Wichita, Kansas is a medium-sized city in the south-central part of the state. As a gateway city to the Great Plains, it offers an interesting blend of western and midwestern culture with historical and modern elements. It is one of the few major cities in the US where you can sip latte in a hip cafe housed in a building circa 1850 after spending a day touring modern art galleries and a recreation of an old western town complete with period actors. The dust on your shoes says Old West, your surroundings say modern America, and the smile on your face says welcome to Wichita.
The old western village is known as Old Cowtown. This area is an accredited living museum that is made up of 54 buildings that are set-up to create a complete 1860's town. Many of the buildings are real historical buildings that have been moved from other locations around Wichita and surrounding Kansas. Other buildings have been constructed in period style to complete the town. The inhabitants of the town are period actors who do an outstanding job of drawing you into an 1860s experience. This place is as close to stepping through a wormhole into America's past as you'll find anywhere.
For a more history-meets-chic-hipster experience, try stopping in the Oldtown district. This area is located in the revitalized heart of the city and features a myriad of historic buildings that are now occupied by a number of shops, restaurants and other businesses. This area is very popular with the locals and visitors alike and can make for a great day, afternoon or evening of shopping and dining. Also located in this district is the Museum of World Treasures. This museum houses an eclectic and incredible mix of artifacts from around the world. It is one of the few places where you can see a fossilized T-Rex skeleton, civil war weaponry, chunks of the Berlin Wall and antiquities from Mesopotamia, ancient Rome and Greece, and Asia all under one roof. It's an exceptionally interesting place to visit.
Air Capital RV Park is a great place to stay. It is located on the south side of the city along I-35. This well-rated park is just a few minutes from downtown and offers quick access to our route to Mobile.
The trip to Mobile, AL is an easy drive through the mostly flat core of the US. The route starts by heading south on I-35 to US-412 east to Tulsa, OK. From Tulsa, head east through Broken Arrow, OK on RT 51/351 which will take you to I-40 east. Stay on I-40 east to Little Rock, AR. Depart Little Rock on I-530 south to Pine Bluff, AR. From there, take US-65 south to Lake Village, AR. Here you'll take 279 and 454 across the Mississippi River to RT-1 south. Then take RT-14 east to US-61 south to Vicksburg, MS. From Vicksburg, head east on I-20 to Jackson, MS. Then head south on US-49 to Hattiesburg, MS. US-98 connects Hattiesburg to the western suburbs of Mobile.
The oil industry plays a prominent role in the modern Oklahoma economy. The Golden Driller is a 75 foot tall concrete and plaster statue of an oilman with his right arm resting on an oil derrick. It was originally built for the 1952 International Petroleum Exposition. It was popular enough that it was reused and eventually donated to the Tulsa Expo Center for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition.
Prior to his permanent installation at the site, he got a makeover. In 1979 his belt buckle was redone with the word “Tulsa” across it and Oklahoma officially named him the state monument. The statue is the sixth tallest statue in the United States and it is dedicated to the men of the petroleum industry.
The Warrior RV Park on the south side of town is the best RV park in the area to stay at. The park is highly rated and convenient to the downtown attractions.
In the up and coming Oklahoma city of Broken Arrow is the opportunity to dine on the BBQ of a World Champion BBQ Pitmaster. Oklahoma Joe's is a family-owned restaurant chain started by Joe Davidson who began building his BBQ empire over 25 years ago by selling hand-built smokers at the Oklahoma State Fair. With the success of his smokers, he became a master BBQ chef, winning over 300 titles including the Grand Champion Title at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship.
As part of his BBQ empire, the company operates five restaurants spread out across Oklahoma and Nebraska. One of those is located here in Broken Arrow, OK. The restaurant is highly rated overall, and the BBQ is first-rate. Smoked turkey, ribs, pulled pork and their signature BBQ Brisket are all on the menu here. This is one of those rare restaurants where you can enjoy a marquis example of a specific food style in the area it was born. It's like eating world-class sushi in Tokyo, or top-notch Pho on a street corner in Hanoi, only better.
The closest good RV parks to Broken Arrow are in Tulsa, see The Golden Driller listing above for more info.
Two of the best ways to live the culture of a region is through your stomach and through your ears. We covered the stomach portion at Oklahoma Joe's, we'll tackle the ears at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee, OK. This outstanding museum is dedicated to the careers of the major musicians that came from Oklahoma. It has both an exhibit hall and a live performance venue where they hold their annual induction ceremony as well as other live performance events.
Since it's inception in 1997, they have inducted over 37 musicians including Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, Woody Guthrie, Roy Clark, Wanda Jackson, Carrie Underwood and many more. This is not a genre-specific hall of fame, it honors Oklahoma musicians who made significant contributions to music of all styles. As such, it makes for a great stop to experience the broad range of culture and influence found across the state through its music.
Meadowbrook RV Park is located just of I-64 near downtown Muskogee. This park provides a decent place to stay for a quick trip to the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and other Muskogee attractions.
