Almost as quickly as we purchased our first RV, Brittany and I began feverishly crafting a list of each and every dreamy place we felt was an absolute must visit. Hunched over our computers, Google Maps, Pinterest and numerous popular travel blogs cluttered our screens, we raced to compile a “must-see” itinerary for our first months (or years) of travel. Not surprisingly, popular National Parks, America’s top golf resorts and coastal hot spots filled the page of our bucket-list destinations.
But as we discovered over our two years of full-time travel, it’s not always the obvious destinations that are the most rewarding.
In the age of Instagram and Facebook, it’s become increasingly rare to discover the unknown. That is, to visit a destination where we don’t already know the best hikes, restaurants, and photo-worthy spots to park the RV. Truthfully, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Today’s online resources enable us to maximize our stay, easily identifying the best activities while eliminating those that aren’t worth our precious time. And at the end of the day, these popular spots almost always deliver on their promise of greatness!
As much as we swoon over these must-see destinations, there’s something enchanting about finding the lesser known. An unparalleled sense of discovery accompanies each and every find. Even simple activities like a restaurant off the beaten path or walking the uncrowded streets of a little-known town can yield a refreshing experience unlike any other.
Poised for Discovery
We as RVers possess a unique opportunity for this uncommon discovery. Each road trip from prime-time destination to destination offers hundreds (or thousands) of miles of lesser-known real estate to be explored.
If you’re regimented in your travels, we can relate. Our initial months were met with a tight itinerary of travel days (read: focused driving with little room for stops). Pre-RV life was all about getting to the destination, and as we know, old habits always die hard. However, as time (and miles) on the open road accrued, our eyes were opened to the world beyond the obvious spots. Our mindsets transformed from “let’s get there ASAP” to “what can we see along the way?”
We began scheduling time between our primary bucket-list stops with nothing specific planned. Through a little bit of luck and lots of conversations with friendly people on our travels, we began making stops at places you’d be hard pressed to find on any popular travel blog’s must-visit lists.
Our 4 favorite ‘unknown destinations’:
1. Marfa, Texas
As we made our way from popular Austin, Texas, to the golfing hot spot of Scottsdale, Arizona, we took the advice of a stranger and detoured 100 miles off I-10 to the town of Marfa. This small desert spot in west Texas is home to less than 2,000 people, but its eclectic, artsy culture make a stop worthwhile.
We checked-into the cash only, $19 per night Apache Pines RV Park and spent a day wandering around the minimalist town. Contemporary art exhibits, a desert “Prada store” and a few quaint restaurants highlight the streets, while the infamous “Marfa Lights” are a must see at night.
On random nights, colorful lights can be seen dancing on the distant horizon – the source is unknown and heavily debated, but their beauty universally accepted. Even without these vibrant lights, the crisp star-filled sky is reason enough to set-up for a few nights with the RV here. The town is simple, and desert expands all around.
2. Avila Beach, California
Located off Highway 1, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Avila Beach may not be a complete unknown, but it’s certainly not atop many lists. This small coastal town charms at every turn. The “downtown” area is quaint and welcoming, but my favorite parts lie beyond the town center.
Following Avila Beach Drive, you’ll find Fisherman’s Beach (perfect for a walk with the dog), the Port San Luis Boatyard, and an accompanying pier. There’s a cafe great for a quick bite, as well as the Olde Port Inn – a seafood restaurant situated at the end of a long pier. The entire area is quiet, relaxing, and void of the masses.
Port San Luis RV Campground – perhaps our favorite camp spot in all our travels – overlooks Fisherman’s Beach. It’s a no reservations, drop your money in the box kind of place. There are some spots with hookups, though many are dry camping. At $50-$70 per night, it’s not exactly cheap, but when you consider your view, the experience is well worth it. It’s an idyllic spot to spend a night or two during your Highway 1 travels.
3. Dunedin, Florida
Yes, the Keys are incredible, and Disney World can be fun, but Florida is stacked with all kinds of unsuspecting great spots. One of those lesser known towns is Dunedin, located on the Gulf Coast about 30 minutes north of St. Petersburg.
Its streets are bustling with shops, breweries and restaurants, with retirees and beach goers buzzing about. The nearby Honeymoon Island State Park proves to be a fantastic spot to hang on the beach or enjoy some fishing. They have a dog-friendly beach and overnight stays can be arranged, too.
4. Faber, Virginia
After a few full days of hiking in Shenandoah National Park, we were looking for a nearby spot to spend some time relaxing. Thanks to the Harvest Hosts app, we zeroed in on a winery about an hour south.
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the landscape of this family-owned winery was absolutely stunning. We parked our Winnebago View atop a hill on the property and enjoyed daily tastings (and a few bottles of red) while taking in the great vineyard views.
By no means am I suggesting you tear-up your RV bucket list. But, be sure to build in a few days of exploration off the beaten path between top destinations. Be prepared – you just may fall in love with discovering the unknown!
As RVers, it’s seemingly in our DNA to pack as much as possible into one day – especially when we’re in a beautiful part of the country. Brittany and I recently found ourselves with five days to spend in Utah, a state we’ve been wanting to explore for quite some time. Though all Google searches seemed to strongly discourage tackling all five of Utah’s National Parks in as many days, we decided to do it anyway! The result? A fun-filled week of adventure that we found very doable.
Although, you could spend days or weeks at these parks, below we outline our recommended itinerary for Utah’s ‘Mighty Five’ in five days – in case you are short on time.
Day 1: Zion National Park
During peak season (March-October), personal vehicles are not permitted on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Instead, a park shuttle must be taken. It’s actually quite convenient and makes getting around really easy.
Begin by picking-up the shuttle at the Zion Canyon Visitor’s Center near the south entrance of Zion (there’s an RV parking lot for your rig). If you’re looking for an easy hike to begin the day, skip the shuttle and walk along the Pa’rus Trail, just past the shuttle pickup line. It’s a 45-minute paved trail walk to shuttle Stop #3, Canyon Junction, where you can hop aboard.
Recommended one-day itinerary:
1. Riverside Walk
Take the shuttle to the last stop (#9 – Temple of Sinawava) for the Riverside Walk. The trail is paved, with minor elevation changes. It winds its way through a canyon, along the Virgin River. The best part is it dead ends right into the river, where you can wade into the water to cool down and enjoy the views. This trail is 2.2 miles round trip, about 1.5 hours.
We ended here, but if you can opt to continue hiking through the river one mile further to reach The Narrows, it is a well-loved hike. The Narrows hike is through the water (so bring your water shoes) and can be extended up to 14-miles (round trip)!
The Riverside walk offers a chance to cool off at trail’s end.
2. Weeping Rock
Hop the shuttle to Stop #7 and make the short (yet steep) 0.4-mile round trip hike to Weeping Rock, a natural rock alcove with dripping springs. It’s another chance to cool down, and the views from inside the rock alcove are super cool.
3. Lower Emerald Pool
Take the shuttle to stop #6 (The Grotto) and pick-up the Kayenta Trail just across the street. The unpaved trail along the canyon-side offers some amazing views and was one of the less crowded spots we found. Continue to the Lower Emerald Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls down in a canyon, and end the hike at Zion Lodge, shuttle Stop #5 (1.5 mile, ~1 hour).
Enjoy sunset at the end of the Canyon Overlook Trail.
5. Dinner & Scenic Drive
Head back to the Zion Visitor’s Center and grab dinner in Springdale, a cool little town just outside the park’s south entrance (a few minutes from the Visitor’s Center). If you like Mexican fare, try Oscar’s – its laid-back vibe and amazingly fresh food are perfect after a long day of exploring.
After dinner, drive the scenic Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to the Canyon Overlook Trail (just on the other side of the tunnel). The westward facing overlook makes this one-mile hike perfect to do an hour or so before sunset.
Other Popular Activities in Zion
If time allows, the Angel’s Landing Hike is a bucket-list activity for many. The strenuous, 5.4-mile hike has spectacular views, but is not recommended for anyone with fear of heights. Zion Museum is another fun addition.
Camping Near Zion
Watchman Campground (¼ mile from the South Entrance) or South Campground (½ mile from the South Entrance) are two of the best options with great views and close proximity to both Springdale and the Zion Visitor’s Center shuttle pickup.
Day 2: Bryce Canyon National Park
Rise early and make the two-hour drive to Bryce Canyon National Park. There’s a shuttle you can grab near the Visitor’s Center, but we opted to drive around the park as there’s plenty of parking at each stop.
Recommended one-day itinerary:
1. Bryce Point
Drive to the far end of the park, where you’ll find Bryce Point. It’s a quick 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the overlook. (If you want an easy hike to get the blood flowing, walk a portion of the Rim Trail, high above the canyon.)
Brittany taking in the views at Bryce Point.
2. Inspiration Point
This is another great spot with three separate overlooks, a short walk from the parking lot. It’s a steep incline, but be sure to check out all three!
3. Sunrise Point & Hiking
Park at Sunrise Point and pick-up the Queens Garden Trail. This hike is incredible! You’ll traverse from atop the rim down into the canyon floor, passing amazing bright orange landscape along the way. When you reach Queen Victoria, continue along the trail (it’s wooded and provides some nice shade) toward the Navajo Loop Trail.
Head toward Wall Street, where you’ll find incredible rock walls and a winding “staircase” leading you back to the rim from the canyon floor. Take in the views from Sunset Point, and follow the Rim Trail back to your vehicle over at Sunrise Point. The diverse views make this 3.2-mile hike so worth it! (Note: I highly recommend doing the loop in the manner described above. Doing it in reverse fashion makes for a tougher walk).
Views from the Queens Trail Hike, down into the canyon.
Camping Near Bryce
Check-out the Cannonville / Bryce Valley KOA, where trees provide some nice shade and views of the surrounding landscape won’t disappoint.
Day 3: Capitol Reef National Park
If your legs are tired from all the hiking, you’re in luck! Day 3 is a lot of time touring from the RV as you’ll traverse from Bryce Canyon over to Moab, stopping at Capital Reef National Park along the way.
Recommended one-day itinerary:
1. Drive to Capitol Reef
Be sure to take the Highway 12 route to Capitol Reef. It’s a beautiful drive with quite a few amazing pullouts, ideal for quick breaks and great photo opportunities.
