Road trip planning guide with day trip ideas by car, motorcycle, bicycle, or RV, highlighting vacation stays at beautiful Bluegreen Resorts.

"A man who couldn't make things go right could at least go." - W. Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways

Tunnel of Trees: A Road to Make You Crave a Great Ride

Majestic.   Splendid.   Spectacular.  Michigan.

In digging around for out-of-the-way rides to enjoy during a stay at Bluegreen's Mountain Run at Boyne, I found what sounded like the kind of road I've always imagined was out there somewhere just waiting for a driver to discover.  From the way the route is described, this isn't an experience you'll want to miss while on your Boyne vacation and it's one you'll return to through several seasons, just to watch the landscape unfold.

Heading north, sixteen or so miles outside your door will get you to the quaint little must-see town of Petoskey, Michigan. Sitting on the Traverse Bay shore, this is a popular tourist spot as the guidebooks go with plenty to see, eat, and enjoy.

But if you're looking to venture off that trodden path (which, I suppose, is your entire reason for reading this blog), continue past Petroskey and take 119 just past Harbor Springs.  This road will take you to the place all those adjectives up there were made for, Michigan's Tunnel of Trees.

The Tunnel is approximately 20 miles long, and depending on your mood can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to navigate. If you've got some time to get away, throttle down for a slow cruise under the winding canopy of trees hugging the shore of Lake Michigan.   You'll alternate between views of restful shore and deep woods described as "travel magazine picture-perfect".

Naturally, Summer, Spring are great times to drive, and Autumn is a favorite with leaves falling at high color to blanket your path.  If you're an impatient driver, the only weekend you may want to skip is Labor Day when the road fills with groups of bicyclists enjoying the view.

I'm told that besides pausing at landmarks like the Middle Village, Devil’s Elbow and the Old Council Tree, you should be sure to stop at the Good Hart General Store, one of the oldest in the state, and Legs Inn at Cross Village, a beautiful rustic-style restaurant of wood and stone.

Don't just take my word for it.  Ami Woods at says,

"Traveling the Lake Michigan coastline is one of the most majestic and awe-inspiring tours permissible by car. "

I'd say it's an experience to be added to your list while on a Boyne Mountain vacation.  If you've been there already, leave us some tips!

Photo credit:  Buckster

Touring Michigan's Tunnel of Trees
Trip Advisor Tunnel of Trees Search
Petoskey Area Visitor's Info
All Getaways Harbor Springs to Cross Village Tunnel of Trees Page


Shuttle Launch Vacations: Your Final Countdown has Begun

Time's fast running out if you want to see a live Shuttle Launch from Kennedy Space Center.   It's a sight you will not forget, and one you'll never be able to fully describe to the friends you left back home.  To give you an idea of the visual impact, it's been called "one of the most stunning and dramatic events on earth."

My first launch experience was a night one.  Call it luck. 

We'd taken my husband's company Harley for a ride south from Daytona Beach towards Cape Canaveral, then realized a launch had been scheduled for that night.  As it turned out, we rode up in time to catch one of the most spectacular sites I've ever seen, and all without a camera in hand.

Early in the evening as the sun set, heat lightning crackled over the Atlantic Ocean beyond the tips of the launch pad and there was a good chance the liftoff was going to be cancelled.  Knowing NASA would try to make their window if it was at all possible, we stuck it out and were rewarded when the biggest roman candle ever made lit up the entire night sky.  Night suddenly became dusk.  And as the shuttle rose higher and higher, we began to hear the roar of massive engines as the sound rolled right over us, setting off car alarms for miles around.  Amazing is not a cliche in this instance.  Our mouths literally hung open as we craned our necks to catch the view.

To tell you there's a lot of traffic to negotiate is not an understatement by any stretch of the imagination, but it's easy to make an experience out of the entire trip.  To make the trip part of your beach vacation, start off with a stay at Casa Del Mar, a Oceanside Bluegreen Resort in Ormond Beach.  It's your best bet for catching a launch right from your room, or directly on the beach outside your door.

