Chasing beautiful falls- Florida to Tennessee Roadtrip

We are so glad that you are reading about our travels. Here’s another blog where we want to share with you about our travel experiences. Last month, we were on 11 hours road trip to Tennessee from Florida. Our road trip included several stops. Apart from stopping at boring rest areas, we stopped in the beautiful natural attractions as well. Two of the main highlights of our stops were Tallulah Falls and Mingo Falls.

Tallulah Falls

Tallulah falls is located in the Tallulah Gorge State Park in the Northern Georgia. The beautiful rolling hills led us to the entrance of the state park. The park had plenty of empty parking spaces. The park fee is $5. The park includes informative center which displays collection of Victorian era items and provides information about Victorian Tallulah.

The trails to the popular suspension bridge and Tallulah river starts behind the information center. The trails are properly marked by the numbers. We grabbed the map from the center which helped a lot.

The trails in the park skirt the rim of the Tallulah Gorge. There are various view lookout points which face the beautiful Tallulah gorge. The trails also descend to its floor touching Tallulah River. We walked a trail descending to the suspension bridge which spanned the incredible Tallulah river. Here is a tip: going down is easy, but climbing up the straight mountain is difficult. Make sure to carry enough water and snacks to munch. There are various resting spots in the trail. Stop by those spots to take a moment and enjoy the beauty.

Mingo falls

Mingo falls is located in the Northern board of North Carolina and Tennessee. Mingo falls is one the tallest water falls in the southern Appalachians. We stopped by the Mingo Falls to take a short hike and view this 120ft tall water fall. The fall is on the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

Here’s important information. GPS navigated us to the wrong area. However, we encountered the sign board that said “GPS BROUGHT YOU TO THE WRONG PLACE. NOT A WAY TO THE MINGO FALLS.” We were already in the middle of the country area, and didn’t have cell phone network to pull the map. Luckily, the truck drove by us, and we got a chance to ask the guy about the place. He guided us to make a u-turn, and we noticed another sign board leading us to the Mingo falls. It was only 5 minutes drive from that point. This is not our first time ending to the wrong location due to Wrong GPS navigation which is why we took everything easily, and didn’t panic.

Mingo falls can be visited for free of cost. The stairs to the falls are close to the park spaces. We also saw the creek next to the parking area. The spectacular Mingo falls is 0.4 miles hike. The hike includes stairs and moderate difficult trail.

As we hiked closer to the falls, we had a glimpse of a beautiful bridge spanning the creek. We walked up to the bridge and were blessed to view maginificant beautiful Mingo falls.

If you ever plan to go to the Great Smokey’s, don’t forget to stop by this beautiful natural attractions. We will write more about our trips. Keep on reading!

Adventures in the Great Smokey Mountains: Horseback riding, Rafting and Hiking

If you are back to our website and reading this, we are excited to share our adventures with YOU! What comes to your mind when you think about nature and national parks? Well, in mine comes hiking. We DID hike the great smoky mountains, but we also did something else. And, the first one was horseback riding in the lap of the great Smokey’s forest. We also did our first white water rafting!! We will be posting more about a road trip to the Great Smokey Mountains in upcoming posts. So keep on reading!!!

Horseback riding in the Great Smokies


Several businesses offer you horseback riding services. Some are outside the great smokies, and some are in the smoky ran by the national park itself. We thought of choosing the one inside the national park just so that we could enjoy the smoky at its best. There are several exotic viewpoints and places to visit and hike in the national park. And, one of the places to be at is Cades Cove. We did drive a beautiful scenic Cades cove loop, but we also wanted to be a little bit adventurous. This is why we chose horseback riding at Cades Cove Riding Stables, located in the Townsend area of Smokys. There is also Sugarlands Riding Stables located in the Gatlinburg area of Smokys offered by the national park. They don’t need customers to reserve in advance in both of these places.


We went to the riding stables straight and waited about 10 minutes for a group of 8 to gather. The cost is affordable, and the horses are well trained. The horses took us through the river to the mountains and brought us back to the stables. The one hour ride was thrilling. Horses stopped for their “potty” time at times! I know that’s so funny. Also, they stopped to eat favourite plants at times as well. However, the horse leader was pretty caught up with everyone to keep the rest of the horses on the track. You don’t have to have horseback riding experience to join this group. Horses are well trained, and the trainers teach you basic ways to maneuver horses before leaving for the ride.


