10 Amazing Places to RV in October 2023

If you’re dreaming of where to travel to experience it all, here are my picks for the best places to RV in October

You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.

—Abraham Maslow

American psychologist Abraham Maslow is best known for his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs which outlined the basic human needs that must be met before one can seek social or spiritual fulfillment. Feeling that psychology didn’t take into account human creativity or potential, Maslow defined the concept of self-actualization as a process in which humans continually strive to reach our best selves. Choice played a prominent part in his theories: Here, he reminds us that our progress in life is up to us, if we have the courage to move forward into the unknown.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in August and September. Also check out my recommendations from October 2022 and November 2022.

Helen © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Alpine Helen’s Oktoberfest

Nestled in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the town of Helen was overlooked by tourists for years. They’d stop to top off their tanks on the way to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Brasstown Bald, or Georgia’s beloved Vogel State Park.

Then in 1969, a business owner had enough. He noted the region’s similarity to Bavaria where he’d been stationed while in the Army so he made a proposal: Transform sleepy Helen into an alpine village that appeared to be plucked right out of a German forest.

Slowly, the town changed its face adding half-timber facades, cobblestone alleys, and delicate gingerbread latticework and hand-carved details to eaves and rooflines. Soon after it became Alpine Helen; this year-round bit of Bavaria not too far north of Atlanta held its first Oktoberfest celebration.

Alpine Helen’s Oktoberfest has entertained festival-goers for more than 50 years. Nowadays, more than 500,000 visitors attend the two-month event. The Oktoberfest Parade kicked things off on September 7 and continues daily from September 28-October 20, 2023.

German-style bands from across the U.S. and Germany, more than 30 beers from local breweries and German brewmeisters, authentic Bavarian cuisine, traditional Alpenhorn instruments and plenty of folks in festive costumes make Helen’s Oktoberfest a memorable event.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. A White Oasis

White Sands National Park is one of the most jaw-dropping and surreal places in all of America. Until 2019, White Sands was a National Monument but officially changed to a National Park. What’s the difference? National Parks are protected because of their scenic, recreational, and educational value whereas a National Monument may have objects of cultural, historical, or even scientific interest.

It’s the biggest gypsum dune field in the world. The sand is so perfectly white because it’s made of gypsum whereas most sand is made of silica. Gypsum is very rare in sand form because it is a mineral that dissolves in water. That’s right—it starts to dissolve everytime it rains. But just how much of a big deal is this? White Sands covers 275 square miles of dune fields while the second largest in the world is a whopping 8 square miles in Mexico.

>> Get more tips for visiting White Sands National Park

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Where Life is Rice & Easy

At the crossroads of LA 13 and U.S. Highway 90 lies the city of Crowley.

Rice is the bedrock of the region’s celebrated Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The swallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures.

Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life. One such example is Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901 and was recently revived as an elegant space for world-class performers. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

Next door to the opera house, the Crowley City Hall, housed inside a restored 1920 Ford Motor Company building has been restored and features a museum on the city’s history.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Crowley City Hall, Historic Ford Building is comprised of four interesting museums—Rice Iterpretive Center, the History of Crowley, J.D.Miller Music Recording Studio, and Ford Automotive Museum. Built in 1920 at the cost of $40,000 the Crowley Motor Co. was the city’s Ford Motor Model T dealership. Designed by an architect for the Ford Motor Co, it was one of 1,000 similar Ford dealerships constructed in the U.S.

Plan a visit for the International Rice Festival (86th annual; October 19-22, 2023) and stay to explore the area. The International Rice Festival, held annually every third full weekend in October, is one of Louisiana’s oldest and largest agricultural festivals.

>> Get more tips for visiting Crowley

Vanderbilt Estate National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. This house belonged to the Most Powerful Family in America

By any standard, past or present, this property with a magnificent view of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains would be considered prime real estate. A series of fine homes has stood on the tract since about 1764 and in 1847 the estate was called “one of the finest specimens of the modern style of Landscape Gardening in America.”