If you decide to get up close, Bluegreen's Casa Del Mar is on A1A, and will give you easy access to one of the most scenic routes for your drive south to Kennedy Space Center.   Take in the ocean towns of Daytona, Port Orange, and New Smyrna, and enjoy the view.   You'll find your Google Maps route options here.

I'd recommend you make a day of it if you're actually planning to catch the launch, but there is plenty of fascination to be had just by visiting the Space Center on any given day.  Attractions include interactive flight simulators, an IMAX theatre, full guided tours of the entire space center grounds, and visiting astronauts.  You will not be disappointed.

Photo credits:  Bluegreen Colorfulplaces
NASA Launch Schedule
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
NASA on Twitter
KSC Visitor Center on Twitter


What Your Orlando Vacation Deserves: A Surprising Little Escape Route

Orlando is the last place I'd think of for a vacation road trip, but after days of trekking through theme parks, I'm usually ready for a side trip to clear my mind. 

When I hear a call to the open road that involves pedaling under my own power,  an October stay at Bluegreen Resorts The Fountains is the getaway I order up. 

I usually reserve a couple of days from my theme park agenda to head 25 miles northwest to Mt. Dora for Florida's oldest and largest bicycle festival, and this year will mark the 36th held so far.  Dates for the 2010 event are October 7 - 10, and so now's a great time for me to start planning.

The bicycle festival features two days of supported rides, 11 in total, ranging from 25 to 100 miles.  A third day of riding lets me do my own thing and take to the road in my own good time.  There's a lot to see in this historic town, the Antique Capital of Florida.  I like visiting the thriving arts community, browsing rows of quaint shops and unique restaurants, historic homes, cultural events, as well as taking in some of Florida's best views.  At 184 feet above sea level, Mt. Dora is about as close to a mountaintop view as you'll get in Florida. 

A walking or even a Segway Tour can easily be added to a Orlando vacation side trip, and if you decide this is the kind of getaway for you,  you can thank me for the break from the hustle of Disney and Universal later. 

After a nice ride through the town and a relaxing dip in the pool at The Fountains, I'm recharged and ready to wrestle the Orlando attractions. 

Photo credit:  Bluegreen ColorfulPlaces

What To Do In Mt. Dora
Mt. Dora Chamber of Commerce
Guided Segway Tours
Mt. Dora Bicycle Ride - Astatula Hills
Bicycle Rentals - Mount Dora Cycles


Half Way to The End of the Road: Mile Marker 50

If you’ve been eyeing the Florida Keys for your next road trip vacation and can’t decide where to stay, you might as well sit yourself smack dab in the middle of all the fun at mile marker 50, Marathon Key.

After heading South from Miami, half way between Key Largo (around Mile Marker 100) and Key West (Mile Marker 0), you’ll find yourself not only at the midway point, but at the northern entrance to one of the most beautiful roadways you’ll cross, the Seven Mile Bridge.  Take a look.

It’s a road that appears to stretch on to infinity.

Sitting very conveniently and cozily at the base of this famous Seven Mile Bridge is Bluegreen Resorts Hammocks at Marathon, a vacation destination offering everything from relaxation at the poolside tiki lounge to day trip adventures by land or by sea, including boat, jetski, and even bicycle rentals. Not only does this spot offer many ways to enjoy a day trip, but no island or attraction in the Keys is more than 60 minutes away.

By bicycle:

If you decide to take advantage of the on-site rentals, you’ll be ready to pedal the two miles south alongside the Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key, a 5-acre island sometimes described as a “ghost town” There you’ll see historical buildings and grounds preserved from the heyday of the Flagler railroad. The trip takes you over a portion of the old bridge, preserved for bicyclists and those who enjoy a walk by the ocean. It’s a great evening trip if you’d like a bicycle ride with a view of the sunset.