The riverfront area of Little Rock, AR from the William J. Clinton Presidential Bridge to the US-70B bridge offers a fantastic revitalized area to spend the day shopping and seeing the sights. In this area, you'll find the excellent River Market Area where you can shop for souvenirs, fresh veggies or pick up some international food at a food stall. A couple of blocks to the east is the William J Clinton Presidential Library where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about our 42nd president. A few blocks west of River Market is the excellent Old Statehouse Museum, where you can catch up on Arkansas history within a stunning building first constructed in 1833. All along the riverbank in this area is a beautiful park with walking trails, an amphitheater and a splash pad for the kids. This area makes for a wonderful day out in a great little city.
The best place to stay the night here is the Downtown Riverside RV Park. This excellent facility is literally right across the river from the River Market area. You can even walk across the river by foot on the William J. Clinton Presidential Bridge which has trails that connect to the campground.
The Vicksburg National Military Park is the site of the Siege of Vicksburg, a civil war battle that lasted from May 1863 until July. Both the Confederate and the Union sides of the war considered Vicksburg to be key in controlling the Mississippi River and therefore key to their overall success in the war. The battle was actually the culmination of a Union campaign to capture the area which had begin months earlier. Up to this point, the Union Armies had been unsuccessful in securing the area. Initial attempts by General Grant to take the city were repelled by General Pemberton's forces. Grant instead opted to put the area under siege. Low on supplies, Pemberton was finally forced to surrender seven weeks later. The Union now controlled the Mississippi River, splitting the Confederate States apart, ultimately leading to overall victory for the north.
Today, the site is a sprawling battlefield memorial operated by the National Parks Service which offers great historical educational facilities that cover this battle in detail.
The Rivertown Rose RV Park is located on the river just a few miles south of the Vicksburg National Military Park. This highly rated campground provides the perfect place to stay while visiting the area.
The petrification of wood is the process of wood fibers of fallen trees being filled with mineral deposits over time. This lengthy process occurs over thousands of years and results in the wood of the tree appearing to have turned to stone. The conditions for this to occur have to be perfect over a long period of time, which is rare. There are very few large deposits of petrified wood in the United States and one of them happens to be on our route to Mobile, AL.
In Jackson, MS you'll find the Mississippi Petrified Forest which is only one of two petrified forests in the Eastern US. This is a privately owned, but publicly accessible park-like area covering about six blocks with hiking trails through it. Along those trails, you'll find several examples of petrified wood to examine. There is also a visitor center/museum on-site with several excellent examples of petrified wood and other fossil examples.
LeFleur's Bluff State Park is a good place to camp in the area. This beautiful park not only offers great camping opportunities, but it is considered by many to be a must-visit site while in the area. Staying here, while visiting Mississippi Petrified Forest gets you access to two great sites in one trip.
It's hard to find anything that rivals the beauty of a great southern rose garden and the All American Rose Garden is one of the finest. Located at the main entrance to The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS, this sterling example of rose horticulture is one of the most visited gardens of its type in the country. The collection of roses here contains over 750 varieties and they are kept in tip-top shape for enjoyment by visitors from all over the world.
During the peak blooming season, the 32 beds are awash in beautiful color and the air fills with the amazing fragrances of the blooms. Make sure you don't take any of the flowers as a souvenir; the university applies heavy fines to anyone caught snatching up the flowers.
The Forest County RV Park is an excellent county park with RV camping facilities. This large park is located just south of Hattiesburg and provides convenient access to the city center.
Our destination city of Mobile, Alabama is a thriving Gulf Coast city with a lot to do. Located on the northwest shore of Mobile Bay, Mobile acts as a port city hub for the central Gulf Coast. The fishing and tourism industries are big here with several cruise lines offering trips to Mexico and the Caribbean from here.
One of the major attractions on the water here is Battleship Memorial Park. This park includes a large collection of military hardware including tanks, troop carriers, helicopters, and other aircraft. The majority of the aircraft collection is housed in a large steel building and includes examples of military aircraft from WW1 to the present day including a B25, P51 Mustang, F16, B52, F14, F15, SR-71 and many more. While the aircraft displays are impressive, the real stars of the show here are the USS Alabama Battleship and the USS Drum diesel/electric submarine. The USS Alabama is open for self-guided tours and you can really get down into the belly of the beast. It is a meticulously maintained example and a truly impressive piece of history. The USS Drum is also very impressive.
When most people think of Mardis Gras, they think of New Orleans, or Louisiana in general. A little known fact is that Mobile was once the capital of Louisiana and it hosted the first Mardi Gras celebration in 1703. Every year, typically in January, Mobile carries on the tradition with a huge Mardis Gras celebration. If you can be in town during that time it is definitely worth the visit. If you visit at a different time of the year you can still get in the Mardis Gras spirit by visiting the Mobile Carnival Museum which hosts a historical look at the celebration.
The areas surrounding Mobile Bay also offer some great shopping and dining opportunities. On the east side of the bay, Fairhope is an exceptional area with some great bayside restaurants and the Fairhope Brewing Company where you can enjoy some great locally crafted beer.
Shady Acres RV Campground located just south of the city and offers a great place to stay while in the area. It is easy to get into and is conveniently located for easy visits to downtown and the surrounding bay attractions.