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4.05.2016

Travel Tuesday: Southern U.S. Family Road Trip Route and Recommendations




The Fab Fam just took another successful road trip!  This was a Southern U.S. road trip, taking us from Texas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  We then looped back by going through Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas before making our way back home to Texas.  Overall we covered eight states, about 3,000 miles, and 46 hours of drive time over the course of nine days.  I am pleased to say that the whole family did great.  If you want to see my tried-and-true tips for surviving a long road trip with young children, click here

Last week I shared our driving playlist for the journey.  Today I am sharing our itinerary and reviews of the sight-seeing and food stops we made along the way. 

Day 1
Begin: Home (Austin, TX)
End: New Orleans, LA
Total Drive Time: 8 Hours
Total Miles: 525

The Fab Fam hitting the road!
Drive to Lafayette (6 hrs.)
We had the chance to see my granddaddy in Houston on our way from Central Texas to Lafayette during the first leg of our road trip

  • Lunch: Olde Tyme Grocery (218 W St Mary Blvd, Lafayette, LA 70506) - Note: cash only
    • Recommendations: Po-boys


You haven't had a po-boy until you've had one in the heart of Cajun Country.  One of the best I have had to this day is at Olde Tyme Grocery in Lafayette near the U-La-La campus.

Drive to New Orleans (2 hrs.)
  • Check-in to hotel: Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans French Quarter/CBD (821 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70130)
  • Misc. sight-seeing opportunities: Jackson Square, Mississippi River, cemetery, Voodoo Museum, French Market, etc. (for more detailed reviews and tips for a trip to NOLA, click here and here)
  • Dinner: Mr. B’s Bistro (201 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130)
    • Recommendations: BBQ shrimp (see my review of Mr. B's in this post)

Day 2
Begin: New Orleans, LA
End: Tallahassee, FL
Total Drive Time: 6 Hours
Total Miles: 400

New Orleans
  • Breakfast: Café Du Monde (800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116) - Note: cash only
    • Recommendations: Beignets and chicory coffee (see my review of Café Du Monde in this post)

Drive to Mobile (2 hrs.)

The USS Alabama battleship is docked in Mobile at a Memorial Park decked out with WWII military vehicles

The boys could barely contain themselves when we arrived at the Memorial Park
 

 
 
  
Self-guided tour options help you navigate the battleship, from the highest to the lowest points of the ship.  Be prepared for lots of stairs!

My oldest felt compelled to say the Pledge of Allegiance to this flag displayed below deck


My favorite things to see were the living, cooking, and dining areas on the ship, which could accommodate a large amount of men


    
The boys had fun role-playing in the corridors and in the ship's brig






 
 




The battleship and park were so much fun for the whole family to visit.  We'd recommend it for sure!

  • Lunch: The Hungry Owl (7899 Cottage Hill Rd, Mobile, AL 36695)
    • Recommendations: Seafood pizza, gator cakes

Drive to Summerdale (30 min.)
  • Visit Gator Alley Farm (19500 Co Rd 71, Summerdale, AL 36580) - Note: Alligator feedings at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Alligator Alley is a farm and sanctuary for rescued "nuisance alligators"

 
The gators ranged from tiny to huge!  Little gators lived in pools with other gators in their age range, and the bigger gators lived in the farm's swamps.

I recommend purchasing some of the alligator chow so that you can feed the gators.  The boys absolutely loved tossing the chow to the gators.


 
Alligator Alley offers "encounters" where you can safely hold an alligator.  Even with his mouth banded shut, this feisty little guy still spooked the kids!  G was very proud of himself for being brave and facing this fear.




The swamp at the farm was very picturesque... though it was crazy to think of all the large predators living in the water just below you!
 
Drive to Marianna (2.5 hrs.)
  • Dinner: Beef O’Brady’s (4944 Malloy Plaza, Marianna, FL 32448)
    • Recommendations: Burgers, wings, nachos, craft beers

 
Loaded nachos and garlic wings at Beef O'Brady's

Drive to Tallahassee (1 hr.)

