Jacksonville in Florida is an exciting place to be no matter what age you are. Upbeat and modern but with several distinct neighborhoods that each have their own individual character, it's a city that has plenty of hustle as well as a quieter, more relaxing side to it. Downtown Jacksonville has miles of riverside walkways where you can get some fresh air or a drink on a restaurant terrace overlooking St John's River as the sun goes down. The Southside district has the best of everything from enormous parks to shopping malls and entertainment complexes, so it's great for shopping or nightlife.
Jacksonville is fronted by more than its fair share of white sand beaches too. Visit any one of them and you can enjoy a traditional vacation atmosphere without even leaving the city. Indulge in some succulent seafood, browse the stores, watch the surfers skim the waves or take a ferry over to some of the islands off the coast. Whether you want to go scuba diving, fishing, kayaking or paddleboarding, you can do it in Jacksonville. Admittedly, it's a place that's really hard to leave behind, but if you've got seven free days or more and a rig that's ready to roll, make the most of your time by taking an adventure RV road trip from Jacksonville to Amarillo in Texas.
Make the I 10 westbound your chosen departure route from Jacksonville and as you motor to Amarillo, you'll pass through the De Soto National Forest where you can forget about the city as you hike through isolated wildernesses. Arrive in Mississippi and in the same state park, you can browse a natural science museum then play a round of golf. Keep trucking and you'll be able to take diversion to a new level by pitting your wits against your fellow travelers in an escape room, getting a zipline thrill in an alligator park or taking your photo with the world's biggest Bowie knife. It'll be fun all the way on your RV road trip from Jacksonville to Amarillo and don't worry, Jacksonville will still be there when you get back.
The De Soto National Forest is a half a million acre green space through which Mississippi's only wild and scenic river, Black Creek, flows. It's a superb spot to pitch camp and get back in touch with more natural surroundings after being cooped up in a city environment for a while. Turn off the I 10 near St Martin to head north for around twenty miles along the MS 67 and you'll come to the Big Biloxi Recreation Area where there's a campground with twenty-five campsites in a woodland setting along the banks of the Biloxi River. Peace and quiet is the order of the day there, so all you'll hear is the chirping of the birds as all loud noise is prohibited.
After you've had time to rest and recuperate from your drive, it'll be time to start exploring. There's a short nature trail leading off from the Big Biloxi Campground, but if you want some serious solitude, you'll need to head deeper into the forest. The Black Creek Wilderness is over five-thousand acres about forty miles north of the campground where no motorized vehicles are permitted. It'll be just you and any wildlife you spot while trekking the winding pathways. Black Creek runs through the wilderness and the area is a natural habitat for otters so take your camera in case you spot one.
As you carry on motoring through Mississippi in the direction of Amarillo, you'll pass through Jackson. Even though you might not want to be in the city, you'll want to pull in at the LeFleur's Bluff State Park. The park is located to the north-east of the city on an oxbow of the Pearl River. If you want to spend more than a day in the park, you can do as there's an RV campground there too. The campsites are distributed along the side of Mayes Lake and have pretty scenic views.
What makes LeFleur's Bluff State Park an ideal stop, is that there's such a diversity of things to do there, you can keep everyone you're on your road trip with happy and all in one place. There are two museums in the park, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the Mississippi Children's Museum, a nine-hole golf course plus a disc golf course, boat ramps, first-class fishing and endless idyllic spots for a picnic. What more could you ask for in a single location?
If you need a break from the road, want to have some fun, but don't want to do an activity that will take up all of your day, as you're passing through Monroe, check out the Southern Escape Rooms. There are two different locations to choose from. One on Louisville Avenue in Monroe and the other on Blanchard Street in West Monroe. You'll find four totally unique escape rooms at each where you can test out who's the fastest problem solver on the road trip.
Whether you get locked in the haunted reformatory, the office of a secret agent or are feeling festive and want to find out if you're on Santa's naughty list, you'll have only sixty minutes to solve the clues. If you want something a little more fright-inspiring, try the Undead Alley and see just how creative you can get with solving problems when you've got a zombie after you.
