Finding the best RV routes, good campgrounds, friendly people, great local "Mom & Pop" restaurants and posting our RV route maps, reviews, tips, prices & photos both here and on our website – snowbirdrvtrails.com
One of our favorite lunch stops is directly on the beach in Clearwater. Fantastic burgers, lobster salad wraps, cold drinks and a sea breeze.
They offer both inside seating with a large bar and plenty of tables are available outside on the open air deck. The railing is about 50 yards from the water’s edge. There’s plenty of free parking (perhaps with the exception of during Spring Break) with a lot reserved for patrons. The entire deck is covered overhead with large awnings that are electrically extended as the sun moves overhead. The Palm Pavilion is also a great vantage point from which to watch the technicolor sunsets develop in the late afternoons, perhaps with a favorite beverage close by. First the sky and then the sea turn a brilliant orange on a perfect day and it’s nearly as beautiful on any and every other day.
There’s always a talented musician singing and playing audience requests every afternoon. The music, the food, and the scenery make for a perfect place to spend valuable time doing absolutely nothing beautifully.
A nice leisurely drive down I-75 for 178 miles brought us across the Georgia-Florida line to Lake City, Florida and one of our regular stopovers at Oaks ‘n Pines RV Resort. It’s 7 miles East of I-75, just off I-10 Exit 303. It is a Passport America member and run by one of the nicest couples you will find (along with their 34 lb black cat!). It’s FHU, 30/50 Amp, level pull-thrus with free cable and WiFi for $22.20/night PA.
If you should happen to stay 2 nights, as we do, be sure to check out the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant in Lake City for great steaks and a perfect slab of BBQ ribs and/or The Gondolier Restaurant for great Italian and Greek fare. You won’t be disappointed with either and they offer a discount if you mention you are staying at Oaks ‘n Pines.
Day 24 – Our last day on the Snowbird RV Trail for this trip as we cruise down I-75 for our Winter destination near East Tampa.
All-in-all a great trip with no mechanical difficulie’s and we made some new friends. We visited 5 new campgrounds among the 9 we stopped at, and traveled a good distance along I-75, “America’s Busiest Interstate,” which we had not done before. Again, smooth sailing and no problems along I-75.
24 Days on the road.
Covering 2,773 miles (RV tow mileage was 1,909; 864 miles were “exploring”).
Gasoline cost: $809.74 (Most expensive in NY; cheapest in GA).
Restaurant cost: $564.21 (Usually dined out once per day).
Campgrounds: $539.95 (Savings of $153 with Passport America and Good Sam).
Propane: $54 (It was beginning to get chilly up North!)
Fair Harbor RV Park & Campground, Perry, Georgia is just off I-75, Exit 135. It is 220 miles from our previous stop at Chattanooga Holiday Trav-L-Park. Fair Harbor is a Passport America member but they will charge regular price if you make a reservation. Unusual rule but they are adamant about it (with attitude). We paid $34.50/night with Good Sam discount. It is a nicely laid out park with pull-thrus, FHU, free cable and WiFi. Streets are paved and sites are gravel and nearly level.
This stop is only one half hour’s drive from Andersonville National Park – the infamous Confederate prison camp of Civil War days. The place has haunted me to some degree since I read MacKinlay Kantor’s novel back in the 60’s. How could such a place have existed? It was only open 15 months and housed 45,000 Union prisoners, of which over 13,000 died due to the inhuman conditions.
We took the trip over and found the same notice on the gate as with most other National Parks, “Closed due to the Government shutdown”.
A short ways away from the locked Park gates we found Andersonville, the small town which was the rail depot and local support for the prison. Many of the buildings have been rebuilt giving us some insight into what it was like back in the day.
Since we were half way to the hometown of a fairly famous peanut farmer, we decided to extend our day trip to visit Plains, Georgia, hometown of the 39th President of the USA, Jimmy Carter. It’s a very small farming community that’s very proud of their favorite son. Both the Museum and the boyhood farm were closed, again due to the lack of a National Government with common sense but we did enjoy the visit. We even sampled some local peanut ice cream. No, not peanut butter flavor, this was pure peanut. We decided we knew why it didn’t catch on across the country.
The Carters do have a residence in town and we easily found it because it was the only the one with a high fence and Secret Service manning the gates.
Directly across the street and train track from main street is brother Billy Carter’s Service Station, from which innumerable quotes came – along with Billy Beer – during his brother’s tenure. It’s now a museum to all things Billy.
So many places were closed to us but the trip was still well worth the effort. Not only did we see the areas we have heard and read about but the scenery we passed was fantastic, from the pecan groves with their huge trees lined up in perfect rows from every viewing direction, all standing in closely mowed fields of grass to the huge cotton fields, peach orchards and fields of peanuts being harvested for processing in the former Carter Peanut Plant in Plains.
We had dinner in an antebellum home in Perry which came highly recommended. The name of the restaurant is Swanson’s. The building is the former home of a prosperous livery stable owner built in a previous century. The food was reasonably priced and fairly well prepared.
Our next (and last) stop before reaching our Winter home near Tampa will be in Lake City, Florida. It’s a favorite whenever we pass this way into Northern Florida. The final posting for this trip will have all of the stats including costs and mileages.