Day 3
Begin: Tallahassee, FL
End: Orlando, FL
Total Drive Time: 4.5 Hours
Total Miles: 275

Tallahassee
  • Breakfast: CanopyRoad Café (1913 N Monroe St, Tallahassee, FL 32303)
    • Recommendations: Breakfast skillets, sweet potato pancakes
  • Drive around FSU campus

 
The hubs is a huge college football fan, so we took the opportunity to see a few college campuses during our road trip. He couldn't resist putting his horns up at Florida State!

Drive to Lloyd (30 min.)
  • Visit Johnny Donutseed roadside attraction (2804 Gamble Rd, Monticello, FL 32344)

The kids and I love to seek out unique roadside attractions during our road trips.  This is "Johnny Donutseed" in Lloyd, Florida
 

Drive to Gainesville (2 hrs.)
  • Planned lunch: Satchel’s Pizza (1800 NE 23rd Ave, Gainesville, FL 32609) - Note: Cash only
    • Recommendations: Eat in the van
  • Actual lunch (Satchel's was closed): Crane Ramen (16 SW 1st Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601) 
You can always count on there being some good ramen near a college campus, and Crane Ramen (near the University of Florida) was no exception

 
The boys slurped their ramen up in record time, savoring every bite
  • Visit University of Florida campus

Statue of Albert and Alberta Gator at UF
This museum is such a gem!  The kids loved it before they even got inside!
 
A mammoth skeleton greets you in the foyer of the museum
 

 Before you get into the main exhibits, there is a room of hands-on exploration that was incredibly engaging for the kids.  We had fun doing this 3D puzzle together.
 
The museum also showcased historical and cultural information about the native peoples of the region


More hands-on activities on energy-efficiency in the home


We couldn't leave without playing on the ant sculptures one more time!


Drive to Santos (1 hr.)
  • Visit concrete monoliths roadside attraction (park at Sheriff's South Multi District Office, Ocala, FL 34480).  The remnants of supports for a bridge that would have crossed a never-built cross-Florida barge canal stand over-grown in the woods.  More on this project from the 1930's can be found in this article.

 



The abandoned bridge support stands tall among the trees and Spanish moss in Santos, FL


Drive to Orlando (1 hr.)

Day 4
Begin: Orlando, FL
End: Orlando, FL

Orlando


Everything is awesome!




The kids really loved the Lego Movie 4D experience...
 

...and getting to meet Wyldstyle afterward!


It was a warm day, but ice cream definitely helped!

 
The Chima ride was another way to beat the heat - you get literally soaked with the ride's water features, and other riders spraying you with water guns!


One of the things I appreciated about LEGOLAND was their mix of rides for both younger and older children, along with many fun interactive displays and Lego brick sculptures





A preview of our upcoming safari... Lego style! 


Day 5
Begin: Orlando, FL
End: Savannah, GA
Total Drive Time: 4.5 Hours
Total Miles: 300

Orlando
  • Swimming and enjoying the hotel amenities

Drive to Jacksonville (2.25 hrs.)

Beach Road Chicken Dinners is legit!  S ate his bodyweight in fried chicken and gravy.  The chicken was great, but it was the side dishes and gravy that won me over!
Drive to Savannah (2.25 hrs.)
  • Spend the night with friends
 

Day 6
Begin: Savannah, GA
End: Savannah, GA

Savannah
 

My boys reunited with friends to celebrate Savannah-style!


The boys got to walk in the parade with our friends' family




The Fab Fam!

