2016 Coachmen Catalina
2016 Coachmen Catalina
It’s no wonder that Florida is one of the most visited states in the country. Blessed with year-round beautiful weather and thousands of miles of beaches, the state seems almost made to be a holiday destination.
But Jacksonville isn’t Miami, and it certainly isn’t Orlando. Although this large city’s location on the coast ensures it gets its share of visitors, Jacksonville offers more of an experience of the real Florida.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it lacks things to do. Besides the beach, you can visit Jacksonville Zoo, Little Talbot Island State Park, or, for a glimpse into Florida’s long history, the preserved French fortifications at Fort Caroline.
The truth is, you could spend weeks in this huge city and still not see everything has to offer. But sometimes, you want to see somewhere new. Luckily, Jacksonville makes the ideal place to start a road trip north along the eastern coast of the country. The cities and towns along the eastern seaboard each have their own unique charm and provide plenty of places for new exploration. So once you’ve had enough of the beach, jump into an RV and head north along I-95 for a trip you won’t soon forget.
It’s less than 120 miles from Jacksonville to Savannah, but this is a stop you won’t want to miss. Especially if you have an interest in history. With its antebellum architecture, horse-drawn carriages, and remarkably preserved historic district, going to Savannah is like taking a trip back in time to a vanished world.
The historic district is the best place to begin to get a feel for the city’s unique charm. The narrow streets and cobblestone alleys echo with the sound of horses hooves, and a variety of quaint shops and restaurants will entertain you while you’re there. If you get the chance, drop into Pirates restaurant. While it’s not cheap, this Savannah institution is famous for high quality and large portions.
For a look at the darker side of Savannah’s past, visit the Owens Thomas House and Slave Quarters. This historic house, registered as a National Historic Landmark, has one of the best-preserved slave quarters in the nation and gives a real sense of what life was like for both Savannah’s richest and poorest occupants in the period prior to emancipation. Guided tours are available to educate visitors on an unpleasant but crucial part of the nation’s history.
Savannah simply oozes urban charm. But part of the joy of an RV road trip is getting out to explore nature. And a great place to do this along your route is the Francis Marion National Forest. Just outside Charleston, this Park covers nearly 260,000 acres of subtropical coniferous forest.
Thanks to reliably warm weather, Francis Marion National Forest makes a great place to explore at almost any time of the year. Endless trails wind through the forest, offering infinite opportunities for exploration.
If fishing is more your thing, you can cast the line in the Chattanooga River. If you’re lucky, you could hook one of the salmon the waters here are known for. Of course, with all this water around, the National Forest makes an excellent place for water sports such as kayaking and canoeing too.
With so much to see and do here, you may well find yourself wanting to spend a little longer in the forest. The Buck Hall recreation area has 15 full hookup sites as well as four tent-only sites, and the campground is right next to the beach. Reservations are accepted, and it’s recommended you book in advance, especially during the busy summer months.
As an alternative, Honey Hill and Elmwood recreation areas take visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
What’s a road trip without at least one classic roadside attraction? Just outside Fayetteville, make a quick detour to see the Mystery Hole for yourself. This kitschy attraction is a southern road trip classic not to be missed.
The Mystery Hole claims to be one of those strange places where the ordinary laws of physics have been suspended. Gravity works differently. A dropped ball rolls uphill. Pendulums swing the wrong way. According to the attraction's operators, some visitors have gone away from the Mystery Hole with a completely changed perspective on life.
In reality, the Mystery Hole relies on optical illusions and forced perspective to play with your sense of balance and proportion. But knowing how the trick is performed doesn’t make it any less impressive. For a fun and quick stop on the road, the Mystery Hole fits the bill and allows you to experience what generations of road trippers have enjoyed on the same journey in the past.
Along your route, I-95 will carry you right through Washington DC. And you can’t drive through the nation’s capital without stopping off for a visit. However, if you’re driving a large rig, you might want to park up somewhere outside of the downtown core and take a bus or the Metro subway system into the heart of the city.
Central Washington DC is filled to the brim with impressive monuments. After all, the history of the nation - and in many respects the world - has unfolded from this location for centuries. Don’t miss the Capitol, home of the United States legislature, or the dramatic and moving Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument, with its needlelike spire and reflecting pool, is almost impossible to miss, and it makes a great place to meditate on the grand drama of history. On a sunny day, it also makes a great location for a picnic.
Like most large cities, Washington DC doesn’t have an abundance of places to park an RV if you’re looking to stay the night. However, to the north of the city, Cherry Hill RV Park is open all year and offers hookups to RV campers. Alternatively, if you head out toward the coast and Annapolis, you’ll find the Washington DC/Capitol KOA, which can accommodate even the largest RVs.
This is a part of the country rich in large and historic cities. Staying on the I-95 north of Washington DC, you’ll pass through Baltimore and eventually reach Philadelphia. The city of Brotherly Love may be only 140 miles from Washington DC, but it lies in a different state and feels like a very different place from the national capital.
Washington may be the country's capital now, but it was in Philadelphia where the American Revolution was truly born. While you’re in the city, don’t forget to see the Liberty Bell and visit Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was signed.
There’s a different kind of history on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Fans of the classic boxing film Rocky will immediately recognize the stairs leading up to the building, which Sylvester Stallone ran up in the movie. In case you missed it, there’s even a statue at the base of the steps of Stallone in character as the eponymous hero.
But despite its fabled history, Philadelphia is no museum. Instead, it’s a vibrant and living city. For proof of that, you need only go to Reading Terminal Market with its bustling food stores and restaurants and immerse yourself in a crowd of locals to get a true sense of what the city is all about.
Without traffic, you can reach Atlantic City from Philadelphia in around an hour of driving. Hopefully you’ll arrive well-rested, because Atlantic City is not the kind of place people come to relax. While it has a share of beaches and boardwalks, it’s also the regional hub for gambling, nightlife, and other entertainment.
For some heart-pumping fun, check out the amusement park at Steel Pier. Alternatively, you can stroll the famous boardwalk and enjoy the ocean views while people watching. And if you like to gamble, you’ve come to the right place. Atlantic City is absolutely packed with casinos where you can try your luck. It’s an exciting place to end a satisfying road trip that has something to offer everyone.