Happy Monday everyone! As most of you know, I spent 2 weeks ago in Florida. What some of you may not know is that my family and I road tripped there, making a couple stops along the way to Universal and one on the way back! I’d never been to the three cities we visited so I wanted to share my road trip experience and the places we visited.
While I’ve driven through Tennessee many times (on trips to Florida) + I’ve visited Graceland in Memphis but I’d never been to Chatanooga. My parents always remarked on the “Come visit Ruby Falls” signs when approaching Tennessee but we never decided to pay it a visit. However, on this road trip, we wanted to see what Ruby Falls was and if it was worth the extreme advertising.
So, after 9 is hours of driving ( and lots of bathroom breaks) we made it to Chatanooga and headed over to Ruby Falls.
Ruby Falls is a 145-foot high underground waterfall inside of Lookout Mountain. It was discovered by Leo Lambert in 1928 while drilling.
After taking an elevator down 100 or so feet, we walked through this cave (guided by our very southern tour guide Doug) for about a mile seeing various cave structures before reaching Ruby Falls, which was definitely worth the extensive advertising. Once at the falls, we watched a light show which lit up the waterfall which played along with some music!
Sadly, we had to walk back to the elevator an head back up into the heat. However, despite having to re-enter the 90-degree weather, we were able to see lookout mountain which is basically just a deck that looks out to all of Chatanooga.
We only had one night in Chatanooga, so after leaving Ruby Falls, we ate dinner at the Waffle House, swam in the hotel pool, and hit the sack for another long day of driving Saturday.
St. Augustine, Florida
Driving to Florida from Chicago is honestly one of the worst things ever. You start driving at 4 am, don’t stop until it’s dark, and then finish however much more the next day. Not this time though!
We drove about 9 hours day one, and about 7 hours from Chatanooga until we reached St. Augustine, the oldest (colonized) city in the United States.
We arrived in St. Augustine at about 5 or 6 in the evening on Saturday, so we opted to relax in our hotel and just swam and ate dinner to gather up our energy for another long day on Sunday.
Sunday morning, we packed up our stuff and headed to the heart of St. Augustine. Initially, we thought we would be visiting the Spanish Fort, but found SO much more.
The Spanish fort was incredible, made of coquina (Spanish for small shells), and aged wonderfully. I loved learning about how so many tried to take down the Spanish, yet the coquina held up and no one succeeded in entering the fort.
Once I’d had my history lesson for the year, my family and I all wanted to see more of what St. Augustine had to offer so we decided to take a trolley tour of the city. The trolley tour is something I would 100% recommend to anyone who visits. On this tour, you’re carted around St. Augustine for about an hour, seeing historic buildings, museums, Flagler College, plantations, restaurants, specialty (chocolate factories, wineries, boutiques) shops and so much more! I wished we had more time to hop off at every stop to see everything St. Augustine had to offer. If I ever go back, I’m definitely going to make sure I spend at least 2 whole days to see everything (and eat everything!). Sadly, our time in St. Augustine had to come to an end. Onto Universal!
Something I never wanted to do was leave Orlando. Universal was all I could have hoped for and more (in my opinion better than Disney World) but eventually, we had to part ways. On the way back (well sort of out of the way) we visited Sarasota for a few days to visit some friends of ours. They retired to Florida a few years back and they are loving the laid-back atmosphere of Florida, and so did I. Their house was cute and cozy with a lovely lanai off the back. To top it off, they have 2 Shih Tzus and they’re both vegan (for health reasons) so needless to say I was in heaven! We spent the first full day there just relaxing, swimming in their community pool, and eating good food.
We were exhausted and had hurt feet so doing nothing was the only thing on our agenda for the day. However, we ended up going to the beach to see the sunset, shelling, and taking really cute pictures!
Day 2 of our visit we woke up bright and early, hit the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, and drove about an hour to Myakka River State Park see some alligators! At the State Park, we took an hour-long airboat ride around the river and got to see so many birds, fish, and alligators.
My sister and I agreed that we hadn’t picked enough shells the night before so we wanted to go to another beach to find some. This next beach we visited, however, had a rather pathetic selection of shells and it was excruciatingly hot so we decide to head home, pack up our stuff, and hop in the pool to prepare for the 20-hour drive that would happen over the next 2 days.
Have you guys taken a road trip lately?
❤ Alicia ❤