  • Dinner: Green Truck Pub (2430 Habersham St, Savannah, GA 31401)
    • Recommendations: El Jefe burger
 
The El Jefe burger is topped with black bean and corn salsa, avocado and jalapenos
  • Go out for drinks on the Riverwalk
 

 
Day 7
Begin: Savannah, GA
End: Nashville, TN
Total Drive Time: 8 Hours
Total Miles: 515

Drive to Atlanta (3.75 hrs.)
  • Lunch: The Varsity (61 North Avenue NW, Atlanta, GA 30308)
    • Recommendations: Chili dog, onion rings, frosted orange drink
  • Drive around Georgia Tech campus
  • Visit College Football Hall of Fame (250 Marietta St, Atlanta, GA 30313)
  • Visit Georgia Aquarium (225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313)
While the hubs went to the College Football Hall of Fame, I decided to walk the boys over to the Georgia Aquarium.  This aquarium was so epic, I barely have words to describe its awesomeness!

 
The quality of the exhibits and variety of animals were fantastic, but what was so cool was how interactive and immersive the exhibits felt.  The boys and I felt like we were right in the penguin habitat or on the ocean floor.

Yes, that is a whale shark!  At an aquarium!

 


 

Hands-on educational opportunities could be found throughout the aquarium


Did I mention they had dolphins?  At the aquarium.


Piranhas!  This reminded me of my time in the Amazon!


Drive to Chattanooga (2 hrs.)
Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?
 
 
 

Drive to Nashville (2 hrs.)
  • Dinner: Mas Tacos Por Favor (732 Mcferrin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206) - Note: Cash only
    • Recommendations: Unique taco combinations, soups
  • Check-in to hotel: Hampton Inn Nashville/Vanderbilt (1919 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203)
  • Misc. sight-seeing (Honky Tonk Row, Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, etc.  For more reviews and recommendations for Nashville, see this post)


Day 8
Begin: Nashville, TN
End: Arkadelphia, AR
Total Drive Time: 7 Hours
Total Miles: 440

Drive to Memphis (3 hrs.)
  • Drive by Graceland (3734 Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TN 38116)
  • Lunch: Interstate Barbecue (2265 S 3rd St, Memphis, TN 38109)
    • Recommendations: BBQ pork sandwich, ribs, BBQ spaghetti
 
We had to have some Memphis-style BBQ!

S licking his chops while waiting to dig into his BBQ spaghetti 

The hubs ordered the ribs

I had to try their famous pork sandwich.  Spoiler alert: it was delicious.


Everyone should visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel given the chance.  Powerful, moving, devastating.  Yet also hopeful, as a celebration of the movement Dr. King and so many others stood (and still stand) for.


This art piece in the foyer was very moving. It depicts the uphill struggle of the African American, but also shows man lifting and pulling up fellow man.



Drive to Little Rock (2 hrs.)
  • Dinner: Cotham’s Mercantile (5301 AR-161, Scott, AR 72142)
    • Recommendations: Hubcap burger, onion rings, fried green tomatoes, fried pie
It doesn't look like much from the outside, but this is a dive that's worth the stop!

The famous hubcab burger (with my husband's hand next to it for size comparison) and fried green tomatoes

Drive to Arkadelphia (1.25 hrs.)


Day 9
Begin: Arkadelphia, AR
End: Home (Austin, TX)
Total Drive Time: 7.5 Hours
Total Miles: 455

Arkadelphia

Drive to Texarkana state line (1.25 hrs.)
  • Half-n-Half Post Office photo opp (500 Wood St., Texarkana, AR)
 
We love a good photo opp



Drive to Fouke (20 min.)
  • Visit Fouke/Boggy Creek Monster (Bigfoot of the South) roadside attraction at Fouke Monster Mart (104 US-71, Fouke, AR 71837).  Click here to learn more about this local legend.

The boys loved this legend and all the attractions at the Fouke Monster Mart


 
Drive to Ark-La-Tex Tripoint (30 min.)
  • Photo opp at tripoint monument (near Magnolia Club House, 22300 LA-1, Rodessa, LA 71069)

  
We got to stand on the tri-point of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas

Return home (5.5 hrs.)

 
The boys did so well, and we all enjoyed the trip!

We saw so many state license plates on the drive!  Though this is one of the activities from the boys' road trip activity folders, my husband and I enjoy this game more than anyone.  It became a mission by the end of the trip!
 
Until next time, safe travels!

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