Travel Destinations & Stories

19 Exciting Things to Do in Destin, Florida with Kids – Ultimate Family Guide

Plan your fall and winter vacations now! Destin, Florida, is perfect in the winter; with its stunning beaches, clear emerald waters, and vibrant atmosphere, is an ideal destination for families seeking sun-soaked adventures. From thrilling water activities to educational experiences, Destin offers a wide array of family-friendly options that guarantee endless fun. In this SEO-optimized blog post, we’ll walk you through 19 exciting things to do in Destin with kids, ensuring your family vacation is nothing short of extraordinary.

Relax on Destin’s Pristine Beaches

Sink your toes into the soft, sugar-white sand of Destin’s beaches. The calm waters are perfect for building sandcastles, collecting seashells, and soaking up the sun.

Embark on a Dolphin Cruise

Set sail on a dolphin cruise adventure, where your family can witness playful dolphins in their natural habitat, creating magical memories.

Visit Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

Splash into the fun at Big Kahuna’s, a water and adventure park featuring thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, wave pools, and kiddie areas. I must admit – This is super fun for kids and adults!

Explore the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

Meet marine life up close at the Gulfarium, where interactive exhibits, dolphin shows, and sea lion encounters provide educational and entertaining experiences.

Go Snorkeling at the Destin Jetties

Discover the underwater wonders of the Destin Jetties by snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, encountering colorful marine life and vibrant coral reefs.

Pirate Ship Adventure with Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

Embark on a swashbuckling adventure aboard the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise, complete with pirate stories, treasure hunts, and interactive activities.

Experience Parasailing Over the Gulf

Soar high above the Gulf of Mexico as you experience the thrill of parasailing, providing breathtaking views of the coastline and turquoise waters.

Explore Henderson Beach State Park

Discover the natural beauty of Henderson Beach State Park, offering hiking trails, picnicking areas, and access to unspoiled beaches. We experienced virtually empty beaches here. Very relaxing!

Go Fishing on a Charter Boat

Book a family-friendly fishing charter and try your luck at catching red snapper, grouper, and other Gulf fish while enjoying quality time together.

Take a SandCastle Lesson

Unleash your creativity with a sandcastle-building lesson on the beach, guided by skilled sand artists who teach you how to create intricate sculptures. We highly recommend Sand Castle Rockstars.

Visit the Emerald Coast Science Center

Engage young minds with hands-on exhibits at the Emerald Coast Science Center, where kids can explore science, technology, and the natural world. This is a perfect place to spend some fun and combine it was hours of learning!

Try Mini-Golf at The Track

Compete in a friendly round of mini-golf at The Track Family Fun Park, featuring themed courses and additional attractions like go-karts and bumper cars.

Explore Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone

Experience Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone, where your family can enjoy laser tag, 4D movie experiences, an indoor ropes course, and more.

Discover the Destin Harbor Boardwalk

Wander along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk, lined with shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. Don’t miss feeding the resident harbor fish.

Visit The Village of Baytowne Wharf

Experience the charming atmosphere of The Village of Baytowne Wharf, featuring boutiques, eateries, live music, and a carousel for the kids. Super fun for everyone! You can find out more information here.

Go Kayaking or Paddleboarding

Rent kayaks or paddleboards and explore the calm waters of Destin’s bayous and coastal dunes, enjoying a peaceful and scenic adventure.

Explore Grayton Beach State Park

Venture to Grayton Beach State Park nearby for hiking, picnicking, and swimming. The park’s coastal dune lakes are a unique and beautiful sight.

Try Destin Snorkel Tours

Embark on snorkeling adventures with Destin Snorkel Tours, where guides lead you to vibrant underwater sites teeming with marine life.

Visit the Air Force Armament Museum

Do you have kids who love airplanes? Take a short drive to the Air Force Armament Museum near Destin, where military history and aircraft exhibits provide an educational outing. Perfect for homeschooling parents and kids of any age.

Destin, Florida, offers unparalleled sun-soaked fun, marine exploration, and educational experiences for families. With these 19 exciting activities, your family can create cherished memories while discovering the beauty and adventure this stunning coastal destination offers.

Looking for more adventures in Florida? Make sure to check out some of our other blogs about Florida.

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Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Discover the Magic of Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN: A Unique Adventure Park

Have you heard of this place? Nestled amidst the breathtaking Smoky Mountains, Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN is a magical destination that promises an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. Offering a perfect blend of thrilling adventure, scenic beauty, and charming attractions, Anakeesta has become a sought-after spot for travelers seeking a unique and exciting getaway. In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating aspects of Anakeesta, including its top attractions, ticket costs, and some essential information to help you plan an incredible journey.

Anakeesta’s Aerial Chondola Ride

Begin your Anakeesta adventure with a thrilling ride aboard the Aerial Chondola. This is the only way to get there, so leave your fear of heights on the ground. The Chondola is a combination of a chairlift and gondola, offering both open-air and enclosed cabins. As you ascend 600 feet above Gatlinburg, marvel at the panoramic views of the majestic Smoky Mountains, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Treetop Skywalk and Canopy Walk

Walking through the lush treetops is an experience like no other. Anakeesta’s Treetop Skywalk and Canopy Walk allow you to navigate suspension bridges and elevated walkways, immersing you in the beauty of the surrounding nature. I highly recommend visiting during the peak of fall. It’s beautiful!

Firefly Village

Anakeesta’s Firefly Village is a delightful hub for shopping, dining, and relaxation. Explore the charming shops offering locally made crafts, souvenirs, and unique gifts. After shopping, satisfy your taste buds at one of the village’s eateries, serving delicious snacks and meals with a touch of Southern hospitality.

Vista Gardens

Take a leisurely stroll through Anakeesta’s Vista Gardens, a beautifully landscaped area adorned with colorful blooms and native plants. Willow (the keeper of the forest) will greet you with a smile every time. Each season brings its own beauty, from the vibrant spring blossoms to the rich hues of fall foliage. The gardens are the perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and avid photographers.

Anakeesta’s Dueling Zipline Adventure

For adrenaline junkies, Anakeesta offers an exhilarating Dueling Zipline Adventure. Soar through the forest at thrilling speeds while enjoying unparalleled views of the Smoky Mountains. Trained guides ensure your safety while you experience the rush of a lifetime.

Black Bear Villiage

This area opened in 2020 and is such a beautiful place to eat, have a drink around the fire pit, or … get married! You can book this area as a wedding venue. It offers a unique experience that sets it apart, and the breathtaking views are unparalleled!

