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Brian Bennett

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Road Trip Stops and Shops

Nothing is more fun when driving on a long trip than planning some stops along the way to learn something or to experience something new.  I've got my own suggestions on planning a road trip, but if you're a veteran traveler and your own planning process works for you, stick with it.

Before I go any further, I must mention the Disney /AAA Welcome Center that is located in Ocala, just off of I-75 at exit 68.  For those folks that drive down I-75 when they head for WDW, this is an easy place to stop at that just might pay off for you, too.  If you click on the link above, you can read all about it.

First, if you're a AAA member, get a "Trip-tic" and the necessary state guidebooks and plan your trip with stops and daily driving distances well in advance. You don't have to make reservations a year in advance, unless you're going at peak times, but several months is a good idea.  Another approach I've used with great success is the Rand McNally "Trip Maker" software.  It's really an excellent tool for playing "what if?" games as you look over trip plan alternatives.  Last, here is a brief list of historic and interesting stops that we've enjoyed on our driving trips:

  • Chicamauga Battlefield where General George Thomas, "the Rock of Chicamauga" salvaged Rosecran's Union army with a last ditch stand against General Longstreet's Army of Northern Virginia corps in 1863. A driving tour of the battlefield is available.

  • Andersonville National Monument. Andersonville, a prisoner-of-war camp called "Camp Sumter" during the civil war, really makes you appreciate the blood and tears that our forefathers -in every war and conflict our nation has been involved in -went through for us. I've never been in the military, and I'm glad I never had to be, but I'm proud of those many men and women that have served our country for me. A driving audiotape tour of the prison site can be rented for a nominal fee and it's well worth it!

  • Peach, pecan, and fruitcake (Claxon's) stops in Georgia were all fun (and some of them were tasty, too).

  • Calaway Garden's near Pine Mountain Georgia is a wonderful place to visit. The butterfly observatory is really special.

  • The Air Force museum at Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, Ohio is interesting. If you're into aviation, make the stop. It's free (your federal tax dollars at work), and you can spend hours if you have the time.

  • Oak Ridge Tennessee's Science and Energy Museum. Oak Ridge is the town that was built by the U.S. War Department during World War II to develop ways of producing materials for the Manhattan Project -- the Atomic Bomb endeavor.

  • Patriot's Point, Fort Sumter, the riverside plantations and the wonderful downtown area of Charleston, SC.

  • Kennesaw Mountain Civil War Battlefield, just north of Atlanta, GA, where one of the last struggles in Sherman's campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta was fought.

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