2. Panorama Point
Shortly after turning off Highway 12 onto Highway 24 there’s an overlook called Panorama Point. Panoramic views make it worth a quick stop. Continue on and turn onto Scenic Drive, an 8-mile stretch of paved road with breathtaking views inside Capitol Reef National Park.
The 8-mile drive through Capitol Reef National Park offers great views all around.
3. Grand Wash Road
For the off-road lovers, this unpaved road is an awesome drive through towering rock formations. It doesn’t require 4-wheel drive, but it’s a bumpy ride. Well worth it though! It dead-ends at the Grand Wash Trail, if you’re interested in a hike.
4. Capitol Gorge Road
Similar to Grand Wash, this unpaved road winds through epic rocks and narrow canyon-like formations. The Capital Gorge Trail offers a hiking option at the end of the road, too.
Unpaved roads through tall rock formations make for a fun adventure!
5. Continue onto Moab
Make the remaining 2-hour drive to Moab, where you’ll settle in for the night (prepare for more great views on the drive).
Camping in Moab
Lots of options in the area! For a more resort feel, check out Moab Valley RV Resort & Campground – close to town and the pool will come in handy at day’s end. For a more remote feel, snag a campsite along the Colorado River.
Day 4: Arches National Park
Arches is a stones-throw from Moab, so you’ll wake with a short commute from your camp spot. It’s notorious for being one of the more crowded parks in Utah, so we opted to get an early start. No shuttles mean you’ll be driving the park, too.
Recommended one-day itinerary:
1. Delicate Arch at Sunrise
This may have been our favorite spot of the entire trip! The large, freestanding arch is incredible, especially in morning light. Many recommend doing this at sunset (as it’s westward facing), but sunrise proved to be spectacular, too. It’s about 30 minutes from Moab to the Delicate Arch. The 3-mile round trip hike is more challenging than others (a good chunk is uphill), so budget at least one hour from the parking lot to the Delicate Arch.
Brittany poses under the spectacular delicate arch in Arches National Park.
2. Double O Arch
Another difficult hike, but worthwhile with lots of sites along the way. Park at Devils Garden Trailhead, and expect to see the Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Partition Arch, and finally the Double O Arch on this 4.5-mile round trip hike with some uneven terrain (~3 hours).
3. The Windows Section
Here you’ll find the Double Arch, North Window, South Window, and Turret Arch. They can be viewed from the parking lot, but an easy walk out to each is recommended – about 1.5 miles total.
The Double Arch is a quick and easy walk and cool to view from directly under the arch.
4. Balanced Rock
Pop into the parking lot and view this unique rock structure before leaving the park.
Camping & Exploring in Moab
After this day (12 miles & 25,000 steps!) some relaxing will certainly be desired. Moab is a bustling town with lots of shops and food options. We chose to have dinner at Miguel’s Baja Bistro, a low-key restaurant serving up Baja-style Mexican fare. For a post dinner activity, drive Highway 128 along the Colorado River at sunset. When it is time to sleep, plan to camp at the same place as the prior night or try out another option – maybe with even better views!
Day 5: Canyonlands National Park
There are two separate sections of Canyonlands National Park – Island in the Sky and The Needles. It’s ideal to do each in separate days, so we opted for Island in the Sky due to it’s proximity to Moab (a 40-minute drive vs. 1.5 hour drive to The Needles).
Recommended one-day itinerary:
1. Shafer Canyon Overlook
This first stop is just a quick walk from the Visitor’s Center. While there are some great hiking trails in the park, there are also plenty of awesome overlooks like this one (in case you are all hiked out).
2. Upheaval Dome
A moderate hike ends with two viewpoints of a really unique geological feature. The trail is two miles round trip and took us about 1.5 hours.
3. Holeman Springs Canyon Overlook
Simply pull-off on the side of the road and walk a few minutes to the edge of the canyon for great views.
4. Green River Overlook
A must-see overlook (no hiking required) with views of canyons, mountains and the rugged green river below.
A view of the Green River from the overlook.
5. Grand Viewpoint Overlook
The best view in Canyonlands awaits at the end of this two-mile walk. It follows the canyon edge and ends with 360-degree views that stretch for miles.
The Grand Viewpoint overlook offers the most spectacular views withing Canyonlands.
Other Activities Near Canyonlands
There are plenty of other overlooks throughout the park and some really cool unpaved roads for those traveling with 4-wheel drive (maps offered in the Visitor’s Center). Also, Dead Horse Point State Park is right next door with some cool sites to see, too. (Entrance fee: $20).
A few final tips
Be sure to pack plenty of water as the Utah heat is no joke (especially in the summer)! If you’re not used to the elevation (4,000 – 9,000 feet above sea level in most cases), you’ll need to hydrate even more. Also, food options are minimal in the parks, so pack a lunch and snacks for the day – it will make life easy.
If you don’t already have an annual National Parks pass, this may be a good time to consider getting one since it will save you some money.
These itineraries are ideal for those traveling in more compact RVs or with a tow car, but can be done with larger units (though some additional planning will be needed). There’s a ton of public land throughout Utah, so if the weather’s right, ditch the campgrounds and boondock on a gorgeous piece of public land.
And after five days traversing Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks, there’s no doubt you’ll be the best kind of tired!
Emerging from our Winnebago View, I hurriedly flagged down an approaching shuttle van. “Almost missed ya,” the friendly driver quips as I board the van, golf clubs in tow. A quick drive and brief chat later, I found myself being dropped at the doorstep of one of the top public golf courses in America. A complimentary shuttle ride from our rig to the nearby golf course? Now this is my kind of RV park.
On last year’s Ultimate Golf Road Trip, Brittany and I were happy to discover a host of great golf destinations that were super welcoming to RVs. Not surprisingly, many were located in the southern portions of the U.S., where year-round golf is nothing short of a way of life. However, some of the best spots (with the jaw-dropping good golf, too) are scattered across the northern portion of North America.
If you’re on the hunt for some ideal spots to ditch the sticky summer heat, consider one of these RV-friendly golf destinations. And for those less inclined to grab their sticks and head to the course, there are plenty of non-golfing activities at each, too.
1. Cabot Links in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
Located on the northern coast of Cape Breton Island, Cabot Links is hands down the most beautiful golf destination we’ve ever visited. The resort is home to not one, but two golf courses ranked inside the top 100 best courses in the world. Yes, the world.
The Cabot Cliffs course features eight holes dancing directly above the rugged coastline, with fairways and greens hanging on cliff’s edge. Each and every hole has panoramic views of the sea. Cabot Links, the resort’s second course, is an equally scenic Scottish-links style layout with a number of holes running directly along sandy beaches. Both are absolutely incredible golf experiences.
Strolling the cliff-side fairways of Cabot is nothing short of breathtaking.
They’re the type of golf courses that even non-golfers enjoy, thanks to endless epic views. Add-in a quaint neighboring town full of charm, and Cabot lends one unforgettable travel experience.
RV Accommodations: MacLeod’s Beach & Campsite
A few miles up-the-coast from Cabot Links is the beautiful MacLeod’s Beach & Campsite. The sites are close to one another, but it’s cliff-side location and ocean views make for an incredibly scenic spot. The adjacent beach is ideal for sunrise and sunset walks, especially if you’re traveling with your pup! Cost: $38-48/night.
The beautiful MacLeod beach, adjacent to the campground, is ideal for relaxing strolls.
Cabot Links is in a very remote part of Nova Scotia, which in my opinion, is partly what makes it so great. There’s a feeling of simplicity and detachment from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life. Drive the world-famous Cabot Trail, do some hiking or horseback riding, charter a whale-watching boat tour, or pay a visit to the Glenora Distillery. Trust us, there’s plenty to do in this remote part of Nova Scotia!
2. Prince Edward Island, Canada
If you decide to trek all the way to Cape Breton Island by RV, be sure to add Prince Edward Island (PEI) to the list, too. It’s a convenient detour on your way back to the “mainland” and well worth a visit. In fact, I was told by a Canadian playing partner (who resides in Vancouver) that PEI is considered to be the “Myrtle Beach of Canada” – which is to say this modest-sized island is loaded with golf.
I recommend playing a trio of courses known as PEI’s Finest Golf. The Links at Crowbush is a personal favorite, with a variety of landscapes that include golf holes winding through the trees, traversing changes in elevation, and finally ending directly along the beach. Dundarave and Brudenell – the other two courses – offer great conditions and really memorable golf layouts, too.
PEI’s Links at Crowbush boasts some great seaside views.
RV Accommodations: St. Peter’s Campground
There are quite a few options across the island, but St. Peter’s Campground proves to be a great location between the three courses. It’s not heavy on the amenities, though it does offer a swimming pool and a fantastic walking path that runs along St. Peter’s Bay (one way leads to a harbor, the other a picturesque church). Cost: $36/night.
A walking path against St. Peter’s Bay is the scene of epic sunsets each night.
Prince Edward Island is quite developed in certain areas and offers just about every activity imaginable. Take a hike in the nearby Greenwich / Prince Edward Island National Park, visit the historic Green Gables, check-out any number of great beaches, or simply make the scenic drive around the perimeter of PEI.
3. Turning Stone Resort in Verona, New York
With three 18-hole championship courses and two beginner-friendly 9-hole short courses, Turning Stone Resort offers everything the golf lover could want. Two of the championship courses are ranked inside the top 100 public courses in America.
The Atunyote course used to play host to a PGA Tour event, and is one of the most pristine courses I’ve ever played. It offers panoramic views of the New York countryside and will challenge even the best golfers. The other two 18-hole courses – Kaluhyat and Shenandoah – are no slouch either, touting good conditions and fun layouts.
Turning Stone’s Atunyote course is as pristine as you’d expect from a former PGA Tour venue.
RV Accommodations: The Villages RV Park at Turning Stone
Located on the Turning Stone Resort property, the Villages RV Park has great camp spots, a swimming pool and hot tub, tennis and basketball courts, and ponds for fishing and paddle boarding. It’s a stone’s throw from the main resort amenities (casino, restaurants, shows, spa, etc.) and golf courses, and there’s a free shuttle to everything, too. So convenient! Cost: $40-55/night.
Turning Stone’s RV Park offers great campsites, with a free shuttle to all resort activities.
There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself diving into all the resort has to offer, but in the event you want to venture off property, spend a day wandering around Syracuse (30 minutes) or at the Finger Lake wineries (60 minutes).
