RV Adventure – February and March Florida Festivals!

Florida is home to so many exciting festivals while the rest of the country is freezing that it is hard to resist the call to come south for the winter! If you have been in the Sunshine State before in late February and early March, you will know that there are many things to do – enough to keep you happily occupied with lots of food, music and fun. Here are a few of the upcoming festivals to mark on your calendar.

Florida Strawberry Festival from February 27th – March 8th. There is no shortage of fun and entertainment at this annual event, now in its 85th year! The Florida Strawberry Festival is an 11-day community event celebrating the strawberry harvest of Eastern Hillsborough County. Each year, over 500,000 visitors enjoy the festival’s headline entertainment, youth livestock shows, rides, commerce exhibits and, of course, its famous strawberry shortcake.

The 2020 Battle of the Bands has been whittled down to the Top Ten, who will be performing there. There are a variety of free entertainment options at the Festival in various locations around the park.  In addition, some top headline artists will include Reba McEntire, The Oak Ridge Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Patti LaBelle, Rascal Flatts and many others. Check the Florida Strawberry Festival website for the full lineup of entertainment. The Florida Strawberry Festival was started in 1930 by the local Lions Club to help promote the local strawberry crop. Despite a few years off due to World War II, it is still flourishing in eastern Hillsborough County, about a half hour east of Tampa.

If you are a sea-foodie, come and enjoy the Grant – Valkaria Seafood Festival, February 29th and March 1st at the Grant Event Grounds – located between Melbourne and Sebastian Inlet State Park, off US 1 in Grant. For more information about this festival that is special to all the wonderful families and individuals, crafters and cooks, sponsors and performers who support it, see the link above for their website.

Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival – March 5th to March 8th, Sunshine Grove, Okeechobee, FL – The Okeechobee Music + Arts Festival is back this year for a full weekend of music, camping, art, and unique transformational experiences! The festival will take place amongst 800 acres of lush grasslands, lakes, woods, and jungle in Sunshine Grove, Florida, with nature-filled and lakeside camping options.

In addition to OMF’s three main stages, dance music lovers will gravitate towards Jungle 51, dusk till dawn dance party nestled in the heart of the jungle that has hosted some of the biggest names in house and techno in recent years. From dawn till dusk, OMF attendees will again be able to experience Aquachobee Beach, situated in the scenic background where Sunshine Grove’s jungle meets the white sand beach, which will give Okeechobeeings the chance to catch daytime live music sets while swimming and sunbathing.

Daytona Bike Week – March 6th – 15th – Daytona Beach, FL – Daytona Bike Week, the world’s largest motorcycle event, is celebrating 79 years in 2020!

It’s an event you won’t want to miss. This year’s 10-day event proves it’s high-octane with street festivals, concerts, motorcycle races, bike shows, rallies, manufacturer showcases and more. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world enjoy spring riding in Daytona Beach along historic Main Street to Midtown, Scenic A1A Highway and through the best of old Florida, the Ormond Beach Scenic Loop. The celebration continues at Daytona International Speedway, Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona, and the U.S. 1 corridors in Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach.

Wondering how to travel to these Festivals? Come in your RV so you’re already set to stay as long as you wish in either locale.

Need to Rent an RV?

You can easily rent one of our RV’s at one of our Florida El Monte locations. It is only an hour from Orlando to Tampa and just 40 minutes from Orlando to Plant City. Check out availability for your travel dates on our Where you can Rent RV’s page.

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NASCAR Season Fires Off at Daytona

NASCAR fans missing the fun at their tracks for the past few months will be happy to know that racing starts again this February, with several races at Daytona, culminating on February 16th with the famous Daytona 500. Before that however, there are more Daytona events, notably the 24 hours of Daytona (now called the Rolex 24 at Daytona) on January 25th and 26th, followed by the ARCA Menards Series race on February 8th, the Daytona 500 Qualifying, presented by Kroger on February 9th, as well as the Busch Clash at Daytona on that same date.

Drivers from all over the country will arrive in Florida for the start of the 2020 season this February, ready to compete in what promises to be a very exciting NASCAR Season. On February 13th there will be a NASCAR Cup Series race called the Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona, followed the next day (Valentine’s Day) by the NextEra Energy Resources 250, NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series race. On February 15th the NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300, leading up to Sunday the 16th for the 62nd running of the Daytona 500.