Admission

Anakeesta offers different ticket options to cater to your preferences:

  • General Admission: (2023 – At the time of this blog) This ticket includes access to the Chondola ride, Treetop Skywalk, and Vista Gardens. 2023 prices: Adult (Ages 12-59): $34.99 | Children (Ages 4-11): $21.99 | Seniors (Ages 60 +): $26.99 | 3 and under: FREE. Buying your ticket online at least one day before your visit saves you money. Purchasing ahead of time will also allow you to skip the ticket line and get unlimited, all-day access to all of Anakeesta’s general admission activities. Your advance ticket is date specific and only available online.
  • Dueling Zipline Adventure: Check website for cost to add this on to your ticket.
  • How long does it take to go through Anakeesta? At least a good 3 hours. You’ll need some extra time to take the chondolas or Ridge Rambler bus to the top. For our family, this is a little on the expensive side, however, so very worth it! Spending a whole day here isn’t out of the question. It definitely will wear your kids out!

Essential Information

  • Location: Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.
  • Operating Hours: Anakeesta’s operating hours may vary by season, so it’s advisable to check their official website for the most up-to-date information.
  • Parking: Limited parking is available at Anakeesta. However, you can take advantage of the city’s trolley service or nearby public parking lots.
  • Weather: Gatlinburg experiences distinct seasons, with warm summers and chilly winters. Dressing accordingly and checking the weather forecast before your visit is recommended.
  • Accessibility: Anakeesta strives to be accessible to all visitors. The Chondola and Treetop Skywalk are wheelchair and stroller accessible, and the staff is accommodating and attentive to individual needs.

Unlimited fun and great photo ops!

There are so many more fun adventures to see at Anakeesta! This is such a fun family place to go! Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, TN, is a must-visit destination offering an extraordinary blend of adventure, natural beauty, and charming experiences. From soaring through the sky on the Aerial Chondola to exploring the Treetop Skywalk and savoring the delights of Firefly Village, Anakeesta has something for everyone. Plan your trip to this magical mountain retreat and create memories that will stay with you for a lifetime. Kids and adults will love this place.

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Travel Destinations & Stories

The Ultimate Guide: 22 Breathtaking Waterfalls to Visit in North Carolina

North Carolina is a hidden gem for waterfall enthusiasts, boasting a plethora of awe-inspiring cascades tucked away in its lush landscapes. From the majestic heights of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the stunning forests of the Great Smoky Mountains, this southeastern state offers an abundance of picturesque waterfalls waiting to be explored. In this blog, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of the 22 best waterfalls to visit in North Carolina, ensuring an unforgettable adventure into nature’s captivating beauty.

Below the list is a video of all the waterfalls listed here!

Linville Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.6 miles round trip. Linville Falls, located in Linville Gorge, offers multiple overlooks accessible via a moderate hike that rewards you with stunning views of the falls.

Looking Glass Falls

No Hike Required One of the most accessible waterfalls near Brevard, Looking Glass Falls can be admired from the roadside, making it perfect for all travelers.

Dry Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip. also known as Upper Cullasaja Falls, is a 65-foot waterfall located in the Nantahala National Forest northwest of Highlands, North Carolina. Dry Falls allows you to walk safely behind the cascading waters, providing a unique perspective amidst a short and easy hike.

Triple Falls

Hiking Distance: 1-mile round trip located in DuPont State Recreational Forest. Triple Falls’ trail offers fantastic views of the three-tiered waterfall featured in “The Hunger Games.”

Whitewater Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip. For the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, head to Whitewater Falls and enjoy a short hike to see this impressive 411-foot cascade.

Moore Cove Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.5 miles round trip. An enchanting hike in Pisgah National Forest leads you to Moore Cove Falls, where you can stand behind the veil of water.

Rainbow Falls

Hiking Distance: 3.9 miles round trip. With a moderate hike in Gorges State Park, you’ll find Rainbow Falls and its mesmerizing rainbow display on sunny days.

Crabtree Falls

Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles round trip. Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls offers a moderate hike leading to its stunning cascades.

Courthouse Falls

Hiking Distance: 1-mile round trip. Deep in Pisgah National Forest, Courthouse Falls provides a serene setting reachable via an easy hike.

High Falls

Hiking Distance: 2.3 miles round trip. DuPont State Recreational Forest hosts High Falls, where a moderate hike leads you to witness its grandeur.

Glen Falls

Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles round trip. Glen Falls can be located near Highlands through a moderate hike, revealing three stunning cascades.

Mingo Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.4 miles round trip. Enjoy a short hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to discover Mingo Falls’ towering 120-foot drop.

Soco Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.1 miles round trip Near Cherokee, Soco Falls greets you with a unique double waterfall, easily accessible via a short walk.

Catawba Falls

Hiking Distance: 2.7 miles round trip Meander through Pisgah National Forest on a moderate hike to reach Catawba Falls, a series of cascades culminating in a spectacular 100-foot fall.

Silver Run Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.2 miles round trip. A brief hike near Cashiers leads to Silver Run Falls, where you can revel in its natural beauty.

Hooker Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip Part of DuPont State Recreational Forest, Hooker Falls can be reached via an easy hike, making it ideal for families.

Tom’s Creek Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.6 miles round trip. Nestled in Pisgah National Forest, Tom’s Creek Falls features twin cascades accessible through an easy hike.

Skinny Dip Falls

Hiking Distance: 1-mile round trip. A hidden gem along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skinny Dip Falls invites you for a refreshing dip and a moderate hike.

Upper Creek Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.9 miles round trip. Located in the Wilson Creek area, Upper Creek Falls offers natural waterslides and tranquil pools, reachable via a moderate hike.

Elk River Falls

Hiking Distance: 0.2 miles round trip Near Banner Elk, Elk River Falls is a favorite spot for swimming and picnicking, and it requires only a short walk.

Shunkawauken Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.8 miles round trip. I still have no idea how to pronounce this correctly. A lesser-known gem, Shunkawauken Falls awaits those willing to embark on a moderate hike for a secluded experience.

Hickory Nut Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.4 miles round trip. Chimney Rock State Park is home to Hickory Nut Falls, a majestic 404-foot cascade accessible through a moderate hike.

As full-time RVers for seven years, waterfalls were always our happy place. We hope you find time to visit many of these incredible waterfalls, and we also hope you share others with us! North Carolina’s diverse landscapes offer an array of spectacular waterfalls, each with its unique charm and allure. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a nature enthusiast, exploring these 22 captivating waterfalls will undoubtedly create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the mesmerizing waterfalls of North Carolina. Happy exploring!

Here are a few more blogs we think you’ll love!

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Colorado Travel
Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

The Best 7-Day Itinerary When Visiting Colorado

Embark on an unforgettable journey through Colorado, beginning at Great Sand Dunes National Park. This blog presents a comprehensive 7-day itinerary encompassing majestic sand dunes, breathtaking mountains, and captivating attractions. If you have more than seven days, please spend more time at each location, as there is just so much to see and do.

