First roadtrip! (MN to New Orleans & FL with boyfriend) Any ideas/comments? :)
This is my first post here, but I've been lurking and reading for quite some time. You guys always give great suggestions and tips, so I'm hoping to receive some too. :)
A little back story -
My name is Yelena, and my boyfriend and I are taking a roadtrip from Aug 10th - August 19th. We're currently in a bit of a long distance relationship, since I graduated college about an hour and a half away and he is still there until December. I would like this trip to be casual, but also a bit romantic if possible, since this is a great opportunity for us to spend time together with no outside distractions.
We're planning on leaving Mpls on Friday, the 10th, and driving to New Orleans. We have a hotel set up for the night right by the French Quarter, and only spending a day there looking around. Then we'll head over to St. Andrews Island by Panama City Beach and camp out there for 3 nights. THen we're migrating south to Fort De Soto, by Clearwater for 2 days, and ending the FL stay across the state in Fernandina Beach for a night, by Jacksonville. We're giving ourselves 2 days to get home, and would like to drive through Savannah, GA and the Carolinas on the way back.
If anyone's ever been to any of these areas or the states that I mentioned above, do you have any recommendations for must see places/restaurants/activities? Anything on the romantic side to do at these places? Is the weather in FL really as hot and intolerable as everyone's been making it out to be? Anything really fun we can do on a budget? Any roadside attractions on the way down or back?
Thanks so much! :)
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
The two best pieces of advice I can give you to make this trip romantic is to slow the pace down and stay in places other than the standard four wall rooms. In practical terms, that means taking at least three days to get to New Orleans and staying wherever possible in Bed & Breakfasts rather than exit ramp motels. This will require some pre-planning. It's not like B&B's have well marked signage on the Interstates, or are open for check-in to all hours. Your days can still be casual as you progress down the Mississippi River. There are lots of quaint river towns such as Ste. Genevieve, MO that make great places to simply walk and explore. The same goes for the numerous outposts of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The middle part of your trip looks well thought out an should be fun, but the last leg is a killer. Fernandia Beach to Minneapolis is 1500 miles. That is too much to do in two days in any event and will certainly not be relaxed or romantic. You will not have time even to swing off the highway into Savannah, let alone enjoy the charms of that city. You will not have time to stop anywhere along your return except for meal, gas and bathroom breaks. You are taking the risk of ruining what otherwise might be a very nice trip. I'll return to my initial two pieces of advice, the first one in particular. You need to slow down and take your time on this trip. Four days for the return from Florida would be much more in keeping with your stated goals than two.
I too have concerns about your timetable for your long drives.
How many days are you planning for your trip down from MPLS to NOLA? Thats another case where even 2 days would be required for even a very quick trip, and even that certainly wouldn't leave any time for anything romantic or casual.
We are planning about a day and a half to get down to NOLA (16 hour drive, according to Mapquest and the like). We're leaving sometime between 9am-noon on August 10th, and are planning on taking turns driving through the night. We should ideally get there very early morning of the 11th, take a nap either in the car or in the hotel if they let us check in earlier, then shower/change/explore and sleep at the hotel the night of the 11th before leaving for FL. I realize the drive down won't be anything too exciting in terms of stopping. The NOLA part of the trip was tacked on just because I wanted to see the French Quarter and we made some room for it.
But that's the only part of the trip where we have to stick to itinerary. The rest of the time we are camping, so if we decide that we'd rather stay somewhere longer, or decide to leave earlier, we'd only be out of $20 or so for the campsite. I'm starting to agree with the fact that we should take a longer time heading back up, and I'll suggest to my boyfriend that maybe we should forget staying at Fernandina, and head up throgh Savannah and the Carolinas earlier.
Thanks so much! Please keep the suggestions coming - either advice, or just recommendations for places to eat and visit. :)
Whoa, First of all, where did you see a mapping program that said you could make the trip from MSP to NOLA in 16 hours? Its a 1300 mile trip, which means you'd have to average 80 mph to cover the distance in that time.
Google, Mapquest, and Rand McNally all give an estimate between 19 and 21 hours, and even those numbers are pretty optimistic. Its unlikely you will be able to average much more than 55 mph for this trip, when you consider the very basic stops for fuel, food, and restrooms. That means, you are looking at 23-24 hours on the road.
You simply can't safely do this distance in a day and a half. Even if you foolishly tried to do this trip at this pace, you will be so exhausted by the time you got to NOLA, that your plans for a casual, romantic time for the rest of your trip will be in serious jeapordy.
We were looking at Yahoo maps, from my address to Canal St, and it said 18 hours, 12 minutes. So we figured they were using the standard 55-65 miles per hour, and state speed limits all the way down past Iowa are 70. So that's where we calculated from. If we're able to leave here at noon on the 10th, we were hoping to get there before noon on the 11th, which is a full 24 hours. I guess the 16 was an optomistic estimate if we didn't stop for much else than bathroom breaks and quick meals.
Since it's about 6 hours from NOLA to St. Andrews Island (or am I being optomistic again?), we could always spend the day after our night in the hotel in NOLA as well, and then leave for FL in the middle of the day or evening.
I'm glad you guys are filling me in on this stuff this far ahead of the trip! Thank you
Time For Trip
Mapquest says that it's 13 hours from Shreveport to Indianapolis. I've done the trip 3 times and never made it in less than 14-15 even with doing the minimal stops. There are just too many other factors that come into play such as road construction, accidents, large cities, etc.
Also driving or riding for that long is very tiring. You won't be able to enjoy anything of New Orleans. Trust me. I just got back from an 1800 mile trip spread over two days of driving. It took a week for the cramp in my right leg to go away. And I usually workout for close to an hour everyday, so I'm not that out of shape.
Fun and inexpensive things to do/eat/see (In New Orleans, FL locations, Savannah)
This post is still in regards to the Mpls -> New Orleans/FL/Savannah road trip. We're switching around our itinerary a bit after realizing that you guys are right about the long drive with no resting.
But more specifically, I'd like some suggestions on what we can do/see in the following places: (particularly inexpensive ideas) And also, if there are any great restaurants in the area.
French Quarter in New Orleans (I'm sure there's tons to see here, but let me know if there's anything specific you really enjoyed)
Panama City Beach, FL (inc. St Andrews Island, Shell Island, etc..)
Clearwater, FL (incl St Petersburg, Tampa, Fort De Soto state park)
Fernandina Beach (Fort Clinch state park, Jacksonville area)
The Carolinas (incase we get time to drive through there and stop somewhere)
I lived there for four years, but that was before Katrina. So, here goes with my favorite sights.
First off, I suggest walking in the Quarter, traffic is unbearable. I once had a guy in a wheelchair run into my car while I was stopped at a red light.
St. Louis Cathedral,
House of Blues (I worked there for a semester, btw - very cool old building),
the Cafe Du Monde for beignets,
ride the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar to the Garden district,
take a walk in Audubon Park - from here you can see the Audobon Zoo and catch a shuttle to the Aquarium of the Americans which puts you back on Canal Street in the French Quarter. You used to be able to take a boat back from the Zoo to the Aquarium, but I don't see where that's available anymore.
While in the Garden District you can look at the Campuses of Tulane and Loyola. Both are very pretty and just across the street from Audobon Park.
Let me know if you have any more questions about New Orleans. I can't really help with the rest of your destinations.
New Orleans is definately, erm, interesting! :) I'd definately stay in the French Quarter myself and avoid the other bits I went looking for! One bit of advice that I was given was to enter the city via the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway and, if you've never driven across it, I would repeat that advice. It's quite the spectacle!