That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.
—Henry David Thoreau
Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, a reflection on the two years he spent living in a cottage near Walden Pond in Massachusetts. In his journals, he worried that leaving his humble life to travel would numb him to the unique pleasures of a quiet, simple existence. Thoreau was a transcendentalist, valuing nature and personal spirituality over materialism: It’s no surprise that he measured a person’s riches in terms of emotional satisfaction and not luxury. He reminds us that we alone decide what fulfills us and brings us joy and often those joys are much easier to reach than we think.
Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in January and February. Also, check out my recommendations from March 2022 and April 2022.
1. Always remember, never forget
Originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s five missions and distributed their lands to remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields once the missions but now their own and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.
More than 2.5 million people a year visit the 4.2 acre complex known worldwide as The Alamo. Most come to see the old mission where a small band of Texans held out for thirteen days against the Centralist army of General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Although the Alamo fell in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, the death of the Alamo Defenders has come to symbolize courage and sacrifice for the cause of Liberty.
2. One of the world’s great natural wonders
Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders—the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Here, dunes have engulfed 275 square miles of desert creating the world’s largest gypsum dune field. It’s a truly awesome place. It feels like you are in another world.
Unlike dunes made of quartz-based sand crystals the gypsum does not readily convert the sun’s energy into heat and thus can be walked upon safely with bare feet even in the hottest summer months. In areas accessible by car children frequently use the dunes for downhill sledding.
Fun fact: Three species of lizards, one pocket mouse, and numerous species of insects have evolved a white coloration for survival in the white sands.
3. Brand new cheese trail
The Indiana Cheese Trail is full of delicious stops and this is what to expect if you’re antsy for dairy. Anyone interested in gobbling up some award-winning Gouda, cheddar, or Monterey jack doesn’t need to look any farther than Indiana. There are 10 creameries and dairies listed on The American Dairy Association Indiana’s website. While cheese enthusiasts can find most of their cheeses at Indiana farmers’ markets and local grocery stores, several are open to the public for tastings, tours, and even cheese-making classes.
The Heritage Ridge Creamery began in the 1970s. Amish dairy farmers needed to sell their milk. Since they used traditional milk cans, they couldn’t find an outlet for their product until this creamery opened. Now, a farmers’ cooperative owns Heritage Ridge. The company continues to use milk produced by local, family-owned dairy farms to make its scrumptious cheeses.
Cheeses: Colby, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Amish Creamery Cheese, Pepper Jack
Visiting hours: Monday-Saturday 9 am.-4 pm.
Attractions: Watch the cheese-making process, sample their products
Location: 11275 W 250 N, Middlebury
4. A Louisiana Main Street community
Denham Springs Main Street is right outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s capital city. Check out the Denham Springs Historic District & Antique Village where there’s a lot more than antiques—including gifts, home goods, local crafts, and more shopping opportunities like the locally-owned Cavalier House Books. And every spring and fall, the Historic District fills with hundreds of vendors, games, rides, food booths, and more at the area’s spring and fall festivals.
You won’t have to stray far to visit the Old City Hall Museum. This Art Deco-style structure was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and features several interesting exhibits and collections.
For a great bite to eat, head over to Randazzo’s Italian Market where owner Antonio shares his family recipes straight from Italy. And Le Chien Brewing is a family-and-pet-friendly microbrewery serving up quality beers and sodas. Be sure to grab some nibbles from the onsite food truck, Pie Eyed, and enjoy live music on the spacious patio.
5. Incredible historic place
If you love outer space, the Kennedy Space Center visitor center is a must-see. It’s one of the most highly-rated destinations in the country and almost everybody loves their experience. You could easily spend an entire day here learning about the history and the future of space travel.
Guests have access to a variety of activities and learning experiences. You can touch a real moon rock, speak to astronauts, and get up close and personal with a rocket.
There are tons of tours, videos, and exhibits that are suitable for all kinds of people. The only downside of this experience is the price point. It’s a bit discouraging to see that entrance fee ($78.99) especially if you have younger kids who might not get their money’s worth. Overall, this place is definitely worth a visit though.
6. International Cherry Blossom Festival
Each March, Macon becomes a pink, cotton-spun paradise as over 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in all their glory.The International Cherry Blossom Festival is a perennial favorite held March 17-26, 2023 that features art exhibitions, rides, and performances.