Such superlatives attracted the attention of Frederick Vanderbilt, the grandson of Cornelius Commodore Vanderbilt who had built a fortune from shipping, ferries, and the New York Central Railroad. One of Frederick’s brothers, George Washington Vanderbilt, is perhaps best-known for his Biltmore estate near Ashville, North Carolina. Collectively the Vanderbilts were known as both the richest and the most powerful family in America in the late 1800s.

Take in the unique colors of fall framing the impressing Vanderbilt Mansion from the Vanderbilt Riverfront Trail and Bard Rock picnic area as well as the formal gardens.

Vanderbilt Mansion is in the Hudson River Valley in Dutchess County, New York, about 90 miles north of New York City and 70 miles south of Albany. 

Saratoga National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Get your history fix at Saratoga National Historical Park

The Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater, New York holds activities and attractions for travelers during any season. The significance of the property dates back to the Battle of Saratoga. During a fall evening in the 1770s, American forces defeated the British army forcing them to surrender and locking in crucial foreign support.

Although the park is known for its rich history including the Schuyler House, Saratoga Monument, and Victory Woods, it’s also a popular destination for cycling at any level. Serious hikers and bikers can take part in the 100-mile challenge in the park. All you need to do is log your miles (walking, hiking, or biking) in the park and once you hit that magic number you’ll earn a special reward and some serious bragging rights. 

For some spectacular views of the Hudson River Valley, climb the 188 steps to the 155-foot stone Saratoga Monument; on a clear day visitors can see for miles. The park is especially beautiful during autumn. 

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Joshua Tree Night Sky Festival

Venture to Southern California to marvel at the stars and planets at Joshua Tree National Park which as the International Dark Sky Association notes is the “nearest convenient place to go stargazing under a relatively dark sky” for the 18 million people who live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Joshua Tree became an official dark sky park in 2017 and each year it hosts a night sky festival in the fall. As luck would have it, this year’s dates overlap with the ring of fire solar eclipse. From Joshua Tree, the moon will appear to obscure between 70 and 80 percent of the sun.

The 2023 Night Sky Festival is scheduled for October 13-14. This event is sponsored and organized by non-profit organizations Joshua Tree Residential Education Experience (JTREE) and Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center in partnership with Joshua Tree National Park and supported by the City of Twentynine Palms.

The annual Night Sky Festival is a ticketed event with limited capacity held primarily at Sky’s the Limit Nature Center and Observatory located just outside the park’s north entrance.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Cherohala Skyway

Retreat to the serenity of the Cherohala Skyway, a picturesque byway that crosses the Nantahala and Cherokee National Forests. The drive will take people from the Tellico Plains of Tennessee all the way to North Carolina’s Robbinsville. Through this gorgeous route, travelers will ascend to elevations of more than 5,000 feet where they can see the stunning scenery of the mountains and valleys in the area. Tourists will be mesmerized by the breathtaking sights, flowing waterfalls, and lush vegetation as they travel. Visitors can also discover the hiking trails leading to secluded attractions like Bald River Falls and Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, home to eons-old, soaring trees. Every turn of the Cherohala Skyway brings tranquility and magnificent surroundings.

>> Get more tips for driving the Cherohala Skyway

Fredericksburg © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest celebrates Fredericksburg’s German heritage with four stages of continuous oompah music, arts, crafts, shopping, a children’s area, 50 varieties of American, Texas and imported beers, Texas Wine Country selections, great food and fun all weekend long! 

Oktoberfest takes place at Marktplatz in downtown Fredericksburg, Texas the first weekend of October. The festival typically runs from 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults while children 7-12 are $1 and children six and under are free. A two-day pass can be purchased for $15 and a three-day pass is $20. 

In 2023, Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg will be October 6-8, 2023. Future dates for Fredericksburg Oktoberfest include October 4-6, 2024 and October 3-5, 2025.

If you can’t make it to town for Oktoberfest weekend, any time during the fall is a great time to visit the Texas Hill Country.

Julian © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Apple Central

Fall is here and that means it’s time for apple picking in Julian, California! September and October are prime apple picking months so it’s an ideal time to be outdoors and plan a fun family outing.

