Tips for RV Camping Along the National Road

Ready for a road trip that you’ll talk about for years? RV travelers who haven’t yet discovered The Historic National Road will want to take notice. We’ve got the details you’ll need to travel the highway that spurred America’s Western Expansion, and has intrigued RV camping fans ever since.

Planning RV Travel on the National Road

Where to go and what to see? Those are questions any wise traveler asks while planning a trip, and we can help with the answers. The Historic National Road stretches east to west from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to Eads Bridge on the Mississippi River at St. Louis.

The first road built with federal highway funds (from 1811 to 1837), this route rolls across six states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois – for more than eight hundred miles, now primarily part of US-40.

Once the road west for thousands of settlers, entrepreneurs and adventure seekers, there’s no reason intrepid RV travelers can’t capture that same sense of adventure and set out along the National Road to discover America.

As you go, plan to explore historic sites in each state to gain more understanding of this highway’s significance. Here are just a few of the places you’ll want to discover:

  • The Red Brick Tavern in Lafayette, Ohio began serving the stagecoach trade on the National Road in 1837 and still serves patrons today. By the way, stagecoaches and Conestoga wagon were the primary modes of transportation on the way West. Quite a difference from today’s luxurious recreational vehicles!
  • National Road Corridor Historic District in Wheeling, West Virginia is worthy of an extended visit, thanks to the many beautifully restored structures on the National Register of Historic Places. From the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum to the stunning nineteenth century mansions throughout the district, 1830s atmosphere is everywhere. Don’t miss the Wheeling Suspension Bridge!
  • Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Uniontown, PA dates back to the French and Indian Wars and is also home to Mount Washington Tavern, another popular stopping-off place along the National Road in the 1830s and 1840s. The tavern now serves as a museum.
  • Casselman River Bridge State Park in Grantsville, Maryland features an eighty-foot single span stone bridge built in 1813 as part of the earliest construction on the National Road. The park attracts history and architecture buffs, as well as fly fishermen who enjoy the sport along the Casselman River.
  • Huddleston Farmhouse, Indiana, is located sixty miles east of Indianapolis on the National Road. In the 1840s, this family farm served as a way station for thousands of travelers coming and going from the Western frontier.

We’ve shared just a small sampling of the places RVers can explore as they trek the Historic National Road from Maryland to Illinois. Use the Road’s official site to expand your own excursion.

Whether you’ll be renting an RV for the journey or driving your family’s motorhome, finding a campground can start with a look at our handy list of RV campgrounds in each state.

The Historic National Road—the highway that made travel to the American West a reality. For today’s intrepid RV travelers, it’s a road trip filled with memories. You’re sure to come home with a deep appreciation for the folks who set the stage for the journeys that built America.

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RV Camping with Kids—Five Reasons It’s a Win

If you’ve shied away from RV camping with the kids, this is a great time to take a second look. Getting your youngsters away from home, in an outdoor space that’s extraordinary, can be a winning formula for families. From building life skills to nurturing a love of nature, RV camping offers dozens of reasons for bringing the kids along. Here are just five to help you start thinking about a family RV camping vacation.

Camping Can Teach Your Kids Skills

It’s tempting, especially when traveling with cranky kids or teens, to pull into the campground and rush about doing everything yourself. But what if, instead, you assigned a skill-building chore to each youngster?

Learning how to cook over a fire ring, how to hook up a campground water line and check for leaks or how to plan for and pack essential supplies are all skills their peers may never learn. Those types of skills promote independence and a sense of accomplishment, especially if they’re taught by a patient adult who knows they might burn a few burgers before they get things right.

One more bonus: you’ll be bringing up another generation of able campers who might just invite you along when they take their own kids camping!

Camping Nurtures a Love of Nature

What better way to protect our nation’s natural resources than to raise kids with a love of nature? Kids who go camping are exposed to the splendor of mountain lakes, tree lined trails and desert sunsets. It may take a while, if they’ve been glued to screens all winter, to get them to look up and notice the beauty around them, but by sharing your own enthusiasm for America’s natural wonders, you can nurture an avid nature lover.

Don’t just point them to natural wonders while camping, get out there with them and hike, fish or watch for wildlife. Show them the secrets of the desert at night, the wonder of sunrise over a misty lake or trails that lead to surprising places. Not sure how to start? America’s national parks are well-equipped to encourage a kid’s love of nature, with fascinating ranger-led hikes and talks, Junior Ranger discovery programs and visitor centers that explore the sights and science of each park.

Camping Encourages Outdoor Activity

This may be the number one reason parents take kids camping! They’re tired of seeing their kids parked on couches and hope to encourage more physical, outdoor activity.

