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8 Favorite Places

From our First Year on the Road

One of the most common questions we get is also the hardest to answer: What is the best place you’ve visited? There are so many great places, not to mention experiences, that it is hard to pick just one – or even several – that rank supreme. So instead of crowning a single destination, we’ve chosen to highlight eight favorites selected from the 58 stops we made over 52 weeks of continuous travel.

Something I wouldn’t have guessed before we set out is how much Florida dominates the list. To be fair, we spent four months in Florida, by far the most amount of time in any single state. The flip side is that four months is a long time to occupy a couple of restless travelers like us, and yet we had no problems finding new things to see and do. We moved to a new place almost every week, and no, we never set foot in a single theme park. So props to Florida for being the surprising stand out on Year 1 of our continuing effort to see everything the world has to offer.

8 ) St. Augustine, FL

Ponce de Leon Hotel
To Northeasterners like us, palm trees and warm sun in December are enough reasons to admire this coastal Florida town. But its centuries-old Spanish architecture is the real draw. The city’s historic center is anchored by famous St. Georges Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with interesting architecture from various periods, some dating back to St. Augustine’s sixteenth-century origins. An old Spanish fort and close proximity to great Florida beaches round out the attractions at this fantastic destination city.

7) Hunting Island State Park, SC


Far and away the best place we’ve parked our RV is Hunting Island State Park. This 5,000-acre, semi-tropical barrier island gives visitors the feeling of being far from mainland North America, maybe even on the island of Lost. Much of the campground is shrouded in dense foliage and palmetto trees, but the eastern edge spills out on to the beach, offering ocean front RV spots.

6) Grayton Beach, FL

Grayton Beach White Sand
A surprising gem along Florida’s “Emerald Coast,” Grayton Beach is the best beach we’ve ever been to. Its brilliantly-white and powdery-soft sand coupled with turquoise water and zero commercial development make this an ideal spot to take in some sun.

5) Washington, D.C.

Washington DC

We’re city people, and Washington, D.C., ranks among our favorites in the U.S. It is large enough to have everything you want within easy reach but small enough that you don’t have to fight for space on crowded streets. It is also one of America’s most beautiful cities, with six of its buildings making the top ten list in a recent “America’s Favorite Architecture” survey. And for tourists on a budget, it’s hard to find a destination with more free things to do than D.C.: a slew of Smithsonian museums, including the National Gallery of Art, the National Zoo, the Holocaust Museum, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, all of the national monuments, and probably a whole host of things I’ve missed or forgotten, all gratis. What other city can top that?

4) Wakulla County, FL

St Marks Wildlife Refuge, Florida

One of the best places you’ve probably never heard of is Wakulla, FL. Nestled against the Apalachee Bay where the panhandle connects to the larger Florida peninsula, this area mixes the wetlands of Southern Florida with the Spanish moss draped grandeur of old Georgia. Its two great parks, Edward Ball and St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, rival–and even surpass–the Florida Everglades in beauty and wildlife viewing.

3) Key West, FL

Dry Tortugas, Florida
I don’t know why, but Key West just makes us happy. It combines the laid-back vibe of a remote tropical island with all the conveniences of a landlocked city. The people are friendly, the drinks are cold, the water inviting, and the sunsets beautiful. What more could anyone want?

2) Acadia National Park, ME

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park
Some of the Northeast’s most dramatic coastline is found in Acadia; but that isn’t the only reason to go. The park also boasts mountains, woodlands, lakes, a sandy beach set amongst the cliffs, and the East Coast’s only fjord. 125 miles of hiking trails, ranging in difficulty from easy strolls to challenging vertical climbs, give visitors access to some of the best scenery in the East.

1) New Orleans, LA


I can’t say enough about New Orleans, probably because words fail to describe it adequately. The city has a raw and gritty feeling that is wonderfully balanced by tremendous beauty. Too many places we visit today are so sanitized that all traces of character have been ground down in an attempt to remove rough edges. New Orleans, meanwhile, has character in abundance; character that is all the more real because its edges are still in tact.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2011 7:21 am

    I guess you have never been to the great American west..!! Hoping to see this list change dramatically.!! 😀

    -FP

    • August 29, 2011 9:13 am

      The title of the original blog post was 8 Favorite Destinations (East Coast Edition) and we selected only from the stops we’ve made during the first year of this specific trip. If we’d included all of our travels in a favorite destination list, certainly our rafting trip through the Grand Canyon would likely make the cut, as would Paris, France, Rome, Italy, Marrakesh, Morocco, etc. It would be a very different list, to say the least. Unfortunately there isn’t room to include the ‘east coast edition’ designation in the title page, so I admit the post is a little confusing in that regard. But you’re right that we haven’t made it out west on this trip. You can take a look at the Our Trip to see where we’ve been.

  2. October 14, 2011 6:33 am

    What a wonderful review of some fantastic places…..some known, but others are still quiet enough to add some solitude to the mix. Thanks for sharing!

    • October 14, 2011 9:18 am

      Thank you. I think “Favorite Places” is going to be an annual feature. I’m glad you liked volume one.

  3. Gus permalink
    October 19, 2011 4:47 pm

    Looks to me like you still need to head out to the West Coast – what I call god’s country! I need to spend some time looking around here at your blog. From a quick glimpse it certainly looks interesting. I love traveling the States. Have done it for many years going back to the 60s.

    Thanks for the “like” at my site featuring my latest adventure!

    • October 19, 2011 6:04 pm

      Hi Gus, thanks for stopping by. You are correct, we didn’t drive straight out west. Instead, we started in the East and are slowly moving westward in a north-south, zig-zag patern with the seasons. This “8 Favorite” article should really be labled “Volume I” as it only includes the stuff we’ve seen during our first full year on the road (nothing from earlier travels). Volume II will include some of the West, but also Central America. Volume III, more of the west, but probably Asia or someplace else too. Stay tuned.

      • Gus permalink
        October 19, 2011 6:22 pm

        So I went back to the beginning of the blog. Love hearing about how it all started. It’ll take awhile, but I plan to go through the whole trip with you. Keep up the great writing and commentary. If you’re ever in the SW corner of Oregon, drop me a note (or I’ll probably stay tuned via the blog).

        Interesting that you started out in NJ. Part of my recent trip included a visit with a friend in Browns Mills NJ -on a lake near Ft Dix. Have to say that the drivers on the East Coast are just as crazy as I seem to remember, or worse!

        My husband always wanted to do the RV traveling. We did a few trips with borrowed campers that were fun, but somehow never managed to combine the bucks or the time to do what you’re doing. Herding one of them things down the road scares the pants off of me. So it’s motel stops and visits with friends when I hit the road. You got the ‘burn out’ part right. Three weeks on the road was pretty much all I could handle. The dog tended to complicate matters especially when staying with friends who had their own critters.

        Happy Trails to both of you!!!

      • October 19, 2011 11:13 pm

        Thanks for reading!!

        Driving the bus is actually pretty simple. I certainly wouldn’t let it stop you from RVing – it’s a far better way to travel than staying in motels. Best of all the dog can come with you (we’ve seen RV’s with 15 small dogs on board, no joke.)

  4. October 19, 2011 10:55 pm

    Grayton Beach is a great favorite of mine, too. Such balm for the eyes amid the clutter of development at other beaches near it.

  5. October 22, 2011 8:37 am

    Nice.

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