Road Trip Theme Ideas for Your Next RV Adventure

Creating a theme for your RV road trip elevates the fun

If you’ve ever thought road trips were just about long drives and random stops, think again! The open road offers an incredible canvas for themed adventures that cater to every imaginable interest.

Choosing a road trip destination

Many times, the biggest decision that we make when planning a new RV trip is WHERE TO GO. A lot of thought goes into the destinations and on more than a few occasions we have planned out a THEMED road trip. Road trip themes are plentiful and going on a trip that focuses on one main topic is a LOT of fun (The planning process can be ALMOST as enjoyable as the actual trip).

You can put a lot of care and thought into the details of a themed road trip and you can choose themes to match just about any interest or hobby.

Whether you’re a foodie on the hunt for the best diners, a history buff tracing historical trails, or simply someone looking for the road less traveled, themed road trips are your ticket to a more personalized adventure.

The following themes represent the wide variety of interests and inspirations showing how diverse themes can cater to different passions, hobbies, and curiosities. I also include related links to help you start planning.

Perhaps my list will give you some inspiration?

Foodie road trip on the Kolache Trail in central Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plan Road Trips Early

The best tip that I have for planning a successful road trip: plan EARLY. By early, I mean AT LEAST 4-6 months ahead.

Popular attractions, campgrounds and RV parks, and other locations fill up quickly. It is best to book the highly sought-after events and locales as soon as possible.

Road trip themes

I had a fun time putting together the (rather) extensive list below. There are a lot of different themes and each one can be broken down and personalized based on individual preference. Most would work well as family road trips, couples trips, friend’s trips, or even solo trips.

The themes are listed in no particular order below:

  • Foodie Road Trip
  • Famous Authors Road Trip
  • Roadside Attractions Road Trip
  • National Parks Road Trip
  • Music Themed Road Trip
  • Movie or TV Show Themed Road Trip
  • Wine Country Road Trip
  • Bourbon Country Road Trip
  • Historical Road Trip
  • Scenic Byways Road Trip
  • Coastal Highway Road Trip
  • Amish Country Road Trip
  • Wildlife and Nature Road Trip
  • Photography Road Trip
  • Adventure Activities Road Trip
  • Sports Road Trip
  • Wildflowers Road Trip
  • Birdwatching Road Trip
  • Exploring the Arts Road Trip
  • Space Themed Road Trip
  • Science and Tech Themed Road Trip
  • Genealogy Road Trip
Blue Bell Ice Cream tour in Brenham, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Foodie Road Trip

Plan a road trip that’s ALL ABOUT FOOD! You can choose the specific concentration for your trip, but here are some suggestions:

  • Eat at iconic restaurants featured in your favorite TV shows or movies.
  • Visit factories that make your favorite foods (especially if they offer tours, for example Blue Bell Ice Cream.
  • Visit orchards during fall pick-your-own season.
  • Check out some popular food trucks! Head to social media and find amazing trucks that have big followings. Put together an itinerary that will take you to several of these trucks. Another option for food trucks is to find a food truck festival.
  • Focus on a geographical location known for certain foods or dishes and see how many different varieties you can try. Examples include: pizza in Chicago, lobster in Maine, crab in Maryland, BBQ and kolaches in Texas, green chile burger in New Mexico, and boudin and crawfish in Louisiana.
  • Go on a road trip and focus on trying specific foods the whole time: pizza, BBQ, seafood, chocolate, ice cream, donuts, sandwiches, burgers, or wings.

Famous Authors Road Trip

Is there a famous author or a book that really moved you as a kid or adult? Plan a road trip around that author’s life or important milestones.

If the book is set in a particular town (real life town, obviously), visit the town.

World’s Largest Roadrunner in Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Roadside Attractions Road Trip

Roadside attractions are silly, kitschy stops that you can check out as you drive from point A to point B. They are places that are fun to see but you won’t spend an entire day there. There are so many cool roadside attractions across the country. A few examples include:

Gather inspiration for these and other roadside attraction with these resources: 

Arches National Park in Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National Parks Road Trip

Planning a National Parks Road Trip can be an exciting adventure! With over 60 national parks and countless other National Park Service (NPS) sites in the United States, there are numerous routes and itineraries to explore.

Consider the distance and time you have available as well as your interests and preferences. You can focus on a specific region such as the West Coast, East Coast, or the Southwest, or create a loop that covers multiple regions.

Research the national parks you want to visit and plan your itinerary accordingly. Make sure to allow enough time for each park considering factors like driving distances, park hours, and activities you want to do.

Maybe you’ll plan a trip to Utah’s Mighty Five or expand it to a Grand Circle Tour. Or explore Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains in leaf-peeping season.

No matter which parks you choose, there are incredible vistas and wildlife just waiting for you to take them in. National Parks make great family vacations. The kids love participating in the Junior Ranger programs which offer the youngest travelers an array of activities and the opportunity to earn a ranger badge or pin upon program completion.

Note: National Parks are at the top of the list for destinations that require some pre-planning and booking. A number of parks require advanced reservations and timed entry during the peak travel season.

I have a lot of NPS content on the blog. Check these posts to learn more:

Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Music Themed Road Trips

Whether you love rock ‘n roll, country music, or the sounds of smooth jazz, there are some wonderful options for music themed trips in the US!

Head to Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee and hear incredible country tunes at just about every bar plus visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, and Grand Ole Opry. Top off the trip with a tour of Graceland, home of Elvis Presley.

If jazz is your thing, immerse yourself in its roots down in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Love rock ‘n roll? Make a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Movie or TV Themed Road Trip

You can find filming locations for most movie and TV film productions with a little bit of research (simple internet search). Sometimes a whole town is used to film various scenes in the show or movie.

Choose a fave flick or two and head to the town where it was filmed.

By the way, I have a series of posts on movie and film locations:

Okanagan Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wine Country Road Trip

This road trip is PERFECT for couples or friend groups. Gather up your fellow wine connoisseurs and head out on a road trip to wine country. Your best bet is to visit an area known for its wineries so that you can visit multiple locations during your trip.