And nothing is better than gathering up your own apples and taking them home to your RV for eating, cooking, and baking. So, let’s head to the mountains of Julian for these wholesome fall treats and maybe try some of the famous Julian apple pies.

Julian is at its most charming―and busiest―during the fall when leaves change color and local apples ripen. Stop by an apple orchard to sample local varieties not found elsewhere, pick up some of your favorites, or pick your own.

>> Get more tips for visiting Julian in October

Stowe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Vermont in fall says it all

Stowe packs a big punch when it comes to outdoor pursuits—and fall is when the tiny town of 5,000 truly comes alive. In autumn, the abundance of sugar maple trees surrounding this popular northern Vermont ski area put on a spectacular color show. Visitors can enjoy it all while hiking up Elmore Mountain or Stowe Pinnacle, taking a scenic drive along the backcountry roads or venturing out into the Waterbury Reservoir on a private boat cruise. In Stowe, the best time for fall foliage viewing starts in early September and runs through late October.

Worth Pondering…

We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.

—Henry Rollins

10 Amazing Places to RV in February 2023

If you’re dreaming of where to travel to experience it all, here are my picks for the best places to RV in February

The mind is like a car battery—it recharges by running.

—Bill Watterson

Every day, for 10 years, cartoonist Bill Watterson delighted readers with a new story in his beloved syndicated comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. But that kind of round-the-clock ingenuity is no easy feat. His secret? Recharging the mind by letting it play. “I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness,” Watterson said in the same 1990 commencement speech at Kenyon College where he gave the quote above. “A playful mind is inquisitive and learning is fun.”

In other words, creative ideas come when the mind is encouraged to wander into new areas, exploring wherever your natural curiosity may lead. Instead of shutting off your brain at the end of a long day, reinvigorate it by indulging your innate sense of wonder. If you follow what makes learning fun, it’s bound to lead you to new ideas.

With a chill in the air we head into February literally and figuratively cold with no idea what those rodents we trust as meteorologists will predict. Will it be six more weeks of a holed-up winter? Or will it be an early, forgiving spring? Like pretty much every single day of the last three years, the answer is: Who knows! Certainly not our friend Punxsutawney Phil whose accuracy rate is a whopping 39 percent! You’d be better off flipping a coin.

We do know, however, that we’re gonna embrace the here and now. This month we do have ostrich races at the Indio Date Festival and another reason to visit Charleston. We also have desert warmth and wildflowers along the Pinal Parkway and places to celebrate President’s Day.

Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in January. Also, check out my recommendations from February 2022 and March 2022.

Mexican poppies along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. The Pinal Pioneer Parkway

The Pinal Pioneer Parkway connected Tucson and Phoenix in the years before Interstate 10 was built. Now a little-traveled back road, it’s a much more picturesque route than the main highway especially in wildflower season. The parkway itself is a 42 mile-long stretch of Arizona State Highway 79, beginning in the desert uplands on the north slope of the Santa Catalina Mountains at about 3,500 feet and wending northward to just above 1,500 feet outside the little town of Florence.

Mexican poppies along Pinal Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In spring, the parkway is lined with desert verbena, lupine, Mexican poppies, globemallow, chuparosa, penstemon, and daisies. Even in dry years when other parts of the desert aren’t flowering, the Pinal Pioneer Parkway always seems to manage a good show.

The parkway is marked with signs pointing out some of the characteristic desert vegetation such as saguaro and mesquite. Pack a picnic lunch and stop at one of the many roadside tables. Stop at the Tom Mix Memorial, 23.5 miles north of Oracle Junction at milepost 116, to pay your respects to the late movie cowboy.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

2. Visit the Presidents (and other things) in South Dakota

As always, Presidents’ Day lands in February. So maybe it’s time to get extra presidential by firing up the RV for a jaunt to South Dakota. After your patriotic tour of Mount Rushmore, you’ll have free reign of one of the least-visited states at its emptiest time. Hike a frozen waterfall, hang out on a frozen lake, or get to know the land’s first people.

Badlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Or dig deep into the western part of the state: Not far from Rushmore, you can pretend you’re on an alien planet in the Badlands, kick up your spurs with some ghosts in Deadwood, hop on a jackalope while stuffed with homemade donuts at Wall Drug, and gaze upon the wonders of the Corn Palace. Visit the stunning lakes and spires of Custer State Park and see where the thrilling buffalo roundup happens in September. Just give your new fuzzy friends lots of room.

>> Get more tips for visiting South Dakota

Bay St. Lewis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. A place apart

Considered a place apart, this quaint seaside town has been named one of the Coolest Small Towns in America by Budget Travel and was also recognized as a top 10 small beach town by Coastal Living Magazine. From friendly folks to historic buildings, this unique city embraces the heritage of the Coastal Mississippi region.

The town’s prime spot on the Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico, provides a glorious stretch of white-sanded beach with virtually no crowds.

Bay St. Lewis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just off of Beach Boulevard, you’ll find Old Town Bay St. Louis, a walkable area full of local shops and eateries. Spend an afternoon strolling through Old Town, browsing the beach boutiques and art galleries. Don’t miss the French Potager, an antique store and flower shop.

>> Get more tips for visiting Bay St. Louis

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Where Life is Rice & Easy

At the crossroads of LA 13 and U.S. Highway 90 lies the city of Crowley.

Rice is the bedrock of the region’s celebrated Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The swallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life. One such example is Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901 and was recently revived as an elegant space for world-class performers. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

>> Get more tips for visiting Crowley

Sculptures of Borrego © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Beyond the Sculptures of Borrego

Nestled between the historic gold mining town of Julian and The Salton Sea, Borrego Springs and the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offer several exceptional experiences. Located two hours from San Diego, there are activities and natural attractions suited for many types of RVers. With 500 miles of dirt roads, a dozen wilderness areas, and miles of hiking trails you would expect some great adventures, and you won’t be disappointed.

Christmas Circles in Borrego Springs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walking downtown Borrego Springs is a fun experience. Start at Christmas Circle—the main attraction—and poke your head into some exciting shops or visit The Borrego Art Institute. This is where you can observe potters and en plein air artists complete their current artworks.

Hiking is popular in the Anza-Borrego Desert and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The desert trails are not for the faint of heart but rather ideal for those with a sense of adventure. Remember, hydration is vital in this arid region and be sure to bring along plenty of water. The routes are not always well marked and cell service is almost non-existent.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Borrego Springs isn’t known for its nightlife or at least not the club kind.  However, it is an area that should be explored well after the sun sets. Borrego is an International Dark Sky Community that was designated by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). Stargazing is encouraged.

There is no need for a telescope and the brilliantly lit skies will awe anyone who hasn’t been out of the dome of a city glow. Billions of stars make themselves known and form many prominent constellations.

>> Get more tips for visiting Borrego Springs

Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Beauty and History Combine

There’s no experience quite like the untamed beauty of Cumberland Island National Seashore, a barrier island only accessible by boat from the small town of St. Marys. Home to a handful of residents and a whole lot of wildlife, it’s an incredible place to go off-grid. Visitors can hike the miles of trails sharing the space with wild horses, alligators, and birds.

Ruins of Dungeness, Cumberland Island National Seashore © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tours are available of historic Carnegie mansions like Plum Orchard and the ruins of Dungeness. On the northern side of the island, you can see the First African Baptist Church, a historic African-American church where John F. Kennedy Jr. was famously married. To spend the night, choose from the multiple tenting campsites or the luxurious Greyfield Inn set in another Carnegie home with chef-prepared meals and naturalist tours.

>> Get more tips for visiting Cumberland Island National Seashore

Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. The Texas Whitehouse

Those who have ascended to the presidency of the United States are products of the environments in which they were born, raised, and educated. Their early experiences usually have a significant effect on how they manage their presidency and the subsequent policy and programs developed under their watch. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson National Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lyndon Baines Johnson is a fitting example of that.  His presidency was guided in full measure by his upbringing, his personal experiences with poverty and shame, and his observation of racism and hate. 

