04 May

RVFTA #140 Kate Gets Her Kicks on Route 66: RVing the Mother Road from Ventura, California to Amarillo, Texas

On this podcast episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, Kate Dunbar of KatesCuriousKitchen.com gives us a fabulous trip planner for one of the most popular stretches of Route 66. Kate traveled 1,862 miles over the course of 7 days with her 1962 Shasta SC and stayed in 6 campgrounds as a solo woman traveler. We get to hear all the great details on the show.

Kate started her adventure in Ventura, California and journeyed on the Mother Road all the way to Amarillo, Texas. Listen to hear reviews of the campgrounds she stayed in, stops she enjoyed along the way, and restaurants that met her very high standards!

All of the places she reviews are linked below…

Read More

Play
18 Nov

RVFTA #115 Greetings from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

img_9610

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we have a complete guide to enjoying one of our favorite RV destinations–Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We first visited this area in spring of 2014, and since then we have found ourselves returning again and again.

itunes

Make sure you also listen to Campground of the Week episode #55 to hear our review of the Myrtle Beach KOA, our favorite place to stay when visiting this area.

img_9564

Sure, Myrtle Beach has plenty of tourist attractions along the famous Grand Strand, but we have also discovered a world of outdoor adventure and natural beauty. We make time to enjoy both during our visits.

Another reason why Myrtle Beach is such a remarkable RV destination is that you can visit year round. We have been in spring, summer, and fall and though the summer was a bit warm for our taste, we still had a blast every time.

img_9560

We split the episode into three distinct segments: On the Strand, Off the Strand, and Good Eats in Myrtle Beach. We will talk about our favorite attractions in each category, and we picked our top places to eat when we visit.

Here are the links to all the attractions, activities, and restaurants mentioned in the episode..

Read More

Play
02 Mar

Trip Planning: 6 Research Tips for Your RV Vacations

We are in serious trip planning mode for the spring season here at RVFTA and if you are a longtime listener and reader, you know that our number one travel tip of all time is to talk to the locals and trust their recommendations.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t do our research ahead of time.

Our current operating method is to arrive at any new destination with an understanding of what it is known for and a list of possible activities that we might enjoy. We also have a loose schedule in our minds since we have discovered it is easy to miss out on great experiences just because you didn’t have a grasp on operating hours or tour times. Our actual itinerary on most trips ends up being a combination of planning and kismet. Finding the sweet spot between these two things is always a work in progress.

So what do we do in advance of any longer RV trip? I recommend using all the usual online tools, then venturing off the beaten path. Here is my general process.

Read More

09 Feb

Tips and Resources for Finding the Perfect Campground and the Ideal Campsite

Cherry Hill RV Park

We cover a ton of information in this week’s podcast, Booking the Perfect Campground, and wanted to place all the suggestions and resources in one spot. For a full discussion of all these points, make sure you listen to the complete episode here. And of course, you can always get your fill of campground reviews on our weekly podcast Campground of the Week.

After researching, visiting, and reviewing hundreds of campgrounds over the last 6 years, we strongly believe that there is no perfect campground. One size definitely does not fit all. However, there is a perfect campground for you…with an individualized set of characteristics that will get your camp mojo humming. The key to finding RV bliss is knowing what look for and how to find it.

Read More

04 Feb

RVFTA #74: Booking the Perfect Campground

Booking the Perfect Campground blog

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are dishing all our tips for finding the perfect campground and booking the perfect campsite. It’s trip planning season and if you want the magic to happen, better make those reservations now. We have given seminars on this topic and written articles, but this is the first time we put in all in one podcast.

And we have a giveaway to help you plan those trips! Good Sam has given us 5 copies of the Travel and Savings Guide (chock full of awesome articles, wink, wink). What do you have to do to win?

  • Head over to our forum, register, and introduce yourself on Roll Call forum thread. Three people with introductions will win copies of the Guide! Don’t fret if you have already said hey. You are in it to win it.
  • Look for a contest photo to be posted this week on Instagram. Like the photo and tag a friend who might think that RV Family Travel Atlas has got it going on.

There are two segments that center on tips for booking your campground reservations. First we talk about picking through the catalogs, apps, ratings, and reviews to find a campground that will suit your style. Then we move on to all of the questions you should ask yourself before booking your campsite.

Do you want every campground to be a #win? It’s gonna take a little work, but the payoff is worth it.

And we don’t completely ignore RV shopping because many of our listeners are right in the thick of it. On this episode, you will also hear a great interview with Jim Waters, the marketing coordinator for Lance Campers. He will share some information about the 50 year old RV company and talk about the newest, lightest Lance truck camper release for 2016. The 650 is built for a half-ton short-bed truck, so it should be of interest to anyone looking for a comfortable camper with a small footprint.

You might think that you have oodles of time to plan those summer vacations. But we know that the best campsites are selling like hotcakes. You are listening to Episode #74: Booking the Perfect Campground!

Play
03 Jul

RVFTA #42: Greetings from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

The Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway

On episode #42 of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking about the amazing and beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.

We kicked off our summer adventures by exploring the Fancy Gap area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mix of natural beauty, historical interest, and touristy charm surprised and delighted us. We will tell you all about this peaceful, scenic getaway in the great state of Virginia.

And we also fell in love with the Fancy Gap KOA, our base camp for this first part of our summer spectacular. We will give you a full review of the campground along with an interview with the owners, Mark and Cheryl Manning.

To read more about the campground and our adventures in this area, read our blog post with all the details.

Highlights include:

The Blue Ridge Music Center where you can listen to live music every day between 12 and 4 pm.

The Mabry Mill where you can have a yummy meal at the restaurant and then tour the mill, blacksmith shop, and other historical buildings.

Rock Knob Trail Area, where the ridge line trails offer spectacular views and kid-friendly hiking options.

Mount Airy, the charming hometown of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for Mayberry.

Need help planning your next RV Adventure? We will have some great inspiration for you as we podcast our way through the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Welcome to the great RVFTA summer road trip. This is Episode #42: Greetings from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Play
29 Jun

Summertime on the Blue Ridge Parkway with the Fancy Gap KOA

It’s been two years since we have travelled on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the National Park Services second most visited “park unit” after the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but now we’ve finally made it back.  It is easy to see why it is so popular.  It is a magical drive.

DSC_0121The Parkway is 469 miles long.  It starts at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive and it ends near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The mountain towns that are nestled alongside the parkway, and the parkway itself, provide endless opportunities for sightseeing and family adventure.  For the first leg of our summer trip we decided to camp at the Fancy Gap KOA in Fancy Gap, Virginia.  We have long suspected that this KOA would make a great base camp for a Blue Ridge Parkway adventure.  We were right.

DSC_0166The campground is nestled on a mountainside and is filled with beautiful, shaded back in sites, pull through sites for big rigs, and a mixture of rustic and deluxe cabins.  Many of those sites are surrounded by native flowers and meticulous landscaping. Pride of ownership is evident here.

DSC_0157

DSC_0148

We are not dog owners, but we were also impressed with this KOA’s unique and spacious pet friendly sites.  They have a large fenced in area at the rear that easily doubles the overall size of the site.

DSC_0143

We also loved the campground’s club house and its brand new patio area right outside of the camp store. These were great shared spaces for socializing with other campers and relaxing with our boys.  We played checkers there every night.  There was a barbecue dinner Friday night prepared by pitmaster Ben from Blue Ridge BBQ–and it was awesome. The ribs and pulled pork hit the spot after a long day of adventure in the mountains.  There was an ice cream social held in the club house on Saturday night and we did partake of not one, but two scoops each.

DSC_0162

IMG_1481

Our evenings at the campground were peaceful and relaxing and allowed us to recharge our batteries for the next day’s adventures.  And with an entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway only 200 yards from the campground, adventure is literally waiting around the corner.  On our first day we headed South on the parkway to the Blue Ridge Music Center.  There is free bluegrass there every day from 12-4 and the quality is amazing.  The Center is educational and inspiring, and the musicians give you a delicious taste of the area’s rich musical heritage.  There are rocking chairs set up on the breezeway for listeners–and a few of them even got up and danced to the livelier tunes. If you love pickin’ then this is your place.

DSC_0001

DSC_0006

On day two of our Blue Ridge adventure we headed south to Mabry Mill, the most photographed site on the Parkway.  We did a little exploring around the mill and then headed into the restaurant next door for tasty salads and sandwiches served up at a reasonable price with lots of Southern hospitality. After lunch we went on a nearby hike that skirted the ridge of the mountain and weaved in and out of densely wooded forest with the occasional spectacular vista.  Even though we were close to the parkway the woods were filled with deer who were playful and unafraid of our presence. Even when I pulled the camera out.

DSC_0023

DSC_0114

If you stay at the Fancy Gap KOA you will be tempted to spend each day enjoying the seemingly never-ending splendor of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  But then you would miss a day trip to Mount Airy, North Carolina, birthplace of Andy Griffith, and inspiration for the town of Mayberry in the legendary Andy Griffith Show.  Missing Mount Airy would be a crying shame.  We had a complete hootenanny of a day there. We enjoyed the famous pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch, where Andy ate as a boy.

DSC_0003

Then we visited the town “courthouse” modeled after the one in the television show.  Even though the boys had been on best behavior all day it still felt mighty good to throw them in the clink!

IMG_1460

Don’t worry. They didn’t stay long.  We had to make our 3 o’clock tour of the town in a vintage Ford police car, just like the one on the show.  Our tour guide was informative and funny.  The highlight came when the 1963 Ford broke down right in front of Andy Griffith’s childhood home.  Another tour guide, Melvin, raced from the “courthouse” to pick us up in another police car.  He was also informative and funny. Luckily he was driving a ’67 Ford.  We made it back okay.

IMG_1469

IMG_1472

On our way out of Mount Airy I ran into a gift shop and bought season one of the Andy Griffith show. When we got back to the Fancy Gap KOA it was raining and the day was quickly coming to an end.  We put Wesley to bed and then the boys asked if we could watch a few episodes.  So we cuddled up in bed and were transported back in time to Mayberry in the 1960’s.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Mount Airy had cast a magical spell over all of us.  We didn’t want to leave the Fancy Gap KOA the next morning, but summer was calling us deeper into its arms.  Time to head further south to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We have heard that it is pretty nice there too.

We have been frequent customers of KOA over the past 5 years, but this was a sponsored trip. Our opinions are always our own.

To hear more about our stay near the Blue Ridge Parkway and our fun adventures in Fancy Gap and Mount Airy, listen to Episode #42 of our podcast: Greetings from the Blue Ridge Parkway! 

You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store, or click on the button below to stream it. Visit the podcast show notes here.

Play
17 Jan

RV Family Travel Atlas #18: Adventure Guide to the White Mountains of New Hampshire

This week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas is a special Adventure Guide to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We traveled to the Granite State last summer and spent an amazing two weeks exploring the rugged White Mountains.

We will be talking about the all hiking, kayaking, swimming and amusement parking that this great region has to offer. We start off in Franconia Notch and then move on to Crawford Notch.

Plus we review two campgrounds, the Lincoln/Woodstock KOA and the Twin Mountain KOA, that we stayed at during our visit, white knuckle driving on the Mount Washington AutoRoad, and the beautiful scenery of the Kancamagus Highway.

To read all of the posts and find more specific information about any of the places mentioned, visit the New Hampshire tag in the sidebar.

All of this on Episode 18 of RV Family Travel Atlas: White Mountains, New Hampshire Adventure Guide!


 

Play
07 Sep

A Perfect Day in Belfast, Maine: Exploring the MidCoast of Vacationland

This post originally appeared on The Jayco Journal. On our last trip to the MidCoast region of Maine, we explored Camden, Rockland, Lincolnville, and Boothbay. This time we ventured a bit farther north to Belfast. Boy, are we glad we did…

Over the last four years, we have had many wonderful days of camping, and a handful of perfect ones.  Our first full day of vacation in Belfast, Maine was stunning from beginning to end.  A perfect summer day if we’ve ever had one.

So here is our set of instructions for enjoying your own amazing day in Belfast, Maine.

1. Wake up early at the oceanfront Moorings RV Resort, drink in the view, and do your morning stretches.

Image2Belfast

2. Head down to the rocky beach and do some exploring.

Image3Belfast

3. Launch your kayak from the beach and enjoy the quiet, picturesque scenery of the Penobscot Bay. If you give your kids the camera, this will keep them entertained spotting loons, lobster traps, sailboats, and fish. Some of their pictures might even be pretty cool. Can you figure out which photo Theo took?

Image4Belfast

Image5Belfast

Image6Belfast

4. Clean up and head into town to check out the beautiful playground at Belfast City Park.  With water views and a design that ties into the landscape, this place will be appreciated by the whole family. Chat with the very friendly local parents and you will know exactly what to do with the rest of your stay in Belfast.

Image7Belfast

Image8Belfast

5. Eat lunch at the Belfast Co-op Cafe to experience great food and local culture. The soups, sandwiches, and quesadillas were phenomenal. With everything from pizza to hotdogs to vegan burritos, there is something on the menu for everyone.

Image9Belfast

Image10Belfast

6. Walk off lunch by strolling along the Harbor Walk. This path takes you through working shipyards and across the bay on a wonderful footbridge.

Image11Belfast

7. Shop Downtown Belfast where you can visit an olive oil tasting room, a gourmet cheese shop, the oldest shoe store in the country, or one of the well-curated book stores.

Image12Belfast

8. Return to the campground, where just a short stroll up the hill will land you at one of the best restaurants in this area. Papa J’s has all of the standard fare you might be looking for on your trip to the Maine Coast—whole lobster, lobster rolls, and a long list of seafood options. However, this place also offers so much more. The steaks are perfectly seasoned and cooked, and we could eat the scallops appetizer every day for the rest of our lives. Our waitress told us that the lobster pizza is a runaway favorite. We will have to return to try it. An added bonus is that all campers get a 5% discount. Thank you very much.

Image13Belfast

Image14Belfast

9. Take an evening walk on the beach and watch the moon rise over the bay.

Image15Belfast

10. Pile on the layers for stories around the campfire. S’mores will work just fine, too.

Image16Belfast

 

 

15 Jul

Cape Cod Family Trip Planner: Beaches, Biking, Baseball, and More!

Planning a trip to Cape Cod? We spent a magical week there this summer and can’t wait to return. Here is our list of suggestions for where to stay, what to eat, and how to have tons of family fun.

Where to Stay

 

Atlantic Oaks RV Park

A great campground at a great price with super-clean facilities. Direct access to the Cape Cod Bike Trail.

Where to Eat and Drink

 

Add text-4

Get in line early for Cape Cod’s best breakfast splurge. The Glazed Old Fashioned? Yum.

Beanstock Roastery

Buy enough for your whole trip. Then buy some more to bring home. We love the Wellfleet Blend and the Bali Blue Moon Organic.

Arnold's Lobster and Clam Bar

Try the hot lobster roll. Please. Bring extra cash for ice cream after lunch.

Friendly Fisherman

Let the kids romp on the playground while you enjoy lobster rolls and crab cakes. BYOB.

MoJo'sP-TownSeafood Shack

The town librarian told us this was the quintessential Provincetown lunch. We couldn’t agree more.

Add text

Perfect for lunch after hiking at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Ask for Janine for your waitress. She’ll recommend the Cape Cod Reuben. Order it.

 

Family Fun

First Encounter Beach

This bay beach is perfect for low-tide exploration. Bring the kites and kayaks for a perfect day on the Cape.

Add text-1

The five dollar entry fee is the best bargain on Cape Cod. Hike around one of the kettle ponds or just settle in at Flax Pond for a family swim.

Cape Cod National Seashore

The visitor centers alone are full of fun activities and educational resources. Our favorite feature was the Nauset in Eastham Bike Trail that brought you within steps of the beach.

Add text-2

Our boys are still learning to ride bikes and this was a wonderful way for us to embrace this fun family activity. We can’t wait to return without the training wheels.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife sanctuary

The landscape and trails here are stunningly beautiful. The nature center and educational activities are an added bonus. Make sure you go during low tide so you can enjoy the Boardwalk Trail.

Add text-3

Who doesn’t love a lighthouse? This one is conveniently located in the National Seashore just north of the popular Coast Guard beach.

Provincetown Public Library

We had to drag our boys out of this library because it was long past lunchtime. It is just simply a beautiful and fun place to spend a few hours.

Baseball League

Nothing beats the crack of a wooden bat. We recommend that you skip the hotdog and buy a cup of clam chowder. Admission is free, but a donation is recommended.

As always, we love to hear from our readers. If you go to Cape Cod, please let us know any other places that you recommend. We can’t wait to add to this list when we return next June!