4. French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana
Few golf destinations surprised me more than French Lick Resort in southern Indiana. I had little knowledge of the resort prior to our visit, but quickly fell in love after a few days on property. French Lick has two 18-hole golf courses, both ranked inside the top 100 of public courses in America and each providing differing styles of play.
The old-school Ross Course at French Lick Resort in Indiana.
The Ross Course is a classic style course that sits on a property of gently rolling hills and provides a great reflection of the courses built in this era. The Dye Course is a newer and more modern course, carved around an old mansion sitting on a hilltop that now serves as the clubhouse. It is an expansive property and boasts incredible views of Hoosier National Forest that span up-to 40-miles on clear days.
Sunrise views overlooking the Hoosier National Forest are incredible at French Lick’s Dye Course.
RV Accommodations: French Lick RV Slips
French Lick also offers on-site RV parking spots, meaning you get to stay right in the heart of the action. Though there aren’t any frills here (the RV slips are on a paved lot), you have access to everything at the resort – including a trolley that will chauffeur you around the resort and to the golf courses – making it a great setup. Cost: $75/night.
French Lick Resort has a ton of activities including swimming pools, a spa, casino, hiking, horse stables, and carriage rides to name a few. There are lots of restaurants on the resort and in the nearby town, as well as a plethora of local activities for everyone to enjoy.
As days grow longer and the sun seemingly shines a bit brighter, RV owners across the country rejoice – summer travel season is here! Warmer days bring the enviable task of choosing a dreamy destination or two for this year’s travel adventures. The Pacific Northwest, Canadian Rockies, or simply your go-to lakeside campground all might be on the discussion board. And while summer weather offers plenty of beautiful places to point your rig, perhaps none are more magical than Maine’s Bar Harbor.
Last summer, my wife Brittany and I decided to point our Winnebago View toward Maine and set sail for the northeastern-most state in the U.S. As it turned out, it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Boasting nearly 3,500 miles of coastline (5,000 miles if you include the many island’s coasts), it comes as no surprise that Maine is a popular state to visit in the summer months. With loads of outdoor activities, quaint towns, a plethora of campgrounds, the freshest seafood and temperate weather, it offers the perfect combination for the RVing soul.
Of the many incredible regions and towns to visit in Maine (enough to spend an entire summer), topping them all is the coastal town of Bar Harbor. Located on Mount Desert Island, this bustling little town offers a bit of everything. Charming streets, delicious cuisine, sandy beaches and rugged coastline highlight the region. And, it acts as the gateway to the incredible Acadia National Park. We spent a week exploring the town and the many nearby attractions – below we offer a glimpse at all this area offers, including our must-do activities!
Pitstop in Portland
If you’re headed to Maine, there’s a good chance you’ll be chugging into the state via I-95 North. From the New Hampshire border, you’re looking at about 4+ hours of driving through Maine before reaching Bar Harbor. Rather than downing an afternoon coffee and rushing full steam ahead, might I suggest a pit stop in Portland?
About 60 minutes into the state, and directly off I-95, you’ll arrive at the historic city of Portland. As the most populated city in Maine, this seaside spot is as charming as it is entertaining. The Old Port waterfront features present-day fishing wharfs and old warehouses that now house a buzzing restaurant scene. We recommend booking a stay at an RV park in the Old Orchard Beach area (we loved the Saco/Old Orchard KOA) and spend an afternoon wandering the streets of Portland.
The seaside town of Portland, Maine, has a buzzing restaurant scene and lovely waterfront views.
Grab a morning walk on Old Orchard Beach before continuing onto Bar Harbor. And instead of I-95, consider taking the more scenic Route 1, which runs along the coast and offers plenty of additional (quick) pitstops along the way.
Morning walks on Old Orchard Beach are not to be missed. Dogs are allowed early / late in the day.
Arriving at Bar Harbor: Where to stay
There are quite a few camping options near Bar Harbor, but be sure to plan ahead as they can fill-up quickly in the summer months. Two good options are Narrows Too Camping Resort and Mt. Desert Narrows Camping Resort, as both are 20 minutes from Bar Harbor, offer waterfront lots, and have lots of on-site activities. If you’re looking for proximity to Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Campground is a mere minutes away (note: no sewer here).
Typical of our travels, we actually decided to forego the campgrounds and dry camp each night at the local Walmart! It’s located about 30-minutes from the action and we weren’t the only ones with the idea, as there were 10 to 15 other RVs parked here each night. If you’re in town for just a few days, it’s a great option. The sunsets aren’t too shabby either.
Just 30 minutes from Bar Harbor, the local Walmart is also a popular spot to spend the night.
Exploring Bar Harbor
As I eluded to earlier, there are no shortage of activities in Bar Harbor. A summer visit (hopefully) means good weather, so outdoor adventures are preferred. There is also a seasonal free shuttle bus system that has stops in Bar Harbor, as well as nearby campgrounds and Acadia National Park.
1) Walk the Shore Path
The Shore Path is a very friendly, ¾-mile walk along a smooth, flat path on the eastern shore of Mt. Desert Island. The path is flanked by beautiful historic homes on one side and the majestic sea on the other. Periodic markers along the way add to the fun, providing a bit of of Bar Harbor history.
Rather than beginning at the Town Pier, we suggest driving south on Main Street until you reach Park Street. You’ll run directly into street-side RV parking (should you be in your RV) and spots for cars, too. From here, you can make the few block walk to the Shore Path. This easy walk up the coast is a great way to get acquainted with the beauty of the area and to snap a few memorable pictures.
Also, from this direction, the path will end at the Town Pier, where you can take a seat in adjacent Agamont Park and enjoy the view. Or, snag a table outside at the Bar Harbor Inn’s Terrace Grille, where the only thing better than the view is the uber-fresh seafood.
Bar Harbor’s Shore Path offers a very easy, scenic walk along the eastern coast in Bar Harbor.
2) Wander the charming downtown streets
After making the coastal walk, you’ll be at the north end of Main Street where you can turn back south and wander your way from shop-to-shop. Bar Harbor has all kinds of different local business to window shop, or select the perfect item to remember the trip. Also, if you decide to forgo food at the Terrace Grille, Bar Harbor is loaded with many different dining options. The walk from the north end of Main Street down to the corner of Park St. (suggested for parking) is just over a ½ mile, so easy walking for most!
3) Take part in America’s best Independence Day celebration
If you’re looking for the perfect time of year to visit Bar Harbor, look no further than July 4th. The town’s Independence Day celebration is one of the best in the U.S., and offers a full day of fanfare. Pancake breakfast, craft fair, parade, seafood festival, live music, and of course, fireworks, are but a taste of what this year’s day holds in store.
For smaller crowds, consider June or September (our trip was in early June and it was great), but if you’re into lots of extra activities, consider July 4th week!
Tackling Acadia National Park
Bar Harbor is great, but Acadia is where the magic really happens. A stones-throw from Bar Harbor is the incredible Acadia National Park. Depending on your taste for the outdoors, you can spend an endless amount of time exploring, but for those looking for the very best activities, here are three favorites.
1) Drive the Park Loop Road
Begin your time at Acadia with a drive around the 27-mile, (mostly) one-way road named Park Loop Road. Along the drive, there are many parking areas and pull-offs where you can take short, easy hikes or simply admire the view. The loop takes you right down near the rugged coastlines and up high for panoramic mountain views.
Plenty of coastline walks are scattered around the Park Loop in Acadia. Most are pet friendly, too!
It can be done in as short as an hour, but what’s the rush? We spent an entire day slowly making our way around the loop, stopping at most every spot to hike, enjoy lunch, and hang out with a beverage. Position yourself correctly near day’s end, and you’ll catch an incredible sunset, too.
Enjoy lunch or catch a nap at one of the many scenic pull-offs along the Park Loop.
2) Sunrise hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain
Hands down, this is our favorite activity at Acadia and one of our top experiences anywhere. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest point on the East coast and offers an incredible opportunity to be one of the first people to watch the sunrise in the U.S. each day.
You can drive to the top of Cadillac via the Summit Road, but RVs are not allowed on this road. Traveling without a tow car left us with one option: make the hike! As it turned out, this 2.2 mile (one way), 1,500 foot climb in elevation was absolutely incredible. Not only do you get in a good workout (note: the hike is somewhat strenuous), but you see tremendous views the entire way up the mountain. Definitely a must on a trip to Acadia! Just be sure to pack snacks and plenty of water!
The Cadillac Mountain hike is no walk in the park, but views like this make it oh-so worth it.
3) Bike around Jordan Pond
Another beautiful spot located off the Park Road Loop is Jordan Pond, where you can enjoy kayaking and canoeing on the water. Brittany and I opted to hop on our bikes and leisurely ride the four-mile gravel trail around the lake. It’s a great ride, but note that the East and West sides have some significant elevation. So while one way is smooth sailing, the other side requires a somewhat challenging ride.
Jordan Pond is prime real-estate for a scenic bike ride. Some changes in elevation make it a workout!
If you’re not up for a workout, simply make a stop to check out the beauty while grabbing some food at the Jordan Pond House, the only full-service restaurant inside the park.
Before you leave …
When in Maine, visiting a lobster pound for some fresh lobster is an absolute must. Though there are plenty of options in Bar Harbor, I strongly encourage you to make the 30 minute drive south to Thurston’s Lobster Pound.
Thurston’s Lobster Pound is a great spot to experience fresh lobster in a relaxed, harbor-side setting.
Thurston’s is routinely ranked one of the best in the area, and aside from it’s fresh lobster and perfect harbor-side setting, they’ve got some creative lobster dishes too. We opted for the traditional lobster roll, as well as a lobster BLT, which was out of this world good! Paying a visit on our final day, this was the perfect way to end our stay in Bar Harbor Maine.
If you’re searching for a summer RV trip that’s sure to deliver, turn to coastal Maine’s magical Bar Harbor. The only issue to consider? Well, you won’t want to leave.
Growing-up, summer vacation for my family usually meant making the six-hour trip from central Pennsylvania to Cape May Point, New Jersey. The drive itself wasn’t uber scenic and the destination not as high-profile as many, but my younger brother and I couldn’t have been happier to spend a week splashing in the ocean and walking the colorful streets of Cape May.
A week of sun-filled activities was great, but I really loved dining out each night. Vacation, after all, feels like the ideal time to justify continuous nights out eating local fare. Who wants to cook on vacation anyway?! Though a week-long trip of eating-out may be feasible, it’s hard to justify on longer excursions.
