Elkhart is a city in the northern central region of the state of Indiana less than a hundred miles east of spectacular Lake Michigan. Elkhart, even though they may not have been there, is a name familiar to many RVers as there are several major and well-known recreation vehicle manufacturers operating in and around the city. For anyone living in or passing through Elkhart that enjoys taking road trips, the RV/MH Hall of Fame & Museum is almost an obligatory visit.
After browsing around the exhibits there and comparing the vintage models of yesteryear to what you're driving today, taking a stroll along the scenic river walkway that runs through downtown or heading over to the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum, you could be searching for something else to do. Elkhart is, on the whole, a quiet city with a minimum of large commercial malls so not the ideal place to be if you're a shopaholic, but great if you have budget restrictions.
From early fall through to late spring can see the temperatures drop in Elkhart too and they can be below twenty degrees Fahrenheit for weeks on end. When you're tired of shivering or have been stuck in the house with the kids because it's too cold to go out, pack up your rig and like migratory birds looking for warmer climates, head south on a week-long family RV road trip from Elkhart to Miami in Florida. As you motor the one-thousand, four-hundred miles through five states stop off for some exciting family adventures canoeing on a reservoir, ziplining in an underground cavern, seeing tigers in an animal sanctuary and riding through the mountains on an incline railway. You'll soon forget about the cold as this road trip route puts the sunshine back in your days.
After a couple of hours on the road driving south down the US 31, pull up near Kokomo to give the kids time out of the rig, fresh air, and some exercise. Turn off onto East Sycamore Street in Downtown Kokomo and it'll take you onto County Road E 100 northbound which winds alongside Wild Cat Creek to the Kokomo Reservoir. There's a parking facility for rigs and trailers in the Kokomo Reservoir Park large enough for around forty vehicles.
Kokomo Reservoir is a picturesque five-hundred-acre lake perfect for kayaking and canoeing with the kids. Kit them out with their life preservers then paddle out to explore some of the lake shoreline or the scenic Wild Cat Creek. If you don't have canoes or kayaks, there is a rental concession operating in the park during the summer months. There are several boat ramps at the reservoir where you can launch motorized crafts if you're towing one. For those you don't want to hit the water, there's a one and a half-mile long nature trail running adjacent to the shoreline which is a perfect hike for kids.
As you continue on your RV road trip from Elkhart to Miami with the family, keep motoring through Indiana until you reach Columbus then make a short detour west along the US 46. That road will take you to Brown County State Park where there are several fantastic campgrounds to pitch up at. All rigs heading to the park campgrounds are required to use the West Gate entrance which you'll come across by staying on the US 46 until you're through the small town of Nashville and heading south.
There are a wealth of outdoor activities for the kids to get involved in at the park as well as in the surrounding Yellowwood State Forest. Take them mountain biking along a specially designated network of pathways, trekking through the forest or hiking on some of the twelve interpretative trails before climbing up to the top of a ninety-foot-high fire tower. There's a swimming pool open for public use in the summertime, and a nature center with a collection of rare rattlesnakes that will either fascinate them or freak them out.
If the rattlesnakes in the Brown County State Park nature center didn't freak the kids out, the Louisville Mega Caverns certainly will. The caverns are an amazing subterranean theme park on the city's Taylor Avenue not far from the Louisville Zoo that will totally stun the kids. The labyrinth of limestone caves and seventeen miles of passageways were once a mine and cover an area of four million square feet. No matter what age your children are there is something for them to do there.
Head underground and take a ride on the Mega tram while a driver-docent narrates the sixty-minute tour with some weird and wonderful anecdotes. If you don't want to ride, you can take a ninety-minute walking tour but you won't see as much.
For the more adventurous families with kids over seven years of age, there are zipline courses in some of the deepest parts of the complex that will see you whizzing at speed through the man-made corridors of rock or clambering over an aerial rope course. Youngsters twelve and over can join you on a one and a half hour fat bike cycle tour over mud, gravel, and dirt tracks running through the caverns. It's exciting, different and the kids will love it.