Push your RV road trip experiences to the limit as you travel from Jacksonville to Amarillo with a visit to Gator and Friends. The adventure theme park is located on the Old US 80 near Greenwood, Louisiana which is around two hours' drive from Monroe. The park is a combination of zoo, zipline courses, and a go-kart track so it has something to suit everyone.
In the zoo section, you'll find lots of exotic animals like capybara, lemurs, llamas, camels, and kangaroos, but the park's main animal attraction is the one hundred and fifty alligators. To tackle the zipline course you'll need not just a head for heights but nerves of steel too as it passes over the animal enclosures and through an alligator swamp. If that's a little too scary, get your adrenaline thrill by speeding around the third of a mile go-kart track in a formula-one style go-kart where there's not a single alligator to be seen.
After all the thrills of the escape rooms and the gator park, you'll probably be ready for some more chill-out time. Pull in at the Tyler State Park and you'll be in an ideal place for rest and relaxation. The park is a few miles outside of Tyler in Texas though you won't need to drive through the city to get there as you can turn off the I 20 at junction 562 and head along the FM 14 northbound. There's a campground at the park which is a peaceful place on the side of a lake that is totally surrounded by trees. The busy season at the park is from March to October so reserve your campsites at the campground before you go.
When you're at the park, you'll find more than twelve miles of trails to hike and all of them wind through beautiful wooded landscapes. If you want to enjoy time either by the water or on it and didn't pack fishing gear or aren't towing a boat, don't let that stop you. The park rangers run a fishing tackle loan scheme as well as renting canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and Jon boats from the ranger station.
If you want to see something just a little weird and wonderful while you're on your RV road trip from Jacksonville to Amarillo, stop off in Bowie, Texas. While this small town in Montague County doesn't seem unusual at first glance, there's a reason for that: it's not. Apart from one not-so-diminutive thing. Bowie is home to what will probably become one of the most photographed monuments to Wild West history this century or if not of all time – the world's biggest Bowie Knife.
The spectacular replica of a Bowie knife has gigantic proportions and makes for an incredible snap to upload to your Instagram account. As it has only been there for a short time you could be one of the first to snap it so get in quick. The staggering size of the Bowie knife, which is reputedly a replica of the one used by folk hero Jim Bowie is around twenty feet long and weighs in at an amazing three thousand pounds. While it's not so useful, it's fun, so don't miss seeing it on your way through.
No music fan could make the road trip from Jacksonville to Amarillo without making the slight detour to Lubbock to visit the Buddy Holly Center. Guaranteed you won't mistake the entrance as there's a gigantic replica of Buddy's iconic spectacles right outside the door. There's a spacious parking facility too, so plenty of room to leave your rig while you go browsing the exhibits inside.
The installation is much more than a museum dedicated to Buddy Holly and his music. It's also a performing and visual arts center that showcases local Texas music. Buddy was born in Lubbock and it's a city that's proud of the musical heritage he left behind. There are multiple fascinating artifacts and memorabilia on display pertinent to his life and brief music career that range from photographs to his guitar. While you're visiting the center, you can also take a tour of band member JJ Allison's house that has been restored and is located in the grounds.
Once you leave Lubbock and are back on the road heading north along the I 27, you won't be far from Amarillo. To get in some more great outdoor time before arriving in the city, leave the interstate highway at Tulia for the US 86 eastbound. That will take you to the Caprock Canyons State Park where you can pitch camp then go exploring what is the Texan version of the Grand Canyon. The canyons are smaller but just as magnificent and so are the prairies where the state bison herd roam freely. That's not something you see every day.
The best way of getting back to nature in this fantastic park is to pull on your hiking boots and head out on the Caprock Canyons Trailway. The trail winds its way through three different counties so while you won't perhaps be able to complete it all, you'll see quite a lot. Keep your head covered as you pass through Clarity Tunnel. It's home to a colony of Mexican bats and they, just like everyone else when they're sleeping, don't appreciate being disturbed during the day.
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As you drive into Amarillo, you'll be able to look back on seven days on the road well spent having made some great memories and have the photos to prove it. While you're in Amarillo, take a stroll around the Route 66 Historic District then visit the Texas Air and Space Museum. If you're still not ready for the bright lights and bustle of the city, make your escape to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park and leave civilization behind for a few more days.