As full-time RVers, we quickly realized the need to prioritize healthy eating while living on the road. Frequenting new cities presented a menu of exciting new restaurants at our disposal, while the many tiring travel days could easily push us toward the grab-and-go convenience of America’s endless fast food chains. Neither option seemed sustainable for our bellies or wallets, so we made a conscious effort to prepare our own meals the vast majority of the time.
We quickly found ourselves actually enjoying the process of whipping up healthier, delicious food each week. Not only did we feel better, but our monthly food bill shrank, too. Here are a few tips for eating healthy (and saving some coin) while traveling on the road.
1) Prepare in bulk
Whether you love the kitchen and tune into Emeril every afternoon, or you can’t stand the thought of slaving away each night, preparing food in advance is a big key to following through on dining-in.
Slicing, dicing, mincing, peeling … all these kitchen tasks take time and can grow old each and every day – especially for boondockers trying to conserve water. Rather than waiting until 6 p.m each night, set aside one day a week to grocery shop and prepare all the components of meals for the week ahead.
Clean, marinate and grill the chicken, cube potatoes, cook rice, chop onions, peppers and tomatoes. At a minimum, take care of everything requiring a cutting board to alleviate that task from the daily routine. Choose a medley of vegetables, starches and meats that can be mixed and matched into a wide variety of lunches and dinners.
Weekly food prep has become part of our routine and makes whipping up meals super easy.
2) Stock-up on food storage containers
All this preparation means you’re going to need a lot of storage. Stock-up on varying sizes of storage containers where you can keep foods fresh for the duration of the week. Depending on your RV size, refrigerator space can be tight. Storing your prepared food in containers that stack nicely make for an easy space-saving hack. My wife Brittany and I had no issue storing a week’s worth of food in our Winnebago View refrigerator.
Be sure to grab plenty of containers to hold all your prepped food and stack nicely in the RV fridge.
3) Plan ahead
It’s 7 p.m. You’ve just completed a nice long hike and returned to your rig. You turn to your spouse and pose the ominous question, “So, what’s for dinner?” We’ve all been there. Tired, hungry, and lacking the energy (and desire) to craft the evening menu.
The simple solution? Meal plan!
Instead of waiting until the last minute, lay out the meals for the week ahead. Not only does it make day-of decision making a breeze, but it helps with that shopping list too. Our Sunday evening routine on the road was to determine the week’s meals (and create a grocery list), grab everything at the store, and prepare food for the week ahead (generally with Netflix streaming or Spotify blasting our favorite tunes).
Similar to planning dinners, we made a point to prepare ahead for travel days, too. The Golden Arches or crafty cow-themed billboard ads can be enticing on a long drive. But if you’ve got prepared snacks and a few sandwiches or wraps ready to eat, lunchtime is as simple as snagging them at the next rest stop. A big bonus of a hand-crafted wrap with fresh ingredients is the avoidance of that afternoon food-coma (thanks to the countless preservatives in that fast food nonsense)! Ditch the drive-thru for good by preparing lunches and snacks (think almonds, fresh fruit, etc.) the night before a big travel day.
4) Buy a slow cooker (or Instant Pot)
While most RVs come equipped with everything you need to whip up great meals, the versatility and convenience of the slow cooker cannot be overstated. Meats, beans, roasts, soups, casseroles – you name it, and the slow cooker can cook it.
It’s great for cooking in bulk, and the ability to throw everything into the cooker, set the temperature and timer, and then go about your day is huge. We often toss the ingredients in before bed and let it work it’s magic while we’re snoozing. Make huge batches of staples (i.e. beans, rice, soups) and freeze what you don’t plan to eat that week.
For those wanting the benefits without the lengthy cook time, check-out the Instant Pot. These boast similar benefits to the Crockpot, but with a fraction of the cooking time. We haven’t personally used one, but a lot of friends swear by them.
5) Embrace the outdoors
It probably goes without saying for most RVers, but utilize the outdoors! Doing food preparation on an outside picnic table makes for a much more enjoyable experience. Be sure to fire-up the grill too, where you can cook in bulk for the entire week, or enjoy a beverage while grilling-up that night’s grub a few times a week.
Fire-up the grill and take food prep outside. Fresh air and good scenery make a world of difference!
6) Set a dining budget
Eliminating restaurants completely isn’t really practical nor fun for most people. After all, there are so many great local spots across America to explore!
Set a budget for the month, ditch the chain restaurants in lieu of supporting local businesses, and dine out accordingly. We routinely ask locals for recommendations and have stumbled into some of our favorite spots based on those suggestions. Eating out a few times per month and saving for the highly recommended local spots really leads to much more enjoyment of the overall restaurant experience, too.
Enjoying a post-hike lobster roll and lobster BLT at Thurstons Lobster Pound (Bernard, Maine).
By eliminating impulse decisions to eat-out, meal planning and shopping ahead for the week, we were able to reduce our monthly food budget to around $500! Our go-to supermarket is Aldi, where we love the prices and have been super impressed by selection and quality of fruits and produce (both which we eat a ton of). Our typical weekly grocery bill for two is sub $100, allowing us some extra cash to try a few local restaurant spots throughout the month.
A Few Go-To Recipes
In mid-2017, we converted to a plant-based diet, but here are some of our favorite (meat-themed and meatless) recipes to cook in bulk for the week while on the road.
Slow Cooker Chicken:
Ingredients: 2 lbs chicken breast, 2 cups water, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp paprika, ½ tsp pepper.
Directions: Add ingredients to slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low. Remove chicken & pull apart with forks. Serve in tacos, on a bed of rice, or in wraps. Extra chicken stores well in refrigerator up to a week.
Easy Homemade Vegetable Soup:
We use this recipe. But, instead of cooking on the stovetop, we toss ingredients in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours. Makes enough to eat at various points throughout the week. I enjoy adding rice to the finished product, too.
Black Bean Burgers:
If you’re skeptical of any burger that’s not beef, it’s time you give these a try.
Ingredients: 32 oz black beans, 16 oz red (kidney) beans, 16 oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans). (You can buy these pre-cooked, or in bulk and do batches in advance in the slow cooker.) Plus, ½ yellow onion (diced), 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, and a spoonful or two of flour.
Directions: Mash beans and combine with other ingredients. Mix together well. It will be cookie dough-like consistency. Form burger patties and sauté in olive oil on stovetop, or on tin-foil on an outdoor grill. Top with sliced avocado and serve on a brioche bun with your choice of condiments. Or, get crazy and serve on jasmine rice and top with mango salsa (recipe below) for one delicious ‘burger’!
Black bean burger on cilantro-lime rice topped with fresh mango salsa & avocado.
Ingredients: 3 roma tomatoes (diced), 1 ripe mango (diced), ½ yellow onion (diced), handful of cilantro (minced), juice of 1 lime.
Directions: Toss all ingredients together and enjoy with tortilla chips, or on top of tacos, burgers, etc.
Grilled Veggie Dishes:
If you want to dive deeper into the possibilities of veggies on a grill, there are a wide variety of recipes we frequently use here.
Rounding the corner and slowly pulling into an Orlando RV resort, we found ourselves confronted with a familiar scene. RVs stacked in suburbia-style rows maximized the precious real-estate while any desire for a shaded spot was squashed by a scarcity of trees. And, an $80 a night price-tag awaited our stay.
I parked our rig, paused, and turned to Brittany, “I can’t do it. I just cannot do it.”
We’d done our fair share of boondocking in the prior few weeks and were ready for the comforts of full-hookups and the bathhouse’s endless hot water. But the thought of shelling out a couple hundred bucks for our Winnebago View to bake in the hot Florida sun, sandwiched between our neighbors for two days? It just wasn’t my idea of a good time.
So we huddled over our illuminated iPhones, with the AllStays App fired up as we searched for a more desirable place to stay. “What about this place … Magnolia Park?” Brittany suggested. Twenty minutes away, pet friendly, and $22 a night? Let’s roll the dice.
Perhaps it was the dreamy welcoming entrance framed by Spanish-moss clad trees, the vibrant-colored peacocks roaming the property, the spacey and secluded RV spots, or maybe the breathtaking sunset on that evening’s walk around Magnolia Park, but with that experience, we were convinced more than ever: state park campgrounds simply can’t be beat.
The beautiful sunset that greeted us at Magnolia Park in Orlando, Florida.
Here are 5 reasons we love state park campgrounds, and think you might too!
1. Incredible value
It’s often written that RVing can be done as cheap or expensive as you choose. Dry camping on public land or welcoming farms and wineries will essentially cost you nothing, but you’ve gotta be ready to conserve water and electricity at every turn. Conversely, RV parks often provide all the luxuries and amenities you could ever need, but prepare to shell out $50 to $100+ a night.
State park campgrounds provide the best of both worlds. The majority cost around $20 – $30 a night, and offer many similar amenities to their pricy RV park counterparts. Though we haven’t come across too many pools, clean bathhouses and laundry facilities are definitely the norm.
2. Spacey RV spots
Privately owned RV parks and campgrounds can sometimes feel a bit cramped, with the property set-up to accommodate the maximum number of guests possible. They’re not all like that, but more often than not, you can seemingly reach out and touch your neighbor from your dinette table!
State-owned campgrounds are run with less concern for bottom dollar, and thus are less driven to stack parking spots on top of one another. Instead, trees and shrubbery are left standing, creating a little oasis around your RV. The parking spots usually offer more shade and privacy from neighbors.
Fort McAllister State Park just south of Savannah, Georgia, featured massive RV spots!
3. Gorgeous scenery, plus outdoor activities
Because state park campgrounds are in, well, state parks, they tend to be accompanied by gorgeous landscape and loads of outdoor activities. Case in point? Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake in Orlando ($21 per night) features a myriad of walking paths and recreational lakes while McKinney Falls State Park, just outside Austin, Texas ($22 per night), is home to countless hiking trails, and beautiful creeks with waterfalls and lots of swimming spots.
Brittany and Ella ready for the trails (and a swim) at McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, TX.
A recent stay at Maumee Bay State Park, just outside Toledo, Ohio, ($24 per night) reminded us the breadth of activities some state parks offer. It’s location on Lake Erie yields beaches and watercraft activities, while countless lakes offer fishing, kayaking, and scenic walking trails. This particular state park also had weekly activities ranging from coffee and doughnuts to ice cream socials to campfire singalongs. And for all the golfers out there, the state-park-run golf course was a mere 1.5-mile bike ride away, just on the opposite side of the park.