Day 1 – Sand Dunes National Park

Welcome to Colorado! Start your adventure by arriving at Great Sand Dunes National Park, a unique gem nestled in the southern part of the state. Witness the surreal landscape of North America’s tallest sand dunes, some reaching up to 750 feet high! Spend the day hiking, sandboarding, or simply soaking in the awe-inspiring vistas. As the sun sets, capture stunning photographs of the dunes painted in golden hues. Camp at the park’s designated campgrounds for a memorable experience under the starry sky.

Day 2 – Durango

Drive to Durango, a town renowned for its outdoor activities and Western heritage. For adventure seekers, the Animas River offers excellent opportunities for rafting and kayaking. Alternatively, take a historic ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which winds through the scenic San Juan National Forest. Explore Durango’s downtown in the evening, filled with galleries, shops, and delightful dining options.

Day 3 – Million Dollar Highway

Nestled amidst the rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, the Million Dollar Highway is a legendary stretch of road that promises an unforgettable driving experience. Known for its hairpin turns, sheer drop-offs, and jaw-dropping vistas, this scenic byway is an adventure-seekers dream and a feast for the eyes. Make sure you drive towards Ouray.

Day 4 – Ouray

Make your way to the enchanting town of Ouray, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America” due to its stunning alpine scenery. Enjoy a leisurely morning exploring Ouray’s charming Main Street, lined with Victorian-era buildings, housing shops, and eateries. Unwind in the town’s natural hot springs or visit the Box Canyon Falls Park for a short but beautiful hike.

Ouray Colorado

Day 5 – Telluride

Journey to the charming mountain town of Telluride. In the summer, hike along scenic trails, take a gondola ride for stunning views, or relax in the town’s natural hot springs. During the winter, hit the slopes for world-class skiing and snowboarding. Stroll along Telluride’s quaint streets, lined with colorful buildings and unique boutiques. Catch a live performance at the historic Sheridan Opera House.

Telluride Colorado

Day 6 – Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Journey to Gunnison, a picturesque town with a charming Western vibe. Make sure to stop by the iconic Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Gunnison Colorado

Marvel at the sheer cliffs and narrow, deep canyon carved by the Gunnison River over millions of years. The park offers various viewpoints and hiking trails, providing captivating perspectives of this natural wonder. After exploring the canyon, continue to Gunnison to relax and enjoy the local hospitality.

Day 7 – Crested Butte

Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte, Colorado, is a hidden gem that beckons visitors with its enchanting beauty and genuine mountain charm. Known as the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado” and revered as a winter wonderland, this picturesque town offers an array of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences throughout the year.

From the vibrant city life of Denver to the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado offers something for everyone, whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or history enthusiast. Happy travels and make lots of cherished.

Here are a few more blogs about Colorado you might enjoy!

Update 2023 – Great comments from our followers!

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Off the Beaten Path Series, Small Footprint ~ Big Impressions, Travel Destinations & Stories

Exploring America’s Abandoned Gems: Our Top 31 Favorite Ghost Towns to Visit

Venturing into the heart of the United States, one can find a myriad of abandoned towns that once thrived with life but now stand as captivating relics of the past. For us, visiting these once-vibrant places gives us a thrill. These ghost towns offer a unique blend of history, mystery, and an eerie charm that draws in intrepid adventurers and history enthusiasts alike. In this blog, we will unveil our 31 favorite ghost towns in the USA that are waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just starting your journey, these locations are sure to captivate your imagination.

Bodie, California

Located in Eastern Sierra, California: Bodie is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns in the country. Its weathered buildings and authentic artifacts offer a glimpse into the Gold Rush era of the late 1800s. Visitors can explore the remnants of saloons, homes, and even a church, making it a photographer’s paradise. Definitely don’t forget your camera! Looking for some additional hidden gems in California? Check out our blog here: Off the Beaten Path in California. Our Top Hidden Gems

Jerome, Arizona

Jerome was once a thriving copper mining town in Verde Valley, Arizona. Perched on Cleopatra Hill. Today, it boasts artistic charm with a collection of galleries, shops, and fascinating historical sites. The stunning panoramic views from Jerome make it an unforgettable destination. You can find more amazing and fun things to do here: Off the Beaten Path in Arizona

Rhyolite, Nevada

Located near Death Valley, Nevada. Rhyolite’s ruins include a bank, train depot, and several other structures, showcasing the boom and bust of the early 20th-century mining era. Be sure to visit the iconic “Bottle House,” constructed entirely from glass bottles.

St. Elmo, Colorado

St. Elmo is located near Sawatch, Colorado, and nestled amidst the Rocky Mountains, an exceptionally well-preserved mining town. It offers a rare glimpse into the past, complete with wooden storefronts and stunning mountain vistas.

Garnet, Montana

One of our favorites. I mean, it’s Montana! We spent an entire summer in Montana in 2018. Don’t miss this one! Located in Garnet, Montana. Garnet is a true gem hidden in the hills of Montana. Wander through the well-preserved buildings, like the J.K. Wells Hotel and the Kelly and Irene’s Saloon, and imagine life during the gold rush. Super fun! Bring the kids! They will love it. Find more amazing adventures we discovered here: Off the Beaten Path in Montana – Our Top Hidden Gems in Montana!

Calico, California

Located in the Mojave Desert, California. Once a bustling silver mining town, Calico now stands as a fascinating tourist attraction. Tour the Maggie Mine and take a trip back in time with costumed guides who bring the past to life.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. I was so glad I was able to visit this place before they shut down and paved over the one historical street “of art.” Centralia is an abandoned coal town with a unique and eerie history. It had been on fire since 1962 due to an underground coal seam fire, giving it an otherworldly appearance with smoke rising from fissures in the ground. From what we understand today, the fire has burned itself out. I would love it if anyone had an update on this fantastic place. We really enjoyed it. This location was also used for filming the movie Silent Hill.

Terlingua, Texas

Location: Big Bend, Texas. Terlingua thrived on cinnabar mining, producing almost one-third of the nation’s mercury. Today, it’s a quirky town with a ghostly past, offering stunning views of the Chisos Mountains and the Rio Grande.

Virginia City, Montana

Located in Alder Gulch, Montana. Virginia City is a living ghost town that takes visitors back to the Gold Rush era. Wander its wooden boardwalks, attend a staged gunfight, and ride a historic steam train.

Kennecott, Alaska

Located in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. Kennecott is a remote and breathtaking copper mining town in the heart of Alaska. Tour the massive red mill building and explore the stunning surroundings of America’s largest national park.

Bannack, Montana

Located in Beaverhead County, Montana. Bannack, once Montana’s first territorial capital, is now a well-preserved ghost town frozen in time. The town offers guided tours and even hosts an annual reenactment of its founding.

Glenrio, New Mexico/Texas

Located on the New Mexico/Texas border. Straddling the state line, Glenrio was a famous Route 66 stop. Today, it’s a snapshot of the mid-20th-century roadside culture, with abandoned gas stations and motels.