Daytona will feature the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 race as the 2020 NASCAR season begins, with this showcase of speed, skill and determination as elite drivers battle the famous 2.5 mile tri-oval track, known for its 31-degree banking, to earn the title of Daytona 500 Champion.

And, to preview just a few upcoming NASCAR events following the Daytona weekend, February 23rdwill feature the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. On March 1st the Auto Club 400 will take place at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, followed by the FanShield 500 NASCAR Weekend, held at the Phoenix Raceway from March 6th – 8th, 2020.

Camping at Daytona

Any Daytona veteran will tell you that you haven’t truly experienced the “World Center of Racing” until you’ve loaded up the RV, called up your closest friends and set up camp somewhere in the 180-acre infield.

Surrounded by Daytona’s famous track, you’ll find that there’s far more happening at Daytona than just three-wide racing. Devoted race fans from all over the world descend upon every inch of the infield, creating a rich communal atmosphere from campsite-to-campsite.

Whether you’re in a decked-out motor coach or a tent is more your style, camping at DAYTONAplaces you right in the middle of the history and heritage that’s made this place world-famous.

Infield campgrounds and GEICO Park West campgrounds also include FREE Wi-Fi.

If the International Speedway happens to be full – which sometimes happens, there are other camping options in the Daytona area. Here are just a few:

  • Daytona Speedway RV
  • Finishline Park
  • Daytona Racetrack RV
  • South Daytona RV Park & Tropical Gardens

Other things to do near Daytona

There are many other attractive places to see near Daytona that will make you appreciate this gem of a location on the Atlantic.

Spend some time visiting the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens with free admission, or the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. Here, you can tour the Indian River Lagoon, North America’s most diverse estuary that has been designated as an Estuary of National Significance. Here, salt and fresh water mingle, and more than 4,000 species of plants and animals co-habit, some of which are endangered or threatened and some that are found here and nowhere else on earth. Mangrove trees line shorelines and provide habitat for many species of animals and invertebrates. Birds such as osprey, pelicans, ibis, heron, roseate spoonbills or even bald eagles are commonly seen. In the estuary, bottlenose dolphins chase schools of baitfish, and manatees charm visitors with their slow-moving, gentle ways as they swim with their newborns.

For some more nature close to the Daytona Speedway, check out Bulow Creek State Park near Ormond Beach, one of the largest remaining stands of southern live oak forests along Florida’s east coast.

If you need more information about camping in any of the 175 award-winning Florida State Parks, check out their website.

 

Need an RV?

You can rent an RV from El Monte’s Orlando Location for your trip to Daytona, only an hour away. See availability and rental rates on their page, or better yet, call them to reserve your RV as the Daytona races are very popular.

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Ideas for February Festivals

With lots of music and other festivals, February is a great month to take to the road in an RV. There is always Mardi Gras – this year falling near the end of the month on Tuesday, the 25th, but prior to that is the huge Florida State Fair, followed by the Sea-Blues Festival in Clearwater. That may be a lot of dates to remember so we made it simple for you:

February Key Dates to Note:

Feb. 6 – 17th, Florida State Fair – Tampa, FL

Feb. 22nd-23rd – Sea-Blues Festival – Clearwater, FL

Feb. 25th Mardi Gras – New Orleans, LA

 

Florida State Fair: Feb. 6th-17th – Tampa – Florida State Fairgrounds

This year’s Florida State Fair will be something to remember. As usual the fair lasts 12 days, but this some new things have been added. There are season passes available at Publix stores for the entire fair – with unlimited rides, unlimited visits to the Fair. College students will get in free on Thursday, February 13th with a valid ID and there will be a 5K Race called the Deep Fried Dash on Saturday, February 15th. In addition to all that, the entertainment at the fair is endless with Sea Lion Splash, XPogo, Demolition Derbies, Dueling Pianos, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and lots more. Live music happens all throughout the Fair schedule. Check out the Florida State Fair Website for more details.

 

Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival – Feb. 22nd-23rd – Coachman Park

The Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival is a two-day open air blues music and seafood festival. Located in the heart of downtown Clearwater, you can find our Coachman Park venue next to the inter-coastal waterway that runs parallel with the number one beach in America. Attendees are serenaded by five musical acts each day. In concert with the incredible artists on stage is a smorgasbord of seafood dishes. A stroll through the food village will surround you with aromas of fresh grouper, Cajun shrimp, large dishes of paella, and that’s only the beginning. There are also other options for our non-seafood loving friends. This Festival is free for the public to enjoy and there are also VIP and reserved seating packages available as well. Check out the City of Clearwater’s Website for more information.