Here are some helpful resources:

Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon tour © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bourbon Country Road Trip

Explore the rich tradition of America’s Official Native Spirit on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail featuring a number of signature distilleries nestled among beautiful Bluegrass Region scenery.

In 1999, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association formed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to give visitors a firsthand look at the art and science of crafting Bourbon and to educate them about the rich history and proud tradition of Kentucky’s signature spirit.

If you need ideas, check out these blog posts:

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Historical Road Trip

Choose a time period or event in the long past that really interests you and build a road trip around it. There are so many different ideas for things to visit on a historically themed road trip. Choose the historic sites that interest you the most and use that as your starting point.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Early American History
  • Revolutionary War Battlefields
  • Civil War Battlefields
  • Pioneer Life and Travel
  • Native American History

Specific ideas and locations include:

  • Ghost towns
  • Museums
  • Historic parks and sites
  • Presidential libraries
  • Pioneer trails like Lewis & Clark and the Oregon Trail
  • Route 66

Here are some articles to help:

Utah Scenic Byway 12, an All-American Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byways Road Trip

In This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie sang the words, “As I went walking that ribbon of highway / I saw above me that endless skyway.” If Guthrie was singing about some of the most beautiful ribbons of highway in the U. S., there’s a good chance he was talking about one of the country’s scenic byways.

Cutting through prairies, grasslands, mountains, forests, and deserts, many of the scenic byways are not only modes of transport but destinations in themselves. While highways are wide traffic-filled roads connecting major cities, byways tend to be narrower, secondary roads in more rural areas.

The National Scenic Byways Program began in 1991 to promote roads of special aesthetic or cultural significance in one of six topics: archaeological, cultural, natural, historic, recreational, or scenic. Those that meet two or more criteria are designated “All-American Roads.”

I’ve written numerous articles on scenic byways and All-American Roads. Here are a few to help you plan a Scenic Byways Road Trip:

Worth Pondering…

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

—Lewis Carrol

70 Degree Road Trip #1: The Coastal Adventure

A clever climatologist routed a 70 degree road trip around the U.S. where you can enjoy 70-degree weather all year long

In 2015, a climatologist named Brian B. created a 70 degree Road Trip map that has been shared over 10 million times over various platforms. That map was a hypothetical trip through the U.S. with the route tracking where the normal daily high temperature was approximately 70 degrees Fehrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). 

The map was based on the 1981-2010 climate normals produced by the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI). Every 10 years, new climate normals are produced. In May 2021, the 1991-2020 normals were released by NCEI.

It might surprise people that the shift in 70-degree temperatures between 1981-2010 and 1991-2020 was very slight. Instead of updating the map to reflect temperature changes he came up with new routes. The original route was interesting but it left out a lot of options. This time around, there are multiple routes to choose from.

The map consists of three different routes that chase 70-degree weather all year long. You can now choose a Coastal Route, Interior Route, or United States and Canada Route. 

In this article, I will focus on what Brian B. calls the Coastal Route. I’ll cover the other two routes in upcoming articles.

Keep in mind you don’t have to do this entire route. You can simply use it as a guide to plan trips using segments at different times of the year. But, if you have the time and resources, it sure would be an epic journey to do the entire route!

Route 1: The Coastal Adventure

The coastal route starts in Tampa, Florida, and ends in San Diego, California. It’s an extraordinary 7,468-mile journey through diverse landscapes and coastal views.

Brian calls it the coastal route because it takes you along the east coast follows the shores of some of the great lakes and finishes off on the southern coast of sunny California. However, this route may be better designated as the exterior or perimeter route.

It has a long stretch across the northern states and a detour inland once you get out west. That’s what is required to stay within the 69-71 degree window.

But, even though it doesn’t take you entirely down the Oregon and California coastline, you’ll still see amazing landscapes every mile of the journey.

I’ll walk you through the journey and link to helpful articles to help you plan your trip.

Myakka River State Park, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

January

Set off from Tampa, Florida, and make your way east toward Orlando. Enjoy the warm weather, sandy beaches, and vibrant attractions including theme parks, shopping, and dining experiences. 

Mileage: 151 miles

Mount Dora, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

February

Head up the east coast of Florida to Jacksonville taking in the pristine coastal views and visiting historic landmarks such as the Fort Caroline National Memorial. 

Mileage: 81 miles

Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

March

Continue northward along I-95, stopping by the charming cities of Savannah and Charleston. Reach the North Carolina border where delicious Carolina BBQ awaits. 

Mileage: 341 miles

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

April

Continue traveling up the I-95 corridor to explore the vibrant cities of Richmond, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia while soaking in the East Coast’s rich history. 

There are so many museums and historical sites in this part of the country. It’s worth looking for reciprocal memberships to use at museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and more.

Mileage: 447 miles

Boston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

May

Take in the scenic beauty of the northeast as you drive from Philadelphia through New York City and all the way to Boston. Revel in the flourishing spring atmosphere as you explore cosmopolitan cities and quaint towns. 

Mileage: 300 miles

Custer State Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

June

Buckle up and get ready to cover a lot of ground this month. In this stretch, you go all the way from Boston, Massachusetts to central Montana. This long stretch rewards you with natural wonders such as Niagara Falls and the vast wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

While 2,388 miles seems like a lot, that’s only 80 miles a day. So, you can still spend time seeing plenty of sights along the way.

Mileage: 2,388 miles

Mount St. Helens, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

July

Traverse through the stunning terrain of western Montana, Idaho, and Washington on I-90. End your month in the lush surroundings of coastal Washington. 

Mileage: 965 miles

Applegate River Valley, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

August

Journey south along breathtaking coastal highways making your way to Newport, Oregon. Marvel at the Pacific Ocean’s rugged beauty and discover charming coastal towns. 

Mileage: 289 miles

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

September

Thread your way through eastern Oregon on lesser-traveled mountain highways. Conquer I-84 in Idaho and I-15 in Utah, soaking in the picturesque landscapes. 

Mileage: 962 miles

White Sands National Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

October

Explore the enchanting rural highways of the Southwest, driving southeast from Utah to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture and natural splendors. 

Mileage: 546 miles

Sedona, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

November

Venture west on I-40 from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, then head south on I-17 to Sedona and Phoenix. Witness the mesmerizing Arizona landscape including the iconic Grand Canyon.

Mileage: 467 miles

Coachella Valley Preserve, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

December

Conclude your coastal adventure taking I-10 from Phoenix to Los Angeles, followed by I-5 to San Diego. Celebrate your journey’s end while basking in the warmth of California’s sun-kissed beaches. 

Mileage: 531 miles

Make It Round-Trip!

As you see, this 70-degree road trip takes you three-quarters of the way around the United States. You can continue your road trip through the southern states to complete your loop around the United States.

You’ll lose your 70-degree weather but you won’t have to deal with the Southern heat as it’ll be December or January when you start heading back to Florida.

And don’t forget, I’ll be back with two more routes that chase 70-degree weather through the interior United States and all the way through the U.S. and Canada.

Worth Pondering…

Shoot for the moon, Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

—Les Brown

Alabama: 15 Road Trips Ideas for Every Interest

No matter what your interest is, Alabama has a trail for that

Take a journey back in time, explore Alabama’s rich cultural heritage, see the wonder of the spring or fall bird migration, or just enjoy a peaceful drive through a blend of brilliant autumn foliage. Alabama has great adventures for every interest on the many tours and trails just waiting to be discovered.

Alabama Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No matter what your interest is, Alabama has a trail for that. I’m not talking about hiking, biking, or walking trails. I’m talking about road trips that wind their way across the state and highlight the state’s diversity and history. There is a trail for every interest. Are you into art? There is a trail for that. History? There is a trail for that.

The Alabama Department of Tourism has established 19 different trails that take visitors to incredible history, natural wonders, dining, and more. Let me introduce you to the fabulous trails of exploration in Alabama.

Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dolphin Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nature Trails 

We’ll begin with a collection of stops that highlight Alabama’s incredible beauty and wildlife.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. A Circle of Colors Trail

As the greens of summer surrender to glittering yellow poplars, scarlet dogwoods, orange maples, and golden hickories, Alabama unfolds its patchwork quilt of color. Fall colors begin showing in the mountains of North Alabama in early October and then sweep across the region. Colors will be at their peak from late October to early November.

The Circle of Colors Trail is a winding circuitous route that takes you across the northern half of the state from Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham to the Bankhead National Forest near Huntsville and points in between to experience glorious fall colors in the Southern Appalachians.

Audubon Bird Sanctuary © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Alabama Birding Trail 

Alabama is a birding paradise with forests, mountains, meadows, swamps, and beaches creating a plethora of avian habitats. Even if you aren’t a diehard birder, you will love visiting one of the 280 stops along the Alabama Birding Trail that takes you to some breathtaking landscapes and of course, opportunities to spot over 430 species of birds—bald eagles, osprey, a variety of tanagers, well, you get the idea. 

The birding trail has been divided up into eight separate geologic regions: the Appalachian Highlands, Black Belt, Coastal, North Alabama, Piedmont Plateau, Piney Woods, West Alabama, and Wiregrass Regions.

Flower Trails

Alabama is dotted with gorgeous botanical gardens that brighten every season with brilliantly colored and fragrant blooms. And there is a trail for that.

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Alabama Garden Trail

Gorgeous, immaculately-maintained landscapes are on display all across the state, and thanks to the wide range of climates and types of soil in Alabama, you will find a variety of stunning settings as you travel.

The Alabama Garden Trail takes you to six spectacular gardens from Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile where over 300 species of azaleas light up the 35-acre estate and rows of live oak bring a Southern charm to the grounds of the Huntsville Botanical Garden in the north where limestone columns from the old historic courthouse act as the focal point for the expansive grounds.

The trail also makes stops at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Mobile Botanical Gardens, and Dothan Botanical Gardens as well as Aldridge Gardens in Hoover near Birmingham.

Art and Antique Trails 

Whether you are looking to purchase antiques, collectibles, or an inspiring work of art, travel the backroads of Alabama on these aptly named trails.

Alabama mural © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Alabama Mural Trail

Towns and cities big and small across Alabama have embraced mural art to grace the sides of buildings and bring a sense of community to the town.

The Alabama Mural Trail leads you to a diverse set of detailed mural art that brings to life moving moments in the town’s history like a depiction of the Freedom Rider’s bus from the height of the Civil Rights Movement in Anniston, historical figures like the almost photo-like mural of the Temptations lead singer Eddie Kendricks who was born in Union Springs, or the dazzling nightlife of Mobile brought to life in the Bar Light mural along the city’s Dauphin Street.

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Alabama Antique Trail

From upscale galleries to multivendor malls, the Alabama Antique Trail provides a mixture of antiques and vintage collectibles throughout the state. Discover items from Alabama family estates, original pieces from antebellum homes, and European and Oriental imports selected from abroad by antique dealers or brought by early settlers. The trail offers glassware, pottery, silver, porcelain, military items, books, art, signs, historical papers, and American, French, Japanese, Chinese and English furnishings from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.

Stop highlights include visits to the Antique Mall of Memories in Alexander City, rummaging through the aisles in the historic 1935 Bank of Dadeville at Old Bank Antiques, and Winter Valley Antiques in Cullman that spans two buildings, one of which was once a chicken coop.

Fort Toulouse © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

History Trails 

Alabama’s many history trails lead to spectacular ornate antebellum homes, sites from the Civil Rights Movement, Native American historical sites, and more, all with helpful and knowledgeable guides.

Mobile walking tour© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. April Walking Tours

Many of the towns across the state hold annual historic walking tours annually in April where you will visit historic antebellum mansions such as the Oakleigh and Conde-Charlotte mansions in Mobile, centuries-old cemeteries including the Florence City Cemetery that was established in 1819, and sites of the Civil Rights Movement such as the Rosa Parks bus stop and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery.

Community leaders will guide these free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns. The hour-long tours start at 10:00 a.m. on April 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30.

Creek Indian houses © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Civil War Trail 

The Alabama Civil War Trail not only includes battlefields but also many other historic locations that bring the story of those tumultuous years to life.

Stops along the route include visits to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery where Jeff Davis was sworn in as the president of the Confederacy, the Winter Building (also in Montgomery) where the order to fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina was sent by telegraph thus beginning the war, and Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park in McCalla where the enormous stone furnace that once made munitions for the Confederacy has been completely rebuilt.

Along the coast, the Battle of Mobile Bay Civil War Trail spotlights Fort Morgan and historic Fort Gaines.

Jasmine Hill Gardens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Native American Trail 

For thousands of years before white settlement, the place that is today called Alabama was home to many different cultural groups of Native Americans.

The history of Native Americans in Alabama is bittersweet. The Native American Trail allows us to explore their bittersweet history in the state from its earliest residents 10,000 years ago at Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport and Mound Island in Mobile to the tragedies that led to the Creek Indian War at Fort Mims in Stockton and the eventual start of the Trail of Tears with the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Fort Jackson © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Covered Bridge Trail 

Along the dusty backroads of Alabama, you will be treated to a rare sight. The state once had many covered bridges that took horses and pedestrians across narrow gorges. Today, the number has dwindled but these bridges are still exciting pieces of history to view.

Some have been moved to historic locations like the oldest bridge, the 1850 Coldwater Creek Covered Bridge in Calhoun County while others remain in place where they have stood the test of time including the longest remaining in the state, the 324-foot Swann Bridge over the Black Warrior River in Blount County.

The Covered Bridge Trail takes you to these and several other bridges in the northern half of the state. Be sure to make plans to attend the annual Covered Bridge Festival (October 8, 2022) where the three bridges of Blount County are celebrated—Swann, Easily, and Old Horton—with a good old-fashioned fall festival featuring plenty of music, arts, and crafts, and food.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. U.S. Civil Rights Trail

The U.S. Civil Rights Trail spans the country but is primarily centered in the Southeast where marchers and activists challenged segregation and social injustice in the 50s and 60s, often facing violence and death in the process as they tried to make the country live up to its promises.

Wetumpa Historical District

11. Alabama Civil Rights Museum Trail

The Alabama Civil Rights Trail is part of the larger, nationwide trail, leading you to a collection of historic sites from that period including the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church from where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the incredibly moving National Memorial for Peace and Justice that honors the over 4,000 blacks who were murdered across the South. The memorial features giant steel columns hanging from the ceiling with the names of victims listed by county.

Auburn © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sports Trails

There is more to sports in Alabama than football. These sport trails show you what I mean.

Fishing at Meaher State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

12. Alabama’s Hunting and Fishing Trail for People with Disabilities 

The state has made it possible for people with physical disabilities to hunt and fish by joining together state and private landowners to establish this string of outdoor locations called the Alabama Hunting and Fishing Trail where they can enjoy their favorite sports just like everyone else.

Each location has special ramps and access points and when it comes to hunting, days are restricted to only allow those with disabilities to participate. Hunting and fishing licenses are required.

Alabama Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

13. Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail     

A golf trail is just that—a collection of courses that together promote a certain state to the world as a golf destination. Just about every state has them from California to New York, from Wisconsin to Florida, and every state in between. But there had to be a first—the granddaddy of them all—Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail!

The trail features 26 courses and 468 incredible holes across the state with each course designed by the famous course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. to fit that particular region’s stunning landscape.

Jim ‘Nick’s BBQ © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dining Trails

College football and barbecue are probably the first things that come to mind when Alabama is mentioned. But there’s so much more to the local food scene. In a state that is home to rich farmland and game hunting and is also bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, food and mealtime are a semi-sacred part of life.

Lambert’s Cafe in Foley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

14. Food and Wine Trail

Any way you slice it—be it the fried green tomatoes at the Irondale Cafe in Irondale, crawfish pie at Ca-John’s Bar and Grill in Faunsdale, or meatloaf at G’s in Huntsville—Alabama has culinary boasting rights to some of the most distinctive cuisine in the country.

Dreamland in Tuscaloosa and Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur top Alabama’s list of award-winning barbecue joints where you will never get tired of licking your fingers. When it comes to deliciously different you’ve got choices ranging from freshly squeezed lemonade at Toomer’s Drugs in Auburn, key-lime milkshakes from Stacey’s Old Tyme Soda Fountain in Foley, and orange rolls at All Steak in Cullman.

Music

Fusing the sounds of Rock, Country, Blues, and other genres, Alabama possesses a distinctive musical identity all its own.

Alabama Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

15. Hank Williams Trail

Hank Williams was born in Mount Olive on September 17, 1923. By the time of his death 29 years later, he had left behind a monumental legacy of such hits as “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I Saw the Light,” “Jambalaya” and “Cold, Cold Heart.”

With his band the Drifting Cowboys, he played engagements across the South. Hank became country music’s first superstar selling 10 million records from 1947 to 1953.

Meaher State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For more on Alabama, check out these articles:

Worth Pondering…
Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you

—Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)

Extraordinary Places

Beautiful Experiences Extraordinary Places

My ever-growing list of Extraordinary Places will help take your road trip planning to the next level. Hand-picked, I promise each one is worth the detour.

What is an Extraordinary Place?

Extraordinary Places are the places that stay with you long after visiting. They are the places that fill you with wonder. They are epic natural wonders, weird roadside attractions, and deeply meaningful locations. Simply put, Extraordinary Places turn a great road trip into an unforgettable adventure.   

Explore my list and start planning your next RV road trip today.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Canyon National Park

There are, essentially, three ways to experience the Grand Canyon: The more remote and less crowded North Rim, the more developed South Rim with more amenities, and the rigorous Rim to Rim hike that lets you experience both. Another important thing to remember is that it’s incredibly difficult to take a good picture that captures the size and scale of the canyon.

A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. Unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Canyon National Park, a World Heritage Site, encompasses 1,218,375 acres and lies on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona. The land is semi-arid and consists of raised plateaus and structural basins typical of the southwestern United States. Drainage systems have cut deeply through the rock-forming numerous steep-walled canyons. Forests are found at higher elevations while the lower elevations are comprised of a series of desert basins.

Well known for its geologic significance, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world. It offers an excellent record of three of the four eras of geological time, a rich and diverse fossil record, and a vast array of geologic features and rock types. It is considered one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world.

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf State Park, Alabama

Gulf State Park has two miles of beaches, a spacious campground with 496 full-hookup sites, and a brand new Lodge. The Lakeside Cabins and Eagle Cottages are also available for overnight stays. Longleaf pines and the local palmetto forest surround the four “woods cabins”. Remaining “lakeside cabins” along Lake Shelby offer swimming, fishing, and sunrise walks right outside your front door.

Related: Life Is a Highway: Taking the Great American Road Trip

There’s gorgeous white sand, surging surf, seagulls, and a variety of activities but there is more than sand and surf to sink your toes into. 

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Park features 28 miles of paved trails or boardwalks including seven trails of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail complex that encourage visitors to explore its nine distinct ecosystems. Enjoy the serenity of Gulf Oak Ridge trail as you stroll underneath Live Oak trees draped in Spanish Moss. Take a bike ride on Rosemary Dunes. If you’re hoping to see an Alligator, explore Gopher Tortoise trail along the edge of Lake Shelby. A majority of the trails are suitable for walking, running, and biking.

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park’s proximity to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley, Fairhope, and Mobile provides Gulf State Park with several retail and restaurant options to choose from. The Five Rivers Delta Resource Center, Weeks Bay Reserve, The USS Alabama, and Meaher State Park are all within driving distance.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Monument Valley, Arizona and Utah

This great Navajo Nation valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

Monument Valley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s about 16 miles from Bluff to the eastern entrance on the right of Valley of the Gods, a miniature version of Monument Valley without the crowds. Its mesas and spires are formed of the same Cedar Mesa sandstone as the somewhat larger formations at Monument Valley. The 17-mile loop drive on a dirt road is suitable for most vehicles in good weather. Drive this beautiful, lonely loop—though not in a large RV and not towing a trailer. Heavy rains often make this road impassable. Valley of the Gods is also a good place to dry camp.

Related: 14 of the Most Beautiful Lakes for RV Travel

The loop finishes on Highway 261 (paved) just south of the descent from the Moki Dugway and north of the turnoff for Goosenecks State Park. Highway 261 will take you south back to U.S. 163.

Black’s Barbecue © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lockhart, Texas

A short trip to this flavor-packed smoke town should be on any food lover’s bucket list. Dubbed the “BBQ Capital of Texas,” Lockhart is easily one of the most legendary barbecue destinations anywhere. While you could make it a day trip you’ll need several days or more to eat your way through it.

Your itinerary includes the Big Three: Black’s Barbecue (open since 1932), Kreuz Market (established 1900), and Smitty’s Market (since 1948). You’ll be consuming a lot of meat so be sure to stop for breaks. Proceed in any order you please.

Smitty’s Market © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lockhart has one more stop in the store for you: Chisholm Trail Barbecue (opened by a Black’s alum in 1978). There’s a drive-through and BBQ sandwiches if you so please but you can also head inside for a full plate lunch packed with smoked turkey, sausage links, and moist brisket with sides like mac and cheese, hash browns, and broccoli salad—because you should probably get some greens in.

Lockhart © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But there’s a lot more to Lockhart than just smoked meats. This “little city with a big heart” as the town slogan goes retains much of its wild cowboy roots and will show you an entirely different perspective on Texas. Check out the Jail Museum for its take on Norman castellated architecture (a popular style for jails during the period; it was built in the mid-1800s). Golfers can look out on the rugged Texas scenery while enjoying a round of golf at the Lockhart State Park Golf Course which also has RV camping, an on-site swimming pool, and a fishing hole.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah

Lake Powell is a reservoir on the Colorado River straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. Most of Lake Powell along with Rainbow Bridge National Monument is located in Utah. It is a major vacation spot that around two million people visit every year.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell is the second-largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity in the US behind Lake Mead storing 24,322,000 acre-feet of water when full. However, due to high water withdrawals for human and agricultural consumption and because of subsequent droughts in the area, Lake Mead has fallen below Lake Powell in size several times in terms of volume of water, depth, and surface area.

Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon by the Glen Canyon Dam which led to the creation of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The reservoir is named for explorer John Wesley Powell, a one-armed American Civil War veteran who explored the river via three wooden boats in 1869.

Sequoia National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National Park, California

The General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest tree, measured by volume. It stands 275 feet tall and is over 36 feet in diameter at the base. Sequoia trunks remain wide high up. Sixty feet above the base the Sherman Tree is 17.5 feet in diameter. A fence protects the shallow roots of the Sherman Tree. Help protect the tree by staying on the paved trail.

Related: The Wonderful National Parks of the West

Sherman Tree © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two trails lead to the Sherman Tree. Parking for the Main Trail is off Wolverton Road (between the Sherman Tree and Lodgepole); just follow the signs. The half-mile trail has a few stairs and is paved. As you walk, you’ll enter the Giant Forest sequoia grove. Exhibits along the trail explain the natural history of giant sequoias.

Sherman Tree © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hundreds of sequoias grow in the Giant Forest sequoia grove. The Congress Trail, a paved two-mile loop that begins near the Sherman Tree offers excellent opportunities to see notable trees. Big Trees Trail, a one-mile loop around a lush meadow has interpretive exhibits about the natural history of giant sequoias. For a longer walk, explore the many miles of trails in the area. Beyond the Giant Forest, more sequoia groves await.

Visit the world’s second-largest tree, the General Grant Tree in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park is immense—nearly 800,000 acres—and infinitely variable. It can seem unwelcoming even brutal during the heat of summer. This is a land shaped by strong winds, sudden torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Rainfall is sparse and unpredictable. Streambeds are usually dry and waterholes are few.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two deserts, two large ecosystems primarily determined by elevation come together in the park. Few places more vividly illustrate the contrast between “high” and “low” deserts. Below 3,000 feet the Colorado Desert (part of the Sonoran Desert) occupying the eastern half of the park is dominated by the abundant creosote bush. Adding interest to this arid land are small stands of spidery ocotillo and cholla cactus.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The higher, slightly cooler, and wetter Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the undisciplined Joshua tree, extensive stands of which occur throughout the western half of the park. According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua trees to resemble the upstretched arms of Joshua leading them to the “promised land”. Others were not as visionary. Early explorer John Fremont described them as “…the most repulsive tree in the vegetable Kingdom.”

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde, Spanish for green table, offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home from about A.D. 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the US.

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

About 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North America, a group of people living in the Four Corners region chose Mesa Verde for their home. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here eventually building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls.

Related: Get in your RV and Go! Scenic Drives in America

Then, in the late A.D. 1200s, in the span of a generation or two, they left their homes and moved away. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of this ancient culture.

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park. It has 150 rooms plus an additional 75 open areas. Twenty-one of the rooms are kivas and 25 to 30 rooms have residential features.

Forsyth Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

Forsyth Park is a large city park that occupies 30 acres in the historic district of Savannah. The park is bordered by Gaston Street on the North, Drayton Street on the East, Park Avenue on the South, and Whitaker Street on the West.

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park contains walking paths, a café, a children’s play area, a Fragrant Garden for the blind, a large fountain, tennis courts, basketball courts, areas for soccer and Frisbee, and a home field for Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club. From time to time, concerts are held at Forsyth Park. Standing in the middle of the park with the pathway wrapping around it lies the Confederate Memorial Statue. This work of art was donated by the Monroe County Courthouse to commemorate those volunteers who gave their lives fighting for the Confederacy. Surrounded by a fence, it is protected to sustain its culture and longevity.

Worth Pondering…

Life is a gift, not an obligation. So make the very best of every single day you’re given!

—Donovan Campbell

Tales from the Road: Best Road Trip Ideas

Choose your own adventure through stunning national parks, Arizona’s Red Rock Country, and the Deep South

Who doesn’t appreciate winding drives through the lovely countryside? But for a truly memorable road trip choose a location and route that aligns with your passions.

To help, I’ve put together itineraries for specific interests from a national parks tour to a spiritual journey to a southern odyssey.

Bryce Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stunning national parks

Where to: Utah

I have a hundred favorite road trips but I always come back to Utah and the “Mighty Five” which is what they call the five magnificent national parks you can visit on a loop around the southern part of the state.

Itinerary: Starting from anywhere on Interstate 5, the first park to visit is Zion, the oldest and arguably most beautiful park in Utah and that’s a big statement. Zion is huge and mystifying and you understand immediately why it awed early travelers who left these rock faces and canyons with place names like Angels Landing and the Great White Throne.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many visitors combine Zion with a trip to Bryce Canyon which is more of a pocket park. Stare down into the park’s stunning natural amphitheater—the technical term used by geologists (rather than a canyon)—to discover fanciful windows, jutting daggers, chiseled spires, and exquisite bracelet-thin archways seemingly erupting from the fantastical landscape.  

Because of the park’s smaller size, you can achieve a lot here in a day or two. Several novice trails by the park’s main entrance offer a glimpse of the area’s glorious mountain scenery and profusion of flora and fauna.

Capitol Reef National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you continue north from Bryce there’s Capitol Reef, the second largest of the Mighty Five but one that too often gets overlooked. Its most recognizable feature is the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile-long monocline warp (or step-like dip) in the Earth’s crust. These tilted sandstone layers eroded over time to form an extraordinary landscape of serrated peaks, surreal domes, deep-slot canyons, and mesmerizing formations that straddle different elevations and ecosystems.

Canyonlands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canyonlands National Park is Utah’s largest and you could spend days getting lost in the 527 square miles of river canyons and mesas but the Island in the Sky area is the most accessible. Pick almost any spot and just gawk at the miles of mesas and sandstone cliffs.

The town of Moab is a fantastic base for exploring this area. It’s considered the adventure center of the Southwest because there is so much to do: bike riding and hot-air ballooning and biking and its proximity to Canyonlands and Arches.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park’s 18-mile-long Scenic Drive showcases an array of delicate sandstone arches, deep gorges, rock catacombs, and open valleys among other natural wonders. The most recognizable red stone monoliths and monuments have official names and monikers but sometimes it’s best to skip the guide books and maps in favor of finding a trailhead and letting the awe-inspiring landscape stir your imagination. Balanced Rock needs you to get up close to take a look. The boulder on top resembles a mushroom cloud.

Plan your trip to the Utah parks with these resources:

Cathedral Rock, Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A deeper consciousness

Where to: The healing energy spots of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

Sedona is a well-known hotbed of energy—one that’s conducive to both meditation and healing—and this is one of the reasons 4.5 million travelers flock here annually. That and the region’s red rocks: stunning sandstone formations that jut upward thousands of feet and change colors from orange to rust to crimson as the sun passes through the sky.

Airport Mesa, Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The desert areas have been a sacred space for centuries for Indigenous populations and you can still experience the mind-body power of those rituals and ceremonies in whatever way you choose even if it is simply by driving and noticing what’s around you.

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona is a city of psychics, tarot readers, reiki healers, and crystal dealers. Retail stores like Center for the New Age cater to a very specific kind of tourist: those drawn to the area for its supposed metaphysical and spiritual assets. According to these truth-seekers, Sedona is one of the world’s greatest hotspots for psychic energy: whirling and vibrating, creating portals that enhance consciousness. The energy is that strong—so overwhelming that juniper trees twist and bend themselves over it. 

Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Itinerary: Even if you’re not an adherent of the New Age movement, plan on visiting at least one of Sedona’s famous vortexes. They’re at some of the most gorgeous spots around town. Vortexes (the proper grammatical form “vortices” is rarely used here) are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to spiritual healing, meditation, and self-exploration. Believers identify four primary vortexes: Boynton Canyon, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Airport Mesa.

Bell Rock, Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Built into the red rocks, The Chapel of the Holy Cross was actually inspired by a visit by Marguerite Brunswig Staude to the Empire State Building. It overlooks Sedona and despite it being a Christian place of worship it’s believed to be full of vortex energy. Either way, it’s a stunning place to visit.

Plan your trip to Sedona with these resources:

La Fayette Square, Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Deep South

Where to: Savannah to Charleston road trip

Driving from Savannah to Charleston is pretty straightforward. If you’re starting in Savannah, you’ll take I-95 North to US-17 North. But along the way, some interesting stops are worth a visit.

Historic River Street, Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I recommend several days in Savannah before beginning the drive to visit attractions like Forsyth Park, the Bonaventure Cemetery, and the River Street waterfront area.

Itinerary: Just a 15-minute drive north of Savannah, you’ll find the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. This 30,000-acre wildlife refuge is home to birds, alligators, and other marsh-dwelling flora and fauna. You could easily spend an entire day hiking, biking, and kayaking at this nature-lovers paradise.

St. Helena Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Next, you’ll drive about an hour northeast to St. Helena Island, South Carolina. St. Helena Island is the perfect place to immerse yourself in natural beauty and learn about Gullah culture.

In the center of the island, surrounded by Spanish moss-draped oak trees, you’ll find the Penn Center, a 50-acre historic district comprising 25 historic buildings and structures.

Hunting Island State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From St. Helena, continue driving one island further and you’ll arrive at Hunting Island State Park. This State Park is known for having five miles of amazing beaches and a lighthouse that dates back to the 19th century. You can even climb the lighthouse stairs for a panoramic view of the surrounding islands and wetlands. After visiting the lighthouse, you can spend time exploring the beach or head down to the Nature Center where you can learn about local wildlife.

Edisto Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Backtrack through Hunting Island and St. Helena Island to the coastal town of Beaufort. Next, we’re heading inland to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins. Sheldon Church dates back to the mid-1700s. Today, the ruins are hauntingly beautiful and surrounded by a lush landscape. The property is located right off Old Sheldon Church Road and has informational markers.

From the Old Sheldon Church Ruins, head northeast to Edisto Island. Edisto is a peaceful vacation island south of Charleston that’s perfect for a bit of relaxation.

Edisto Beach has long been a spectacular place to enjoy all of nature’s beauty while enjoying outdoor activities to keep your heart (and mind!) healthy.

Edisto Beach State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Head to Edisto Beach State Park to stretch your legs on one of the many hiking paths or visit the environmental education center to learn more about the island. The park has an impressive array of camping sites in oceanfront and maritime forest habitats and most can accommodate RVs, some up to 40 feet.

Botany Bay Plantation © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want to see the South Carolina coast the way the original settlers did, take a step back in time to Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve located adjacent to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in the northeast corner of Edisto Island. The 3,363-acre preserve includes almost three miles of undeveloped, breathtaking beachfront.

Folly Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The last stop on this Savannah to Charleston road trip is Folly Beach. Take a stroll along the Folly Beach fishing pier or spend some time meandering through the beachy downtown neighborhoods.

Charleston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After you’ve had your fun in the sun, head north for about 20 minutes and you’ll be in the heart of Charleston. You may have reached your destination, but the adventure isn’t over. Charleston has tons of things to see and it’s a great destination to explore for a few days. You won’t want to miss walking along the waterfront park or strolling past one of Charleston’s most colorful streets, Rainbow Row. Hop aboard a historic harbor cruise for a guided tour of the city or try some of the best local flavors on a guided food tour.

Plan your trip to the Deep South with these resources:

Worth Pondering…

If we set aside time each day to be in a peaceful environment, to walk in nature, or even just to look at a flower or the sky, then that beauty will penetrate us and feed our love and our joy.

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnamese monk and Zen master, How to Love

Road Trip Planning for the First Time RVer

Essential tips for the first time RVer

Planning your first-ever RV trip is a pretty darn exciting time. You’re about to take on the wide-open road, zipping off anywhere the wind might be calling, all with your very own private villa-on-wheels.

Of course, the exact same factors that make first-time RV trips so thrilling can also make them a little overwhelming for the eager road trip planner. That wide-open road we’re talking about is… well, wide open. There are so many places you can go, after all. It only takes a quick glance through your favorite road atlas to be struck with decision paralysis. With so many amazing sites to see, how will you ever choose?

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From hiking through the lush green forests of the Pacific Northwest to laying out a blanket in the sand on the sunny eastern shore, the US has so much to offer an RV adventurer. And if you’re already dealing with learning your rig’s ropes, putting together an itinerary can become more of a duty than a delight.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone put together a list of easy, yet exciting RV road trip ideas so you could simply choose?

RVing with Rex to the rescue! Here are some top road trip planning tips.

Bernheim Forest, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First Time Road Trip Ideas

You know I’ve got your back here. So to make your first time RV experience easier, I came up with this list of easy American road trip ideas to help get you on the road as effortlessly as possible—or at least give you some great brainstorming material.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of course, which of these trips will work best for you will depend in part on where you’re starting your journey from, how much time you have available, and the type of experience you’re after. For instance, a weekend ski trip to Vermont might make perfect sense for a Boston February getaway, but it’ll be less doable if you hang your hat in Phoenix. (Or if it’s July by the time you’re reading this post, for that matter.)

Related: 6 Essential Tips for the First Time RVer

That said, hopefully these fun and simple road trip ideas will help make life a little bit easier when you hit the road for your first RV outing.

Ready to dive in? Here are some of my favorite first-timer options.

Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quick Road Trip Ideas

If you’re looking to get off the Interstate and onto a scenic route, this list is for you! Here are some simple road trip ideas to get you going.

Savannah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Southern Charm Sojourn

The American south has so much more to offer than comfort food—not that we’re turning down a plate of chicken and waffles anytime soon. One great route is to connect the following southern cities each oozing with its unique brand of charm: Savannah, Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans. The only thing you’ll get more of than historical knowledge is Spanish moss and sunshine.

Moody Mansion, Galveston © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Gulf Coast Gambol

Take a trip from Galveston to Florida’s Emerald Coast—and down to the keys, if you’ve got the time. Sweeping waterfront views and exciting cities will greet you at every stop along the way—not to mention an abundance of fresh, delicious seafood.

Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Pacific Coast Paradise

Everyone should take the time to meander all the way up (or down) California’s Pacific coast highway at some point in their lives. Whether you start in Eureka or San Diego, you’ll be treated to some of the most breathtaking byways in the country—a turbulent, crashing ocean flanking you on one side and majestic redwoods on the other. Potential stops include Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, San Luis Obispo, and a whole host of others. You honestly can’t go wrong.

Tucson Lazydays KOA © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Easy Road Trip Ideas on a Budget

Want to see the world without wiping out your wallet? Yes, it is possible—especially in an RV. Not only will you be able to save on your road trip food budget by cooking your own delicious, healthy meals in your RVs kitchen, but you can also save 50 percent on campsites you stay in with a Passport America membership. Good Sam, KOA, and FMCA also offer camping discounts to members, typically 10 percent.

Related: The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

Camping at Laura S. Walker State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check out this article on how to choose the perfect RV Park and campsite.

Looking for even more concrete ways to save money while still satisfying your inner explorer? Here are some of the best cheap road trip ideas I’ve come across.

Stephen C. Foster State Park, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. State Park Promenade

There’s a lot that’s awesome about traveling in America but one thing I particularly love as an RVer is that no matter where I am there’s likely have a beautiful state park only a short drive away. State parks are filled with all sorts of outdoor activities and views to discover. (Plus, camping is likely available.)

Bartlett Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Beachy Break

You don’t have to live near an ocean to plunge your toes into the sand. Whether it’s Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna Lake or Bartlett Lake in Arizona, any lake shoreline will do—and you’ll be so busy relaxing, you won’t even have a chance to run through your travel budget on souvenirs or touristy activities.

Weekend Road Trip Ideas

Sometimes, the best family road trip ideas are the ones you can take at the last minute. Here are some quick-fix ideas when you need to get out of town… now.

Fishing Parker Canyon Lake, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Woodsy Wonderment

Even if you make your home in a large, metropolitan area such as Houston or Phoenix, there’s likely some woods or wilderness nearby. From Atlanta it’s just a couple of hours to the mountains and Floridians can retreat to the state’s central springs. No matter what, getting away from the rush and bustle of an urban center may be what the doctor ordered!

Related: Top 7 Tragic Rookie RV Mistakes To Avoid

Hiking Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Active Outdoor Outing

From extreme adventures like mountain climbing to simple biking and hiking trails, America is host to some of the best landscapes for outdoor activities in the world. Exercise and enjoyment at the same time—now that’s how to do it! Once again, you can’t go wrong with a state park where activities may include hiking, biking, boating, fishing, picnicking, swimming, and ranger-led activities.

Biking the Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5 Amazing Places to Visit this Spring

Spring is here and it’s time to start thinking of where you and the family might want to visit in the RV. And it also means spring break! So whether the kids are out of school or you just have the itch to get out of town for a week or two, these are the top spring break destinations for RV road-tripping in 2022.

Disney World © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Orlando, Florida

The kids will love visiting local attractions like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando, LEGOLAND, and Universal Studios Orlando but the theme park capital of the world has more to offer than amusement parks.

Kennedy Space Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Orlando isn’t just the world’s most magical destination. There’s plenty to enjoy outside from many beaches including Cocoa Beach to adventures like wildlife and birding, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, nature trails and parks, airboat tours, and the Canaveral National Seashore. For a more educational endeavor, visit the Kennedy Space Center.

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lake Powell, Arizona

Created by a manmade reservoir on the Colorado River, Lake Powell straddles the states of Utah and Arizona. Rent a boat and hit the water for some fishing, tubing, or water skiing. Picnic on the shoreline or enjoy dining in one of several restaurants on the lake.

Wahweap RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Three campgrounds operated by park concessionaires accommodate RVs at Lake Powell: Wahweap RV & Campground in south Lake Powell and Bullfrog RV & Campground and Halls Crossing RV & Campground both in north Lake Powell. All three areas offer full hookup sites and primitive camping.

Wahweap Marina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wahweap is centrally located at the Wahweap Marina which offers plenty of lake transport for rent. There are 139 full hook-up sites with access to laundry and showers as well as Wahweap Grille, Wind Café, and a gift shop. Bullfrog offers 24 RV spaces with restrooms and showers and access to the Bullfrog Marina. Check out the restaurant and gift shop at nearby Defiance House Lodge. Halls Crossing offers 24 RV sites with restrooms and showers and is located next to the amenities of the Village Store.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Summer Road Trip

Lake Powell © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition National Park Service offers areas for primitive camping including Lees Ferry Campground, Lone Rock Beach Primitive Camping Area, and Stanton Creek Primitive Camping Area. These campgrounds do not take reservations and do not have phone numbers.

Alabama Gulf Coast © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gulf Shores, Alabama

For a different beach vacation than typical Florida or California, head to Gulf Shores on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Here you’ll find 32 beautiful miles of white-sand beaches including the main public beach, Gulf Place.

There are plenty of water-based activities from beach lounging to fishing, diving, boating, snorkeling, parasailing, and kayaking. Temperatures in the spring range from pleasant mid-50s to warm mid-70s.

The Wharf in Orange Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nonwater activities include biking, hiking, and ziplining. Visit the Wharf in Orange Beach for fun on their Ferris wheel, mini-golf, zipline, and movie theater. 

Gulf State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A great spot for RV camping is Gulf State Park, a reasonably priced campground with private, lakefront campsites, and resort-style amenities. With almost 500 sites, the park also has 11 bathhouses, a camp store, laundry facilities, a swimming pool, tennis and pickleball courts, horseshoes, volleyball, a nature center, and a fishing pier. 

Worth Pondering…

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you miss the sense of where you’re going and why.

—Eddie Cantor