Everyone in the group was quiet, which I don’t know whether is rare? But, that quietness was serene. We could hear clip-clop from the horses walking. The sound of the wind blowing the leaves of the tree was therapeutic. The green itself provided so much peace. We kept an eye for a black bear. We didn’t see one, BUT we could see other exotic birds. I could do this over and over!

White water rafting in the smokies


Our next adventure was our first white water rafting!! The rafting businesses usually come with other services such as zip lining as well. We did not have enough time for zip lining but, we never wanted to miss rafting. There are several white water rafting businesses around the Great Smokey Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. We chose rafting in the Smokies at the Pigeon River. Here is a little information about this place. The reservation centre was located in Gatlinburg near 321 North, but the rafting preparation starts in Hartford, TN. You can probably reserve online as well—Reserve in advance through the website or by calling. We were lucky to get a spot on the same day. For the first time rafters, trust us, you don’t have to be a PRO. You don’t need to have swimming skills. They orient you at the centre, load everyone in their bus, and drive to the starting point of the Pigeon River. Remember that phones or any other valuable items are not allowed during rafting. So here comes the question! HOW DO WE TAKE OUR PICTURES? Right! That’s we went through the same thought process as well. The staff took our pictures after we were on a raft. And, we had to buy our photos from them. The digital images were expensive. But, GUESS WHAT? Our rafters decided to divide the money among ourselves, and one of us bought the pictures and airdropped them to all others.


White water rafting was a thrilling experience. Our coach was very experienced. She was inspiring in the sense that she is also a glass artist. There is a secret place at the Pigeon River where she has been working on her glass art. We wish we could post a picture here. But, unfortunately, we were not allowed to take our phones, so I don’t have that picture. Our group did a pretty good job rafting. We didn’t fall. We had so much fun!!

Hiking in the Great Smokies


How can I miss talking about hiking? Oh! We loved hiking at the Great Smokies. There are several hiking trails. But, the one I am sharing is about Alum Cave Trail to Mt Laconte. Alum Cave Trail begins with Alum Cave Creek. The creek is beautiful. The sounds of the creek while climbing up just made it so much easier. There are locations where anyone could stop and rest near the water. I could sleep there! The moment anyone realizes that they do not hear the water sounds anymore, they have climbed higher by now. The trail is 2.7 miles long. By the time we get done with half portion of the trail, we can start seeing the scenic beauty of the smokies.


We did not go to Mt. Laconte, but we made it to the top of the Alum Cave Trail. The endpoint is like a big cave. I could feel the water drops falling from the roof of the rocky mountain. The trail was pretty busy. Mount Laconte was an hour walk from this point. Due to time constraints, we thought of returning. But, talk about feeling good. We munched our snacks, enjoying the view! That’s so rewarding.
Stick around to read more about our travels!!

Fort Gadsden: Forgotten “Negro Fort” history hidden in Apalachicola National Forest

We decided to stop by Fort Gadsden while returning back from our trip to St George Island. Fort Gadsden is located in the Apalachicola National Forest. This fort is quite deep in the forest.

If you google search for places to visit in the Florida panhandle, you would probably not get Fort Gadsden listed. At least, we did not. We got to learn about Fort Gadsden in one of our travel guide books published by travel journalists. It is effortless to miss the road to this fort. We found a brown sign that said, Fort Gadsden. We just followed it. Deep in the forest, the road was unpaved.
On top of that, it was a rainy day. My husband doubted if our sedan would be able to drive on all the thick dirt. We kept on moving, and nothing to be seen. There was no service on our cell phones because we were so deep in the forest.
The white truck driving in the opposite direction was the only vehicle on the dirt road. We stopped our car and asked the man about how far the fort was. He was a hunter. He informed us that it was only about a mile. He said that our car would be able to handle the dirt road.

