After traveling the world for 13 months, we were itching to explore our own backyard. And if you call the USA your home, then that backyard is pretty big. We decided the best way to do that would be by renting an RV and driving through some of the southern states. We wanted to pick up the RV in Miami, FL and drop it off in Las Vegas, NV to give us a pretty good route through the southern states as well as see the infamous Route 66. I, Liana, have never been to Las Vegas so we thought it would be the perfect end to our RV adventure.
This blog entry will be a little bit different that our usual posts because we didn’t stay in a particular place for too long. This will be more of a diary of the adventure we had on the road, and the incredible spots we found along the way!
Day 1- Miami, FL:
We flew in to Miami from Chicago and were so excited to whip out our shorts and swimsuits again. Before picking up the RV, we spent 3 days on the beach relaxing before taking off on our two-week retirement road-trip dream. We’ve been to Miami before, so we didn’t do much exploring, besides the usual south beach spots. It was a great jumping-off point for us.
Day 4 – Sarasota, FL:
One of my best friends (Rina) lives in Sarasota so we couldn’t drive by without making this a stop on our journey. Also, 7 years ago, Alex proposed to me on one of the beaches there at dusk (my favorite time of the day). So, to say that this place is special to us would be an understatement. If you’re heading to Sarasota, here are our favorite spots that you must visit:
- Lido Beach: HUGE beach with white sand and EPIC sunsets. There is also a cute little beach town with a bunch of shops and restaurants. We love this area.
- Siesta Key: Also, a huge beach with white sand. Considered one of the prettiest beaches in the nation
- Westin Sarasota: even if you’re not staying here, stop by and go to the rooftop. Its has the best view of Sarasota and the surrounding areas.
- Ringling Museum: this is a combination of open air and indoor museum of the Ringling estate. The Ringling brothers were famous for their circus days. One of the brothers has a beautiful estate that you can wander. We loved our time here.
- Wander the Sarasota marina bay. It’s a beautiful area for a walk or jog
Day – 6 Ocean Springs, MS
We didn’t do much in Mississippi except for stop by The Shed for some BBQ. We would say this is a destination of its own. We went there before it even opened because we were driving by, but so glad we did. It was probably some of the best BBQ we have ever tried. Its been on every food tv show you can possibly think of and has won all the awards. Do your self a favor and come here, order everything, overeat and take a nap.
Day 8 – New Orleans, LA:
We’ve heard amazing things about New Orleans so knew we had to stop here. We’ve heard about the famous architecture, food, and of course the beneighs! We happened to stop by during sailor week, which is where the sailors will come in from sea and go crazy in this old French town. This made for packed streets and tons of craziness, but what would New Orleans be without all that, right? We ended up just roaming the streets, eating good food, going into all the cute shops, and trying not too get overwhelmed by all the people.
We also wanted to see the areas that were most affected by Hurricane Katrina. It was such a huge part of American history that we couldn’t come all this way and not see it. We drove through the lower 6th ward and could see on some of the houses (due to mold and water marks) where the water level was. Its crazy to see how some houses were rebuilt, some still being rebuilt, and some were just abandoned. There is an organization that has their office in the center of it that is helping these families rebuild their homes. We loved seeing that!
Day 9 -Baton Rouge, LA:
One of Alex’s cousins (Sam) lives in Baton Rouge so we knew we wanted to stop by to see him. He took us to an incredible seafood spot, Sammy’s Grill, where we gorged ourselves on craw fish. Who knew these little guys were going to be so good?! We also got a awesome view of the little town from their capitol building observation deck which is the tallest building in Baton Rouge. If you get a chance to come to Baton Rouge, we would highly recommend driving down Highland Rd. Every house of this street is gorgeous and total house goals.
On our way out of the city, we stopped by the Oak Alley Plantation.
We loved seeing the beautiful grounds, the mansion, and everything else a plantation would have had. We would highly recommend stopping by.
Day 11 – Dallas, TX:
This is one of my favorite places in the USA. Not sure why, but every time I come here, I tell Alex I want to move here. I love the southern hospitality combined with a metro feel but also small enough where you don’t feel like an ant in a huge city (hence NYC).
We walked around the downtown and went to the site where JFK was assassinated. It was surreal seeing the building where the shooter was and the spots in the road where the bullets hit. My favorite spot in all of Dallas is the Highland Park Village. It’s a cute outdoor shopping area with cafes and places to walk around. We come here every time.
Day 14 – Lubbock, TX:
Someone told us we had to stop by Lubbock. He didn’t say why but its just a nice little town. It was on our way out of Texas so we thought, why not? As we were entering Lubbock, the town sign said “Nicest town in the USA”. That’s a pretty big statement but we didn’t think much of it. When we got into town and went to a BBQ place for dinner, we realized that the towns slogan is true! We ate at Mac’s Bar-B-Q and met the nicest people. In the morning we went to the local diner which served delicious food. We ended up meeting the owner and chatted with him while we ate our breakfast. At the end of the meal we got up to pay and the owner looked offended. He said “no way are you paying, its my treat”. We couldn’t believe it! This town really lived up to its name and they really are the nicest people in the USA.
Day 15 – Albuquerque, NM:
We came into Albuquerque in the late afternoon and went straight to the little old town. A lot of the shops were closed but we loved walking around admiring the Pueblo Revival architecture and going into the shops that were open. There was a traditional Native American band playing and singing in the center square which was the perfect accompaniment for our stroll. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner that someone recommended on our Instagram which was the perfect ending to our “New Mexican” visit. ALQ also has a cable car, Sandia Peak Tramway, that goes up to 10,000 ft above sea level. The view from up there was AMAZING. Make sure to go up on the Sandia Tramway for an incredible experience.
Day 17- Gallup, NM- Red Rock Park:
We found a campsite/RV park in Red Rock Park that was absolutely gorgeous. We were surrounded by red mountains and beautiful hiking trails. There is Cathedral Rock trail and Pyramid Rock trail, we decided to do the latter because it was harder and had better views. On our way up, Alex spotted a rattlesnake which he was super excited about it but you better believe that I ran for my life. Once we got to the top, all my rattlesnake fears went away. The views were incredible!
Day 18 – Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, AZ:
We came to this cute little town because we were going to the Grand Canyon the following day and we’re so glad we did! We loved the laid-back vibes, fun shops, restaurants, and proximity to many outdoor activities.
The following morning, we set out to go to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. There is a reason why is such a huge tourist attraction, that place is HUGE and AMAZING. We kept pulling over to every view point or pull off point to take in the view from every angle possible. We spent most of our day there and could’ve easily spent more but we were getting hungry, so we finished the loop and headed out. On our way out we saw about 10 elk just grazing by the road. I loved seeing them!
If you are by the Grand Canyon, make sure to stop by Williams. It is known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon. It is a really cute historic town where Route 66 runs right through it. It has a lot of the original buildings and charm.
Day 20 – Lake Mead, NV:
On our way to Lake Mead, we stopped at the Hoover Dam and were quite impressed with how big it was and how much work went into it. They said, without the Hoover Dam, Los Angeles wouldn’t be the city it is. It really puts into perspective the role of this dam in that area.
Before our final destination, we decided to spend a few days lounging by Lake Mead, fishing, hiking, and taking in the incredible views. We stayed at the Lake Mead Campsite which was one of the best that we’ve ever been to. They had nice water view spots, laundry facility, and activities that were nearby. We did the old railroad hike which is the railroad that was used to bring the supplies to the Hoover Dam while it was being built. It is now made into a trail/hike which we really enjoyed doing. We’d definitely come back to this area for some more camping and fishing.
Day 23-26 Las Vegas, NV:
Our final stop before heading to Seattle, was meant for just lounging by the pool, tanning, and eating. And we did just that! We stayed at the Trump Tower (because it has no casino in it and no smoking) which turned out to be perfect. We walked down the strip, watched the Bellagio fountains, ate good food, visited the Pawn Stars pawn shop, and went to old Las Vegas (Fremont Experience) to see where it all started. After a few days of lounging, we set out on our flight back to Seattle after 14 months of traveling.
We had such an incredible time together and would recommend renting an RV to anyone.