The Creek Indians were the first inhabitants of the area that would later become known as Macon, settled by Europeans in 1809. Celebrate the Native American tribes that called the Macon area home at the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, a site dating back 17,000 years. The site has North America’s only reconstructed Earth Lodge with its original 1,000-year-old floor as well as the Great Temple Mound.
In the 1960s, Macon was ground zero for the music industry thanks to Capricorn Records and artists like the Allman Brothers Band and Otis Redding. Learn about the band that called Macon home at The Allman Brothers Band Museum at The Big House, the Tudor-style home that Berry, Duane, and Gregg lived in with their family and friends. It has a large collection of guitars and band memorabilia.
7. This Arizona ghost town will transport you to the Wild West
Goldfield Ghost Town lies along the Apache Trail, a stagecoach route originally forged by the Apache tribe which passes through Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. As its name suggests, Goldfield was a gold mining town that boomed in the 1890s; intrepid opportunists found gold here as early as the 1880s but didn’t establish a town immediately due to the ongoing wars between the United States military and the local Apache tribes.
At its peak, Goldfield had three saloons, a boarding house, a general store, a blacksmith shop, its own brewery and meat market, and a schoolhouse, as well as a local jail. Many of these buildings have been preserved (with large, dramatic signage). The town offers plenty of entertainment for visitors—from gunfight reenactments to panning for gold—but a highlight is their train which is the state’s only remaining narrow-gauge train. Goldfield also offers a recently-constructed Zipline, museum, mine tours, and reptile exhibits. Entry is free, but individual exhibits cost between $7 and $12 for adults.
8. Eat and drink your way through Charleston
Charleston might be known for its old-school Southern cuisine but the richly historic South Carolina mainstay’s culinary offerings extend way beyond she-crab soup. At Charleston Wine + Food (March 1–5, 2023), you’ll learn about what makes the city a proper food destination tasting local flavors while also mingling with chefs and winemakers from around the globe. Take part in a hip-hop-inspired Cognac workshop, enjoy a Kamayan-inspired dinner, or stop by the (free) City of Charleston Wine + Food Street Fest.
If festivals aren’t your thing, take off on your own exploring the city’s diverse food scene which draws on influences from Europe, West Africa, and the West Indies. The Quinte, a newly opened oyster bar, will get you a taste of that distinctly Charleston, ultra-fresh seafood. Vern’s, headed by James Beard Award-semifinalist Daniel Dano Heinze, applies a Californian approach to local Lowcountry provisions. And if it’s a classic spot you’re after, you can’t beat Rodney Scott’s BBQ for pit-cooked whole hogs that define the region’s barbecue.
9. Lechuguilla Cave
At 30 miles long, Carlsbad Cavern was assumed to be the most extensive cave in the Guadalupes. But cavers have now mapped more than 150 miles of meandering shafts and caverns in Lechuguilla Cave. And exploration continues.
And length isn’t even the cave’s true calling card. Lechuguilla Cave is widely considered the most beautiful cave in the world. The Chandelier Ballroom with massive formations of delicate, crystalline gypsum has become iconic. But there are pellucid waters and exquisite forms throughout.
Lechuguilla Cave started its career as Misery Hole, a 90-foot pit in southeast New Mexico where miners extracted bat guano for use in fertilizers and explosives. It wasn’t until 1984 that cavers received approval from the National Park Service to pursue the source of a mysterious breeze emanating from the cave floor.
10. Peridot Mesa is a must-visit for lovers of wildflowers
The name Peridot derives from the presence of the olive green gemstones found in the basalt rock found atop the aptly named Peridot Mesa near Globe, Arizona. Some estimates suggest that the San Carlos Indian Reservation holds the world’s largest deposit of the August birthstone and consistently produces a substantial amount of the world’s commercial-grade supply of this stone.
While only members of the tribe may mine for the prized mineral, those visiting Peridot Mesa in search of wildflowers in late February through early April will find their own gems—that is, expansive blankets of Mexican gold poppies dotted by the lupin, desert-chicory, and blue dick across rolling hillsides as far as the eye can see.
Where to find the wildflowers? The mesa is located east of Globe on the San Carlos Reservation. The area can be best accessed via US-70 near Coolidge Dam Road. The mesa is one of the Grand Canyon state’s most popular hot spots for wildflower viewing. Since the Peridot Mesa is located on San Carlos Tribal Lands, visitors will need to purchase a permit to travel to the wildflower spot. Permits are $10 each.
In March the soft rains continued, and each storm waited courteously until its predecessor sunk beneath the ground.
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden