As we planned our trip from Houston to Miami, we knew it was going to be quite a drive. Because we have kids, we wanted to be sure that we kept it interesting. We don’t want them to look back on our travels as mostly long days in a truck. We think this trip was perfectly timed with great stops between each destination.
#1 New Orleans
Only slightly off the fastest route from Texas to Florida is the iconic New Orleans. It is well worth the few minutes extra to come and see this incredible city.
We stayed at a great RV resort in the French Quarter called French Quarter RV Resort. Since we were really just passing through, we highly recommend staying downtown in the French Quarter area. I 10 essentially passes through this area making it very easy to get in and out of the city quickly.
We firmly believe that New Orleans has some of the best food you’ll ever eat. It is completely full of flavor and richness in true Cajun style. We opted for the rooftop terrace at Mambo on Bourbon Street. We had the shrimp and grits, raw oysters, and oysters Rockefeller. Travis opted for a Cajun crabcake pasta. Phenomenal!
An empty Bourbon Street is nearly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We came through the city just as regulations were being lifted, and restaurants were re-opening. There were times when absolutely no one was on the street. Everywhere you look, safety precautions are being taken very seriously. We knew that the staff was eager to get back to work, and we were sure to tip at least double everywhere we went.
#2 Driving to Ocala
We knew there would be at least one long driving day. It can be very difficult to set up an RV and get the AC going to a tolerable temperature after a long day of driving and in the dark night. Whenever we know we’re going to be arriving past dark, we try to find an Airbnb with ample parking instead. This can make your options particularly challenging. Especially due to the virus, we did not want to stay in any hotels. An Airbnb seemed like the best option.
This place was heavenly! Right off the highway with beautiful views and plenty of room! They even have a kangaroo!
This was another day that we took a slightly longer route in order to see key sites. If you take the drive through Tampa instead of through Orlando, it adds about 40 minutes to your trip to Miami. However, your drive is through the Everglades and the Big Cypress National Preserve.
We saw this big guy within a few feet of turning into Everglades National Park! It is directly off the highway if you take this route. We did not plan on camping in the Everglades, so a day trip was always on the itinerary. We opted for the very highly rated Shark Valley tram tour for around $80 for the family of four. This was perfect, and really helped us learn a lot about the region and inspired us to return during the peak season for birding in the winter.
#4 Miami or Key Largo – Beach Day
Due to the quarantine, we did not have a lot of options for beaches as they remained closed at this time. We probably would’ve gone into Miami to see the city and hit up one of the beaches in the area. However, instead we headed out to Key Largo and Pennekamp State Park where a small stretch of beach was open, and there was ample space for snorkeling. The park was nearly completely empty, and we had an entire beach to ourselves for several hours.
#5 Biscayne National Park
This place is simply one of those unforgettable, magical places on earth. 95% of the park is water, so you’ll have to plan a boat trip to really experience the park and the islands.
We opted for a full day package with the Biscayne National Park Institute. We got to experience a bit of everything with some sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding, snorkeling, and time at the beach for a picnic.
#6 and 7 Orlando… became Micanopy
This is where our original plans being canceled completely changed our trip. Candace and the boys were supposed to head to Disney while Brian had to work in nearby Port St. Lucie. When Disney closed, the family shifted to three days on the beach near the site for his training. However, within 24 hours of leaving, we learned that the training was canceled. This meant a complete change in our plans. Instead of Disney World or time at the beach, we would have to essentially make our way home. Yet again, our plans were thwarted by tropical storm Cristobal. With 70 mile an hour winds hitting the Gulf Coast, we knew we couldn’t head back until the storm passed. We decided to drive as far north in Florida as we could and wait until it was safer to travel. We opted for a beautiful state park near Gainesville – Payne’s Prairie State Park. Torrential rain made this a perfect day for boardgames in the tiny town of Micanopy.
#8 New Orleans, Again!
There were three main reasons we decided to stop in New Orleans again on our way home. First, like we said before, it is directly off of I 10. Second, Clay was very eager to see the National World War II museum. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Cajun food!
Olde NOLA Cookery was phenomenal! Red fish with a crawfish mushroom cream sauce, gator bites two ways, and a seafood sampler with red beans and rice, jambalaya, and étouffée.
We have been in museums all over the world on multiple continents, and this was absolutely the best museum we have ever seen. You simply MUST go! Three hours was not enough! We were captivated! You need all day!
#10 Heading home!
The perfect ending to the perfect trip – Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee as we hit the road…