Mardi Gras – Feb. 25th – New Orleans, LA

The 2020 Mardi Gras promises to fulfill all your expectations and then some.

This year also introduces some new features like the Mardi Gras Photo Contest and the 2020 Theme & Throw Updates: What’s New With Your Favorite Krewes? Lots of fun and information about the krewe history and more can be found on the 2020 Mardi Gras Website.

Despite what you might think this event is famous for, this is a great place to come with your children to enjoy outdoor picnics and watch the Greatest Free Show on Earth! You and your family will enjoy watching marching bands, amazing floats in the parades, listening to music throughout the city, and catching free toys, doubloons and beads as you catch the excitement in the air!

 

Need an RV?

You can rent an RV from El Monte’s Orlando Location for your trip to Tampa or Clearwater, or even New Orleans. See availability and rental rates on their page, or better yet, call them to reserve your RV soon.

If you happen to be coming from the west or southwest, you can also rent an RV at our El Monte RV Rentals and Sales location in Dallas, TX. The drive to New Orleans is less than 8 hours but you can see some lovely country along the way.

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RV Vacation – South Florida Fair – Visit in January and Great Recipes to Cook When Going RV’ing!

Here is a special blog for this time of year. How to cook quality food while RV’ing? How to make your meals special and not feel like they are “canned” or pre-made?  We have some timely tips for your RV cookery! And a great suggestion for a January RV Adventure destination.

Here are some links to some of the most popular roadworthy recipes:

Ingredients

  • 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls, room temperature
  • 1 cup sausage, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup thawed hash brown potatoes or shredded potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Diced onion (optional)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

Grease a pizza or jelly-roll pan. Press rolls out with fingers onto pan. Layer top of dough with sausage, potatoes, cheese and onion. Beat eggs and milk. Place pan on oven rack and pour egg mixture over the toppings, tilting pan to evenly distribute mixture. Season with pepper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

  • Another is 2X4 Soup, sort of like chili, but easier and great for cold winter evenings:

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds hamburger
  • 2 cans minestrone soup
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes and green chilies
  • 2 cans ranch-style beans 

Directions

Brown hamburger, drain and add tomatoes and chilies, ranch-style beans and minestrone soup. Simmer until hot and eat.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • (2) 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Combine the chocolate chips and butter in a microwavable bowl. Add the two cans of sweetened condensed milk. Cover the bowl with wax paper and microwave for about 3 minutes stirring every minute until everything is melted and smooth. Stir in the cup of walnuts. Spread the mixture evenly into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cover and let the pan sit overnight in the fridge. Voilá, 3 minute fudge!

 

Where to go RV camping in January?

How about heading south and taking in some sunny days for your January excursion? Head to West Palm Beach for the South Florida Fair. Taking place between January 17th and February 2nd, you can take your time about getting there and see some of south Florida’s sights along the way. As for the fair, this is Palm Beach County’s largest and oldest outdoor event.

Since 1993, the themed expositions produced each year during the South Florida Fair are one of the most popular attractions of the 17-day event. The 2020 South Florida Fair will be a celebration of popular sports in the south Florida community. Experience the essence of sports – competition, fair play, and the zeal to win – at this year’s themed exposition!

Interactive and educational sports exhibits will pave the way as you stroll through the Expo Center. The Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America exhibition, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Florida Humanities Council, will teach our visitors the cultural impact and importance of the different sports in American communities. The National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Picturing America’s Pastime” offers a snapshot of the photograph collection in the Museum’s photo archive, spanning almost 150 years.

And, don’t miss the exhibit at the Fair of the Highwaymen, a legendary group of African American artists who have been selling their colorful works of art along the road for 60 years. The Highwaymen, who developed a rapid style of painting that captured a romantic vision of Florida, still lives on to this day. For more information about them see Highwaymen Art Specialists.

 

Need to Rent an RV?

If you need to rent an RV for your holidays or January Camping Adventure, go to our Where to Rent an RV page and find one near you or near your destination.

And use our Promo Code “HOLIDAY” to rent for 6 nights and get the 7th and 8th nights free. (Based on availability. Valid on new reservations only and must be returned by March 31, 2020.)

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July NASCAR RV Vacation – Daytona to the Poconos

NASCAR drivers start off the month by celebrating the 4th of July weekend at Daytona with the Xfinity Series Race – the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – the Coke Zero Sugar 400.