Hopeful enough, we decided to move further. We thought we almost reached the fort, but in vain. We noticed the signs that warned hunters to keep their weapons away from the residences there. Well, we only saw a couple of houses. At a point, I thought to stop and ask the resident. We saw the man in one of the houses who was doing dishes. We stopped our car but in a dilemma whether to proceed and ask him. My husband thought it was not safe to get out of the car as he could have firearms. We kept on following other signs with anxiety. We reached the park entrance, but the gate was closed. After driving all the bumpy roads, my husband was in huge disappointment and not ready to believe that the empty ground that we were seeing was a fort Gadsden. He didn’t want to give up yet. But, I pulled him away because the big “closed” sign at the shut gate said it all.

Fort Gadsden

Although Fort Gadsden was closed, here is what we know about this hidden historic landmark.


The fort is located on the eastern bank of the Apalachicola River, accessed by Highway 65. In 1812, British Royal Marine built the fort on recruiting Seminole Indians and escaped black slaves allies to fight against America. The fort was called British post. However, the British left the fort around 1815. The fort, now, was occupied by 300 escaped slaves and 30 Seminole and Choctaw Indians. Thus, the fort was known as the Negro Fort. The Negro Fort was a symbol of rebel and freedom from slavery. Seminole women, children, black families in Florida took refuge in the fort.


However, the U.S. Navy attacked the Negro Fort and left no trace. The American soldiers raided the surrounding settlements, burnt everything, and returned black families to the white slaveholders. The Indians were sentenced to death. The Americans continued the raid along the bank of the Apalachicola River for the next few years. James Gadsden, in 1818, built Fort Gadsden on the site where old Negro Fort was. The fort, a home, a place to fight for freedom for the black community was destroyed.

Mount Dora, Florida Travel Guide

If you ever are travelling to Orlando, or Tampa, don’t forget to spend your day or two at Mount Dora. Mount Dora is a small town that will amaze you in many different ways. The town is located 92 miles north from Tampa. It is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes drive from Tampa. Following are few things to see in Mount Dora.

Lake Dora

Lake Dora is not far from the downtown. Spend your morning or afternoon near the lake Dora. You can also take your picnic. Enjoy the sunset. Boat tours and beautiful nature trails are available on site.

Palm Island Park

If you are looking to spend your time watching birds and other animals such as alligators and raccoons, Palm Island Park is the place to stop by. The park has beautiful boardwalk on the lake Dora. You can also see Mount Dora Light House from the boardwalk.

Mount Dora Light House

Mount Dora Light house is located in the Port of Mount Dora. The lighthouse is one of only 3 freshwater lighthouses in
the state of Florida. It is about 35 feet tall. It was opened since 1988 and there is no access inside.Mount Dora Downtown: Downtown Mount Dora is a beautiful destination for a getaway in Central Florida. This vibrant downtown will surprise you with beautiful antique shops, museums, restaurants, hotels, and shopping stores. The downtown is not far from Lake Dora. Enjoy looking at the beautiful murals and old buildings in the downtown.

Mount Dora Downtown

Downtown Mount Dora is a beautiful destination for a getaway in Central Florida. The vibrant downtown has antique shops, museums, restaurants, hotels other shopping stores. Stroll around the downtown to look at murals, old buildings, beautiful arts that exist in the corner of the downtown. Downtown is not far from lake Dora.

The Donelly’s House

Don’t miss out on visiting Mr. Donelly’s house. John. Donelly’s house who is one of the founders of the local yacht club.
He is also Mount dora’s first mayor in 1910. This house is owned by mount dora lodge now.He built this house as a gift to his wife.
It is listed in national register of the historic places.

Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce

The first place to visit to get information about Mount Dora is the chamber of commerce. Located in the heart of Mount Dora downtown, the visitors center has staffs dedicated to assist you in making your visit easier. Stop by the visitors center to grab maps and other Mount Dora travel guides.

Saint Augustine must visits!

Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., located in the northeast coast of the Florida. The beautiful city of St. Augustine is famous for it’s beautiful beaches, and Spanish architecture. The city was regarded as the capital city of Florida.

Learn more about the city by visiting following historic and natural landmarks. Click on the listed links to learn more about these attractions.

