not've known this fact.

    Is it even possible to rent an RV one way? If so, the cost is going to be astronomical. Of course, with a large family, you'd need two hotel rooms anywhere you go, so that'd also be expensive.

    Hotel rooms in Florida can be had dirt cheap. If you go the RV route, I'd be tempted to say you should fly into Miami, and stay in a hotel. Rent a car (cheaper than the RV) to get you to Orlando -- or, I know there's a shuttle between Orlando and Busch Gardens; that might be a worthwhile option, but I haven't done that personally. Stay in a hotel in Orlando, or even consider doing a timeshare promotion deal (you can search for them on the internet), which'll get you 2-3 nights FREE or for less than $100/total in Orlando in exchange for sitting through a 90-minute program intended to convince you to buy a timeshare. Finally, rent your RV in Orlando and begin the camping portion of your trip from that point.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the info.

    We were thinking we'd fly into Orlando, do the Disneyworld thing for 5 days or so, then pick up the RV and drive down to Miami and back (it's about 380km from what I can tell and when you come from Australia that is nothing). Then head off for the rest of the trip - wherever that is going to take us. A quick look and it seems to be cheaper for us to fly into Orlando than into Miami.

    Vicksburg definitely looks interesting, as does Savannah - love old houses etc. Also marked the Hermitage as an option.

    I was thinking maybe we could fly out of Chicago as there would be plenty of cheap flight options, but not sure what there is to do up that way.

    Also have thought about flying into Miami, doing a Carribbean cruise, then going up to Orlando and then doing Nashville, Memphis etc but not sure if 5 weeks would be enough time.

    Any other thoughts?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Liz,

    If flying into Orlando is the cheaper option, I would suggest that you hire a car from there, visit Miami, the Everglades (not to be missed, take a boat tour), and down the Keys...even if you only have enough time to drive to Key West and back stopping along the route just to see the sights and take photos. The oversea highway is worth it. It is an easy drive down to Key West, and if you leave very early, the dawn over the water from Sunset Point is breathtaking.

    Then rent your RV when you get back to Orlando.

    For myself, with children the age of yours, I doubt you want 5 days to do the Disneyland thing.

    Lifey in Melbourne

  6. Default Best plantation homes

    Hi
    We're planning a trip to the south and was wondering what everyone's thoughts are on the best plantation homes to visit? There seems to be so many and you can't visit them all! So if you were to pick 3 or 4 what would they be?
    thanks heaps!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 03-29-2009 at 05:51 AM. Reason: Merged - Please don't create multiple threads about a single trip

  7. #7

    Default It's a large region

    Hello Liz,
    My homeland is a sizable region. It would be helpful to know what the overall intent of your RoadTrip might be: Is it specifically a Trip to see antebellum plantations or would you like to see some in a specific area which you'll already be visiting?

    Although I've never been there, the Great River Road region of northern to central Louisiana features a number of well-known plantation homes open to visitors. A simple Google search will product maps, etc, enabling one to plan a RoadTrip.

    Generally speaking, once you get away from MS, LA, AL, GA, and SC, the plantations become fewer and farther between. The states of NC, TN, VA, and MD had relatively lesser concentration of large plantations than the states in the so-called Deep South. Tidewater VA is an exception to this rule, yes, but the Coastal Plain section of SE VA is limited in extent.

    I've been thinking a tour of the SC Low Country's rice plantations, with focus on the extensive development of canals for irrigation, would be interesting to the scientist/engineer inside of me. Such would allow for time spent in Charleston and the barrier islands, too, and visiting some of the Gullah-speaking islands and undeveloped islands is something I think I'd enjoy.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!

    Foy

  8. Default Loop trip By Rv vs Drop off Charges?

    Quote Originally Posted by Liz5264 View Post
    Hi
    We are a family of 4 (teenagers 15 and 18) and have been to America a number of times but have never visited the south or the centre of America. We are looking at doing a roadtrip starting from Florida, but not sure what direction to head or where to end. We'll probably do this in a RV. There are a few things on the list I want to see, but open to any ideas!

    The list includes:
    Miami
    Everglades
    Orlando (will spend a few days around Disneyworld)
    New Orleans
    Memphis
    Nashville
    The southern plantation homes

    We've been to NY, Washington DC and Niagara, so don't really want to go up that way again. What route should we take?

    What is a convenient city for us to fly out of? (We're from Sydney and will no doubt fly home via LA or SF). We'll probably fly into Miami or Orlando.

    thanks for any ideas!
    Hello there

    Have you rented an RV in the USA before? Sounds like you might have...

    Are you looking to rent in Florida and drop off in California...LA or SF, or do a loop trip and fly in, and out of Orlando?

    If the latter, rent rv in Orlando drive east to coast (Cape Canaveral), then south to Miami, and perhaps the overseas hwy to Florida Keys... then return via west coast of Florida across alligator alley to Naples, then follow the coast up to Pensacola, head west along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans...lots of plantations along the old river roads....then head, { don't miss the Nachez Trail,} north to Memphis, and Nashville....head to east coast, and pick up Charleston, And Savannah on your way south through Jacksonville, Daytona, and back to Orlando

    Seems to me the savings on drop off charges might offset the driving time to get to LA or SF by RV........

    Of course you can always fly from Orland to LA or SF after the loop trip

    Just a thought

    Leo

  9. Default

    Hi Leo

    We haven't rented an RV in the US before, but have done so in other countries. I've been to the US 4 or 5 times and have hired a car on those occassions.

    I've been doing some more research and have basically come to the same conclusion as you, and that is to do a loop to and from Orlando. I thought maybe we'd either fly into Miami (or if significantly more expensive fly into Orlando and just go down and back), then to Orlando, to Savannah, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas (is there anything to see there??), maybe Houston, New Orleans and back to Orlando. Not sure exactly what there is to see and do along the way, except for the things everyone knows like Graceland, but it worked about to be about 4600km (obviously not including sightseeing, sidetrips etc), and if I have 5 weeks, and leave a week out for Orlando that gives 4 weeks for the travel and that seems pretty laidback, not even 200km a day.

    I'm really interested in visiting some plantation homes, but there seems to be sooooo many! How do I pick the best 3 or 4 along the way? I'm interested in seeing how they lived and what their lives were like as it is a period of history that I love.

    Oh and when I mentioned LA or SF, I didn't actually mean driving there - all our flights home to Sydney are always via a transit stop in either LA or SF.

    thanks for the info - it all helps!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Natchez, Then

    If you're after historic antebellum homes in the South (and on your general route), you'd do well to take some time to explore Natchez< MS. Among the plantations and stately homes available for viewing are: Monmouth Plantation, Dunleith, Melrose Plantation, Magnolia Plantation, Mount Locust, theHouse on Ellicott's Hill, the Governor Holmes HouseStanton Hall, and Rosalie. There are special periods of guided tours of many of the stately homes in Spring and Fall, and many of them are part of the Natchez National Historic Park

    AZBuck

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