View Larger Map Day1: Tampa- Tallahassee
Start your trip in sunny Florida, in the seaside city of Tampa. Head out north on the Suncoast Parkway/FL-589 until you can veer left onto the I-98 which merges with the I-19. The stars of this route are the State Parks along the coast, like the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. This is a huge area of wilderness that is famous as the southern wintering site for the reintroduced Whooping Cranes, as well as being home to over 250 species of birds, over 50 species of reptiles and lizards and many mammals including the West Indian Manatee in the coastal area and swamps. Further along is the Crystal River Preserve State Park- exit onto W Ozello Road to explorer this natural wonder. The incredible coastline is a maze of rivers and islands, and there are 7 miles of trails to walk or bike. You can also kayak the waters- just don't get lost!
by Nick Ares Flickr Creative Commons
Crystal River State Park
by Kolin Toney Flickr Creative Commons
Tallahassee is Florida's capital, home to several colleges and universities. There is lots to see and do here. For the nature-lovers, National Parks and lakes surround the city, including the huge Apalachicola National Forest. If history interests you, visit the Museum of History and Natural Science, or the Museum of Florida History. Try some seafood straight out of the gulf, and have a drink at one of the many bars in the city.
Day 2: Tallahassee- New Orleans
The I-10 will take you between these two cities. Cross the Chattahoochee River and if you like, take a look in at Marianna off the interstate where the Main Street has been restored to its historical charm. A bit further out past the city is the Florida Caverns State Park, where visitors can explore limestone caverns. Chipley is another great place to stop, just off the interstate. On the other side of the highway is Falling Waters State Park, a system of underwater caves, sinkholes and springs, once used as a hideout by Indian warriors! There are also beautiful waterfalls, and many activities available for visitors. Continuing the water theme, Defuniak Springs is further along the route and is a town of springs and small lakes!
The highway passes right through the great city of Pensacola. A sea port, Pensacola has had a chequered history, having been under the control of Spain, France, Great Britain and the Confederate States at some point in its history. It also has some beautiful beaches which have been ranked among the best in the country, so make sure you stop and dip your toes into the Gulf of Mexico.
After passing several bays and harbours along the coast, arrive in the amazing city of New Orleans! It is recognised as one of the world's most fascinating places- a diverse mix of influences, culture, food and music. You'll find aspects of Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and beyond in this city that is rebuilding itself after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Many festivals, large and small, are staged around the city and jazz-lovers will rejoice with the amount of jazz in the city. For eating out, the variety of restaurants is huge, so have a wander and see what's out there!
Day 3: New Orleans- Houston
You can either leave New Orleans on the I-20, or take the I-310 and US-90 for a loop closer to the ocean through Morgan City, known for fine Cajun cuisine, and the surrounding areas of lakes, rivers, creeks and wetlands. It is a soggy coast! The Interstate route will take you through Baton Rouge, capital of Louisiana and rich in culture, entertainment and heritage. Both routes meet at Lafayette, which also has a major cajun influence and a city that is highly regarded for its climate and standard of living.
Lake Charles, both the city and the body of water, lie further along the route. Surrounded by waterways, the city is a great place to stop to eat with a view, or get out on a boat. If you are interested in wildlife, further along the I-10and off along LA-109 is the Sabine Island Wildlife Management Area. Surrounded by rivers and only accessible by boat, this inland island is a paradise of birds and mammals. A great way to explore is the Wetlands Walkway, which you can find out about at the Visitors Centre.
Cross into Texas and you will come across Orange and Beaumont. In Orange, you can visit the W. H. Stark House, a fully restored house that gives a glimpse into life as a wealthy Texan in the Victorian era. The Stark Museum of Art also showcases a bit of the midwest. In Beaumont, there is a huge collection of museums, and also the Gator Country Adventure Park, where you can get face-to-face with a crocodile, presuming you want to.
by Patrick Feller Flickr Creative Commons
Houston is next along the road, the end of this leg. It is the largest city in Texas, and sprawls over a huge area. The Midtown and Montrose areas are the most dense and walkable, so are probably the best places to go to familiarise yourself with the city a bit. Have a look around and try some southern-style food!
by Mike Renlund Flickr Creative Commons
Day 4: Houston- Corpus Christi
Head out of Houston on the US-59 for this short drive which leaves you the chance to explore the big city before heading out. First city along the route is El Campo, once a railroad camp and now a growing city. Ganado is next, and there you can visit Lake Texana where the fishing is good.
by The Sharpteam Flickr Creative Commons
Edna is a patriotic city, known as the 'Flag City' since 1968 when un-patriotic activities were condemned and stars and stripes displayed along all streets until peace was secured in Vietnam. Flags are still displayed daily in downtown Edna. Before the journey reaches an end, you will also pass Victoria, where the 562-hectare Riverside Park is home to Texas Zoo where you can find native texan creatures, picnic tables, an exercise trail and sports facilities. The city also has several historical attractions and museums.
Corpus Christi, final destination, is a coastal city and popular with tourists. North Beach is an especially interesting area for visitors, with the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington floating Museum on the Bay. The Lexington was part of the set for Pearl Harbour, and is a part of the Corpus Christi seafront. Near the ship is the museum district, where those museum lovers can browse to their heart's content. The botanical gardens are downtown, along with a host of restaurants, bars and plenty of things to keep the visitor busy!
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Author: Phil Wright+