Lightner Museum

The museum is located in the downtown Saint Augustine inside the Ponce de Leon Hotel. Enjoy the museum and the beautiful 19th century era building. Learn more about the museum here

Flagler College

Plan to visit Flagler College when you visit Saint Augustine downtown. Flagler college’s beautiful wall and ceiling arts will keep your jaws wide. Click here to learn more!

Castillo de San Marcos

The Castillo de San Marcos is masonry fort located on the shore of Matanzas Bay. The fort is oldest and in the western area of the bay. Designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza, when Florida was part of the Spanish empire. Learn more about the fort by clicking here

Alligator Farm

Don’t miss on visiting the Alligator Farm if you are interested in learning about alligators, and other few bird species. Watch park rangers feed the alligators. Also, if you are looking to be little adventurous, try their zip line over zoo. For more information click here

Villa Zoyrada Museum

It’s worth to visit Villa Zoyrada if you are interested to learn about Egyptian ancient history or American. The museum has the world’s oldest carpet made out of cat fur. The carpet was found in the bank of Nile river in Egypt. You are not allowed to take photos inside the museum. Enjoy learning peculiar history. Click here for more!

Riley’s Believe it or not

It is clear that this place has unbelievable collection of items from ancient and modern times that will keep you shocked. The museum is kids friendly. From wax replica of the world’s tallest man to the world’s smallest production car, the museum has tons of oddities to offer you. For more information click here

A 7 days road trip in Arizona: Phoenix-Page-Phoenix

Day 1:

Desert Botanical Garden

South Mountain Park

drive towards Sedona to your hotel.

Day 2:

Amitabh Stupa

Cathedral Rock

Chapel of holy Cross

stay in Sedona that night too.

Day 3:

Visit Montezuma Castle

Tuzigoot National monument history

Red rock State Park

Drive to spend a night at Flagstaff

Day 4:

Drive along Kendrick Mountain Wilderness on the way to Grand Canyon National Park. allot not more than 45 mins- 1 hour.

Drive almost one and half hour to reach to Grand Canyon National Park (towards the South rim which is more popular entry way)

make sure you allocate at least 3 hours drive to Page to reach to your hotel.

Day 5:

Visit Horseshoe Bend

Visit Glen Canyon dam .

stay at Page.

Day 6:

Visit Antelope Canyon (has an array of activities available, can spend the whole day)

Stay at page

Day 7:

Return to phoenix

Make a quick stop at Navajo Bridge (Discover an intriguing history on how a single bridge contributed to the socioeconomic upliftment of Arizona)

Note: All the planned visits can be easily covered in the itinerary as long as you can hit the road late by 8 am every morning.

 

Florida Panhandle Travel

Florida panhandle has a variety to offer you from beaches to gardens, antiques, sinkholes, canopy roads and blue springs. We planned a 7-day backroads trip from Largo. Our first stop was Tallahassee itself using route 580. It took approximately 5 hours. However, this route has beautiful sceneries to offer instead of I-75. We stopped at Cedar Key for 2 hours on our way. Cedar Key is a little historic town, suitable for a getaway.

We stayed overnight at a little cottage in Goat House Farm near Lake Talquin in Tallahassee.

Lake Talquin State Park

On the other side of the cottage exists Lake Talquin State Park. If you are looking for a place to sit down, gaze at the lake and meditate, you should choose this state park. The park had only a few visitors. It’s the right place for fishing, walking trails and launching your private rentals

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs

Only 35 minutes away is Wakulla Springs. It is the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring. A lot of children played in the less deep area of the spring. The spring provides cruise services to the visitors who are willing to enjoy the boat tours. 

Wakulla springs also have trails for the hiking in the woods. The forest has self-guided trails as well. If you are looking to stay closer to the springs, Wakulla offers lodge on its own premises. The beautiful Spanish style building has a cafeteria and gift shop in the same building.

The Forgotten Coast– Apalachicola, Saint George Island

Apalachicola– You did not really travel panhandle if you missed the forgotten Coast. Apalachicola, the oyster capital of the world, has sweetest oysters to offer you. The maritime culture of this town provides fresh seafood and several areas for fishing. This little town does not have plenty of parking spaces. While you walk the city, definitely visit the visitors centre. If you can, find the place for Tupelo honey. Spend time tasting chocolates in the chocolate factory and stroll the town’s various souvenir stores.