Lyndon Baines Johnson had a staggering impact on the United States during his time as president. Much of his approach to government was instilled during his early life in Texas. The LBJ Ranch was where he was born, lived, died, and was buried.

>> Get more tips for visiting Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Wild now. Wild forever.

Since 1983, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) has celebrated the finest in wildlife art and the sporting lifestyle. SEWE is a celebration of the great outdoors through fine art, live entertainment, and special events. It’s where artists, craftsmen, collectors, and sporting enthusiasts come together to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.

Whether you’re browsing for your next piece of fine art, searching for distinctive hand-made creations, looking for family-friendly entertainment, or you just need an excuse for visiting Charleston and the Lowcountry, there’s something for everyone at SEWE, February 17-19, 2023. 

>> Get more tips for visiting Charleston

Riverside County Fairgrounds © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. It’s a Date!

Originating as a festival to celebrate the end of the annual date harvest, the annual Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival welcomes over 250,000 guests each February. The 75th Annual Date Festival will be held February 17-26, 2023 featuring 10 days of family fun and world-class entertainment. 

Dates © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Indio Date Festival and Riverside County Fair celebrate the desert’s favorite crop, dates. You’ll also see llamas, dairy goats, poultry, camel and ostrich races, WGAS Motorsports Monster Trucks, concerts, contests, games, food, and a carnival with midway action. It’s one of the best fairs in California because of its location and date.

The Riverside County Fairgrounds hosts a variety of community-focused events all year long, ranging from multi-day festivals to private events. The Fairgrounds are located on Highway 111 in Indio.

Buffalo Trace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Bourbon bonanza

Buffalo Trace is ringing in the New Year in record-breaking good spirits. The whiskey distillery officially filled its eight millionth barrel of bourbon since Prohibition. The major milestone occurred only four years after the seven millionth barrel was filled due to the distillery’s recent $1.2 billion expansion. 

To celebrate the major achievement, Buffalo Trace announced its Bourbon Experience of a Lifetime contest offering a $10,000 trip for two. After running (or walking) one mile, entrants have the chance to win a fully paid, two-night trip to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Buffalo Trace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This includes first-class, roundtrip airfare, car service, and a one-night stay at Buffalo Trace’s exclusive Stagg Lodge. The invite-only lodge has never been open to the public before. Built adjacent to the distillery in 2020, the 4,000-square-foot log cabin overlooks the Kentucky River and the city of Frankfort. The house has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, gorgeous great room with floor-to-ceiling windows, a double-sided fireplace, and a wrap-around deck. The experience includes a dinner for two prepared by a private chef at the lodge as well as private tours of the grounds and distillery.

Buffalo Trace © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The second-night stay will be in Louisville, Kentucky.

Winners will also be awarded an $800 Buffalo Trace Distillery gift card, plus Buffalo Trace will donate bourbon to a mutually agreed upon charity of the winner’s choice.

Interested participants in the Bourbon Experience of a Lifetime contest can enter at willrunforbuffalotracebourbon.com.

>> Get more tips for visiting Frankfort

Worth Pondering…

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.

―Charles M. Schulz

Crowley: Where Life is Rice & Easy

A wonderful blend of the past and the present where life is rice and easy

At the crossroads of LA 13 and U.S. Highway 90 lies the city of Crowley. It was founded by C.C. and W.W. Duson back in 1886. At just 137 years old, Crowley is practically a teenager compared to other cities in the state. But what a ride it’s been!

Crowley is a railroad town. It was named after Pat Crowley who was the railroad owner who brought the depot to the land owned by the Duson brothers. The town was a planned community. The streets and properties were plotted out and developed. Unlike many Louisiana towns, the layout is a grid using numbered and lettered streets with the courthouse circle being the center.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Rice is the bedrock of the region’s celebrated Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The shallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures.

Victorian hone in Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With its district lined with oaks and ornate Victorian homes, downtown Crowley is part of the state’s Main Street Program. Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life. One such example is Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901 and was recently revived as an elegant space for world-class performers. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Opera House of the South

One of the most unique second-story opera houses still standing, the Grand Opera House of the South is a beautifully restored historic theater that hosts shows and events. Built in 1901 by David E. Lyons, a livery stable owner and deputy sheriff, the Grand, as it was named then, was referred to by the Daily Signal as a beautiful little playhouse.