NASCAR RV Tailgating Party

NASCAR RV Tailgating Party

The next weekend, starting on July 11th, fans will lineup at Kentucky Speedway to watch the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race, an Xfinity Series, and Monster Energy Series as well.

For the weekend of the 20th to 21st of July be sure to catch the racing action at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for an Xfinity Series on the 20th, followed by the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on July 21st.

And closing out the month, drivers will speed around the Pocono Raceway track from the 26th to 28th of July for the Gander Outdoors Truck Series as well as an Xfinity Series Race and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Gander Outdoors 400.

Here are the details for each weekend at each track.

  • Daytona International Speedway – July 5th and 6th – Whether you’re going for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 for the first time or a Daytona International Speedway veteran, they’ve got everything at the “World Center of Racing” all in one place! See all the details of staying there and all the events scheduled for this exciting weekend on the Daytona – Plan Your Visit
  • Drive to the Kentucky Speedway for July 11th – 13th for three days of racing excitement. NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series kicks off the action at 7:30 pm on Thursday the 11th with the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225. Then on Friday, are the Qualifying rounds for the Quaker State 400, and the shooting gun starts the ALSCO300 NASCAR Xfinity Series at 7:30 pm. Saturday is time for two concerts, the Naked Karate Girls at 3:30 and the JD Shelburne pre-race concert at 5:30 pm. All this is leading up to the Quaker State 400, presented by Walmart, a part of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Campground check-in begins at 12 noon on Tuesday, July 9th if you want to make it a longer visit, or on Wednesday, July 10th at 7 am.

For more details and to check on camping availability, please see the Kentucky Speedway Camping Options page. Make reservations early as these spaces will sell out fast.

  • Follow the NASCAR action to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the weekend of July 20th to 21st. The weekend will kick off at 4:00 pm Saturday with the NASCAR Xfinity Series Lakes Region 200, followed by the United Site Services 70 at 6:45-7:30 pm. Then Sunday is the Speedway Children’s Charities Red Bucket Brigade capped off by the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at 3:00 pm, another leg in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. To learn more about camping at NHMS, find out availability or other details please see the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Camping
  • The excitement of NASCAR racing wraps up the month at the Tricky Triangle of the Pocono Raceway on July 26th to 28th. On July 26th the Pennsylvania 150- ARCA Menards Series race will be held. Then the Gander RV 150 Gander Outdoors Truck Series will see racers put the pedal down on Saturday followed by the Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. Don’t miss all the racing excitement of the Pocono Raceway for this fabulous weekend.

Camping at the Pocono Raceway

To find out about camping at the Pocono Raceway, check out all the camping options on the Pocono Raceway site. Buy in advance to get the spot you want and, if you purchase an Infield Camping spot before Wednesday, July 24, 2019; your purchase comes with two complimentary Pit/Paddock Passes.

Need to Rent an RV?

You can rent an RV from El Monte RV for your trip to any of these tracks from one of our El Monte RV rentals locations. Find all our RV Rental Locations there. See availability and rental rates on the specific pages for the location nearest your RV NASCAR adventure.

Camping at NASCAR Tracks:

Visit Monty’s Musings blog topic – NASCAR RV Camping – The Ultimate Racing Experience. Learn the top ten things you need to know before you go. No matter where you start your RV Vacation, you are sure to enjoy the roar of the engines along with the cheers of the crowds at NASCAR racing.

Posted in Florida RV Camping Vacation, Kentucky RV Camping Vacation, NASCAR RV Vacation, New Hampshire RV Camping Vacation, Pennsylvania RV Camping Vacation | Leave a comment

RV Adventure – Two Florida Festivals Not to Miss!

February in West Central Florida is often a bit cooler than other months but it is usually warmer than any other part of the country. This is an ideal time to head south and enjoy some family-friendly fairs including lots and lots of entertainment.

These two favorite events are the Florida State Fair – February 7th –18th, and the Florida Strawberry Festival from February 28th – March 10th. There is no shortage of fun and entertainment at both venues.