The range of ways your kids or grandkids could be active outdoors while camping is staggering. Hiking, biking, climbing, trail running, paddling, water or snow skiing, swimming and simply walking from the campground to the beach are just a few of the ways young campers can enjoy being outdoors.

Plan vacations around outdoor recreation and then set the example by joining in. Here are some ideas to help you plan:

  • Arches National Park in southern Utah is custom-made for camping families, with plenty of trails that won’t wear out the young ones. Challenge the kids to count the arches as you hike, and encourage them to get up close and explore the geological mysteries that make up this awesome landscape.
  • Go RV camping in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and join the ranger-led hikes to lakes, forests and mountain lookouts.
  • Introduce the youngsters to Yellowstone National Park, first with a scenic drive to get your bearings in this vast space, and then with hikes planned to see waterfalls, wildlife, geysers and more.
  • Not a lot of time for a camping vacation? Even a trip to a local lake offers places to get outdoors and be active.

Camping Builds Family Connections

Whether you’re RV camping with grandkids, nieces and nephews or your own brood, being out in nature can connect your family in ways that might surprise you. Build memories for a child to cherish by sharing your love for outdoor spaces.   kids_campfire_shutterstock_212954773

Teach them the activities and skills you learned as a child. They’ll remember years from now the day they caught their first sunfish with the help of Auntie Jane or the campfire cuisine Grandpa helped them create for the family.

Being away from familiar surroundings and exploring, learning and doing things they might never get to do at home can connect your family more deeply. Keep things simple and relaxed around the campsite and plan activities with the kids in mind to promote a camping vacation that strengthens family ties.

Camping Can Kindle Creativity

Imagine the things that might capture the attention of a budding artist or writer while surrounded by forests, sand dunes, waterfalls or mountain peaks. Giving kids the gift of an RV camping vacation might just light the spark of lifetime creativity.

Encourage creative camping by bringing along cameras, sketch pads, watercolors, journals and craft supplies. Give your kids or grandkids the freedom to create what the beauty around them inspires, and then be sure to applaud their efforts. Who knows…you could be nurturing the next Ansel Adams!

Being outdoors with young ones opens our eyes to things we may have missed. It allows us to pass along cherished camping traditions, a love of nature and the skills they’ll use for years to come. Most of all, it connects us in ways that might not be obvious, and every family RV camping vacation can be a new adventure turned memory.

Take the kids camping soon, it’s an experience every family should discover.

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How to Plan the Perfect RV Camping Family Reunion

Does your family need new ideas for making your family reunions fun for all ages? Why not plan a reunion in the great outdoors, complete with RV comfort and convenience? We’ve pulled together the perfect plan for bringing your family together for an RV camping reunion.

Step 1: Family RV Inventory

Start floating the idea to one and all that you’d like to go camping for this year’s reunion. Once your relatives have agreed that camping together sounds like a blast, your next step is to find out how many motorhomes your extended family already has. You might be surprised to learn that Cousin Jerry regularly camps in a fifth-wheel and Uncle Joe has driven his Class A ‘bus style’ RV from New York to LA.

Once you’ve taken inventory of available motorhomes, you can do the next two steps—pick your location and rent RVs for the overflow.

Step 2: Pick Your Location

Asking what style motorhomes are already in the family helps you choose the right location and type of campground. Some larger RVs, for example, require 50amp hookups, so you’ll need to look for a campground with that amenity.

But the biggest consideration is what reunion activities will the family enjoy? Will your relatives want to fish, boat and swim? A lakeside campground at a scenic state park would be a great choice. If the goal is to camp close to hiking and biking trails, investigate state parks, national parks or national recreation areas with plenty of room to roam. Remember to check for on-site or nearby campgrounds that can accommodate your size of group and reserve the sites you’ll need before you go.

More thoughts on location—if your relatives love the idea of mountain camping, consider Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado or Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. For a gathering of sun-worshipping siblings, why not book several campsites at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA? We’re blessed in the USA to have national parks, state parks and camper-friendly lakes and rivers all over the map. Email some location ideas to your clan and reserve your campsites based on their top picks.

Step 3: Rent RVs for the Overflow

Some families will find that there are plenty of motorhome beds to accommodate their gathering. If you determine, however, that you’re short an RV or two, don’t panic! We’re happy to help set up RV rentals, either in your loved ones’ home cities or near your family camping destination.

Use this quick link to access the types of motorhomes we offer and where you can rent them.

