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  1. #1

    Default starting to plan our summer camping trip-this year southern east coast & midwest

    We take a long family camping trip every summer. Last year, we headed west (we're in Philly). We hit 26 states in 40+ days...including Yellowstone for almost a week, and S Dakota for almost a week....and Grand Canyon, Colorado, etc.

    This year, we're heading South....southern East Coast all the way to the Keys, back up Gulf Coast, Orlando, thru Tallahassee..over to NOLA, thru Arkansas, Tennessee (Nashville, Memphis), up to family in Wisconsin, then family in South Bend IN, then to Holiday World, through the Smokies and Dollywood, and the Blue Ridge mts., then back up and home.

    We are campers-2 big tents (one for our 2 boys ages 11 & 14 and one for us). We plan on camping as much as possible, but know it's gonna be will hotel it in NOLA, the Keys...etc. We also have family on Hilton Head we're gonna be staying with, and in Florida-both Miami and on the Gulf Coast, as well as Tennessee.

    I'm a teacher, so summer's the choice to travel. We know it's hot, peak travel season, etc. I need ideas....we try to hit roadfood places, great rollercoasters, and national parks. I know the obvious places-Everglades, Keys, Orlando, etc, but need to know some offbeat places. We love unique!!!

    I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default General Resources

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Sounds like you're at one of my favorite points of RoadTrip planning, the daydreaming phase. This is where the sky is the limit and the more ideas and possibilities you can come up with the better. Winnowing them down to a manageable reality comes later and will involve some give and take among the participants, but for now the more the merrier. At this point, what I generally do is a wide open web search, where I simply enter {placename tourist OR attraction}, see what comes up, and keep a list of places worth investigating further. Ask your sons to do the same. Maybe even encourage them to check out their school and public libraries for a bit of a surreptitious teaching moment. Write or email the state tourist departments and ask for state maps and brochures, especially for special events notices. etc., etc., etc. But for the moment, here are a few resources of our own that you should be checking out:

    Lists of 26 (or so) attractions in each state

    Particularly scenic and/or historic short road segments

    Short stops all along the Interstates

    Some east coast high spots

    There are hundreds more ideas in countless nooks and crannies of these pages. Be sure to indulge your wanderlust and follow the links to 'similar threads' and related 'tags' at the bottom of each discussion. And.... Enjoy.


  3. #3

    Default Bits and pieces, with the boys in mind

    Hello philateech,

    Your boys are of an age difference just like my own, only half a generation younger. Given your general plans, I'd have a look at the following:

    Chincoteague/Assateague on the Delmarva Peninsula. Ocean beach on the National Seashore, and much bicycle/jitney/beach buggy rentals on Chincoteague, next door. Aerospace museum at Wallops Island, which you drive by enroute to Chincoteague.

    First Landings State Park in VA, on Cape Henry, just 5 mi east of the south end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT). From the visitor center on the southernmost artificial island, it's a fair bet a commercial ship or a Navy ship will pass by within an hour. The State Park is around 6 miles from the gaudy Oceanfront but offers about 2,000 acres of bicycle and hiking trails, a calm-water beach on the Bay, fishing, crabbing, etc. Over in Norfolk is Nauticus and the WWII battleship USS Wisconsin (with on-deck and below-deck tours). Various harbor cruises show you the US Navy piers, and normally there are at least a pair of Nimitz-class carriers in port, and a dozen or two frigates, destroyers, and submarines.

    NC Outer Banks: Camping near Oregon Inlet. Beach driving if you've got a good 4WD SUV, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, camping near Frisco. Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry, camping on Ocracoke, more beach driving, passenger ferry across Ocracoke Inlet to Portsmouth Village on Portsmouth Island. Long ferry ride to Cedar Island, near Beaufort (reservations strongly recommended). Surfing lessons, kiteboarding lessons, and hang-gliding lessons are all available at Nag's Head.

    NC "Crystal Coast": Beach attractions at Atlantic Beach, old-time seafood dinners in Morehead City (Sanitary Seafood Market), Civil War Fort Macon, headboat fishing in the ocean.

    Wilmington, NC: Battleship North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher State Park nearby. More beach driving at North End of Carolina Beach and at Fort Fisher. State ferry across mouth of Cape Fear River to Southport.

    Myrtle Beach "Grand Strand": 40 miles of nonstop T-shirt shops, game arcades, amusement parks, junk food, miniature golf, and teenage girls from Philly, NYC, and DC. An adolescent boy's version of Heaven, I suppose.

    On the flip side, in the Smokies, look to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River (where the boys are probably old enough to run it in their own "duckies", an inflatable kayak. The Nantahala is a popular half-day run which ends at the NOC headquarters at Wesser, NC. The hot showers right at the take-out offset the ice-cold water, even in midsummer, comprising the Nantahala's flow from the bottom of +400' deep Nantahala Reservoir. Much in the way of single-track mountain biking and endless hiking in the Smokies and Blue Ridge, too.

    Near where NC, SC, and GA meet runs the Chattooga River, of "Deliverance" fame. Gentle Sections I, II, and III are appropriate for the whole family, while Section IV outfitters probably will not take your youngest. Section IV ends with "The Five Falls" a sequence of 5 Class IV and V rapids, and is not for the faint of heart. The NOC runs the Chattooga from an outpost near Walhalla, SC.

    More up towards Boone and Blowing Rock, consider a daylong whitewater trip on the Nolichucky, another river run by the NOC, whose local outpost is at the take-out near Erwin, TN.

    Lastly on the whitewater tour, the NOC runs the Ocoee River, a dam-release course which was the venue for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic whitewater events. It's a full-speed rock-n-roll half-day trip from the base of the dam to a takeout not far from the NOC's outpost.

    Head up the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) for Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain. Trails on Grandfather lead from the main tourist parking area at the Swinging Bridge to Calloway Peak, some 3.5 miles away, with some knarly ladder ascents/descents on the intermediate peaks along the way.

    From the BRP near Blowing Rock, jump over to Boone and head out US 421 towards Mountain City, TN, for Damascus, VA, where the Appalachian Trail and the Virginia Creeper Trail intersect. The latter is a 35 mile rails to trails facility with Damascus at the mid-point. The most popular section is the 17 mile all-downhill glide from Whitetop Station back to Damascus. It runs $25-30 per person for a rental bike and a shuttle ride to the summit. Damascus is on the edge of the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, so NF campgrounds abound.

    For a taste of regional cultural history, hit one or two of the venues on Virginia's "Crooked Road", celebrating the roots of bluegrass and country music. The Crooked Road is local vernacular for US 58, and the center of the group of venues is generally at Abingdon, Bristol, or Marion, VA.

    The New River between Jefferson, NC and Independence, VA offers many miles of flatwater canoeing.

    The above are the kinds of things my boys enjoyed when they were your sons' ages. We generally gauged how well we'd entertained them by how quickly they'd fall asleep in the truck on the way back to the campground. Normally didn't take but a few minutes.

    Safe travels and have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


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