First, come and enjoy the Florida State Fair in Tampa – now in its 116th year! Here’s a little bit of its history. The original Florida State Fair began in 1904 as the South Florida Fair on the grounds of the Tampa Bay Hotel, owned by railroad baron Henry Plant. That first fair had simple attractions and was held in a single building on a 27-acre plot adjoining Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, where the University of Tampa stands today. This event soon became known as the Florida State Mid-Winter Festival and was the place to be! Families from near and far would come to the festival to play games, eat fair food and win bragging rights for their prized Bull, best pie, or most beautiful quilt.    Florida State Fair

In 1915, the South Florida Fair and Gasparilla Carnival were officially incorporated with the Secretary of State office in Tallahassee. This new Fair became known as the Florida State Fair. Fast forward to 1975 when the Florida State Legislature created the Florida State Fair Authority and designated the Tampa event as the official Florida State Fair. In February of 1977, the first Fair was held at its current location, near Interstate 4 and U.S Highway 301 in eastern Hillsborough County. The 330-acre site sits just seven miles from its original downtown Tampa location. Once it moved to the East Tampa location, new buildings, barns and even the Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton, Jr. Cracker Country living history museum were established. The Fair grew – and continues to grow – each year.

This year’s entertainment lineup is incredibly diverse from Amazing Acrobats of China to truck and tractor pulling, to a show featuring Draft Horses, including majestic Draft Horse performances, breath-taking competitions, and seeing a Draft Horse “up-close”.

There’s also a rodeo, several concerts of different music genres, and even an Alligator Show and a giraffe visiting tent. Visit the Entertainment part of their website to see all the featured entertainment.

The Florida Strawberry Festival was started in 1930 by the local Lions Club to help promote the local strawberry crop. Despite a few years off due to World War II, it is still flourishing in eastern Hillsborough County, attracting about 500,000 visitors each year, sometimes even more than those who attend the Florida State Fair.

Central to its focus, the Festival continues to preserve and enhance the agricultural and historical legacy of the Florida strawberry.

But lest you think all there is to this festival is incredible strawberry shortcake, their entertainment schedule features world-class entertainers each year. This year, the 2019 festival begins February 28th, with performances every day of the 11 day long festival with at least two to three shows on many days. In addition to plenty of free performances, you can schedule your trip to the Festival to see Willie Nelson and Family, The Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, and the Brothers Osborne, Kool & the Gang, and Chicks with Hits, and that is just the first few days they are open.

After that, Pat Boone will perform, followed by Martina McBride on March 4th, and a host of other top-shelf entertainers. Be sure to check out their full entertainment schedule on the Strawberry Festival website.

Wondering how to travel to these two Fairs? Come and bring your RV so you’re already set up for staying as long as you wish in either locale.

You can easily rent one of our RV’s at our Florida El Monte location in Orlando. It is only an hour from there to Tampa and just 40 minutes from Orlando to Plant City. Check out availability for your travel dates on our Where you can Rent RV’s page.

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NASCAR Season Kicks Off with the Daytona 500

NASCAR racing starts again this February – on the 17th with the famous Daytona 500 as the kickoff race. Florida welcomes drivers from all over the country for the start of the 2019 season the weekend of the 16th to 18th of February.  For a sneak preview of the next few NASCAR events following the Daytona weekend, March 2nd-4th will feature the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Then on March 9th-11th, ISM Raceway (formerly the Phoenix International Raceway) will be home for the TicketGuardian 500 race. The next scheduled weekend, on the 30th of March to April 1st is the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Daytona will feature the 61st running of the Daytona 500 race when the NASCAR season begins, with this showcase of speed, skill and determination as the drivers battled the famed 2.5 mile tri-oval track with its 31 degree banking to earn the title of Daytona 500 Champion.

Camping at Daytona

Any Daytona veteran will tell you that you haven’t truly experienced the “World Center of Racing” until you’ve loaded up the RV, called up your closest friends and set up camp somewhere in the 180-acre infield.

Surrounded by Daytona’s famous track, you’ll find that there’s far more happening at Daytona than just three-wide racing. Devoted race fans from all over the world descend upon every inch of the infield, creating a rich communal atmosphere from campsite-to-campsite.   

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona International Speedway

Whether you’re in a decked-out motorhome or a tent is more your style, DAYTONA offers several camping options that put you right next to all the history and heritage that’s made this place world-famous.  Infield campgrounds and GEICO Park West campgrounds also include FREE Wi-Fi!

If the International Speedway happens to be full – which sometimes happens when the race is sold out, check out these other camping options in the Daytona area.

