Birmingham in Alabama is a fun city to live in or visit when you have children. There's always something going on no matter what time of the year it is. It's a city that hosts some incredible festivals that are fun for all the family to attend too. The ten-day long Alabama State Fair with its live music, attractions and carnival rides takes place in September and is one of the biggest events of the year. In May, practically the entire city, accompanied by their mascots, take to the streets in the Do Dah Day Pet Parade to raise money for animal welfare. If your family are foodies, they'll enjoy both the Greek and Lebanese Food Festivals as well as grabbing a big bowl of Cajun delights at one of the many crawfish boils held around the city. That said though, any major event in a city as big as Birmingham is going to draw the crowds and if you just want to spend some quiet, quality time with the family, it's often a good idea to make alternative plans.
Head out on a weekend RV road trip from Birmingham to Daytona Beach in Florida along the I65. At the start of the journey, you'll be driving along the western border of the Talledega National Forest and by the side of the Alabama River as you motor down toward the state capital, Montgomery. While it might be tempting to do the entire five hundred miles in one straight run, eight hours on the road is a lot, especially when you're traveling with kids, so plan a few stops along the way. Take a ride on the wild side by driving through a safari park, pitch camp in the forest, show them how the other half lived in a glitzy museum before taking a ferry boat ride to view a national monument. It'll keep them interested and entertained until you arrive in Daytona Beach and they discover just how many exciting things there are to do there.
North America has some amazing animals roaming at large through its national forests and park lands. Show the kids something different without the creatures being confined behind protective glass in a zoo by taking them to the Alabama Safari Park. The park is located south of Montgomery near Hope Hull alongside the I 65 so you won't need to go out of your way to get there.
Grab a feed bucket at the entrance, then start your journey into the three-hundred and fifty acres of the park. The kids will be totally enthralled as camels, llamas, zebras, and giraffes wander up to your vehicle to see what you have to offer them. Take your time driving the three-mile-long roadway running through the enclosures so the young ones have plenty of opportunities to interact with the animals.
They'll love wandering in the park's budgie aviary too and getting near to the smaller, more common mammals like pigs and goats in the petting area. Apart from the close contact with exotic animals like zebra, one of the best things about the park is the money raised from entrance fees and food bucket sales goes towards funding important wildlife conservation all around the world.
Stop off at the Lake Talquin State Forest to the west of Tallahassee to pitch camp for the night and you'll find much more than twenty thousand acres of trees. The forest surrounds the tranquil waters of Lake Talquin and is intersected by the Ochlockonee River. There are campgrounds both in the forest and in the Lake Talquin State Park suitable for RVs so no shortage of choice for a campsite there, though it is recommended you make a reservation prior to arriving at either.
Once you've settled in, set out to explore with the kids and you'll find trails to hike through areas prolific with wildlife as well as trails where they can let loose on their mountain bikes. Tell them to keep their eyes peeled for Gopher tortoise, fox squirrel, and white-tailed deer. Take some binoculars and they'll be able to spot osprey and bald eagles too. Don't miss taking them on the Bear Creek Tract. It's a network of marked trails running through almost five hundred acres of the forest where they'll see even more wildlife than they did in the safari park.
The kids will be awe-struck from the moment you pull in to the parking lot of the Lightner Museum in Saint Augustine in Florida. The Spanish revival building was built in the late 1880s and looks like a turreted medieval castle. The enormous and somewhat imposing construction was originally a luxury hotel and casino and remains as impressive inside as it is outside.
Walk through the ornate entrance and the kids will be left open-mouthed at the glamorous interior décor. Take a guided tour or stroll through the vast rooms alone and even you will be left flabbergasted by the items on display. There's everything from antique furniture to priceless artwork to musical instruments as well as natural history exhibitions and memorabilia from the hotel and its many guests. You may well want to keep a tight rein on the young ones as the polished floors of the long halls were just made for skidding along and the staircase banisters offer a major temptation for sliding down.
After the glamour of the Lightner Museum take the kids to view something visibly more basic but equally important, if not more so, historically. The Fort Matanzas National Monument is an 18th century Spanish built fortification that sits on the side of the Matanza Inlet on the Florida coast halfway between the Matanza State Forest and the Faver-Dykes State Park. To get there, park up and then board the regular ferry service across to the site.
The boat service is free of charge and operates on a first-come, first-served basis, though you do need to pick up a boarding pass from the Fort Matanza Visitor Center before getting on the boat. After the short boat ride across the inlet, you and the family will be able to explore the installation and discover all about its history at leisure before hiking the nature trails around Rattlesnake Island. They'll really enjoy taking a walk across the white sands of Matanza Beach while they're there too.
The first thing the kids will want to do when you arrive in Daytona Beach is hit the sands and who can blame them? After that, they'll be super happy to wander the amusement-packed boardwalk or soak up the coastal vacation atmosphere strolling along the pier while watching the surfers skimming over the waves below.
If you can manage to drag them away from the seafront, the Motorsports Hall of Fame is a great place to visit as is the Museum of Arts and Science. But kids being kids, they'll probably be equally content to sit and eat a corn dog while gazing out over the ocean before hitting the fun rides all over again.