Costing a mere $18,000 to build, Mr. Lyons carefully constructed his masterpiece using virgin Louisiana cypress, pine, and oak. The Grand Opera House of the South featured everything from musical performances to theatrical presentations with figures from Clark Gable, Huey Long, and Babe Ruth to opera singer Enrico Caruso and Madame de Vilchez-Bisset of the Paris Opera gracing its stage.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As for why The Grand Opera House lured so many A-list performers to its stage in its early years, consider Crowley’s location, positioned halfway between New Orleans and Houston. It was a convenient stopover point along the rail line where performers could spend a night or two.

The Grand Opera House of the South was more than a performance venue, too. On the first floor there was a saloon, café, mortuary, and a pool hall. Until the opera house closed its doors in 1939—the victim of changing times and the advent of modern movie theaters—it was a thriving part of Crowley’s downtown.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Restored in 2004 and reopened in 2008, the revived auditorium seats up to 400 guests and offers a schedule of performances that’s guaranteed to entertain. One hour tours are offered by appointment only ($10 per person/minimum of 3 guests/$30).

The Grand Opera House is one of more than 200 Crowley structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other buildings of historic interest include the Houssaye House (1887), the Egan Hotel (1914) and the Blue Rose Museum (1848).

Crowley Motor Co. in Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crowley Motor Co.

Next door to the opera house, the Crowley City Hall, housed inside a restored 1920 Ford Motor Company building has been restored and features a museum on the city’s history. All are worth checking out when visiting Crowley.

The Crowley City Hall, Historic Ford Building is comprised of four interesting museums—Rice Iterpretive Center, the History of Crowley, J.D.Miller Music Recording Studio, and Ford Automotive Museum. Built in 1920 at the cost of $40,000 the Crowley Motor Co. was the city’s Ford Motor Model T dealership. Designed by an architect for the Ford Motor Co, it was one of 1,000 similar Ford dealerships constructed in the U.S. Admission is free to the museums.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kelly’s Landing Agricultural Museum & Cajun Prairie Farm

Explore the agricultural importance of the area with Kelly’s Landing Agricultural Museum & Cajun Prairie Farm. Tour a working farm on the Cajun Prairie, learn how crawfish and rice are farmed, view Kelly’s extensive collection of antique toys and equipment, and take part in an AgiTour.

Rice and crawfish farming © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Kelly started his John Deere collection in 1989. Visitors frequently ask Kelly, “How many toys do you have?” To which Kelly responds, 1837, give or take. But, the truth is that no one’s ever counted and the collection grows too rapidly to try. The real John Deere enthusiasts and farming fanatics will recognize 1837 as being the date that John Deere invented his first successful steel plow.

The collection at Kelly’s Landing goes beyond John Deere. Kelly has also acquired an array of Massey Ferguson, Case, Moline, and Oliver toys, as well as model planes.

Rice and crawfish farming © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

AgiTours include:

  • Crawfish Pond Tours: Learn how crawfish are farmed at the only working agritourism destination in the parish, possibly in all of Acadiana
  • Rice Field Tours: Learn how Acadia Parish’s #1 crop is produced; from field flooding to harvesting, Kelly covers it all
Crawfish trap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crystal Rice Heritage Farm

The Crystal Rice Heritage Farm is the historic location in Crowley where Sol Wright (full name Salmon Lusk Wright) invented the Blue Rose variety of rice which changed the rice industry—and the world—for the better. The rice varieties Sol bred successfully are the basis for the strong, disease-resistant American rice seed being used today.

In 1890, Sol Wright purchased 320 acres of land 5 miles south of Crowley. He made the move from the Midwest to a tract of land down south that would later become Crystal Rice Plantation. Since he was already a successful wheat farmer getting to know the rice field was easy. He soon found out that the imported seed from Japan and Honduras was not well suited for the area.