Saint George Island-Only 7min drive from Apalachicola is a connecting place called Eastpoint. Do not miss to visit Saint George Island, which is only 15minutes drive.   Visit historic Saint George Lighthouse. Stop at the museum in the lighthouse before you start climbing the stairs of the lighthouse. Once you reach the top, enjoy the view of the beautiful Apalachicola Bay. Saint George Island has beautiful beaches to offer you. 

The beach can be a bit crowded. However, if you want quiet private beach time of your own, visit Saint George Island State Park which is about 15 mins drive from the lighthouse. On your way to the state park, enjoy watching the colourful buildings of the island.

Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge

About 45 minutes south from Wakulla Springs exists a hidden treasure of Florida Panhandle. Saint Marks Wildlife Refuge connects with the beautiful Apalachee Bay.The exotic marshlands of the refuge on a sunny day is a piece of art by nature to enjoy. 

If you plan to fish, the sanctuary offers varieties of spots to allow your fisherman spirit to come alive. The southernmost point of the refuge consists of historic Saint Marks Lighthouse that you should not miss out. It is the second oldest light station in Florida.

Torreya State Park, Florida Caverns State Park, Falling Waters State Park

North to Tallahassee lies beautiful state parks. If you are looking to experience the Florida mountains view, falling waters, lakes and hike, state parks won’t go wrong. Located in Bristol, Torreya State Park is a natural landmark and historic cite. The state park named after Florida nutmeg tree (Torreya), the tree only found in California, Florida and Japan, stands next to the Apalachicola River. The park is famous for Gregory house (plantation house). The state park offers plenty of beautiful area for hiking. We hiked down to the Apalachicola river from the Gregory house.

Falling waters state park offers you a beautiful 70-foot tall waterfall. The rainy season is the best time to visit the park. The surface water flows to the stream and cascades before disappearing into a cave when the water level is high. The turtle lake is a good icing on the cake in the park. There are several picnic tables available near the lake.

Panama City

Stroll at the Panama city beach market before you get ready to enjoy the sands of the beach itself. Enjoy the shops before the pier park entrance. The Panama city beach pier park charges you a small fee to let you enter the large fishing pier. As you return, enjoy coffee, soft and hard drinks in the beautiful cottage shops near the beach.

Clearwater to Keywest: a four day roadtrip

A 3-4 day road trip from Clearwater to Keywest can give you a wholesome different experience of a roadtrip if it is done in a planned manner.

Day 1:

Start driving at 7:00 am. Take I-275 and then connect to I-75 to get to fort Myers. Visit Edison and ford winter Estates. Spend at least two hours there as it has a lot to offer.

From there drive to Naples for about 1 hour 15 minutes to explore Cork screw swamp Sanctuary, a very pristine and balmy nature walk on the boardwalk trail with various exotic birds to watch along the way. having a binoculars is an advantage.

End your day with a stay at Marathon. various availability of motels within your budgets.

note: you can make a stop at Ringling museum and allocate at least about 3 hours for it before you head straight to Fort Myers if you can hit off the road little early at around 7:30 in the morning.

Day 2:

Enjoy the Marathon beach.

Also, you can explore few of the below activities of your interest as time permits before you can head to key west to spend a night there.

  1. A Deep Blue Dive Center
  2. Brutus Seafood Market & Eatery
  3. Catch ‘Em All
  4. Cocos Boat Rentals
  5. Crane Point Museum, Nature Center and Historic Site
  6. Curry Hammock State Park
  7. Dolphin Research Center
  8. Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters
  9. Florida Keys Kiteboarding

Day 3:

The most exciting day of the trip. You can cover all of the following attractions in one day.

  • Hemmingway House
  • Fort Zachary Taylor state Park
  • CGC Ingham Museum
  • Mallory Square
  • Southernmost point buoy

Day 4:

  • Stop at Everglades National Park and try out activities such as bike ride in Shark valley, boat tour, kayaking/canoeing, hiking trails.
  • Drive back to Clearwater.