Cahawba, Alabama

Located in Cahawba County, Alabama. Once Alabama’s state capital, Cahawba was a prominent antebellum town. Now, visitors can explore its haunting ruins and learn about its rich history.

Ruby, Arizona

Located in Santa Cruz County, Arizona. Ruby was a mining town, and though many of its buildings have deteriorated, the picturesque setting and the nearby Ruby ghost town cemetery are worth a visit.

Goldfield, Nevada

Located in Esmeralda County, Nevada. Goldfield was a prosperous gold mining town that boomed in the early 1900s. Visitors can explore the Goldfield Hotel and the International Car Forest of the Last Church.

Cahokia, Illinois:

Located in Collinsville, Illinois. Once the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico, Cahokia offers visitors a chance to explore ancient Native American mounds and learn about the Mississippian culture.

South Pass City, Wyoming

Located in Fremont County, Wyoming. South Pass City was a booming gold mining town in the 1860s. Now a state historic site, it allows visitors to experience Wyoming’s gold rush heritage. Looking for more hidden gems in Wyoming? Take a look at some top places we found here: Off the Beaten Path in Wyoming. Our Top Hidden Gems!

Two Guns, Arizona

Located near Canyon Diablo, in Arizona. Two Guns is a ghost town with a turbulent history, once home to Apache conflicts and a popular tourist stop along Route 66. We are big fans of ruins! We find them so unique. The ruins and petrified forest are fascinating sights.

Nevada City, Montana

Located in Madison County, Montana. Nevada City is an outdoor museum town with over 90 historic buildings, making it a perfect destination for history buffs. A great place for homeschooling events!

Animas Forks, Colorado

Located in San Juan County, Colorado. Accessible only during the summer, Animas Forks is a high-altitude ghost town in the San Juan Mountains, showcasing well-preserved mining structures.

Berlin, Nevada

Located in Gabbs, Nevada. Berlin offers visitors a glimpse of life in a late 19th-century mining town. Explore its preserved buildings and mines while enjoying the rugged beauty of the surrounding area.

Silver City, Idaho

Location: Owyhee County, Idaho. Silver City is an idyllic ghost town with well-preserved buildings, including a schoolhouse and the historic Idaho Hotel.

Gothic, Colorado

Location: Near Crested Butte, Colorado Description: Gothic was a mining town turned research station in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Look at the stunning mountain views and learn about the unique ecology.

Leadville, Colorado

Aside from being one of our very favorite places to visit (and boondock with our RV), did you know that Leadville is the highest incorporated town in America? I believe there are 4-6 ghost towns just in Leadville alone. Eat lunch outside at one of the many restaurants on the main street, and then explore the ghost towns all over the place. You can find out more here. If you don’t go for the ghost town tours, just go explore Leadville. You won’t regret it.

Gleeson, Arizona

Location: Cochise County, Arizona. Gleeson once had a bustling population thanks to mining. Today, visitors can explore its historic cemetery and old town remnants.

Independence, California

Located in the Eastern Sierra of California. (Not be confused with the Independence CO Ghost town below.) Independence was a significant mining and military town. Visit the historic courthouse and learn about the region’s rich history.

Independence, Colorado

Located off Independence Highway in Colorado. Love, Love, Love! Between 1881 and 1882, over $190,000 worth of gold was produced. The following year it dropped to $2,000. Throughout its brief history, Independence was also known as Chipeta, Farwell, Hunter’s Pass, Mammoth City, Mount Hope, and Sparkill. There is an easy walking trail to go as little or as far as you’d like! You can see a little bit about it in our video below.

St. Thomas, Nevada

Another favorite! Located near Lake Mead National Recreation Area. St. Thomas was once a farming community that disappeared underwater when the Hoover Dam was constructed. During droughts, the remains resurface, offering a unique sight for visitors. Don’t miss this one when visiting the Hoover Dam.

Seneca, Oregon

Location: Grant County, Oregon. Seneca was a lively gold mining town that suffered several fires. Visit the Seneca Schoolhouse and take in the beauty of the nearby Silvies River. If you want to see more things to do in Oregon, check out our blog here: Off the Beaten Path in Oregon – Our Top Hidden Gems!

Gilman, Colorado

Located in Eagle County, Colorado. Gilman was a mining town known for its zinc and copper production. Explore the remnants of this high-altitude ghost town in the Rockies. Watch the weather, and contact them during the off-season to make sure you can get there.

Bingham Canyon, Utah

Located in Salt Lake County, Utah. Bingham Canyon was once a bustling copper mining town and is now home to one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. Visitors can experience both the old and modern aspects of mining.

These 31 ghost towns scattered throughout the United States are captivating time capsules, transporting visitors to a bygone era. From the rugged landscapes of the Southwest to the stunning mountains of the Rockies, each location holds its unique charm and history waiting to be explored. Whether you seek adventure, history, or simply a glimpse of Americana, these ghost towns are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who venture to visit them. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare to embark on a hauntingly beautiful journey through America’s abandoned gems. Share your favorite ghost town with us! We’ll add it to the list!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Louisiana. Our Top Hidden Gems to Explore!

If this is your first time here – WELCOME! If not, welcome back!! As full-time RV’ers, we travel and see a lot. This is part of our Off The Beaten Path series where we explore the hidden treasures in every state. We love the big popular attractions like everyone else, however, there is just something incredible about discovering something unique and different. Our goals are to find the most unexplored places and take those roads less traveled. We certainly can’t explore them all, so we’d love you to share your own off-the-beaten-path stories with us. Each series will include at least one epic boondocking/free camping area, with GPS coordinates.

One of the things we loved about Louisiana was all the history. I know we say that a lot in our blogs. Most of this blog will be filled with the history we found! The plantation houses and the “fort ruins” were just not something you can capture in a photograph. We visited downtown Baton Rouge and got to see the old and the new capital buildings. Tip: If you enter the new capitol building (pictured above), you can get to the top and look out over the whole city. Unfortunately, they were closed to the public the day we went due to Mardi Gras. Darn it! The old State Capitol looks like a true old castle. The new building is a little more modern but still pretty impressive! 

Cypremort Point State Park

This 185-acre park is right on the edge of Vermilion Bay. It offers beautiful views and excellent places for you to take out your boat or kayak and enjoy the water. A very off-the-beaten-path place, with not a lot of visitors. The sunsets are amazing!

The Tree of Life

Located in New Orleans’ Audubon Park.

When visiting the Tree of Life, the real secret is that it has a common boundary with one wall of the Audubon Zoo, specifically that of the giraffe cage. So if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a giraffe! Happy giraffe spotting!

Fort Pike

Named for the explorer soldier Zebulon Montgomery Pike, Fort Pike was built to defend the city of New Orleans from invasion by sea.

It’s another fascinating piece of our history, not to mention how incredible the ruins are. Badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina, the site had been reopened to the public – but due to further damage incurred during Tropical Storm Isaac in 2012, the site is currently off-limits. Tip: The site is located off US 90, approximately 23 miles east of downtown New Orleans. It is also accessible from I-10 via LA 11 South and turn left on US 90. Permanently closed due to funding. At the boat ramp, there is an area you can gain access. Locals do not mind, but please be respectful. We already see vandals have been in making their mark. So sad! 

SPEAKING OF RUINS

Fort Proctor

This abandoned Civil War fortress is slowly being swallowed by the waters of Lake Borgne. Looks like the ruins of a castle. And I guess it kind of was! It rises out of the shallow waters of Lake Borgne, actually dating back only to between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. But rather than being a base that was abandoned after being routed, this stronghold was never even used. You gotta read the crazy history of this! 

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

Maybe we just find things like this amazing, but maybe there is nothing too special about this other than it was just fun to cross! Depending on where you’re coming from or where you’re going to when you leave, you may find yourself driving across this massive causeway. The world record holder for the longest bridge stretching continuously over water. FUN FACTS: The bridge is so long that motorists lose sight of land for an eight-mile stretch, and drivers have been known to freeze out of some kind of false seaborne fear, at which point the police have escorted them off the bridge. Babies were born on the causeway when their mothers failed to make it to the hospital on the other side. And an airplane once ran out of gas over the lake, eventually landing safely on the bridge.

The Best Punch Buggy in All Of Louisiana

This folk art style car almost looks more like a painting than it does an automobile. This awesome little VW is privately owned, created, and driven by local artist Kelly Israel. It is not on display and it is not up for sale, you just have to be lucky enough to spot it going down the road once in a while. We were not lucky enough! Will you be? Keep your eyes open and your cameras ready! PHOTO CREDIT TO HARROD BLANK. We hope to get our own photo one day!

The Myrtles Plantation

It is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the entire country that comes with a seriously dark past involving the poisoning of two children. It’s also believed to be located right on top of an Indian burial ground. Talk about a double-whammy. The plantation is still open and functions as a bed and breakfast for paranormal enthusiasts. We did not stay here, but it’s a beautiful home outside! 

Hiking

I wanted to mention this for more experienced hikers! The Tunica Hills Wildlife Management Area. If you’re wanting to see waterfalls you’ll need to visit during the rainy season, and that varies! So we hear it’s a very beautiful area, with some pretty amazing pools and waterfalls. We aren’t skilled enough to consider ourselves experienced hikers.

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake borders Texas and Louisiana. We technically put our kayak in the water in Texas.

But we stayed in Louisiana. So I wanted to mention it. Absolutely the best place to kayak if you want to kayak through Cypress trees. We saw not one person that day on the water! The best place to put your kayak in is the Caddo Lake WMA in Texas. But get your permit online. The cost was $12 and we did get checked! 

Boondocking

Earl Williamson Park – Oil City
  • This technically wasn’t boondocking but we wanted to mention it. We stayed at Earl Williamson Park in Oil City. It was $12 per night with water and electric. Very nice, spread out spots. And there was a dump station at the park. We were in site #1 right on the water. GREAT place to camp! GPS: 32.728805, -93.974796
  • Hollywood Casino – GPS: 30.451536, -91.191433 // I know casinos aren’t the best place to stay but this place was great. You can stay up to 3 days (though they ask you how long you want to stay and lots of people stay longer than three days and they are ok with it). We went in to play our $10 free play they give you (we aren’t much into gambling), and we won’t $100, plus 2 free brunches the next day valued at $17 each. We loved it here! Go inside to the information desk and get your pass. Free and easy!
  • Cloud Crossing – Goldonna, Louisiana – GPS: 32.083328, -92.90667 – Very clean! Open year-round (but watch for flooding season). Easily accessible gravel road, restrooms, water fixtures, and trash bins. A lot of the RV sites have a level gravel pad. Good cell service is a bonus for us. We work remotely!
  • There are several places to boondock in the Kisatchie National Forest. Oak Camp – GPS: 31.515213, -93.060478 has trash and vault toilets. Also, Curtis Camp – A great place for a big rig for sure!! GPS: 31.541697, -93.027016 located off Forest Road 341 Natchitoches, Louisiana

Here are a few blogs we think you’ll love!

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Boondocking / Dry Camping, Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, RV Organization, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons, Travel Destinations & Stories

Embracing Freedom: Transitioning from Living in a Home to Living in an RV

In recent years, a growing number of adventurous souls have embraced a lifestyle that offers the ultimate freedom: living in an RV by choice. Leaving behind the conventional trappings of a stationary home, they embark on a journey to explore the world with the open road as their guide. This blog will delve into the reasons behind this lifestyle shift, its benefits, and essential tips for a successful transition. If you’ve ever dreamed of embracing a life of wanderlust, read on to discover why transitioning to an RV might be the perfect choice for you.

The Allure of Life on Wheels

Living in an RV represents a radical departure from the norm, (hence our chosen name of Opting Out of Normal) but what entices people to make this unique lifestyle choice? One of the primary attractions is the freedom to go wherever your heart desires. With no ties to a permanent location, you can wake up to breathtaking landscapes, embrace new cultures, and experience unforgettable adventures on a whim. The allure of exploration and spontaneity is a major driving force for many RV enthusiasts.

From Complicated to Simple

Actually, we didn’t even look at our life as complicated. That is until we looked back on it after becoming a full-time RVer. Transitioning to an RV lifestyle compels individuals to declutter and adopt minimalism. Downsizing possessions and embracing a simpler life not only makes it easier to fit into a smaller living space but also promotes a sense of liberation from material attachments. Minimalism fosters mindfulness, reducing stress, and enhancing focus on experiences rather than possessions.

Financial Freedom – Sort of!

This is always a heated topic! Your bills are your bills – no matter where you live. Please read our blog here: How Much Does it Cost To RV Full-Time? Owning and maintaining a traditional home can be a significant financial burden. Transitioning to an RV lifestyle often leads to substantial cost savings. From reduced utility bills to eliminating property taxes, living in an RV can free up funds for other pursuits, such as traveling to new destinations, pursuing hobbies, or investing in personal growth. However, if you choose to live in expensive RV parks, and travel long and fast, this really could be your downfall in your finances. Again, please go read our version above on how we saved a lot of money and the reasons we did.

Embracing Nature and Adventure

For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, RV living is an unparalleled way to connect with the great outdoors. Waking up amidst majestic mountains, beside serene lakes, or on sandy beaches becomes a regular occurrence. The RV lifestyle encourages the exploration of national parks, hidden gems, and off-the-beaten-path locations, fostering a deep appreciation for nature’s wonders.

Our favorite type of travel is definitely finding those hidden gems. We did an entire series of finding hidden gems in every state. You can check that out here: Off the Beaten Path in Every State! Hidden Secrets in the Lower 48!

Community and Camaraderie

Contrary to the perception of solitude, RV living fosters a strong sense of community. We’ve met so many of our now closest friends (road family) through RVing. RV parks and campgrounds are vibrant hubs where like-minded individuals share stories, and tips, and form lasting friendships. The sense of camaraderie among fellow travelers creates a support system that enriches the journey.

Tips for a Successful Transition

  • Research and Plan: Thoroughly research different types of RVs, their amenities, and maintenance requirements. Create a budget that considers both upfront costs and ongoing expenses, including fuel, insurance, and campground fees. You can see our total budget for a year here: How Much Does it Cost To RV Full-Time? and here: Boondocking ~ How We Spent $48 on Camping Fees For the Whole Year
  • Downsize Thoughtfully: Take time to declutter and downsize your belongings. Keep essentials, sentimental items, and things that truly bring joy. Consider storage options for items you can’t part with but won’t need daily. After a year and then two and then three (you get the picture) we kept downsizing. All those things we thought we needed in year one, we didn’t. You can read some great tips here: What To Do With Sentimental Items When Downsizing
  • Test the Waters: Why were our seven years on the road successful? Because we spent 20 years prior owning an RV and taking weekends, vacations and extended trips in it. Understanding it, knowing the limitations and the freedoms it allowed. Before committing fully, consider renting an RV for a short trip. This will help you determine if the lifestyle suits your preferences and needs. We highly recommend this. More than once. Full-time RVing isn’t for everyone. Figure that out before you feel like it was a big mistake, and a big financial hit.
  • Stay Organized: With limited space, organization is critical. Invest in storage solutions and develop habits to keep your RV tidy and clutter-free. Check out some of our organizing tips here: The Best Tips for Organizing Your RV Stuff and The Best 30+ RV Hacks! and 31 More Must-Have RV Accessories
  • Embrace Flexibility: This is huge, and our biggest tip. Be open to unexpected experiences and changes in plans. Embracing flexibility will make your journey more enjoyable and less stressful. Don’t expect every trip to be blissful, and go as planned. If it does go as planned, consider yourself lucky! Laugh about it! If something breaks, being angry and upset doesn’t solve the problem. It just makes for a miserable time. Things break in an average house too. Just go with it, fix it, and move on.
  • Learn RV Maintenance: Another huge tip! You need to know about your RV and just be handy all together. Understanding basic RV maintenance is crucial. Attend workshops or seek advice from experienced RV owners to ensure your home on wheels is well-maintained. Luckily for us, one of us is very handy and the other is better at organizing. I’ll just leave that right there.
  • Like Each Other: Of course, you love your significant other. But do you like them? It seems like a funny question, but you must be best friends to make this work. Set ground rules and have common goals. If one doesn’t like the full-time RV life, then no questions asked, find something else together. It’s so important to set these ground rules upfront.

Transitioning from living in a home to living in an RV as your home is a transformative experience that offers a unique blend of freedom, adventure, and connection with nature and community. Embracing the simplicity of RV life, you can find financial freedom, explore new horizons, and unlock the joy of living on the open road. With careful planning and a spirit of adventure, this nomadic lifestyle can become the most rewarding chapter of your life’s journey. Chapters and pages are meant to be turned. Nothing is forever. Just try it! So, are you ready to hit the road and let the winds of wanderlust guide you? Happy travels!

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. If not us, please find someone to support. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

Life ~ Thoughts ~ Writings, Off the Beaten Path Series, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons, Travel Destinations & Stories

Are We Planning Life or Living Life? Full-Time RV Life

Have you ever felt like life is passing you by? Like there must be more to life than just the daily grind of work, commute, and obligations? For many people, the idea of selling their home and traveling full-time is a dream that seems unattainable. However, for us, it became a reality.

In today’s fast-paced world, many of us find ourselves caught up in the daily grind, constantly planning for the future without thoroughly enjoying the present. But what if we could break free from the monotony, sell our home, and embark on an adventure of a lifetime? That’s exactly what we decided to do – sell our home and embrace full-time RV travel. In this blog post, we’ll delve into our decision-making process, the benefits of RV living, and how it has transformed our lives.

The Decision To Sell

After our youngest went off to college, we realized that we were spending too much time and energy maintaining a large home, focusing on material possessions, and constantly planning for the future. Every weekend was planned out by Wednesday. Can you relate? We yearned for a sense of freedom and flexibility that traditional living couldn’t provide. Selling our home and downsizing to an RV seemed like the perfect solution to break free from the chains of conformity. Were we crazy? Was this even attainable?

Embracing Minimalism

Living in an RV requires downsizing and embracing a minimalist lifestyle. We carefully evaluated our possessions, separating what was truly essential from the clutter that had accumulated over the years. By letting go of unnecessary material belongings, we gained a newfound appreciation for experiences and memories rather than material possessions. Was it hard? Absolutely! However, we kept the main goal in mind and found that we still had the memories, even without the stuff. You can read our blog here for more information on What To Do With Sentimental Items When Downsizing

Benefits of Full-Time RV Travel

One of the most exciting aspects of full-time RV travel is the ability to explore new places at your own pace. We have the freedom to choose our destinations, discover hidden gems, and immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature. Every day, from majestic mountains to serene lakeshores, brings a new adventure and a fresh perspective on life. We adopted the motto that we would eat when we are hungry and sleep when we were tired. In a fast-paced world, that’s unheard of! We also knew we’d make mistakes, there would be life detours and last-minute changes. Flexibility is the key to making this adventure a positive experience.

Cost-Effective Lifestyle

Living in an RV provides ample opportunities to meet fellow travelers and build meaningful connections. Living in our traditional home, we were extremely occupied with work, which left us with no chance to socialize with friends. However, during our travels, we have had the chance to meet people from various backgrounds, forming a varied and encouraging community of friends whom we fondly call our road family. Sharing stories, tips, and experiences with like-minded individuals has enriched our journey and made it even more rewarding. Check out our detailed blog where we kept track of our entire year of finances here: How Much Does it Cost To RV Full-Time?

Personal Growth and Self-Discovery

Full-time RV travel has presented us with countless opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. Stepping out of our comfort zones, we have faced new challenges, developed problem-solving skills, and embraced a sense of adaptability. We have become more self-reliant, open-minded, and resilient individuals, constantly learning and evolving along the way.

Life Chapters

Life is what you make it, right? Our life is based on the decisions we make at whatever given point in time we make them. But life is also about chapters. Choosing to sell our home and embrace full-time RV travel has been a life-changing decision. By prioritizing experiences over possessions, we have discovered the joy of living in the present moment. So, are we planning life or living life? We can confidently say that we are living life to the fullest.

After 7 Years of Full-Time RV Living – What’s Next?

So what’s next for us? After the significant changes to travel in 2020, we were presented with the opportunity to open Panels Up Solar. And after just our first year in business, we outgrew our building. Justin has worked with RV Solar since 2017, and it’s been a busy, amazing and incredible two years so far. We certainly aren’t done traveling, but remember I mentioned chapters above? Well, this is our chapter right now. To help others live more freely and enjoy the serenity and freedom that solar and energy solutions on their RV bring to their life. We know how much it enhanced our experience, and it was time to share it.

Next week we close on a tiny house on a large piece of property. Where our two new puppies can run and play, and we can enjoy the hot summer days of MS in a pool. Will we continue to travel? Absolutely! It will just look a little different for a while. It’s your turn! So we are here to support you!

In conclusion, our hope for everyone is that whatever your dream is, you find a way to attain it. It just takes small steps to get there. It won’t happen overnight. But if you stay focused and determined, you’ll get there! You got this!!

Here are a few more blogs we think you’ll love:

Also! Check out our Off the Beaten Path series! We explored the lower 48 states and all the amazing places on less traveled roads. Off the Beaten Path in Every State! Hidden Secrets in the Lower 48!

But wait! There’s More! Have you seen all our amazing journals? We’d love you to check them out here:

Thank you for visiting our little corner of the internet. Live Simply! Give More! Expect Less!

Boondocking / Dry Camping, Off the Beaten Path Series, Travel Destinations & Stories

Off the Beaten Path in Arizona

Top Hidden Gems We Bet You Didn’t Know About in Arizona.

Arizona is just packed full of popular, fantastic things to see. Of course, The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and the Wave. Not to mention Horseshoe Bend, Havasupai Falls and The Petrified Forest National Park. If you’ve never been to these places, don’t miss them! But we’d like to share some unique and different places you might not have heard of. 

The Mystery Castle

What a crazy, sad, unique, and finally happy ending story. I’m not going to spoil it, but we did make a video that touched on the story a little bit. We loved this tour and the eclectic mind of the man who built it for his daughter. Not only is it really odd and interesting, but the story behind it is fascinating. We were lucky enough to have Juankarlo Gastelum as a tour guide. His father was a groundskeeper for over 40 years, and he basically grew up in and around the castle. It was really fun listening to his personal stories. If you have kids, bring them! They will love this quirky place! Check out our short video below. 

Hole in the Rock

This is a natural geological formation in Papago Park, a municipal park of Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona. This is a fun, short day trip. We took lunch and enjoyed a small hike to the top. Then we hiked a little more to do some geocaching. If you don’t know what Geocaching is, check out our blog here. The views from The Hole are beautiful!

HoleinRockAZ1

Kartchner Caverns

This is a beautiful state park located in Benson. After their discovery in 1974, these limestone caverns were kept secret for more than a decade as a way to preserve their untrammeled beauty. Seeking undiscovered caves in the mid-70s, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts discovered evidence of a secret cave: the two felt warm air emanating from a crack at the bottom of a sinkhole they found in the Whetstone Mountains of southern Arizona. The men slipped through the crack and discovered a network of pristine caverns with spectacular rock formations, including massive stalagmites and stalactites. They would return on several occasions over four years, discovering 2.5 miles of passageways and chambers while keeping their find secret. I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of stuff I think is fascinating. Can you imagine finding something like this and having it all to yourself for years?

Kartchner Caverns

Tonto Natural Bridge

Driving near Pine, AZ? Tonto Natural Bridge is the largest natural travertine bridge in the world is nestled in a small canyon in central Arizona.

tonto-natural-bridge-987223_1920

This 183-foot-high bridge is beautiful from every angle. The three hiking trails in the area bring you all the way down to the 400-foot-long tunnel. If you are not afraid of slipping on some algae, you can make your way through the tunnel to one of the other trails. Tonto Natural Bridge will not disappoint any visitor. There are viewing points from above so those not in the hiking mood can still enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Lake Havasu’s London Bridge

The old London Bridge was carefully dismantled, and each of the stones was numbered. Once it was broken down to its pieces, they were shipped to California through the Panama Canal, and then driven down to Arizona. The bridge was then just as carefully put back together again, and Arizona’s own London Bridge was opened in 1971. Near the bridge is a little walkway. Past some little shops, ice cream stores, and a few others. We found walking down the path pretty far was actually more thrilling to us than the bridge itself. Of course, we stopped for ice cream, so maybe that was more of our thrill. Ha! 

The Desert Bar

Located in Parker – and yes, it’s the Desert Bar, not the Dessert Bar!

deseet_bar_31

So we don’t really hang out in bars much, but this is more than a bar. The road to get there is an experience in itself. You just have to visit this really neat, unique, and totally run on solar power bar in the middle of the desert. It’s only open on weekends. Most people drive off-road vehicles to get there, which is half the fun, but you can certainly take your regular vehicle. We drove our dually. It’s just one of those interesting and unique places, and I have to say, though on the expensive side (because they can … there is nowhere else to go Ha) the food is actually really good. Humor yourself and get the gigantic pretzel. But ensure you have someone (or 5 someones) to share it with. Read the story of how the owner created this, and why he decided to go forward with it. Super fun place!! 

“The” Corner in Winslow AZ

Everyone who loves The Eagles needs to go stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona. Just sayin’! (Now you can thank me! The song will be stuck in your head for hours. In my case, days! Ha Ha!)

Slide Rock State Park

Located in Oak Creek Canyon just seven miles north of Sedona.

Slide Rock State Park is home to a smooth, natural water slide. It offers a fantastic place for cooling off on a hot summer day. Visitors can slide down the slickwater chute, wade in the cool waters, or soak up the sunshine along the creek.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls after monsoon rains

Located in the Navajo Nation, this seasonal waterfall flows a rich chocolate color after the annual snowmelt or after any significant rain! Most of the time, this is a dry river bed. So if you want to see the flowing water, make sure you are close by and schedule your time to go right after a monsoon. If you can get to this in March or April that is the best time to see it. The snowmelt will give you more opportunities to see it. There is also a short period in the summer that you can see the falls due to the monsoon season, but the window is short and is highly dependent on the weather patterns that year. FYI, this is on Navajo land, and you need to obtain a permit to be on it. 

The Town of Oatman

oatman5

The town of Oatman, AZ – OH what fun!! This is a quirky, fun place. Unique shops, and wild donkeys roaming the town. I mean ruling the town. While we were there they would often try to get into the shops because some of the shop owners have favorites they feed on a regular basis, and the donkeys know this. Also, the gunfighter wild west show happens every day in the middle of town at noon. The street is blocked, and it’s about a 15 minute, very humorous thing to see. The area close to the town of Oatman to boondock is also stunning (Boondocking information below). 