  1. Daytona Speedway RV
  2. Finishline Park
  3. Daytona Racetrack RV
  4. South Daytona RV Park & Tropical Gardens

Other things to do near Daytona

If you have a little free time, there are many other attractive places to see near Daytona that will make you appreciate this gem of a location on the Atlantic. You can take your time visiting the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens with free admission, or the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. Here, you can tour the Indian River Lagoon, North America’s most diverse estuary that has been designated as an Estuary of National Significance. Here, salt and fresh water mingle, and more than 4,000 species of plants and animals co-habit, some of which are endangered or threatened and some that are found here and nowhere else on earth. Mangrove trees line shorelines and provide habitat for many species of animals and invertebrates. Birds such as osprey, pelicans, ibis, heron, roseate spoonbills or even bald eagles are commonly seen. In the estuary, bottlenose dolphins chase schools of baitfish, and manatees charm visitors with their slow-moving, gentle ways as they swim with their newborns.

As you travel along 1A you should stop and see the Ponce Inlet with its iconic Ponce De Leon Inlet lighthouse and museum, great for stretching your legs and more if you choose to climb the 203 steps of the 175 foot tower lighthouse. This lighthouse, the tallest one in Florida and the second tallest masonry lighthouse in the US, is second only to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

There are Sugar Mill Ruins just west of New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater and just an hour south is the NASA Kennedy Space Center.

If you want to take in some nature close to Daytona Speedway, check out the Bulow Creek State Park near Flagler Beach, one of the largest remaining stands of southern live oak forests along Florida’s east coast.

Tomoka State Park is nearby in Ormond Beach, where Native Americans once dwelled and now a bird-watchers’ paradise. And, stop by the Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach or the Sunglow Fishing Pier to enjoy a bit of fishing. For more information about camping in any of the 175 award-winning Florida State Parks, check out their website.

Need to Rent an RV?

You can rent an RV from El Monte’s Orlando location for your trip to Daytona, only an hour away. See availability and rental rates on their page.

Posted in Florida RV Camping Vacation, NASCAR RV Vacation | Leave a comment

Florida State Parks and Everglades National Park – Go South for the Winter

Want to get out in nature, watch some birds and enjoy some lovely winter weather this year? Escape that cold, blustery snow and ice of the north and fly or drive south for the winter. The birds know enough to get out of the cold and so could you! Enjoy some of the best bird watching the Sunshine State has to offer in these parks that welcome winter visitors.

To help you plan RV camping activities in Florida this year, here are some of our recommended state parks – including Everglades National Park, to round out the  mix.

Starting at the southern end of Florida, in the Florida Keys, Here you can find abundant places to stay with your RV – and beautiful weather to enjoy while you watch plentiful dolphins as well as sea birds and even the amazing roseate spoonbills. Each winter, along US 1, while driving down the Keys Highway, watch these beautifully colored birds as they treat visitors to a spectacle in pink.

Places to Camp in the Florida Keys:

From Key Largo at the northeast tip of the keys and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to Long Key State Park in Layton, there are abundant places to stop and see the sights and many where you can camp overnight. If you drive all the way southwest to Key West, you can enjoy amazing sunsets and street performers on the pier as well as visits to such historical icons as the Ernest Hemingway House and the Truman House. This is well worth the 4 hour drive south of Miami.

Places to See Near Miami:

If you haven’t walked out on a jetty to see a real lighthouse, then Miami has just the thing for you. Only minutes from downtown Miami, the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is just such a lighthouse, surrounded by water and amazing sights to see from atop. While not an overnight campground, this park contains the oldest structure in Miami-Dade. The lighthouse is a time capsule containing an immense amount of Florida history. First erected in 1825, the Cape Florida Light has survived nearly 200 years of erosion, dozens of hurricanes, an attack by native Seminole Native Americans, and an explosion of lantern oil and gun powder. Well worth the drive for the amazing view. There are also wonderful other attractions around Miami such as the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium, Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Visit the 1920’s-era Charles Deering Estate and if you wish to go a bit farther afield, there is Parrot Jungle and Monkey Jungle, both unique places to see these birds and animals.

Places to Stay Near Miami:

Florida’s state parks have many options for camping throughout the state. Full-facility campsites for tents as well as RVers include water, electricity, a grill and picnic tables, along with centralized showers, restrooms and a dump station in most parks. In the Miami area, there are several, including the Oleta River State Park and Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach, the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, and Larry and Penny Thompson Park. Check the Florida State Parks website for more information.

