ZannaTravelsI never like to peg myself into any one blogging ‘niche’, as I’ve written about many times here. I’m not a mom blogger, I’m not solely a Disney blogger or even Orlando blogger. Over my 5 years here at Zannaland, I’ve still never found exactly the “one thing” I should stick with. I began Zannaland to share my thoughts on my personal history of coming to Walt Disney World as a girl through adulthood, which morphed into covering new things to do and merchandise of interest at Walt Disney World. I branched out to cover other area theme parks but I am now keeping that coverage to places that I feel personally passionate about, and resorts in the area that I think are worth staying at.  Now, I am in the position to travel more in my life, and I find myself wanting to blog more about travel and exploring some of the other great destinations out there. But I don’t want to leave Disney behind, or my newly beloved Diagon Alley. So I’ll continue to not fit into a specific blogger mold, and keep sharing my personal views and experiences with you all here. My next adventure is one I am very excited about chronicling here.

Growing up, it was rare that we would fly from Massachusetts to Florida to visit Walt Disney World. We would drive and my parents would build many stops into our trips over and back, visiting all the major spots down the eastern seaboard on our way. I have so many wonderful memories of visiting Baltimore and Philadelphia and Washington DC, Charleston, and Savannah on these trips. It’s a great way to get to know the history of this great country of ours. I always wanted to continue this tradition with my own children, but things never really worked out in the whole summer vacation department. Things have changed and I’m now in a place where I can make up for lost time with showing my kids America. I’m also now with someone who has spent his life visiting National Parks and seeing a whole other side to our country that I haven’t really experienced myself. So we decided for our first family road trip to combine the best of both worlds; the natural and the man-made, to  get our feet wet in the family travel ocean and see where we want to go from here.

At the end of this week, we’ll be embarking on our first trip together and we are all very excited. We decided to stay pretty close to home for this first venture, since with two teenagers and a 5 year-old, we aren’t really sure how the whole car-ride experience will play out. (Earplugs have been purchased)

Our first stop will be Atlanta, a place I’ve only ever been once myself (aside from airport layovers). I’ve always wanted to visit the Georgia Aquarium so I thought this would be a great place to make our first stop and be fun for everyone. The kids are super excited about seeing the Whale Sharks and all the other amazing creatures there. We’ll be taking a behind-the-scenes tour in addition to all the regular shows and exhibits, so I know I’ll have so much to share here after our visit!

Georgia Aquarium

After our day at the Georgia Aquarium, we’ll be heading over to Stone Mountain. There we’ll see all there is at this amazing park (I was shocked at how much there was to do here – I knew about the laser show, but I thought that was it!). We’ll end our day of exploration with the famous laser show on the mountain, and then spend the night in Atlanta before heading out on the road again.

Stone Mountain

Then the scenic driving will begin as we make our way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’m super excited about this and think it’s a great introduction to our National Parks for the kids. I’ve only ever been to Acadia briefly, but I also used to live near the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I’m excited to see all the wonder of nature around us. We’ll be staying in a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN for a few nights, doing hiking and exploring during the day, even taking time to visit some friends while there. I cannot wait to wake up to sights like this:

Great Smoky Mountains

After spending most of the week in the Smokies, we’ll make the short journey to Asheville, NC. We’ll then explore the amazing Biltmore Estate. I am thrilled about seeing the estate and grounds and the kind folks at the Biltmore have set us up with a full audio tour, vineyard tour and even the new kids audio tour for our 5 year-old so he has as much fun as we do. I grew up visiting the mansions of Newport, RI, and my oldest children don’t remember their visits there at all, so I’m happy they’ll get to experience something like this on such a grand level.

Biltmore Estate

The last portion of our trip will be a scenic drive up part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, to just leisurely take in those beautiful sights up to around Boone, NC before making the journey back down to Florida. On our way back, we decided to take the coastal route home, and may make spontaneous stops at either Charleston or Savannah – we’ll see how things go!

Charleston SC

Along our road trip, you can expect lots of instagrams, tweets, and updates to my facebook page, but I may wait to blog until I return, so I can make sure I experience everything first hand and not behind a computer or phone screen. I’m excited to share this trip with my family, and then here with you, sharing any tips I find along the way and get some ideas for next time.

So have you done many road trips either solo or with your family? I’d love to hear some of your favorite memories or experiences and if you’ve visited the places I mentioned above, I’m definitely up for your recommendations and must-dos while we’re there!

You can follow along on instagram or twitter with the hashtag: #zannatravels. See you on the road!