By car, motorcycle or RV:

If your ride is powered, enjoy the full Seven Miles south and head down as far as the road will take you, to Key West. In 60 minutes, you’ll be ready for Duvall Street’s shopping, dining, and entertainment. Give the day a great sendoff at Mallory Dock, where street performers, and musicians perform nightly as the sun sinks low on the horizon over the Gulf of Mexico.

I’ve named just two of the destinations you can ride to from Marathon, both South of the resort, but be sure to make time to visit Big Pine Key's Bahia Honda State Park where you'll find some of the best beaches in the Florida Keys. Conde Naste has even named it best beach in the Continental U.S.!  Activities within this park are nearly endless, with bicycling, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming boating, and camping topping the list. I can't think of too many things better for your mental health than a campfire view of a beachside sunset.  There's a lot more. Heading about 14 miles North is John Pennekamp State Park where you'll want to get in some snorkeling or reef peeping in glass bottom boats.  Reservations are recommended.

The Florida Keys are some of the best locations to plan your vacation whether it’s by two or four wheels, but adds endless opportunity with the freedom of seemingly endless waterways. Any of the destinations I’ve named here are available to you by water from the resort’s well-equipped docks.  This trip is by far one of my favorites, but that's because I'm a water lover.

Peak vacation times in the Keys are between January and June, so plan, and plan early!

Been to the Keys?  What’s your favorite spot and what would you most like to experience?

Photo Credit:  Bluegreen Resorts Colorful Places

Florida Parks page on Bahia Honda
Bahia Honda F.A.Q page
Discovering Florida Keys
Jerry's Charter Services - Boat Rentals at The Hammocks
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park


In and Around Daytona: 36 Miles of Beach Ride Nirvana

If you've ever had a wild itch to take on two wheels and cruise in the area  best-known for Bike Week, you've got a few decisions to make.  One of your first should be whether to trailer your bike or rent one by the day or week.  Be aware- if you're planning to vacation during the Biker events, rental prices are at a premium, running in the neighborhood of $200 - $250 or more per day.  For those who like action and being in the Thick of Things, book well ahead.  Two years ahead.

But if quieter rides are more your style, the Daytona area offers great bike weather just about all year round, and motorcycles aren't the only option for enjoying some of the area's amazing scenic byways.

For a  vacation experience you'll be hard-pressed not to want to return to, Bluegreen Resorts stylish Daytona Seabreeze, located in Ormond Beach, is a great option.  You can relax on the sands and watch the sunrise from the beach outside your door, or enjoy the daybreak view with a breakfast on your oceanfront balcony.  After a morning of sun and swim, you'll be ready for a nice little tour.

From the resort, The Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail is highly recommended, covering more than 30 miles of some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Florida.  This ride is one of my personal favorites for the variety of possibilities it offers.  This is a terrific day trip by bicycle, scooter, or the family SUV.  The Loop's official website describes the ride best:

"The roadway view includes unobstructed vistas of two rivers, creeks and marshes, barrier island dunes and beach, and historic dwellings. Visitors seeking a cultural and/or historic experience will find museums and historic public buildings and private homes along the corridor, in Tomoka State Park and in locations a few blocks off the designated roadways."

It's just plain gorgeous.  And because there's quite a lot to do along the road, you can plan more than one visit
or approach it from different points on the map.  There are plenty of spots for fishing, boating, and picnicing, and you can use the walking trails or beaches to stretch your legs before the next segment of the trip.

Variety is the key to this relaxing road trip experience.  Just writing this has made me miss the two years I spent riding A1A along the Palm Coast with short afternoon jaunts into Tomoka Park.

Safe Riding.

Have you traveled this loop?  What's your take on the ride?

The Ormond Loop Official Website
Ormond Loop Insider Tips
Bluegreen Resorts Daytona Seabreeze
Daytona Rentals (Bikes, bicycles, and scooters)

Photo credits:  Bluegreen Resorts, Ormond Loop Official Website


Outside Vegas, A Road Leads to Extremes...