Alligator in the Everglades
Alligator in the Everglades

Don’t forget to stop in and visit alligators and numerous water birds and other unique animals in Everglades National Park while you are in South Florida. While you should check in advance for campground reservations, there are many unusual sights to see in this gem of a park, also known as the River of Grass. You can easily rent one of our RV’s at either of our Florida El Monte locations, in Miami or Orlando. Check out both of them and more suggested Florida vacation ideas on our Where you can Rent RV’s page.

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RV Adventures – Fairs and Festivals in Florida

Take a road trip in your RV or ours to sunny south Florida this winter and escape the cold weather while basking in sunshine. The South Florida Fair takes place in West Palm Beach starting on January 18th and runs through February 3rd. There are 5 performance stages of continuous entertainment featuring bands such as Building 429, The Outlaws, Frankie Ballard and The Pat Travers Band, just to name a few. For more details check out the South Florida Fair.

Since 1912 each January, over a half million visitors have enjoyed 17 fun-filled days at the South Florida Fair, one of Florida’s oldest and largest community events. Fairgoers are entertained by first class stage shows, national concert performances, sensational midway rides, unique shopping and the best of fair food.

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival from January 9 to March 31 this year. This largest and longest running horse show is the world’s premier winter equestrian event and offers competition for children, junior, adult amateur and professional equestrians in 70 unique divisions over 12 weeks. Featuring riders from more than 42 countries, more than 6000 horses compete with their riders for total prizes of over half a billion dollars.

You can even celebrate Everglades Day Festival on February 9th at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Boynton Beach. This eco-adventure is dedicated to having fun while learning in a unique ecosystem. Free admission gives a full day of wildlife presentations, interactive games, guest speakers and more. To learn more about this amazing Florida Everglades ecosystem, see their website.

If you love garlic, there is even a South Florida Garlic Festival from February 9th to 10th.  The South Florida Garlic Fest celebrates its’ 20th Anniversary this year! This event is the epitome of homegrown talent and a cultural showcase providing an outlet for local artists and chefs to express themselves. In a variety of mediums, Garlic Fest serves as a gathering festival focal point for musicians, artist of every genre and culinary artists. Each year over 40,000 local South Floridians attend to enjoy the premier food and entertainment event in South Florida. And the event raises money for non-profit organizations that support arts and/or education for youth.

On the following weekend from the 16th to 18th of February is ArtiGras – billed as the premier fine arts festival of the Palm Beaches. This event is held over President’s Day weekend and showcases top artists in all media types along with live music and incredible food to tempt your palate. This local art show has grown into a nationally recognized arts festival and ranked in the top 50 of America’s Best Art Fairs.

And that’s just in Palm Beach County.

Farther south in Dade and Broward Counties, you will find such festivals this winter as the famous Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Now in its 56th year, this arts festival started when in 1963, a local theatre maven named Charlie Cinnamon, asked a handful of locals to recreate an outdoor Parisian exhibition as a publicity stunt for the Coconut Grove Playhouse’s production of Irma la Douce. Held this year on President’s Day weekend from the 16th to 18th of February, all art lovers are invited to attend. Get more information at their website.

Florida State Fair

In Hillsborough County, just a few hours’ drive north, check out all the action in Tampa at the Florida State Fair, starting on February 7th and running through the 18th. This long-running official state fair features everything you would hope to see at a State Fair. There are photo contests, aquarium and horticulture contests, tons of baking and preserved foods contests and everything from arts and crafts to Fairy Garden competitions, as well as competitions in Succulents in Alternative Planters; Cracked Pot Garden and Largest Green Cabbage competitions, to name just a few. For all the entertainment schedules, see their website.

These are just a few ideas of sunny south Florida Fairs and Festivals to keep you having fun in the sun this winter.

Rent an RV for your trip:

For this sunny winter travel experience, you can rent from either of our El Monte RV Rental locations in Florida. You can find our rental locations in Miami (only a 2 hour drive from West Palm Beach) or Orlando (about an hour drive from Tampa).

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Holiday Fun – A Florida RV Adventure

Don’t suffer with freezing temps and snow and ice this holiday season. Take a tropical jaunt (ok, semi-tropical) through Florida and enjoy lots of Holiday events and attractions in the Sunshine State.

To help you plan some holiday activities in Florida this year, here are some of our favorites.

Universal Orlando Resort, Orlando

It takes more work for some to get into the spirit of the season, and you can seethe heartwarming process in action with a live show of Grinchmas, as the Grinch tries to ruin the holiday for the Whos before finding the true meaning of Christmas. You can also see Macy’s Holiday Parade nightly,with balloons and floats straight from New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, along with music, entertainment, and a spectacular tree lighting display. Winter is also when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter comes alive,with sights, sounds, and even tastes straight from the books and movies! Learn more here. 

