Chicago to Fort Myers Road Trip Guide

Introduction

Choosing a place to kick off a road trip is always tricky, especially if you have the whole family involved. With so many places to choose from in the country, you have plenty of options, but one of the best by far is "The Windy City", Chicago. This is one of the country's largest cities and is full of iconic architecture and plenty of family-friendly activities.

If you have the time for a trip that is at least a week long, you will be able to see a large variance in geography, culture and attracts, especially if you head south all the way down to Florida. Driving only a few hours a day will allow you to make the most of your time and visit five states over the course of your trip. There are unlimited recreational and relaxation opportunities on this route, but there are also some great cities to stop in where you can visit museums, art galleries, or take the kids to activities suited for their age group.

Ending your motorhome road trip in Fort Myers will allow you to kick back and relax after many miles on the road in a tropical paradise. The city is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state of Florida with beaches, the estate of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, and the 3,500 acre Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve all being within the city. Get your kids to pack their bags and hit the road!

Share this road trip guide

Details

60'
Max RV length
60'
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Tampa

As you near the end of your RV road trip and drive further into Florida you will start to notice the changing environment and the tropical vibes that begin to appear. Tampa is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida and has plenty of options for families depending on how you are all feeling after a mammoth road trip.

If you and the family are feeling like you need some rest and relaxation before you make it to Fort Myers there are plenty of places perfect for chilling out, including the Manatee Viewing Center, Big Cat Rescue, and the Weedon Island Preserve where you can enjoy one of the four picnic areas, including one that overlooks Riveria Bay.

Indoor activities are also aplenty in Tampa, so consider checking out The Florida Aquarium, Glazer Children's Museum, or the Tampa Museum of Art.

Since Tampa is on the Gulf Coast there are many RV resorts you can call home for the night if you want to wake up overlooking the Gulf. Hickory Point RV Park is the best waterfront park available, but if you don't mind not being near the water also consider the Clearwater / Lake Tarpon KOA Holiday.


Newnans Lake State Forest

The longest drive of your family-friendly road trip awaits you after all of the fun at Six Flags Over Georgia, but the five hour trip to Newnans Lake State Forest will be well worth it.

Located to the east of Gainesville, Newnans Lake State Forest has been owned by the state since 1921 and features around 1,000 acres of beautiful forests swamps, and of course Newnans Lake which the state forest is named after. The lake is quite unique since it is very shallow but has over 6,000 acres of surface area.

Family-friendly fun is easily accessible when visiting the lake and forest with short hiking trails and easy lake access available for all to enjoy. The one mile long West Trail is perfect for family members of all ages and will give you the chance to walk through the forest and potentially see some birdlife. If you packed bikes in your motorhome there is also the Pithlachocco Bicycle Trail worth checking out. Near the swamps are some bald eagle nests, so if you've never seen one you will be able to during your visit.

After a long day of driving and exploring it is important to find a place to stay close by. Kate's Fish Camp is on the south end of Newnans Lake and has powered sites and free hot showers, so along with being close, you will have a comfortable place to rest.


Six Flags Over Georgia

The easy drives continue on your family RV road trip with Atlanta just over two hours away from the Prentice Cooper State Forest. There are many things to see and do in the capital of Georgia, but if you are looking for some exhilarating fun there is one place that is a must-visit.

Six Flags Over Georgia is a wonderful way to entertain the whole family with rides that suit all ages and thrill-seeking levels. Along with having roller coasters, family rides, and kids rides, Six Flags Over Georgia also has a water park section known as Hurricane Harbour. The water park is the best way to cool off on a hot summer day with a wave pool, multiple waterslides, and a water playground waiting for you to enjoy.

Once you have finished with your fun in the sun, you can check out the Looney Tunes Dance Party or the comedic Shenaniguns Wild West Gun Fight show. This is a whole day activity, so be prepared for all the fun.


Prentice Cooper State Forest

The first truly wild outdoor destination on your motorhome road trip is waiting for you around two hours away from Nashville. Prentice Cooper State Forest is located in the southeast of Tennesse right before you reach Chattanooga and is a must-visit. Consisting of over 24,600 acres and 6,939 acres of scenic zones, the forest is an ideal place to go exploring for families of all ages.

Hiking is one of the most popular ways to immerse yourself in the forest with over 35 miles of trails available to check out. The forest is also a hot spot for birding, bike riding, and rock climbing if you are feeling adventurous.