Latitude 36 North is where you'll find Bluegreen Resorts Club 36, a brand new resort just far enough from the strip to give you a retreat from the constant activity and let you enjoy a nice respite from the City That Never Sleeps.  But if you've wondered what goes on outside of Vegas and you're feeling the need for a little side trip to recharge before for your next jaunt to LAX, you can rest your eyes and mind on the zen experience that is Death Valley. 

Meditate on this: 

  • In just a three-hour drive away from the strip, you reach Furnace Creek.  Now, that's a name you've got to respect.
  • If you're into keeping track of Extremes, this is the lowest, hottest, and driest location in North America.  It's been described as having a brutal beauty.
  • 3 million acres of wilderness include sand dunes, mountains topped with snow, and canyons.  Oh, and a castle.
  • The park's Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level.  Bet you guessed that's the lowest spot next to The Dead Sea.  (Seeing a naming pattern here?)

You may want to consider the time of year when visiting. Death Valley is considered a Winter park.  Summer is too hot for most, and Spring is the most popular.  Any time of year will work depending upon your interest, but remember that it's The Desert.  Can't emphasize enough that you need to bring water and follow the rules laid out by those who've gone and done it already.  You'll find all the precautionary information you need in the link to the visitor's guide (below). 

And if you want to know the best route, Trip Advisor has an excellent post here, but The National Park Service has directions from Vegas broken down by Shortest, Easiest, Ghost Town, and Most Scenic. 

The best part about the park is that you can drive through a lot of it, making it one of the top places on the Indigo Highways' vacation road trip Bucket List.

Have you been to Death Valley and survived?  If you have, leave us some tips on the experience. 

Bluegreen Resorts Las Vegas Travel Guide
Club 36 - Bluegreen's Las Vegas Resort

Photo credit:  Eric Moore


Closer to the Road

It wasn't until we got to Daytona, Florida that I discovered a real appreciation for a good stretch of asphalt.  Of course I did that the hard way.

On a wild-haired impulse we'd packed up and moved South with some friends who asked for help in starting a new business concept, renting motorcycles. I'd never even been on a bike but didn't want to pass up the chance to become part of something new and untested. As it turned out, we did more than simply testing the biker waters, and for the next 8 years we lived leather and breathed Harley fumes helping lots of vacationers fulfill their riding dreams. Along with bikes, we'd provide riders with routes, little-known local facts, hidden restaurant gems, and suggestions for great places to stay. Later, we'd get involved with car rentals and eventually RVs.  As new ventures go, the experience was a lot richer than I bargained for.

One of the things I didn't bargain for was dropping a company Harley, a very  hard way to get some fast respect for pavement, and a great way to freak out company management, in this case, my horrified husband. Since I wanted to continue riding, I quickly gained a sharper eye for hazards, and right then and there started paying more attention to stories from other riders. Experience, that funny little hard-nosed teacher, gives you a lesson in what makes all the difference.

Helmet-deep in the world of biker culture, I also got a very good introduction to what I call Roaders- the people who go on a good drive for the sake of the journey alone, and for the remarkable or unusual things they find along the way. They're a little more inclined to slow down and have a conversation with you about the little places they've happened to roll up on, or take a little extra time to point you in an interesting direction. That's the spirit of what I hope to accomplish here.

While I haven't personally been to all of the places I'll write about (yet!), I'm going to rely on resources from The National Scenic Byways or State Wildlife Trails to start. The majority of the best tips will eventually come from you. By adding your experience and knowledge to the comments, you'll help make this a real resource for Bluegreen Resort travelers and anyone else who enjoys a good ride.

As the saying goes,

It's not about the destination, but about the Journey.

What's your best idea for a day trip?  If you've got experiences to share, just drop a comment.

Let's go.

Photo credit: StrawberryMarmalade, DeviantArt


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