Inspiration

Planning our RV Adventure 2016 was going to be a little bit different.  As a native Californian who has traveled the west coast extensively, planning our adventures been easy because of the familiarity with the territory.  This year, new to the Southeast, I was both excited about exploring an all-new area of the country, and daunted by planning this inaugural trip without the comfort of familiarity.

Beautiful Smith Lake, AL

Inspiration came from a great friend (and fellow twim-mom) of mine from Southern California.  She and her family were going to be in Northern Alabama visiting family and she suggested meeting them at Smith Lake, close to Huntsville, AL.  The timing worked and we had a direction for our trip!

Research

Next was the research stage. My family’s optimum road time is 4 hours travel (or less) in any one day. To start the process, I used MapQuest, my go-to mapping website.  I punched in my home address and Smith Lake for driving distance and suggested driving routes.

Using that map, I did a preliminary look at both AAA Tour Books and TripAdvisor to check-out the cities/towns along the route and what attractions were listed.  The major cities of Augusta and Atlanta had tons of great kid-friendly things to do but would take more days than we had to explore so I put those ideas into a file for another trip.  I decided to drive straight across Georgia and directly into Alabama.

Our plan was to leave home in the afternoon, making Augusta, GA our over-night stop.  I used multiple websites including KOA, Good Sam Club and RV Park Reviews to find a campground close to the highway.

For the rest of our trip, I used a similar method of using maps, then websites that helped with finding attractions such as TripAdvisor and Roadtrippers.com then campground sites like KOA and Good Sam Club. Additionally, I always checked-out State Park websites and sought out major city tourism sites and ordered a copy of their Visitors Guides.  In the end, I had more destinations and attractions than could fit into one trip.  I now have a file with all that information stored.  When our RV Adventures are headed back this way, I have a great start on my research.

Below you will find our 2016 RV Adventure Itinerary.  Each of the days listed below will have their own post with all details of all the amazing campgrounds and parks we stayed at, and all the incredible experiences and attractions we visited.

Final Itinerary

Day 1: Charleston, SC to Augusta, GA – Approx. 3 hour drive

  • Camping at Heritage RV Park – 1 night

Day 2:  Augusta, GA to Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, AL – Approx. 5 hour drive

  • Camping at Oak Mountain State Park – 3 nights
  • Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

 

Day 3: Birmingham, AL

  • Vulcan Park
  • Golden Flake Factory Tour
  • McWane’s Science Center

 

Day 4: Birmingham, AL

  • Sloss Furnaces National Historical Landmark
  • Red Mountain Park

 

 

Day 5: Birmingham, AL – Smith Lake, AL – Approx. 2 hour drive

  • Stop: Rickwood Caverns State Park, Warrior, AL – Cave Tour & Swim

 

 

Day 6: Smith Lake, AL

 

 

 

Day 7: Smith Lake, AL to Monte Sano State Park, Huntsville, AL – Approx. 1 ½ hour drive

  • Camping at Monte Sano State Park for 3 nights

Day 8: Huntsville, AL

  • Harmony Park Safari

 

 

 

Day 9: Huntsville, AL

  • U.S. Space and Rocket Center

 

 

 

Day 10: Huntsville, AL to Chattanooga, TN – Approx. 2 hours

  • Stop: Cathedral Caverns State Park, Woodville, AL – Cave Tour
  • Camping at Raccoon Mountain Campground & Caverns – 3 nights

 

 

Day 11: Chattanooga, TN

  • Ruby Falls
  • Incline Railway
  • Rock City

 

Day 12: Chattanooga, TN

  • Tennessee Valley Railroad
  • Maple Street Biscuit Company
  • Tennessee Aquarium

 

Day 13: Chattanooga, TN to Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville, GA – Approx. 2 hour drive

  • Stop: Fort Mountain State Park, GA
  • Stop: Mountain Valley Farms, Ellijay, GA
  • Camping at Amicaloloa Falls State Park – 2 nights

 

Day 14: Amicalola Falls State Park, GA

  • Dahlonega, GA – Consolidated Gold Mine Tour

 

 

 

Day 15: Amicalola Falls State Park, GA – Unicoi State Park, Helen, GA – Approx. 1 hour drive

  • Camping at Unicoi State Park for 3 nights

Day 16: Unicoi State Park, GA

  • Helen, GA
  • Bodensee Restaurant

 

 

Day 17: Unicoi State Park, GA

  • Unicoi Zipline and Aerial Adventure Park
  • Unicoi Archery

 

 

Day 18: Unicoi State Park, GA to Paris Mountain State Park, Greenville, SC – Approx. 2 ½ hour drive

  • Stop: World of Energy – Seneca, SC
  • Camping at Paris Mountain State Park – 2 nights

 

 

Day 19: Paris Mountain State Park, SC

  • Downtown Greenville Shopping
  • Falls Park on the Reedy
  • Brick Street Cafe

Day 20: Paris Mountain State Park, SC to Dreher Island State Park, Prosperity, SC – Approx. 2 hour drive

  • Camping at Dreher Island State Park – 1 night

 

 

Day 21: Dreher Island State Park, SC – Home! – Approx. 3 hour drive

Total Miles Driven: 1,807

Would love to hear your favorite family-friendly attractions in both Augusta and Atlanta, Georgia.  Feel free to write your favorites in the comment section. Your ideas will be a huge help when we are ready to explore these areas in the future!