Jordan biked to the nearby golf course daily at Maumee Bay State Park (just east of Toledo, Ohio).
4. Friendly and clean
If you’ve been RVing more than a time or two, you know the RV community in general to be quite friendly. The same can be said about staff at state parks. We’ve yet to have a bad experience and oftentimes have had staff members go out of their way to help us.
Despite the low price tag, state park facilities tend to be very clean and well-maintained. Bathhouses, parking spots, guest facilities and the overall park properties are inviting. Not something you can always say about the lower-cost campgrounds.
5. Wildlife abound!
Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I’ve seen my fair share of wildlife. But if I’m being honest, it never gets old watching a family of deer grazing in the wild as the setting sun illuminates the distant sky. State parks’ inviting landscapes seemingly attract wildlife, and in just a few years on the road, we’ve encountered just about everything in state parks.
Plenty of deer and active birds, a few bald eagles, peacocks, gators, coyote in Texas … the list goes on. But bottom line – if you want a more secluded and outdoorsy experience, turn to state parks.
Peacocks were everywhere at Magnolia Park (Orlando, FL)!
A few considerations for staying in state parks
So what are some of the potential drawbacks? Some state parks don’t have full hookups. So while you’ll have all the electricity and water you’ll ever need, trips to the dump station every so often may be required. We generally combat frequent moves by using the bathhouse as our restroom and shower spot, and reserve the capacity of our tanks for hand and dish washing.
Second, it’s not uncommon to have maximum stays – usually in the 14 to 21 day range. So if you want to hunker down for a few months, you’ll have to break-up your stays. Then again, maybe that’s an excuse to book a few days at the nearby RV park and enjoy their hot tub and pool!?
Lastly, some smaller or more secluded state parks might have a maximum RV length, meaning the supersized Class A rigs may be out of luck from time-to-time. We haven’t seen too many with restrictions, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Bottom line: if you’re in search of more space, better scenery, loads of outdoor activities and an often vibrant wildlife scene – all at a great price – be sure to give state parks a look!
Nothing like an evening fire-side beverage to end the day at a state park campground!
Swinging open the RV door, a warm breeze greets our arrival as the slowly setting sun illuminates our Winnebago View floor. Sounds of deep laughter and nearby chit-chat fill the air, while evidence of early-evening grill sessions commingle with the refreshingly salty air. Golf carts zoom by, dog walkers pass at every turn, and a few towel-clad ladies emerge in the distance, inevitably surrendering their poolside lounge chairs to the retiring sun. It’s January in Florida. Which is to say, snowbird season has officially begun.
My wife and I may only be 31, but by all accounts, we’re a couple of snowbirds. Okay, that’s not exactly true – technically we don’t live in the Northern part of the U.S. (nor Canada) and we’re not retired – but intents and purposes we fit the mold. Like many others both young and old, our RVing lifestyle has us fleeing any sign of the encroaching winter cold for the warm south.
My “retirement” from the banking industry and second career of launching The Dapper Drive, a golf-focused digital content and social media marketing company, has left us migrating with the masses to explore every southern state – and most importantly, their golf courses. So whether you’re hanging in sunshine-filled Florida, on the heavenly coastline of Southern California, or somewhere in between, chances are there’s some incredible golf right around the corner.
There are no doubt a myriad of great golf courses in each snowbird-bound state, but below we highlight a few of our absolute favorite must-play courses – and the nearby RV-friendly accommodations – spanning across the southern U.S.
Streamsong Resort: Bowling Green, Florida
If you’re not looking for it, you’re unlikely to find it. That elusiveness is partly what makes Streamsong Resort so good. Built on a former phosphate mine, the sandy soil below Streamsong’s turf allows for firm-and-fast fairways, mimicking the conditions and playability of the best links courses.
It’s landlocked central-Florida location may lack ocean views, but don’t be fooled: 75-foot sand dunes, gnarly wasteland, glistening auburn fescue, and larger-than-life bunkers and green complexes all combine to serve-up a golfing visual ecstasy unlike any other.
Streamsong Resort feels almost prehistoric at times, with epic dunes and expansive bunkers and greens.
It is home to three championship courses – the Red, Blue and Black – each expertly crafted by some of today’s top golf architects. And while the courses may appear alike at first blush, they actually play quite differently, offering a unique experience on each.
The resort pride’s itself not only on world-class golf (check), but also on top-notch service. In Florida, the Streamsong experience can’t be beat. Play all three courses, and expect to come running back year-after-year. More on Streamsong Resort’s golf courses here.
A look at the incredible topography of Streamsong Resort, home to three top-ranked courses.
RV Accommodations: Hardee Lakes Park
Four lakes, horse and hiking trails, and a host of lakeside camp/RV sites lay across this 1,200 acre park. Low-lying fog made for some beautiful mornings, while the crackle of a campfire rounded out our golf-packed days. It’s just 13 minutes from Streamsong Resort and priced nicely at $15-23 per night!
Beau Rivage Resort’s Fallen Oak: Biloxi, Mississippi
Throughout our travels, I’d be hard pressed to point to a golf course that provides a more intimate experience than Fallen Oak. It’s location in the heart of the De Soto National Forest makes for a secluded feeling, while the ultra-friendly staff treat you like a regular.
The golf course itself oozes charm, with age-old oaks flanking the well-manicured fairways and pure-rolling greens. The lengthy 18th hole is one of my favorites, housing the courses namesake tree – the majestic fallen oak. After spending a full day at the course, it comes as no surprise that Fallen Oak remains one of the Champions Tour players’ favorite stops all year.
The De Soto National Forest makes for quite the backdrop at Fallen Oak.
Expect to be pampered during your visit, and be sure to enjoy lunch from the clubhouse restaurant overlooking the 18th hole. Fallen Oak delivers on every level, and if you’re lucky, they might even let your furry friend join for the round. No promises, but Ella sure did love running alongside us! More on Fallen Oak here.
Ella takes a break from “chasing birdies” during our round at Fallen Oak.
Accommodations: Beau Rivage Resort
Okay, so here’s the catch. Fallen Oak is reserved exclusively for guests of Beau Rivage Resort – 20 minutes south of the course in Biloxi. In order to access the golf course, you’ll need to spend a night in the hotel. No biggie though. Enjoy a night off from the RV, wandering the beautiful coastline or trying your luck in the casino. The good news? Beau Rivage will keep your RV safe and sound in a security-guarded lot, just across the street.
Park your RV for free and enjoy a night at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
Barton Creek Resort & Spa: Austin, Texas
Not that you need any more convincing to head to Austin, but Barton Creek Resort is yet another reason to love this eclectic part of Texas. Barton Creek is home to four different courses, my favorite of which is the Fazio Canyons Course.
The golf course perfectly captures this region, with dramatic elevation changes helping to accentuate the already spectacular Hill Country views. Almost every shot is fired up-or-down the hills, with the 15th and 18th holes providing the most epic views. Add a limestone creek that meanders through the property, and you’ve got one special golf course. Just beware: while you’re out enjoying all this golf, trust your other half will be taking full advantage of the Barton Creek Spa! More on the Fazio Canyons course here.
RV Accommodations: McKinney Falls State Park
It’s not the closest spot, but McKinney Falls State Park is certainly the best spot to stay – and well worth the 30 minute commute to Barton Creek. Trails, fishing, and swimming holes are only topped by the spacey, wooded RV spots in the park. It’s also just 25 minutes from downtown Austin, and one of our favorite all-time camp spots. Consider the nearby Roy Kizer Golf Course – a super cheap and fun municipal course that’s also dog friendly – as the icing on top.
We-Ko-Pa Golf Club – Saguaro Course: Scottsdale, Arizona
Though the desert is littered with golf courses, none provide an experience like We-Ko-Pa’s Saguaro Course. Unlike most desert courses that dictate play with “target” golf, Saguaro’s wide fairways flowing with the natural topography of the land, lets you play any style of your choosing.
Epic views run abound, with the McDowell Mountains, Red Mountain, Four Peaks and the Superstitions setting the backdrop. Its location, 30 minutes east of downtown Scottsdale allows the course to stretch far and wide, without a house or condo in sight. More on the Saguaro Course here.
RV Accommodations: Eagle View RV Resort
Like golf courses, RV parks are plentiful in Scottsdale. Adjacent to We-Ko-Pa’s golf courses you’ll find Eagle View RV Resort. It’s nothing over-the-top, but it’s convenience to the golf course and the abundance of amazing nearby hiking spots can’t be beat.
Plenty of desert spots to explore east of Scottsdale. The hike to the Wave Cave was a favorite.
Torrey Pines Golf Course: San Diego, California
It may be a city-owned, municipal golf course, but Torrey Pines packs quite the punch. The ongoing love affair between golfers and courses by the sea might well be epitomized at Torrey, with countless holes dancing along the Pacific coastline.
Torrey Pines boasts two championship golf courses (North and South course), each delivering an unforgettable seaside golf experience. If you want to see what the Tour pros face each year, try your luck on Torrey South, but both courses are worth a play.
RV Accommodations: Santee Lakes Campground
Though oceanfront camping is always a thrill (check out Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego), we loved our stay at Santee Lakes Campground. It’s a 25 minute drive to both Torrey Pines and Downtown San Diego, and the overall value for California is great. A string of lakes and myriad of activities make for a fun place to call home base during your stay. Plus, Carlton Oaks Golf Club – a great Pete Dye designed public golf course – is right around the corner, too.
Carlton Oaks GC is a local gem, with great prices and close proximity to Santee Lakes Campground.
For more ideas on golf courses, be sure to check out The Dapper Drive Interactive Course Map, where we highlight our best golf experiences across North America.
Life on the open road brings a feeling of exuberant excitement and endless curiosity for what lies ahead. Adventurous engagements like exploring miles from the nearest cell tower or dry camping at a local vineyard for days on end sound pretty amazing, but each require some planning and gear to make the experience live up to your dreams.
Two years of full-time travel – including a year of mostly boondocking as we quickly moved from place to place in our Winnebago View – has left us with a list of must-have gear upgrades. While these items are extra helpful for those who rarely “plug in,” most are super useful for all RVers alike.
