We recently celebrated our one-year anniversary of full-time RVing. So, it felt like a perfect time to reflect on some of our favorite destinations that we’ve visited the past year. Whenever we are asked what our favorite spots are, these five places always make the cut. And because we love to hike and spend time outside, there is a clear theme of being close to nature. But, what RVer doesn’t want epic views, great trails and proximity to wildlife while camping? We hope these destinations get added to your RV travel bucket list, if they aren’t already on there!
1. Columbia Falls, Montana
Columbia Falls is most known for being right outside Glacier National Park, but we enjoyed exploring the quaint city itself. They have a fun farmer’s market on Thursday nights and several locally owned restaurants and shops. We really enjoyed the beer and food at Backslope Brewing and had a great sandwich for lunch at Laurie’s Deli.
Columbia Falls is also only 10 miles from the popular and beautiful resort town of Whitefish, MT. While it’s known for skiing, it also boasts the beautiful Whitefish Lake, which offers fun water activities in the summer. But if you still need more convincing to visit, you’ve also got the South Fork Flathead River with awesome opportunities for fishing.
But yes, Glacier National Park steals the show and is the number one reason to visit Columbia Falls, Montana. It’s hard to put into words how majestic the mountain views are, but the photos definitely help. The park is also home to several beautiful alpine lakes and of course, wildlife.
Just a drive along Going to the Sun Road will make your entire trip worthwhile. But, don’t limit yourself to just the views from your car window. We highly recommend at least one of the following hikes: Hidden Lake, Avalanche Lake or Grinnell Lake. A stop at Lake MacDonald as you’re driving along Going to the Sun Road is also a must.
Hidden Lake Hike.
Keep in mind that it can take over two hours to drive from one side of the park to the other! We chose to stay in Babb, Montana, which is right outside the eastern side of Glacier National Park, for our final two days. This allowed us to explore Grinnell Lake without having to drive five hours round trip, which would have been the case if we stayed in Columbia Falls. Another good tip is to always have your bear spray on you when you’re out exploring in this area!
2. Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor truly has it all! With a mixture of mountain and ocean scenery, one of the most beautiful national parks in the country, and a charming downtown, there’s something for everyone. Whether you love hiking, taking cruises, eating seafood, or shopping, you’ll be a happy camper!
We truly believe that if our dogs could talk, they would say that Bar Harbor was their favorite destination they’ve ever been. This is because of how pet-friendly the entire area is. Dogs are allowed in Acadia National Park (which is rare), on cruises, and in many shops and restaurants. They are even allowed on the city bus, which is completely free, by the way!
Gorham Mountain hike.
There are plenty of wonderful RV parks to choose from, some are even right on the water! You can hop on the city bus right from Narrows Too Campground and go almost anywhere you need to go. We took the bus downtown a few times for some delicious “lobstah” and enjoyed a sunset cruise on “The Schooner Margaret Todd,” which is the first Four-Masted Schooner to work New England waters in over half a century.
What really makes this area so unique and special though, is the way that Acadia National Park is weaved throughout Mt. Desert Island. It’s hard to know where the park begins and ends! But, you could spend weeks, or even months, exploring the park! There are several great walking trails that go around beautiful lakes and ponds, as well as hikes of all levels and distances that take you both through mountains and right along the coast.
We enjoyed strolling along and soaking in the beauty of Ship Harbor Trail and Eagle Lake Trail, but Gorham Mountain was one of our favorite hikes we’ve ever done. The landscape is unlike anywhere we’ve ever been! A visit to Bar Harbor isn’t complete, though, without the opportunity to be among the first to witness the sunrise in North America from Cadillac Mountain.
3. Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park makes you feel like you’re in a whole different world. It’s a completely different experience than any other national park we’ve been to. Maybe it’s the long drive through the middle of nowhere to get there, the wide open spaces, or the fact that you are without any cell phone service for your entire visit. But, this park requires you to unplug, be present, and just enjoy the variety of activities it offers.
A drive through Big Bend National Park feels like a dream. At times, it can feel as if you’re the only one for miles and miles. Just watch the road for javalinas (similar to wild boars), deer, coyotes, and road runners! The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is considered the most beautiful drive in Texas, and we definitely agreed.
Some of our favorite activities in Big Bend were soaking in the hot springs during sunrise, crossing the border and riding donkeys in Boquillas, Mexico, and, of course, the scenic hiking trails. The Lost Mine Trail has stunning views, the Window Trail is perfect at sunset, and the Santa Elena Canyon Trail allows you to stand in the Rio Grande with one foot in Mexico and the other in the U.S. Every night, you’ll fall asleep under the most beautiful star filled sky, and you’re likely to hear coyotes howling early in the morning.
Lost Mine Trail.
4. Fort De Soto Park, Florida
During our time in Florida, we went coast to coast and jumped from state park to state park. Each park had something unique to offer, but there was just something extra special about Fort De Soto.
The park consists of five interconnected islands (keys), so you’re surrounded by water, making it easy to get a waterfront site at the campground! The park has a boat ramp, two fishing piers, a ferry service, nature trails, and even a dog beach!
Fort De Soto Park’s location is one of the best reasons to visit. Being in beautiful St. Petersburg, also puts you in close proximity to Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, and Treasure Island. This area has arguably the most beautiful beaches in America. We’ve never seen such white sand or such crystal blue waters! We loved walking along the boardwalks and spent every evening enjoying the beautiful sunsets right on the beach.
John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk.
5. Malibu, California
Most people don’t think of Malibu as being a great RV destination, and we were very surprised ourselves. We spent a few months driving north along the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped at nearly every popular beach town along the way. Malibu stole our hearts, though.
The thing you notice first about Malibu is how close the PCH is to the water and how accessible the beach is. You can literally pull right off the highway in your RV and step onto the beach. There’s something about Malibu that feels less crowded and more serene than the rest of the coast.
Our favorite part about our time in Malibu was our ocean view spot at Malibu Beach RV Park. The park sits upon a cliff right off the PCH, which made it possible to watch dolphins and whales right from our RV window! While it was hard not to just sit there and stare at the ocean all day, we also enjoyed many nearby activities.
Would you believe us if we said most of our activities in Malibu were free? The words Malibu and free don’t seem to go together, we know, but we spent our entire week enjoying the beautiful and abundant nature. We hiked Solstice Canyon and Escondido Falls, enjoyed watching seals on Leo Carillo beach, walked along the Malibu pier, and could hardly believe the beauty of the sunset views at Point Dume. However, we do recommend splurging for some beverages and lunch at the Malibu Cafe and the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, too.
Paradise Cove Beach Cafe.
The U.S. is filled with beautiful destinations waiting to be explored. Our first year of full-time RVing has only left us wanting to see and do more! But we can’t recommend a visit to these five destinations enough. We know they’ll be just as memorable for you!