Rice and crawfish farming © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sol’s next challenge was to produce seed rice that would offer a better yeild in the field and be hardy enough to withstand the milling process. He was on a mission to turn around a struggling industry. Using natural selection and cross-pollination he labored for 12 long seasons with patience and determination.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

At last, in 1912 his hard work paid off. Laying before him in his study were the grains of crystal rice he had sought to achieve.  Sol went on to develope new varieties in long, medium, and short grain rice. News spread quickly and soon Sol’s seed rice varieties were being used in 70 to 80 percent of the United States. Some say that Sol Wright saved the rice industry.

The Crystal Rice Heritage Farm is also the location of the Blue Rose Rice Museum, home to many relics of the Acadian era and other pieces of history including some from Abraham Lincoln. The Blue Rose Rice Museum is a National Historical Landmark located in Crowley adjacent to the Wright Group’s manufacturing facility.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crowley Rice Arena

The Crowley Rice Arena hosts seasonal events and activities including rodeos, youth 4-H and FFA live-stock shows, tractor pulls, barrel racing, cutting horse shows, timed events, youth and LRCA rodeos. Forty RV hook-ups sites are available for rent whether you are attending a function or just passing through and need a place to overnight. 

Victorian home in Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

International Rice Festival

Plan a visit for the International Rice Festival (86th annual; October 19-22, 2023) and stay to explore the area. The International Rice Festival, held annually every third full weekend in October, is one of Louisiana’s oldest and largest agricultural festivals.

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Reggie’s Downtown

Dine and drink at Reggie’s Downtown, a restaurant and microbrewery in Crowley’s historical, main street, and culture district. All of their beers contain Crowley Rice and other locally sourced ingredients which is why their beer is so tasty.

Specialty beers include:

  • Mermentau: This is where it all began. Their German Hefe Weisen Dunkel or Dark Wheat lagered beer is named after the Mermentau River. Color and complexity with a light smooth finish.
  • Atchafalaya Amber: A crisp lager with a hint of caramel for a smooth taste. 
  • Vaux Sur Sure: Belgian style ale with a hint of citrus for a light flavor. This beer is named after Crowley’s twin city Vaux Sur Sure, Belgium.
  • The Standard: Pilsner with heavy Rice elements, lagered. Named after Standard Mill Road where Crowley had 16 Rice Mills in its peak.
Crawfish traps © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fezzo’s Seafood Steakhouse & Oyster Bar 

Fezzo’s Seafood Steakhouse & Oyster Bar cooks up a large menu of authentic Cajun food in the Cajun tradition in a family dining atmosphere. Something for everyone: steaks, seafood, pasta, po-boys, salads, and more.

Worth Pondering…

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)

Goodbye joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, well have good fun on the bayou

—Lyrics and recording by Hank Williams, Sr., 1954

Fascinating Small Towns You Should Visit on Your Next Road Trip

From coast to coast and north to south, RVers can get a taste of what it’s like to live somewhere completely different or perhaps even startlingly similar to what they’re used to

Big cities are great to visit if you’re looking for lots of stuff to see and do in a short period of time. No shame in the big city game. But maybe you have time available, you’re retired, between jobs, or you’re self-employed—and you’re able to set a few weeks or more aside for an all-American road trip (there’s truly nothing in the world like it—especially in an RV). First, congratulations! You’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. But now, where to go? We’ve explored America by RV and found these 10 cool small-town gems you’re sure to enjoy.

Walterboro © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walterboro, South Carolina

For those reminiscing about the warmth and familiarity of an authentic small town, Walterboro provides the perfect opportunity to step back through time. Nature lovers can take advantage of South Carolina’s year-round balmy weather and enjoy the quiet solitude of the ACE Basin and Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly Great Swamp Sanctuary) which is accessible from downtown. Visitors are reminded of the town’s early days as a summer retreat—tree-lined streets where quaint homes with broad porches and beautiful churches date to the 18th century. Treasure-hunters love scouring the village’s dozen antique shops, finding everything from high-end antiques to fun vintage souvenirs or shopping the Colleton Farmers Market for farm-fresh produce and delicious homemade food products.

