The Captain and I just finished an epic RV trip from Chester, Maryland to Malibu California and back. We left in September of 2016, and left the 5th wheel in Palm Springs, California, flew home just before Halloween and then flew back out to Palm Springs at the beginning of January. Our adventures heading to California are documented here.
We were humbled by how many people said to us, “You’re living my dream,” and we realize how fortunate we are to be able to embark on such an exciting adventure.
Since our return, many people have asked us “What was your favorite place?”
That is a difficult question to answer as the United States has such a diverse landscape, and each place is filled with beauty and uniqueness all its own.
I can come up with a list of our favorite spots from the east coast to the west coast. (Disclaimer: we had already spent a significant amount of time exploring the east coast out to Chicago before this adventure, so I have only included three spots east of the Mississippi on this list).
This is my “Go To” Happy Place. I have been coming here since I was a child, and the act of people watching on the Boardwalk, and consuming Thrasher’s french fries never gets old. This post goes into greater detail about all I love about my favorite beach.
I can’t let my home city go without mention. Washington DC has so much to offer, and is often overlooked by those tourists visiting the east coast for the first time, opting for a big dynamic city like New York (which I love too).
For everyone that pays taxes in the U.S., some of those tax dollars are used to fund and maintain the Smithsonian museums, all of which are free to the public.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is an excellent time to visit D.C., but also one of the most crowded times. There’s always the chance the festival takes place after peak blooming of the cherry trees, which happened this year. However, the cherry blossom trees surrounding the Tidal Basin in full bloom are truly spectacular, and worth a visit. Go early in the day, and take the Metro.
Fourth of July has its own patriotic magic on the mall in D.C., with concerts featuring some of America’s most beloved songs, a parade that marches down Constitution Avenue and even a Washington National’s baseball game. All of the events for the 2017 celebration can be found here.
As a native to Washington, DC, my favorite time to visit would be from mid-October to mid-November. The crowds are gone, the leaves are changing into those glorious fall hues, and the weather is spectacular. Shhhhh. Please keep that a secret.
I could live in Chicago for most of the year, except in winter. It’s a great city with a million things to do anytime of the day or week, and what I especially love about the city is its abundance of green spaces, floral attractions and parks.
Buckingham Fountain is one of my favorite places, ever. The fountain opened in 1927, and remains one of the largest fountains in the world. From May until October, the fountain puts on a spectacular (and free) 20 minute water display, shooting water as high as 150 feet into the air, depending upon the weather. Beginning at dusk, lights accompany the water show. The fountain is in operation from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
One of my favorite hotels, is the Congress Hotel, located within viewing of Buckingham Fountain. Built in 1893, the architecture is from another era. Tall ceilings and large windows provide a spectacular view of the fountain. I felt as if I was transported to another era when I stayed at the Congress Hotel.
On one of my visits to Chicago, I stayed at the W Hotel, which was within walking distance of Navy Pier. The Pier boasts rides, shops and restaurants. For the Pier’s centennial, a giant Ferris wheel was added.
On Wednesdays and Sundays in the summer the Pier has fireworks over Lake Michigan perfectly timed to music. During my stay at the W, I could see the fireworks from the window in the hotel. The schedule for 2017 is here.
There are also free trolleys that travel to Navy Pier and Randolph Street. More information can be located here.
There is always plenty to do in and around the Windy City. During my visit, I purchased a two-day pass on Big Bus Tours, which provided hop-on-hop-off service. I visited the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. The cost is about $60 for the 2-day pass; however, I was traveling alone and didn’t have to figure out the bus or the EL, and I wasn’t rushed. If you have a car, take a scenic drive around Lake Michigan, hang out on the beach, or do some shopping on the Magnificent Mile (no car needed for that one).
4. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The Badlands, are just that, aptly named by the Lakota tribe as lands that weren’t suitable for farming or sustaining life due to extreme temperatures, lack of rain and rugged terrain. However, to travel through the area, it is a spectacular vision of geologic formations and a grass prairie eco system.
I loved seeing and photographing the wildlife in the park. I especially enjoyed watching the prairie dogs. I wanted to scoop one up and take it home with me.
Every National Park has something unique to offer.
Favorite Places From Coast to Coast, Part II coming next week.