There are two free camping areas available within Prentice Cooper State Forest, so if you don't mind some primitive dry-camping you can pull up to either the Davis Pond Campground or Hunter's Check Station.


Nashville

Welcome to the home of country music! Nashville is around three hours south of Louisville and is a wonderful city to stop in as you continue into the deep south of the country. While the city has plenty of cool music venues, record stores, and buskers trying to become the next big thing, there are also plenty of family-friendly activities open all year round.

If any members of your family have a thing for dragons, you need to visit Fannie Mae Dees Park. The park is known for having incredible mosaic dragon displays that will be sure to wow the young and old dragon lovers who come for a visit. The Nashville Zoo is very well regarded if your family wants to see some animals that you won't be able to see on your trip. Wanting to do some more learning? The Adventure Science Center is built for children, so your young ones will love it there.

There are no state parks in Nashville that offer camping, but there is the fantastic Nashville KOA only a few minutes away from the city center. The campground has dozens of sites to choose from, including full hookup, patio, along with water and electric only sites. If you feel like having a night outside of the RV there are also camping and deluxe cabins to choose from.


EP Tom Sawyer State Park

Since you and your family started your motorhome road trip there have been a lot of city sites to see, so during your time in Louisville, you can get back to nature and experience the EP Tom Sawyer State Park.

Only around a two-hour drive from Indianapolis, EP Tom Sawyer State Park is on the eastern outskirts of the city and features 540 acres of rolling fields. This is a great park to bring the kids to thanks to the many outdoor recreational activities available, including archery, badminton, basketball, tennis, softball, and hiking. You can also chill out at one of the many picnic areas or head to the astronomy center to learn more about the interesting activities that happen above us.

There is no camping available in any form at EP Tom Sawyer State Park, so you will have to look outside of the park for a place to call home during your night in Louisville. Consider staying at the Derby Park RV Campground or the Louisville North Campground.


The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Your drive from Chicago to the city of Indianapolis will lead you down the I-65 and take around two hours, so there will be plenty of fun to be had once you arrive.

If you have young kids in your family you need to check out the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, which is the largest children's museum in the whole world! With five floors of exhibits and over 120,000 artifacts, the museum is separated into American Collections, Natural, and Cultural World sections. A lot of the exhibitions are interactive to entertain the kids, including an outdoor area where they can play a range of sports. Ticket prices for the museum are cheaper if you book in advance, so if you are planning on visiting, booking prior to your arrival will save you a few bucks.

Around 10 miles east of downtown Indianapolis you will find the Indianapolis KOA Holiday to spend your night in the state capital of Indiana. Featuring full hookup, electric and water only, and deluxe sites, the campground can accommodate RVs up to 110 feet in length.


Going to a Bulls Game

Finding family-friendly activities in the city of Chicago is very easy since it is one of the largest cities in the country. One experience that you should consider with your kids is taking them to see the world-famous Chicago Bulls NBA basketball team.

The NBA regular season runs from the end of October until the middle of April, so if you are starting your Chicago road trip during these months the Bulls might be playing a home game at the United Center. The Bulls offer family ticket packs on Wednesday games, so if you attend each member of your family will get a ticket to the game, a jumbo hot dog, drink, and a bag of potato chips for $25! This is a wicked deal and will be a great way to start off your road trip down to Fort Myers. You will even get to see the Michael Jordan statue out the front of the United Center, how cool!


Summary

After over 1,100 miles on the open road, you've made it to Fort Myers! This family-friendly RV road trip will be one to cherish forever, but before you pack up and go home you need to enjoy what Fort Myers has to offer.

The city is known for its natural offerings, so make the most of what surrounds the city by visiting the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, and taking the short trip down south to Fort Myers Beach. The city also has some great food options, so consider going out for a bite to eat to commemorate your road trip. The kids will love Downtown House of Pizza, and the adults will too with its warm casual atmosphere and competitive prices. If you want to try some southern staples you can head to the Farmers Market Restaurant or the Oasis Restaurant, both of which are only a few minutes away from the city center.

Since you are on the Gulf coast, it's worth it to drive your motorhome outside of the city and spend your final night at a beachside paradise. Fort Myers / Pine Island KOA Holiday is a tropical oasis with the added advantage of having planned activities to enjoy. You have the choice between 50 and 30 amp sites in the campground, some of which are surrounding one of the three lakes inside the campground. There is also a large heated pool, hot tub, and easily accessible island bike paths to make exploring easy. Whatever you do, remember to put your feet up and maybe even think about your next RV getaway!

Share this Road trip guide