Watch the video above for full details on our top gear upgrades, and see below for links to each. Happy Travels!
Gear featured in this video:
1. Inflatable Solar Light – $20
Solving Water Issues
2. Travel Berkey Water Filter – $271
4. 12 Volt Fantastic Fans (2) – $75 each
5. Roof Vent Cover – $20
Monitoring Pets + Security
6. Wireless WiFi IP Camera – $75
7. Verizon Jetpack Mobile Hotspot – $70 (plus monthly plan)
Bonus: Prepare for the Unknown
8. Portable Power Pack – $98
In the chill of the New York morning air, teeth faintly chattering and hands in a full-out shake, my eyes intently ran back-and-forth from iPhone screen to the distant, bright orange horizon. It was just before 7a.m., and not even the near-freezing December temperatures could keep me from capturing the beauty before me. As the sun awoke, I stood just outside our Winnebago View, joyfully zipping my drone up and down the Montauk coastline, seeing the magnificence of crashing waves against a backdrop of iconic lighthouse and rising sun. That is when it hit me — The Sprint to Streamsong golf road trip was underway.
Capturing the beauty of the Montauk Lighthouse at sunrise, the furthest eastern point on Long Island.
The Sprint to Streamsong is born
Six weeks prior, I received a call from a friend and fellow travel-loving golfer, who proposed an idea: what if we ended the year with a crazy 10-day golf adventure, racing down the East coast while playing our way from New York to Florida? My immediate response: “I’m in!”
As crazy as the idea sounded, I was itching to get back on the road after my wife Brittany and I had paused our full-time travel schedule in September. Weeks full of planning routes, rounds of golf and logistics left my friend Matt and I with The Sprint to Streamsong itinerary – a robust schedule that would take us nearly 2,000 miles, with 13 rounds of golf in six states, all in less than two weeks’ time.
I knew the golf would make the trip worthwhile, but could we really pull off a trip that required this much travel during a time of year when daylight was limited and weather unpredictable?
The Sprint to Streamsong route, covering nearly 2,000 miles in 10 days, with 13 rounds of golf.
With the Winnebago View as our chariot, I knew it could be done. And after successfully completing the trip, I’m convinced now more than ever, that the View is the ultimate road trip vehicle.
Navigating the northeast … with ease
Anyone who’s set out to explore the northeastern U.S. by RV can most certainly relate to two of the key challenges: low clearances and urban streets. With New York City and Washington D.C. both on the first few days of our trip itinerary, I also took into consideration the heart-pounding nerves that were sure to accompany the visits.
What I failed to consider was the compact nature of what I was cruising in! At 24-feet, our View handled the narrow, taxi-filled city streets with ease, and that stomach-churning fear of wrong turns, tight corners and stop-and-go hustle and bustle all but left me while navigating in the View.
New York City’s Holland Tunnel, Jersey City’s scrunched side streets and D.C.’s Potomac Park were all handled with ease. Sure, ample consideration still needed to be given to low underpasses (the View stands 11’1’’ tall), but a little preplanning and the trusty AllStays Camp & RV App made that a breeze.
The compactness of the View not only alleviates fears of urban travel, but also leads to more spontaneity than experienced in most other types of larger RVs / travel trailers. Have an urge to wander down a side street or pop-off the highway to check out a quaint little town? Go for it. Within minutes of starting The Sprint to Streamsong trip, I confidently ignored the GPS, veering off Montauk’s Main Street toward the luringly named “Ocean Ave.” A few minutes later, we were taking in sweeping views of the Atlantic. A quick walk on the beach followed by a 3-point turn at the dead-ended road, and we were on our way. A worthwhile detour, indeed.
Me and Mr. P capturing a selfie on one of the many route detours, made easy by the View.
Similar spontaneous decisions found us at the foot of the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument in D.C., and eventually parallel parking for a quick stroll in the historic, downtown Pinehurst, NC, streets.
A quick detour to the Washington Monument after a round at East Potomac GC in Washington D.C.
Ready, Set, Sprint!
With lots of ground to cover on this trip, we had little time to waste each day. Sunrise to sunset on golf courses meant four to six hours of driving most nights! Luckily for us, the View can really zip. After all, it is powered by a Mercedes Benz Sprinter engine. Speed limits of 70 were welcomed with open arms, as the View maneuvers extremely well at those speeds. And an additional benefit of its size is that no tow car is needed, further enhancing the driving experience.
Couple a smooth ride with the ability to make quick travel breaks (no truck stops, public bathrooms, or fast food drive throughs required), and the View can lead to very efficient travels. This all really came in handy during the longer driving treks of the trip, that stretched over 300 miles on a few separate occasions. And less traveling means more time exploring – or in our case, more time on courses like this.
Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course captured from high above. One of our favorite courses from the trip.
Where to sleep tonight?
Road trips by car require hotels and most RVs need RV parks, but with the View, the world is your so-called oyster. Sure, Wal-Marts and other select big box stores will welcome travel trailers and larger motorhomes, but each draw too much attention (or simply will not fit) in many of the convenient spots a View will.
Front yard parking made easy at a friend’s house in West Ashley, just outside Charleston, SC.
On our 10-day trip down the coast, we too enjoyed an RV park in Jersey City and a few Wal-Marts along the way, but the View gave us so many more options! A neighborhood side-street just outside downtown Raleigh, Pinehurst Resort’s clubhouse lot, a friend’s driveway in Charleston, and NBC’s Golf Channel Studios parking lot all became sleeping quarters for the night. Because the View can be backed into a single parking space (with a few feet overhang), we were welcomed to sleep in these unlikely spots.
Not only did they speed up our travels (no need to get settled into and travel to/from campgrounds), but it made for some memorable experiences. Waking-up to a 6a.m. call from an NBC producer instructing me to move our RV into position before our live Golf Channel Morning Drive interview that morning is something I’ll never forget!
Getting the View into position before our live interview with Matt Ginella on the Golf Channel.
View Life vs. Van Life
For a brief moment, before embarking on this trip, I thought: “Boy, for a fast-paced road trip like this, a van might be easier than the View.” My post-trip conclusion? Not a chance.
Yes, van life boasts similar benefits to those mentioned (easy navigation, quick travel, endless accessibility, universal parking spots), but the View’s “home away from home” amenities can’t be beat. It’s sometimes hard for people to believe, but this 24-foot vehicle has literally everything you need. Beds, stovetop cooking, convection oven, refrigerator, dinner table, two sinks, full-size shower, flushable toilet, and far more storage than you’d ever believe. This all translates to a good night’s rest, healthy home cookin’, and an elevated level of comfort, all while zipping up and down the coast.
The View is also designed with a slide out, which helps to open up some added space. Sure, the more people you pack-in the tighter the quarters, but as Crazy Family Adventure has proved, you can roll with a crew 6-deep in a View! Point being, there’s plenty of room to take the family – or in my case on this trip, a good friend and Mr. P the cat – on the road.
Me (right) and my friend Matt (left) capture the moment on another bucket-list golf course.
Enjoy the View
From cars to trailers, motorhomes to vans, there are lots of different ways to travel. Though no one way is necessarily better than the other, the Winnebago View certainly takes the cake when it comes to shorter (or fast-paced) road trips. And as I was reminded on my own recent Sprint to Streamsong road trip, you’ll surely never tire of the View(s).
Every great road trip must come to an end, but with the View, the next is never too far away.
Chugging along the ruggedly beautiful Maine coastline, I couldn’t help but reflect on how thankful I was for our current lifestyle. In the prior 30 days, we’d been to a family wedding in Asheville, NC, played top ranked golf courses in the countryside of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, crashed the driveway of college friends in our Nation’s capital, explored the vibrant streets of New York City, beamed with joy as our pup Ella ran alongside us at a dog-friendly golf course in the mountains of Maine, and we’re now on our way to the beautiful Acadia National Park.
A year (or more) worth of adventure in just 30-days. How’s that even possible? Simple. We said yes to full-time RV travel.
Capturing the memory after a round of golf in New York City.
We can’t do this. Or can we?
Truthfully, the decision to take our life on the road full-time – living, working and traveling in our RV – was not an easy one. When my wife Brittany’s free-spirited thirst for adventure initially suggested this nomadic lifestyle, my excitement was quickly squashed by my practical, “sensible” side. Simply put, fear took over.
How can we even think to do this? How will we survive and earn an income? Can my 6’4’’ frame even fit inside an RV? We know nothing about RVs, I’ve never even been camping! Won’t it be dangerous? What will people think of us? No, we can’t do this. No way.
Thankfully, my dream-killing over-reaction was no match for Brittany’s unwavering persistence. Slowly but surely, I hopped off the proverbial ledge and after a few months of research, conversations with current full-time RVers, and facing my fears head on, we made the leap.
If you’re considering a life of full-time RV travel, there’s a good chance you might be struggling with the very same fears I once had. What I’ve found is there’s no better way than facing them head on.
Below are nine common fears, and why they’re really nothing but myths!
1. There’s no way we can financially afford traveling full-time by RV
This is by far the biggest common fear: the finances of full-time travel. Can we afford it? Will we run out of money? How will we make income on the road?
Like everything related to money, a good, well thought-out plan and budget is key. But I’m here to deliver a message – full-time travel is much more affordable than one might think. The average monthly campground / RV park fee is far less expensive than most mortgages or rent, and the varying price points of RVs and travel trailers can fit almost any budget. Sure, a decked-out class A can be expensive, but used travel trailers are priced quite affordably. Our very first travel trailer cost us only $8,000 – try buying a house at that price point!
Also, there are endless ways to earn an income on the road. Photography, writing and other freelance gigs come to mind as the most obvious, but even many company jobs are now location independent. Our accountant is a full-time RVer, while another good friend in sales recently convinced his large corporate employer to let him travel full-time. When he laid out the cost, it was actually cheaper for the company than the monthly airfare / hotel costs he was racking up while traveling a few days each week. The point is, the options are endless.
To create a little extra peace of mind, I’d encourage everyone to save six months of living expenses before hitting the road. I know of many people who set sail with far less, but the extra cushion will alleviate some stress as you find your groove.
2. Full-time RV travel will be so lonely
Months away from family and friends can be scary, no doubt. Though we too worried about missing close ones, Brittany and I actually found that we spend more time with friends on the road. We rarely enter a state without connecting with a college friend, former colleague or relative, and more often than not, end up parking our Winnebago View in their driveway (saving on campground fees, too!).