Sitegreaves Pass

Don’t miss this beautiful overlook near Oatman. The views are amazing. And the drive is even better!

Hiking

If you love hiking, you just have to check out the Arizona Hot Springs.

The hike is 7 miles round trip, and it pretty much kicked my butt with the rock scrambles. I am thankful for friends who didn’t mind pushing my butt up (literally) when I needed a little help on the rock scrambles. But we did it, and it was so worth it! After we completed the hike, we ran into some other friends a few months later who told us we could have kayaked right up to the short trail to the hot springs. Well … that would have been nice. But I wouldn’t trade that day for anything. We saw some beautiful sights and spent some amazing time with some friends. 

Another amazing find is Lake Powell. We haven’t made it there yet, but it’s on our list for next time! 

Boondocking / Free Camping

There is no lack of boondocking in Arizona. Here are our top picks in Arizona. What are your favorites?

SEE PICTURES FOR GPS COORDINATES

  • Sedona AZ – Forest Road 525. 
  • Oatman, AZ – Topic Dispersed. We loved this place. Beautiful area. 
  • Table Mesa Rd Boondocking near New River, AZ. 
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droneaz1-copy-2gps

Thank you for stopping by our little corner of the internet! We truly appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read our blogs. We’re honored you spent the last few minutes with us!  If you aren’t signed up to follow us, please do! You’ll be notified of our new blogs when they go up. We’d love to hear your unique finds in Arizona. What hidden gems have your found?

So – You’re shopping on Amazon? I mean who doesn’t, right? Please consider using our link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it gives us a few extra pennies. Click below to use our link and then just shop like normal. Don’t forget ~ check out within 24 hours so we get credit! Thank you!! It really means a lot to us!

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RV Organization, RV Tips, Tricks & Lessons, Travel Destinations & Stories

12 Ways To Document Your Travel Memories

Do you travel full-time in your RV as we do? Or maybe you have a family reunion every year that you attend. Is there a family travel tradition you’d like to remember year after year? There are several ways to travel, and all of them are special and memorable. There are also some great ways to celebrate and remember your travels.

When we first hit the road 4 years ago on our full-time RV journey, we didn’t write anything down or keep track of anything. Including all the millions of pictures we took. Looking back and trying to find pictures from 2017, well, let’s just say I go kicking and screaming into that adventure. There was no organization at all, and nothing is titled.

When we started 2018, I made a plan to track our travels and be more organized with my pictures. I do it in several different ways. I keep track of every place our RV lands for the night, and we have travel maps for the last 3 years. Inside the travel map, I keep lots of great information to help us (and others) with boondocking information, cell service speeds at those locations, and other great information. I also keep an adventure journal to pass on to my kids someday. But there are so many more ways to celebrate your travel history! As an example, you can see our 2019 travel map here.

Map Your Travels

There are some fun maps we highly recommend for RV travel. These physical maps can be both fun and educational for kids. And, can absolutely be something you hang in your house and enjoy too. You can pick how you track those states you travel through. Will you have to spend the night in that state, or just simply drive through it for it to count? The possibilities are endless.

Photo Gallery Wall

RVs have limited wall space, but even our RV has enough wall space in a few areas to have a gallery wall on a small scale. Travel memories through your own photography is always a great way to remember your travels.

Decorate Your Refrigerator with Memories

Travel memories can come in so many ways. Since we live small, we know several people who collect magnets from places they visit and display them on the refrigerator. Or how about magnetic photo frames.

Journal Your Travels

I think journals have been forgotten. Some people think of them as time-consuming and a chore they have to do. If you think of it more like a creative outlet, where it includes drawings or pictures, it’s more like a little mini scrapbook. When we traveled on weekends or for vacation, we had a simple spiral notebook that both Justin and I and the kids would write in during our travels. Those are priceless (and often funny) memories to look back on. Whatever you decide to do, make it fun. You can read how we journal about our travels here!

Photography For the Kids!

If you’re looking for ways to get our kids involved in making travel memories from their perspective, we have many ideas! Get them a small, inexpensive camera they can take their own pictures with. We highly recommend these three for the kids. What fun to let them take their own pictures, and see them on your computer that night. What a great gift for a grandson or granddaughter who is interested in photography, but you aren’t ready to spend a fortune on a camera yet.

Make A Calendar

With everyone going digital, photo calendars are sometimes forgotten. But you can use it more than just a calendar to see what day it is or to keep your schedule. You can also use it as a way to write down where you are and a quick memory about your fun time exploring.

The Best Digital Photo Frames

We love our digital photo frame! Compiling many travel and family photos that rotate through is our favorite way to display our travel memories. Sometimes I will actually jump on Canva and do text overlays on our pictures such as this one.

Finally, upload it back onto my camera card and insert it into my photo frame. It’s a great way to share those memories with others, or just remember where you were. Here are our favorite picks for digital frames.

Destination Boxes

Have you heard of these? The possibilities are limitless! One of the most simple and enjoyable ways to keep your travel memories is these fun destination boxes. As well as pictures, you can put collectibles inside from your travel destinations.

What a great idea for kids as well! You can include tickets, receipts, postcards, souvenirs, and all sorts of mementos that will spark a memory. This is similar to a time capsule, but even more fun! Head over to Hobby Lobby or your favorite craft store and make them yourself! If you live tiny, you can even make these in tiny 4×6 sizes.

If you don’t want to make them yourself, you can check out these ones and customize them in your own way!

Explosion Boxes

This is another super fun way to keep your big memories in small places. Easy to store on a shelf, and fun to make. Additionally, you could easily make these into small destination boxes too! Simply get stickers and customize each little box on the outside.

Travel Tokens

I love collecting my travel tokens! There are so many different ideas. Here are the travel tokens and holders I have. These fit great right in my glove box of our truck and these are a great idea for kids. Typically the little tokens are $1 and the book is about $5. You can find them at just about every national park, national monument, most national lakeshores, state park visitor centers, and more. It’s also a great way for kids to collect something and you’re able to keep it small. I really find these fun and it’s an inexpensive thing to collect since we live tiny.

Here are a few other great ideas for collecting small travel tokens

National Park Stamp Book

This is a super popular way to document your trips to the National Parks! Fun for kids, and a great way to learn the history of the parks as you collect your stamps and stickers!

Collect Shot Glasses

If you have room, this is a fun way to remember your travels. And I’m sure I’ve seen fun shot glasses in every travel location I’ve ever been to. Here are a few ideas for displaying them!

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. There are so many ways to document and remember your travel adventures. In any event, whether you travel full-time like we do, or you enjoy your weekend getaways or annual long vacation destinations, there is something fun for everyone. One thing we have learned is just to make sure those memories are saved somewhere. A journal, a series of photographs, or simply a push-pin map. We just hope you find what works for you and enjoy creating those memories.

Here are a few other blog posts we think you’ll love!

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