ICE! at Gaylord Palms, Orlando

For the most frigid attraction in Florida, look no further than ICE!, the award-winning display of millions of pounds of ice hand-carved into amazing sculptures by artisans from China. This year, the journey tells the story of how the beloved characters from DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar saved Christmas after Santa and his reindeer crashed onto the island of Madagascar.There are also two-story-tall ice slides to take a ride on, truly a unique holiday experience in Florida! With the entire exhibit kept at a downright freezing 9 degrees, this is definitely the coolest event of the year. Click here to learn more.

The Holy Land Experience, Orlando

Fora more traditional take on the Christmas season, The Holy Land Experience provides a living museum and park that makes some of the most well-known stories of the Bible come to life. From the Garden of Eden to the birth of Jesus, experience the sights and sounds of the biblical world in a way you can’t find anywhere else. 

Walt Disney World Resort, Kissimmee

For the holidays, on select nights at the Magic Kingdom, the Walt Disney World Resort brings an extra holiday cheer with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Amid the spectacular decorations, enjoy a parade featuring several favorite Disney Characters, along with a special appearance by Santa Claus himself! There’s also a new fireworks show,complimentary cookies and hot chocolate, and even a wintry snowfall. Enjoy the magic of Disney at this enchanting time of year. 

Town of Christmas

What better place to explore than the town where it’s Christmas year-round? Just outside of Orlando, the quaint town of Christmas sees visitors flock to their post office yearly to have their cards and letters postmarked from “Christmas, FL” for a unique touch to their holiday mail. The town also features a historical park with a museum showing what life was like in the original settlement from the 1800s.  Let everyone else dream a white Christmas while you experience the real thing!  Find out more at their website. 

Mount Dora Events and The Polar Express

From early November through December 30th, you can ride on the officially licensed THE POLAR EXPRESS™ train ride from Tavares Union Train Station, bound for the North Pole. For tickets and more information on this and all their holiday events, see the Mount Dora website.

Busch Gardens, Tampa

Not to be confused with the Town of Christmas, Busch Gardens is being transformed into Christmas Town.  The theme park will have special holiday shows, Santa’s house, and an entire snow-filled playground! From snowmen to penguins to the Christmas Town Village,there’s an entire wintry wonderland just waiting to be explored. 

Gingerbread House Extravaganza, Jacksonville

You won’t believe your eyes or nose when you see what amazing creations people are able to make with gingerbread, icing, and imagination. For the 11th consecutive year, the Jacksonville Historical Society is hosting the Gingerbread House Extravaganza to raise money for children’s programs, but this is no ordinary bake sale. The artistry and detail of the edible creations are a real treat, providing enough awe to keep your sweet tooth in check. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can submit your own masterpiece to be part of the fun.

Nights of Lights, St. Augustine

If you enjoy going to local houses to see their Christmas light displays, then St.Augustine has just what you’re looking for. Every year, literally millions of holiday lights decorate the nation’s oldest city, transforming it into a twinkling spectacle. With so much to see, you may be better off taking one of the several tour buses than trying to take it all in on your own. There are also a multitude of events coinciding with the brilliant display. See their website here to find out more details.

Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Miami

Though we all know that Santa makes his home in the North Pole, South Floridians know he also maintains a warmer wonderland. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Miami’s Tropical Park lays claim to the title of world’s largest Christmas theme park, with more than 100 rides, shows, games, and attractions.

El Monte RV Holiday Special:

Whatever you do for the holidays, this is a special time to enjoy visiting with family and friends. To make the season even more fun, take advantage of this Holiday Special from El Monte RV.

This month we’re offering a free Monty Christmas night to help you with your holiday travel plans or accommodations! Whether you’re traveling to see relatives, needing extra beds for those visiting you or just getting away from the Christmas rush, get a free extra day!

Rent any Class C or Class A model motor home, pick up any day in December and rent for a minimum of 6 nights and get 1 extra night FREE! Plus you get 50 free miles per night! Get 7 nights for the price of 6!  
Use Coupon Code: HOLIDAY

You can easily rent one of our RV’s at either of our Florida El Monte RV locations, in Miami or Orlando. Check out both of them and some more suggested Florida vacation ideas on our Florida RV rentals page.

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