So not only are we seeing people we know weekly, but we’re able to connect with so many more friends that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Also, there’s a growing online community of full-time RVers – so, we’ve made countless new friends who share the lifestyle.
And, trust that when you do steer your RV toward your hometown for a visit, you’ll see a lot more of those friends and family than you ever did when you lived there.
Crashing in friend’s driveway in Houston, Texas.
3. I won’t survive in these tight living quarters
Whether you’re going with the ultra-lean Van Life, the “spacious” Class A diesel pusher, or settling on something in between, one thing’s for sure: you will be downsizing. Yes, your home on wheels is light on space, but chances are you won’t be sitting inside all day thinking about how small it is.
The magnificence of living on the road is that it innately pulls you outside. Whether it be golfing, hiking, biking, wandering a new town’s streets, working from your campsite’s picnic table, or gathering around a flickering fire, we find ourselves constantly outside enjoying the surroundings. And whenever it is feeling a little cramped, or our patience is waning for the other, we force ourselves to go outside and are reminded by that day’s beautiful location just how lucky we are!
Office for the day in Clearwater, Florida.
4. Navigating the day-to-day seems too difficult
Having never driven more than an SUV, I certainly didn’t feel equipped to pull a 30-foot trailer with a diesel pickup truck (our setup last year). But like riding a bike, practice makes perfect. A few hours maneuvering around a Walmart parking lot, getting a feel for turns and backing into empty spaces, and we felt comfortable enough to head out on the open road. It’s always necessary to do an appropriate amount of route scouting in advance to avoid low overpasses or the possible restricted roads, but within a few weeks’ time, pulling and parking the rig was second nature.
We also had some concern about easily locating campgrounds and knowing they were clean and safe. In reality, apps like Allstays make finding, pricing, reading reviews, and ultimately choosing a campground or RV park, a breeze.
5. We can’t travel full-time because we have pets
Nothing could be further from the truth! We too were concerned how our dog Ella and cat Mr. P would handle life on the road. But we quickly learned, they might actually enjoy it more than us! Longer driving days certainly took a little getting used to, but in short time Mr. P loved his spot on the dashboard basking in the sun while Ella reveled in our 20-minute play sessions during travel day stops.
Mr. P basking in the sun during a long driving day.
Further, the outdoor and active lifestyle means lots of hikes through mountains and ball chasing on beaches. Nothing brought Ella (and us!) more joy than ripping around sandy beaches in San Diego, Nova Scotia, and everywhere in between. Lastly, the purchase of a relatively cheap pet camera helped alleviate the fear of leaving them in the RV park alone. It allows for monitoring them on our phones while we’re out and about for a few hours on our own.
Ella chasing down a ball on San Diego’s Dog Beach. One of our favorite spots in the US!
6. We can’t stay healthy on the road
The common misconception is because we’re traveling full-time, we’re constantly grabbing fast food or eating out. After all, it’s how most people eat when on road trips by car. However, because most RVs are equipped with kitchens, it’s easy to do all your own cooking.
We’ve made a habit of planning each week’s meals, prepping all the food on Sunday nights, and cooking throughout the week by stovetop or by bulk in a crockpot. And, that aforementioned invisible force pulling you outside leads to plenty of grilling.
The absence of a gym membership is no biggie either, as the abundance of exploring leads to plenty of exercise! We’ve also stayed in several RV parks that boast small gyms (or pools for swimming), too.
There’s no shortage of exercise while out exploring America! Bar Harbor, ME.
7. I can’t rely on campground internet to run a business
I’d agree. Campground internet is as unreliable as any I’ve experienced, but hotspot options from most major wireless carriers make for fast and reliable internet on the road. Depending on the carrier, it’s generally around $100-$180 per month (for the better networks) and we’ve found it to be very reliable. And, don’t forget about coffee shops and cafes, which offer a good excuse to immerse yourself in the local scene while snagging some complimentary internet.
8. I have no experience RVing; I’ve never even been camping!
Same here! Before we set sail, I had never been RVing or camping. But, imagine if we all said no to everything we didn’t already have experience in – we’d never experience anything new! There are a lot of different things to learn about RVing, but the thousands of YouTube videos always save the day.
No experience, no problem. With window views like this, it’s worth figuring it out!
Anytime we had questions or were unsure of what to do, we turned to the internet. Or, we’d kindly approach a fellow RVer and ask for assistance. It’s amazing how friendly and generous other RVers are with their time and knowledge. In two years on the road, we’ve met some amazing people who have been more than willing to troubleshoot issues or lend a helping hand.
9. What will they think?
I can still recall the nerves I felt when first telling my family and our friends that we bought an RV and would be traveling the country full-time. What would they think?!? There were lots of questions to field, and concerns to squash, but in the end most people were supportive and excited for our new adventurous lifestyle.
Surely, there will always be a few naysayers in the bunch, and you’ll most definitely face repetitive questions like, “When are you returning to the real world?” You’ll soon realize, however, that it really doesn’t matter what others think, so long as you’re true to you.
Brittany and I are now nearly two years into full-time RV travel, and I couldn’t imagine life any other way. Squash your fears, and say yes to your dreams; there’s a big wide world to explore.
Taking in the view after a long (and steep!) sunrise hike at Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.
A dense fog lingers over the bustling Hudson River as the bright morning sun climbs high above the nearby towering skyline. Waves crash gently against the rocky shoreline, with the faint sound of a ferry horn blowing in the distance. Taking a sip of steaming coffee while peering out at the endless skyscrapers, I turn to Brittany and think aloud, “Can you believe we’re here in our RV?”
Welcome to New York City.
One of the many benefits RV life offers is the ability to go most anywhere you’d like – assuming of course, you can drive there. With endless websites, blogs, and social media accounts showcasing beautiful places like Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and the California Coast, these natural and sometimes remote destinations rightfully capture our attention for RV trips.
But after a recent stop for the Ultimate Golf Road Trip, I’m here to tell you that New York City should be added as a must-see destination – yes, in your RV!
Arriving in NYC in our Winnebago View.
NYC Like a Local
Prior to living and traveling full-time in our Winnebago View, Brittany and I called New York City home for a few years. During our three years of downtown Manhattan living, we spent every chance we could checking off our touristy to-do list, trying any and every restaurant, and soaking in all the unique experiences the great city of New York has to offer.
As you’ve likely heard, there is literally something for everyone. Whether you’re the planning or spontaneous type, the breadth and variety of activities make it more than easy to find things to do. And in some instances, difficult to choose from all the options.
You could literally spend weeks in NYC. However, I think a few days is enough to get a great taste of life in the city. Here’s an inside look at how to plan a long RV weekend in NYC, and some of our favorite things to do during your visit.
Where to Stay: Liberty Harbor RV Park
Without a doubt, the best place to stay in your RV is Liberty Harbor RV Park. It’s nothing fancy and offers just the basic amenities (bathhouse, water/electric hookups, dump station, and wifi), but it does boast a fantastic location in Jersey City, directly across the Hudson from downtown Manhattan.
Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City, NJ, is just a 12-minute train or ferry ride into downtown NYC.
This answers the stomach churning question: “Do I have to drive my rig into New York City?” No! The RV park is easily accessible off Interstate-78 and can accommodate RVs up to 45-feet in length. Though it’s a little pricey ($95/night + tax), it’s a steal when compared to expensive NYC hotels. And because NYC boasts an extensive, safe and cost-effective public transit system, you can leave the RV (and tow car) parked and easily get around the city.
The RV park is a mere 0.5-mile walk from the heart of Jersey City, which has an abundance of great storefronts and restaurants, too. The morning walks are impeccable as well, where you can enjoy a casual stroll passed Liberty Harbor and down to Morris Canal Park. No better way to start the day than this view overlooking the NYC skyline.
Morris Canal Park is a short stroll from Liberty Harbor RV Park. Incredible views of the NYC skyline!
The NYC Commute
There are three good options for traveling from Liberty Harbor RV Park into New York City.
1. Port Authority Trans-Hudson (aka PATH): Take the PATH train from the Grove Street stop (0.5-mile walk from the RV park). It’s our favorite way to get into the city as it’s quick (12 minutes), cheap ($2.50 one way) and easy. Plus, the cards you purchase at the kiosks can be pre-loaded with funds and used on the subways in the city, too.
2. New York Waterway Ferry: A few steps from the entrance to the RV park is the NY Waterway Ferry, which takes passengers directly from Liberty Harbor to Pier 11/Wall Street. Cost is $7 per person (one-way) and the ride across the Hudson takes about 12 minutes. It’s a pretty cool viewpoint of the downtown area and drops you right at the foot of Wall Street.
3. Uber / Tow Car: Cost and time can vary significantly ($12 toll + traffic) when driving into NYC, but it’s always an option should you desire a car ride into the city. Personally, I’d stick to the train or ferry though.
NYC traffic can be frustrating! Park the RV and take advantage of the train and subway systems.
What to Do in the Big Apple
New York City is so expansive, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip. We suggest breaking up your days by location in Manhattan, cutting down on travel and allowing you to pack in plenty of NYC fun.
Day 1: Explore Downtown
Take the PATH from Grove Street to World Trade Center
1. 9/11 Memorial & Museum – Begin the day with an incredibly moving experience at Ground Zero. The memorial is free, but for the best experience, reserve a 60-minute guided tour of both the memorial and museum.
2. Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island – Make the brief walk down to Battery Park, where you can hop the ferry to both the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Total tour time is 3 hours.
3. Wander the Financial District – Time for lunch! Head to nearby and oh-so-quaint Stone Street where you’ll discover a plethora of great food options. On summer weekends, the street is packed with tables for a fun, vibrant atmosphere. After lunch, snap a picture with the Charging Bull and in front of the New York Stock Exchange, and check out Trinity Church at the foot of Wall Street.
Stone Street during a December 2016 visit. In the summer, this places really comes to life with tables from restaurants lining the street.
4. Towns within a City – Time for your first subway (or cab) ride! Make the quick trip up to do some street shopping on Canal Street, and see what Chinatown and Little Italy are all about. Sample a cannoli or gelato from most any Little Italy establishment, and head to “America’s first pizzeria,” Lombardi’s, for a casual, but delicious dinner. Expect a wait!
Zip back down to Pier 11/Wall Street and enjoy a Ferry ride home.
Leaving downtown NYC, heading back to Jersey City.
Day 2: Discover the Villages
Take the PATH from Grove Street to Christopher Street
1. Brunch at Philip Marie – Start the day right with brunch a few blocks from the PATH stop. Aside from being in our old neighborhood, reasonable prices and big portions make this one of our favorites.
2. Walk the High Line – Stretch your legs along the High Line, a public park built on a historic freight line rail. It takes you through/above the trendy Meatpacking District and Chelsea.
3. Wander the Streets of West/Greenwich Village – With endless shops and charming streets, wandering down Bleeker Street and through the Village is always a favorite of tourists and locals alike. Nearby Washington Square Park is a great spot to rest your feet, enjoy some street music, and take in the eclectic scene.
Wandering the streets of NYC.
4. Shop in SoHo – Explore SoHo, whose quaint streets house everything from high-end boutiques to mainstream retailers. Keep a lookout for local celebs and prepare for crowds!
5. Happy Hour – Time for a beverage? Check out the oldest continuous operating saloon in NYC, McSorley’s Old Ale House, or take in some epic city views at 230 5th Rooftop Bar. If you’re up for dinner, grab a cab to Malaparte, a lovely laid-back Italian restaurant on a quiet street corner in West Village – my favorite spot in the city.
Day 3: Take on Midtown & Uptown
Take the PATH from Grove Street to 33rd Street
1. Empire State Building – The PATH train drops you a mere block from this iconic building. Snag tickets and head to the top floor observatory for awesome panoramic views of the city. Also in the area, pop in Macy’s massive eight-story flagship store and see the historic Madison Square Garden.
2. Central Park – By now you’re becoming an expert, so hop the subway up to Columbus Circle and take a stroll through Central Park, up to Tavern on the Green – the perfect spot for a rest and exquisite lunch. Or for a budget-friendly option, grab a hot dog and a Coke from a street vendor! If you’re into museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is not to be missed. It’s a quick cab ride to the northeast part of Central Park.
Sorry Ella, no pets allowed on the Subway! For us people though, there’s no better (and cost-effective) way to tour around NYC.
3. Window Shop on 5th Avenue – Start at the southeast corner of Central Park, and walk south on 5th Avenue, admiring the many beautiful storefronts. Along the way, make stops at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center.
4. Times Square – Brace yourself for crowds, and head to the world famous Times Square. It’s certainly the most “touristy” place in NYC, but it’s a must see. Snap a few images and end your night with a Broadway Show. Lion King and Wicked were personal favorites, but be sure to book tickets in advance.
The always-bustling Times Square in Midtown NYC.
Truthfully, we’re only scratching the surface of all there is do in New York City. And while you’re sure to enjoy the bevy of activities you choose, I promise, there’s nothing quite like waking up in your RV at the doorstep of NYC.
One of the most common questions we receive from interested future RVers is, “Why did you choose a motorhome over a travel trailer?”
It’s a question we’ve contemplated quite extensively, and one my wife Brittany and I also asked ourselves a few years ago before jumping into the RV lifestyle. After a good deal of back and forth, our first purchase actually landed us with a 28-ft travel trailer that we pulled with a half-ton diesel truck.
Our former truck/travel trailer combo, parked outside a Prada store art exhibit (Marfa, Texas)
We lived and traveled full-time throughout North America in the combination for the duration of 2016, before more recently switching to a 24-ft Winnebago View. We also live full-time in the View while we travel across America for our 2017 project, The Ultimate Golf Road Trip.
While we don’t claim to be seasoned RV veterans, our research and experiences traveling full-time in both a small motorhome and a travel trailer have lent us a great perspective to address this common question.
The short answer? It all depends on your wants and needs. Below we take a look at some of the most important considerations and specifically compare a class C motorhome to a mid-sized travel trailer.
Cost: Weighing the impact to your bank account
1) Upfront Cost
Simply put, a class C motorhome is sure to cost more than a like-condition travel trailer. There are a lot of variables that can come into play here (i.e. new vs. used, the need to purchase a vehicle capable of towing the travel trailer, etc.), but generally speaking, a travel trailer can be acquired for less.
For example, we initially purchased a used 2007 travel trailer and a used 2002 diesel truck. Including renovations and a few upgrades, our initial cost was around $33,000. By comparison, our used 2012 Winnebago View was nearly double that upfront cost (although it is a much newer unit).
Comparing a new class C to a new travel trailer/truck combination, you’d likely arrive at prices that are much closer in value, but the bottom line is if you’re on a tighter budget, the travel trailer can certainly provide an attractive price point.
2) Ongoing Maintenance
As you might expect, the ongoing maintenance of the class C motorhome tends to be higher than a travel trailer. In part, because you have both the RV components and the vehicle components (i.e. engine, filters, etc.) to maintain. This cost will fluctuate with the frequency of use (and luck!), but for full-time traveling, we’ve budgeted around $200-250 a month on average for our View, and about a quarter of that amount for the travel trailer/truck combo.
Powered by a diesel engine, we get around 15-16 mpg in the class C motorhome (with no tow car) compared to 10-11 mpg pulling the travel trailer. Though you might see a slight decrease in the 15-16 mpg if you pull a tow vehicle, you could enjoy zipping around town at 40+ mpg with a fuel-efficient car for use once parked.
No truck stop needed with the class C Winnebago View; any gas station will do!
4) Depreciation & Resale Value
We often hear that cars are a “terrible” investment. Why? Well, when’s the last time you sold a car for more than the purchase price!? Both motorhomes and travel trailers sit on wheels and fall into that dark category of a depreciating asset – you will, inevitably, likely sell either for significantly less than purchased.
However, you may experience less (or slower) depreciation in a travel trailer, because it doesn’t have an engine, like a motorhome. In fact, we ended up selling our travel trailer one-year after purchase for a few hundred dollars more than the overall purchase cost. It’s a topic that can be addressed from various angles – for more on how to think about the depreciation and resale topics, check out A Business Approach to Buying a Motorhome.
Travel Days: The experience between destinations
1) Frequency of Use
While full-time RVers like ourselves get their money’s worth, those who purchase for part-time use like weekend trips and annual vacations need to consider how frequently they’ll be out on the road. A class C can be a big investment if it’s only being used a few weeks out of the year, and it may be less painful to see a less expensive travel trailer sitting idle in the driveway.
Consider how often you’ll be able to do trips like this (Fort McAllister State Park, Savannah, GA)
I will note that there are ways to get creative and earn income while you’re motorhome (or trailer) isn’t in use. New companies like Rvshare.com make it easy for RV owners to rent out their units while not in use.
I vividly recall our first “wrong turn” into a crowded Chick-fil-a parking lot while pulling our 28-foot travel trailer. While we did come out unscathed, it was a dicey situation, to say the least! With our class C Winnebago View, we have no issues whipping in-and-out of crowded areas with relative ease.
The compact nature of the class C motorhome allows far greater flexibility than a trailer during “travel days.” It makes the little things like stopping to fill up gas, to more impactful experiences like the ability to drive iconic Highway 1 on the California coast, more accessible and possible than when pulling a travel trailer from destination to destination.
3) Comfort while driving
When you’ve got an all-in-one unit like the class C motorhome, things like napping, bathroom breaks, grabbing a quick snack, and working from the “office” (aka dinette table) are all still possible without a stop required. Brittany routinely enjoys these activities while I continue to pilot the drive to our next destination. These all require a stop when traveling with a trailer.
Brittany’s workstation during travel days in our View. Built in seat-belts make for a safe journey, too!
Also, the compact Class C is very easy to drive (in my opinion, it maneuvers much like a large SUV) relative to pulling the travel trailer. I used to do all the driving (yes, all 20,000 miles in 2016!), but Brittany is able to comfortably drive our Winnebago View, allowing us to split driving time.
One other key factor is driving speed. Though I sometimes see others ripping down the highway with their trailers, we were never comfortable going faster than 62-65 mph – especially in windy conditions. In the Class C, we’re able to drive the speed limit, which comes in handy for those 75-80 mph speed zones you often find in less populated areas of the country. It makes a big difference over the course of a few driving days.
Brittany at the helm of our Winnebago View. The compact nature of the Class C makes for easy driving.
Camping: Enjoying the destination
1) Living space and storage
Although the Class C View has a great use of space, at the end of the day we’re still talking about 150-sq feet of livable area. We’ve gotten used to small spaces, but it doesn’t compare to our 28-foot travel trailer that boasted 275-sq feet. Perhaps the toughest adjustment going from a full queen-sized bed to a much smaller mattress in the class C (especially when the dog and cat insist on joining). If you’re only in your rig for a few days or week at a time, space may not be a big deal. But for longer stays, be sure you’re comfortable with the size.
Room for us, mom and dad? Sometimes we miss the queen-sized mattress offered by our travel trailer.
Before any purchases, head to an RV dealership to walk through various models of both motorhomes and travel trailers. It will give you a good sense of what is doable for your lifestyle.
2) Go-go-go vs. stay and play
Once you arrive at your destination, the set-up is pretty quick and easy with a class C. Pull or back into the spot, ensure you’re level and hook up to water/power/sewer (assuming you’re at a campground/RV park). A travel trailer requires the same steps, with the added step of unhooking the chains, sway bars and hitch.
It’s not a big deal if you’re not moving around much, but for those planning to go-go-go, it’s enough of a burden to quickly make you consider a class C. On the flip side, if you’ll be staying in one location and exploring the area, without a tow car, you’ll need to drive the class C around town. It’s a slight inconvenience, but setup is so quick it hasn’t been a big deal for us. Also, a few bicycles can make all the difference!
No tow car, no problem! Bikes can be a fun way to explore (or run a quick errand) while parked
3) Be our guest
It’s fun to travel or camp with others, but the more people along for the ride means the more cramped living quarters become. Most class C motorhomes sleep 4-6 people, while travel trailers can sleep upwards of 8-10 (depending on layout).
We found that 4 people in our travel trailer were no big deal, however it makes for pretty tight quarters in our Winnebago View.
It’s not as spacious, but entertaining dinner guests in our View is still possible and fun!
So which one trumps the other: class C motorhome or travel trailer? Well, as the old saying goes, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. Evaluate which aspects are most important to you and will best suit your own personal needs. Either way, I can promise that the experiences and memories you’ll create RVing, are well worth the investment.
Nothing beats the experience of traveling by RV (Biloxi, Mississippi)