Holiday Trav-L-Park of Chattanooga is located less than a mile off I-75, Tennessee Exit 1 (it’s mailing address is actually Rossville, Georgia). Just 220 miles from our previous stop in Renfro Valley, Kentucky. Easy access off and on I-75. Approximately 200 sites mostly pull-thrus with FHU, free cable and reasonably good WiFi. It’s a well maintained park with cheerful and helpful hosts. That said we rate it as okay for a night or 2 but too crowded (to us) for an extended stay. We paid $35.10/night for 50A, FHU with Good Sam discount.
The RV Park is actually where an Indiana Regiment bivouacked before some fierce fighting on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge back in 1863. There is a path to the stone marker proclaiming such within the Park.
There is much to see and do in Chattanooga, from Civil War Battlefields, to Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Tennessee River cruises on the Southern Belle, and we bet you didn’t know Chattanooga is also home for the International Towing and Recovery Museum (Tow trucks through the ages and it has excellent reviews).
We decided to travel to the top of Lookout mountain. Neither of us are especially fond of heights but usually end up at the top of something anyway. Lookout Mountain definitely qualifies as the top of a very beautiful view. Folklore maintains you can see 7 States on a clear day and the Mountain actually is partially within 3 States.
The road to the top is narrow and breathtaking (literally) at certain spots. We both were glad we weren’t towing the trailer, but then in the parking lot at the top we find all manner of motorhomes and rigs, so it can be done.
We rate Chattanooga as a great city to visit but were not overjoyed with the RV Park. The highlight of this stopover was when we asked the hostess what she would recommend as a local “Mom & Pop restaurant” with good homecooking.
She recommended Portofino’s Italian Restaurant which we had passed on our way in from the Interstate. We loved the food and rate it as one of the 2 best local Italian restaurants we have found in our travels. If you happen to be traveling I-75, anywhere near Tennessee Exit 1 at mealtime, do yourself a big favor and stop into Portofino’s. It’s not the cheapest but we rate it a best value for the money spent and you will not be disappointed.
Our next stop down I-75 will be for 2 nights in Perry, Georgia.
218 miles from Ninevah, Indiana (or 240 miles from Marengo, Ohio if coming down I-71 or I-75 and skipping Indiana).
Renfro Valley Entertainment Center is a combination RV Park, motel, Historic Lodge Restaurant, Country Music Hall, and a line of shops with country “stuff” for sale. There’s a different music show nightly Wednesday through Saturday, and 5 different shows spread out through Saturday afternoons/evenings. Last night, Wednesday, was “Renfro Valley Country Style”; tonight is the Renfro Valley 50’s Show.
PA 1/2 price camping is Sunday thru Wednesday only. Normal pricing $28.95 – $35.45 for 30/50Amp, FHU and Cable.
We did go to dinner at the “Historic Lodge Restaurant” after setting up our first night – a very old log building that has been serving patrons for many years. The prices were very good and the food was tasty so it worked out okay amongst huge dollops of “Honey” and “Sweetie” in that honest Kentucky mountain twang. We now know we are back in the South!
Adjacent to and across the creek from the RV Park are the huge barns that hold the music shows. Many top Country performers have engagements here during the Summer and the local talent are regulars in the weekly and special Christmas shows.
There is also a small colonial village showing how life was lived in Kentucky’s earliest days, along with a turn of the century “Main Street” with a grist mill, general store and other shops selling ice cream and today-type items.
Also next door is the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Museum. A very short distance away is Lake Linville with a Marina, VFW boondock camping area, and great fishing – we are told.
Gas and diesel are readily available from 4 service stations and a truck stop at this Exit.
Our next stop down I-75 will be Chattanooga, Tennessee.
241 miles from Marengo, Ohio and just South of Indianapolis.
Formerly part of the Camp Atterbury Army Base. A WWII training base and POW camp. Again a quiet country setting. $20/night/50Amp. Most of the sites are pull-thrus with 30Amp, water connection, and a dump station on the way out.
Johnson County Park is our favorite stopover in the Indianapolis/Bloomington area . You can find more about it on our website at http://www.snowbirdrvtrails.com/franklin.htm.
We spend a week here each Fall and and enjoy the week-long Red Cross Book Sale with over 100,000 books for sale in nearby Bloomington, IN (Home of Indiana University).
Gas is available at the OH-31 ramp rejoining I-65.
Cardinal Center Campground, 616 OH-61, Marengo, Ohio is just North of Columbus at Exit 140 off I-71 (175 miles from our previous stop in Conneaut, OH). It’s another easy off/on campground in a country setting. $31/night with Senior discount. Long pull-thrus with large grassy areas between sites. Full-hookups, free WiFi, indoor heated pool, and a small store.
This large complex is also the home of the Ohio State Trapshooters Association and all is surrounded by large farm fields.
The Farmstead Restaurant is also on the property and we had dinner there our first night.
As it is a small farming community there is not much to explore but we did enjoy the peace and serenity as there are only 3 other RV’s in this section of over 100 sites . The weather was in the 70’s with lots of sunshine.
If you travel this route (I-71) we would highly recommend this campground. There is a Pilot/Flying J Truckstop at the same exit as well as the Farmstead Restaurant,a laundromat, and a car-wash.
Next stop on our Snowbird route will be just South of Indianapolis where we will be spending a week visiting with family. Then we will continue our trip South by picking up I-75 near Lexington Kentucky, then Tennessee, Georgia and on into Florida. We know that I-75 is a favorite route with many Snowbirds and we want to find some nice, reasonable, and fun stopovers.