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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Sycamore, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    7

    Default Chicago to Cocoa Beach scenic drive?

    We will be traveling from Chicago to Cocoa Beach end of July.. We went at Christmas and went through Chatanooga and Atlanta, would love to avoid that same trip. We have a few days so any suggestions of a more scenic drive even if a bit out of the way would be great.. Two kids ages 10 & 12, any suggestions of things they would like are also welcome...thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    There are so many routes to choose from. Do you have a paper map of the Eastern US? One thing I thought of was to go via Kentucky (where you could stop at Mammoth Cave National Park - kids would probably love that) and Tennessee (where you could stop at Great Smoky Mountains National Park - kids would love that too). At the national park, sign the kids up for the Junior Ranger program. Upon completion, they get a souvenir badge, patch or pin that they keep.

    What are you planning in Cocoa Beach?


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Sycamore, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Thanks Donna, we did see Smokey Mtn. NP on our way home from Hilton Head in the spring. Mammoth Cave is a good idea, haven't been there yet. Once in Fl. We plan on visiting Miami,Key West, St. Augustine, And Clearwater. We have two weeks and will use Cocoa Beach as a base. There is also a newly scheduled rocket launch on 8/1 so we need to rework some of our trips around that, so some things might not happen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I wondered if it had anything to do with NASA Kennedy Center. Have you done the tour there? If not, it's well worth the time. There's also a beautiful beach in Cocoa Beach, at Lori Wilson Park.

    I'm not sure Cocoa Beach would be a great base for a trip down to Key West. That might be a 2-3 day round trip from Cocoa Beach!



    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Sycamore, Illinois, United States
    Posts
    7

    Default

    We did the space center it was amazing...yes we plan on doing a few days trip to the keys, and maybe a baseball game in Miami... can't wait for the sun and heat...it's been raining here all summer...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I have heard about the rain this summer in the Midwest, as I have family in the Chicago area as well as friends in various other places in IL, IN, and MO. Please feel free to send some of it to California....we surely need it!

    Back to topic, tho: Florida typically gets rain in the afternoons during the summer months, and tropical storms are not uncommon. So do be prepared, and a bit flexible. The last place you want to be during a tropical storm is on the Keys highway!


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Amazing Florida.

    If you are heading down through Tallahassee, US-27 from there to Ocala is a very pleasant drive at almost interstate speeds. At Chi4efland you will find the national quilt museum, if that is of interest. Route 40 from Ocala to the coast is another lovely scenic route.

    I hope you get to see the launch, there's nothing like it, though you have to get there hours and hours beforehand to get a reasonable spot to both see it and be able to park. When I saw the launch of discovery back in August 2009 (I think it was) I got there some 6 or 7 hours before the launch and was parked ever so far away. It was very hot on that day, and there is nowhere to get any refreshments if you do not have your own with you. Still an unforgettable experience.

    Be sure to stop over in Ft Pierce to see the amazing murals on The Arcade building at 101 on US-1. From there to perhaps just north of Ft Lauderdale it is a lovely drive if you divide your time between US-1 and A1A - the latter giving you occasional access to the ocean. Crossing over and back of the intercoastal.

    I agree that Cocoa Beach would not be a good base for the southern sights in FL. I'd be looking more at somewhere around Homestead - away from the Miami traffic and close to all the southern attractions.

    When driving down the Keys be sure to stop at the Wild Bird Sanctuary, and explore Big Pine and No Name Keys - the habitat of the smallest deer species; the highly endangered Key deer. I'm sure the children will love both. If you drive very very slowly - almost just let the car role, you can see the deer quite close up. They are very shy, and run into the shrub as soon as they hear an engine approaching.

    Between Miami and Naples you have both Alligator Alley, with the alligator watching platforms at a couple of rest areas, and the Timiami Trail. The latter takes you through the Everglades, albeit not the NP. Along this route there are also boat tours of the Everglades and a couple of alligator places. It also takes you through Big Cypress Nat. Preserve, the habitat of the last remaining Florida Panthers. They have daily walking tours from the visitor centre. The small detour you will see on your map - route 94 - is an interesting aside, almost as if you are surrounded by everglade vegetation right up to the road edge. From memory, this was a gravel road when I drove it, a decade or so ago.

    Enjoy the trip.

    Lifey

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