Central Florida to Florida Panhandle

Day 1: Start driving at 8 am from Tampa to Tallahassee. Take route 589 and US 19 to drive backroads. Reach Cedar Key by 12:00 noon. Spent 2 hours in Cedar Key. Get back to the route to Tallahassee. Reach Goat house farm by 6pm at late.

Day 2: Hit the road at 8:00 am. Drive to the Wakulla Springs. Spend 3 hours in Wakulla springs. From there drive to St Marks light house. Spend rest of the day. Return to Tallahassee

Day 3: Start driving at 8:00 am to Apalachicola. Go to Saint George Island Lighthouse and State Park. Stay over night in Apalachicola.

Day 4: Drive to Chipley FL, see Florida Caverns State Park and Falling waters state park. Drive back to Apalachicola.

Day 5: Drive to Panama City using route—-. Stay in Panama City.

Day 6: Drive to Pensacola FL—-route—. Stay for 3 hours

Day 7: Return Back

Treasures of Central Florida

The most popular attraction in Central Florida is Disney World. Visited by people worldwide, Disney remains on the top of the chart for so many people and has shadowed other exotic destinations. If you look closely, the central part of this state has a lot to offer you from springs, manatees and mermaids to rolling hills and treasure coast. This article will list only a few places that you must visit if you enjoy nature.

Before establishing Disney World, Weeki Wachee Springs was one of the most visited places due to the mermaid performances. However, the popularity of Disney world affected Weeki Wachee’s businesses.

Crystal River Archeological State Park

Standing at the bank Crystal river, the mounds lead you to imagine the life of ancient Indians.  The mounds are the piles of shells used by the Calusa Indians. The Calusa chiefs built important temples, conducted essential ceremonies on the top of the mound. Take the stairs to the top of the mound, and enjoy the breeze coming from the beautiful Crystal River.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Home for manatees, the Homosassa springs lets you experience the wildlife and nature closely. Take a boat tour from the entrance to the wildlife rehabilitation.  

The other attraction in the springs is an underwater observatory that allows you to watch Manatees and thousands of fishes and mullet. Manatees mainly visit Homosassa springs during winter. They visit springs seeking the warm 72 F water. The park volunteers run the informative show while they feed Manatees foods such as carrots.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and Weeki Wachee preserve

Famous for mermaids, Weeki Wache springs hold the history of one of the most iconic springs. Enjoy the boat tours, swim in the Buccaneer bay, and hike in nature. Do you like freshwater adventures? Weeki Wachee springs allow you to kayak and launch your private rentals.

Located in Spring Hill, Weeki Wachee preserve is situated in the conservation land. It extends up to the Crystal river buffer preserve. The preserve has an uneven road, easy to drive. However, the gate is only open on the second and fourth Saturday of a month. You can still hike and take your bike when the gates are closed. The area has only one picnic table located near the beautiful lake. 

There are several man-made lakes in the area that formed after the land mining operations. This habitat is the largest remaining black bear habitat in along the peninsular gulf coast. 

Pine Island

Embraced by the beautiful marshlands and palm trees, pine island is one of Florida’s exotic hidden treasures. As you drive the island, you enjoy the beautiful view of the palm trees forest. The beach houses are seen when you get closer to the Hernando county beach. Enjoy the forest scenery on the horizon while you walk on the white sands of the beach.

Rainbow Springs State Park

The crystal clear river of rainbow springs attracts many visitors. The constant 72f water in the spring is ideal for the children and families to swim, kayak and paddle. It will be less crowdy as you paddle away from the bank of the spring. Immerse in the beauty of nature, watch for birds and alligators. Rainbow springs state park has more to offer you. As you stroll around the park, experience fantastic butterfly garden. Smell the blooming jasmine flowers floating all the way from the top of the tree to its root. 

Silver Springs State Park

 

Silver springs is another beautiful state park with one of the largest springs in the USA.    The boat tours at the state park will sail you to the lap of exotic trees, homes of birds and alligators. 

Experience underwater life by viewing from the glass bottom boats take you the underwater.

Get to learn the park deeper by bringing your own private rentals in the spring. Educate yourself about the spring at the visitors center that offers you museum.