Step 4: Deal with the Details

The success of any family reunion is in the details, and an RV camping reunion is no exception! With a place to gather chosen and accommodations reserved, all that’s left is to decide who will bring what and how much. Will one person purchase groceries for the group or each family bring their own? Potluck meals are always fun and give campers the chance to show off their outdoor cooking skills.

A rookie reunion camping mistake is assuming everyone will know what to bring! All it takes is a little communication to settle details such as who will bring groceries, camp stoves and utensils, what equipment is needed for group activities and any special regulations in place at your venue. If your location has a website with camping and activity information, send the link to your loved ones so they’ll know what to expect.

Planning your RV camping family reunion doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Plan together to pick a great spot, make sure you have the RVs you need and settle the details for meals and activities before you’re thirty miles from a Walmart. Because you’ve planned well, your RV camping family reunion is liable to become a cherished family tradition.

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Top 5 Orlando Winter Events that are Worth a Stop

Are your RV travel plans steering you towards Orlando this winter? If so, you’re probably looking for something special to do or a one-of-a-kind event to attend. Luckily the Sunshine State is always alive with things to do. From theme park festivals to cultural events you can only find locally, winter events in Orlando will have you slowing down, stopping for fun and enjoying a break from the open road.

1. Busch Gardens Real Music Concert Series

January 5-March 6, 2015, Tampa

Make a stop in Tampa and listen to the grooves of live music spanning the 1950s to today. Real Music Concerts are free with a Busch Gardens ticket so you can also spend the day at the park exploring animal habitats and hop on a ride or two if you’re a thrill seeker. The line-up for 2015 includes Herman’s Hermits, Shirley Jones, The Diamonds, The Grass Roots and more. Concerts are held at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm, Monday through Friday.

2. Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival & Birdapalooza

February 7, 2015 9am to 4pm Magnolia Park

Get close to nature during this second annual event. Birdapalooza celebrates the rich variety of birds and wildlife found in the natural habitat of Lake Apopka, Florida. During your day at Florida’s third largest lake, take part in free birding tours and outdoor recreation. If you’re a bird enthusiast you’ll delight at spotting rare birds like bald eagles, great blue herons, snowy egrets and mottled ducks.

3. Mount Dora Arts Festival

February 7-8, 2015 10am to 5pm Donnelly Park

Listen to local and regional musical talent while browsing endless rows of fine art. It’s a true day in the park during the Mount Dora Arts Festival. The juried arts show is located in Downtown Mount Dora, a quant New England-esque town bordering Lake Dora. It’s a beautiful backdrop for an event that is artistic yet casual. Come hungry, too, as a food vendors and local downtown restaurants will be serving great food at reasonable prices.

4. Florida Strawberry Festival

February 26-March 8, 2015, Plant City

Remember a time when fairs and festivals brought communities together? The Florida Strawberry Festival strives to do that each year with their Americana and harvest themed event. Over the course of eleven days, a myriad of events and exhibits occur. Look forward to exhibits on agriculture, fine arts, horticulture and crafts, as well as parades, marching bands and top notch entertainment acts such as Alabama, Reba McEntire, Craig Morgan, Dan+Shay, John Legend, Boyz II Men, Loretta Lynn, Hunter Hayes, MercyMe and many, many more. You may be asking why the event is held in Plant City. It’s actually the perfect place as more than 10,000 acres of strawberries are planted annually.

5. Universal Orlando Resort’s Mardi Gras

February 7-April 18, 2015

You may be in the heart of Florida, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a taste of The Big Easy. On select nights, Universal Orlando hosts Mardi Gras – a larger-than-life extravaganza,
featuring an amazing concert line-up, a jazzy mix of Cajun cuisine, see-it-to-believe-it street performers and boldly fashioned parade floats. Each night of Universal Studios Mardi Gras is a party! Purchase Universal Orlando tickets to ensure you’re invited to Mardi Gras – Florida style!

Looking for more? Mark your map for these bonus stops.

Bonus 1: Lakeridge Winery hosts free festivities, wine tours and tastings. Plus, a Winter Wine Festival is held each Saturday night in January and WINEFEST XXV takes place February 13-15, 2015.

Bonus 2: Love classic cars? Old Town in Kissimmee hosts classic car shows each Friday and Old Town classic car showSaturday. On Wednesdays, doo-wop music, dancing and a cruise-in add a throwback element to the fun.

Bonus 3: Want to sit back, relax and listen to music? Head to The Villages. A variety of concerts are held throughout the year, with January and February playing host to Silver Creek Band, The 45s, Doo Wop ‘n Rock, Prairie Junction Band and a variety of others.

Click here to book your winter Orlando RV trip!

Bio: Ashley is Reserve Orlando’s travel expert, offering the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

 

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