After being underground in the Mega Caverns hit the highway again and drive through Tennessee until you're almost to the state border with Georgia, then stop off in Chattanooga for a fun, above-ground activity. The boarding point for the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is located just south of the Tennessee River on St Elmo Street in Chattanooga and is a service that operates seven days a week from ten in the morning until six in the evening.
The century-old funicular railway runs along a mile-long single lane track up Lookout Mountain at a steep angle of over seventy degrees that will have the kids clinging to their seats. It's a super scenic ride and there's more to do when you reach the top. Go hiking around the network of trails, visit the civil war museum in the castle-like Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center, or just enjoy the impressive vistas from the viewpoint.
One way to guarantee you'll be voted parent of the year by your kids is to pull into the parking lot of the Six Flags White Water Park as you're motoring through Georgia. The water park is just off the I 75 along the Cobb Parkway in the suburbs of Marietta so easy to get to in your rig and there's plenty of space to park there too.
Let the kids loose once you're in the gates and you probably won't see them for the rest of the day - or at least until they've worked up an appetite and need feeding. In the water park's seventy acres there's about every type of water slide imaginable and then some. Bomb down the Caribbean Plunge, the Gulf Coast Screamer or the Wahoo Racer before taking a relaxing float on the lazy river then starting all over again. There are fantastic rides you can take altogether as a family and also a mini-park for smaller kids as well as lots of food concessions where you can stave off the youngsters' fun-induced hunger.
If you're looking for somewhere to pitch camp while you're passing through Georgia, the Chattahoochee Bend State Park is a great choice. The park is situated around fifty miles south-west of Atlanta on the side of the meandering Chattahoochee River.
The campground at the park is open year-round, but no matter what month you're taking your road trip from Elkhart to Miami, you'll need to reserve your campsite in advance of arriving.
There is an endless list of activities for the kids to get involved in while you're camped at the park. There are hiking and biking trails alongside the river and running through the surrounding forest, lots of wildlife to spot, excellent paddling or boating on the river, good fishing and, if the kids like treasure hunts, almost fifty geocaches to discover.
After seeing lots of North American fauna while exploring the trails of the Chattahoochee Bend State Park, take the kids to see something a little more exotic at the Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary. The refuge is near the city of Locust Grove and can be reached by taking the LG Griffin Road from the I 75. The refuge is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday from midday until three in the afternoon only.
There is a huge variety of animals at the refuge from tigers to bears, foxes, and coyotes plus many smaller mammals too. Some are permanent residents while others are waiting to be rehabilitated to the wild. There are several ways to view the animals in the sanctuary. Take a self-guided tour walking the mile-long trail through the animal enclosures. Take a guided tour which also gets you behind the scenes or take a tour which includes the big cat feeding time.
Before you arrive in Miami on your week-long family RV road trip from Elkhart, camp out in the Lake Kissimmee State Park to get a feel for the upcoming Floridian experience. The campground at the park is open twelve months of the year and has a full array of modern facilities. Campsites are equipped with water and power hook-ups and several are ADH accessible with paved pathways running from them to the shower and restroom blocks.
The Buster Island paddling trail runs through Lake Kissimmee State Park so there are some great kayaking and canoeing to be had. There are thirteen miles worth of hiking trails to explore with the young ones as well as three playgrounds where they can expend some energy. You can also introduce them to some live history at the cow camp where a cowboy goes about his daily routine in his log cabin while relating stories about his life.
No matter what adventures you and the family had on your week-long road trip from Elkhart, Miami is undeniably an exciting place to roll into. The massive city has an impressive skyline and swathes of superb beaches to match. Whatever you choose to do when you're there, whether it's visiting some of the city's many museums, watching the cruise ships sail in to PortMiami, or just chilling out on the sands, it'll have been worth the trip.