Wild Turkey Distillery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

History, food, golf, shopping and―did we mention? – bourbon are all part of the mix in Lawrenceburg. Its quaint downtown is graced with an impressive courthouse building, shopping, dining, and more. Lawrenceburg is home to the Wild Turkey Distillery. The tour reveals an intriguing combination of tradition and modern mass production. Your visit began and ended in the new visitor center with a gift shop and tasting room. Inspired by the silhouette of Kentucky tobacco barns, the visitor center has an unbeatable view of the Kentucky River and its bridge and unique railroad trestle (the turnaround point for the Bluegrass Scenic Railroad).

Sutter Creek © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sutter Creek, California

Sutter Creek is the very essence of a California Gold Country town. Peter Fish, of Sunset Magazine, wrote that “Sutter Creek is the best town in the Gold Country … a Main Street lined with balconied 19th-century buildings. The prettiest Main Street you’ve ever seen!” A wonderful balance of old and new, today’s Sutter Creek maintains its Gold Rush facade. Shop, dine, stroll, wine taste, and enjoy the quaint atmosphere of Sutter Creek. Sutter Creek, the jewel of the Mother Lode, is steeped in history being born of the California Gold Rush and nurtured by the deep rock gold mines of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is also the perfect hub to explore the Sierra Foothill Wine regions including Amador’s own Shenandoah Valley

Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moab, Utah

Moab’s easy access to Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Colorado River, three scenic byways, and thousands of square miles of amazing red rock landscapes has made it one of the most sought-after destinations in the American Southwest.

Moab is fun, has some good restaurants, a variety of camping options, and is close to countless natural wonders and fun activities. Once you arrive in Moab, your first stop should be the Moab Information Center located at the corner of Main and Center Street.

Adairsville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adairsville, Georgia

A visit to this Norman Rockwell kind of town is a must for anyone who loves history, antiquing, and good food. Adairsville, nestled in the Oothcalooga Valley, was the first Georgia town to be listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places. More than 130 homes and businesses are designated as historic properties. Adairsville’s location—65 miles north of Atlanta and 65 miles south of Chattanooga—makes for a convenient overnight stay—or longer. Harvest Moon RV Park at I-75 Exit 306 offers comfortable full-service camping for RVers including long pull-through sites (85-90 foot length).

Woodstock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Woodstock, New York

Woodstock is much more than a small town at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. While the concert that put this town on the map wasn’t actually held here, it did bring international recognition to the town. Long before the 1969 music festival, Woodstock had been a utopian art colony. Its artsy roots can be traced back to the early 1900s. It started with The Byrdcliffe colony which was founded in 1903 (and still exists today) and was a woodsy retreat where artists were invited to come and simply create. Today, there is no shortage of art throughout the community, whether it’s the museums and galleries along Tinker Street (the main drag), the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, and the the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.

Lancaster County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutch community can be found in Lancaster which famously acted as the state capital from 1799 to 1812. The local farms mean lots of amazing food and fresh produce which can be found at Lancaster Central Market (the U.S.’s oldest public market). The town is also the starting point for the Lancaster County Art Gallery Trail which travels through several nearby towns and showcases the area’s most interesting (and affordable) art.

Woods Hole © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

This tiny, bustling Cape Cod town was once a pass-through destination for Martha’s Vineyard ferry travelers. Now it holds its own thanks to a charming waterfront filled with restaurants and shopping. Woods Hole is the epicenter of marine and biological science in the US with more than five major science institutions headquartered here (WHOI, MBL, NOAA, SEA, and Woods Hole Research Center).

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crowley, Louisiana

Rice is the bedrock of Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The swallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures including ornate Victorian homes. Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life including Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

Corning © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Corning, New York

Corning is part of the Finger Lakes region of New York. Wineries and breweries: check. Panoramic views of a gorgeous lake: check. Restaurants filled with top-notch food: check. The Corning Museum of Art is celebrating 50 years and welcoming visitors in a unique way. This southern Finger Lakes community offers something for everyone. Spend time at the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum.

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden