I call myself a “vanlifer,” and yet, I haven’t experienced the van life since May, 2018. Can you believe, we have not camped for just about one year? That’s going to change.
To get revved up, I reflected on our vanlife travels. Many wonderful memories come from stops which may not make the “destination radar.” This week I bring you our top six, lesser-known, super cute towns we’ve landed in:
Want to step back in time? Then, I’d say Door County, Wisconsin is for you. Located on a peninsula which sticks out between Green Bay, and Lake Michigan, you can watch a sunrise and a sunset over the water without leaving the county. Acres of orchards, supper clubs, delicious cherry pies, cheese curds, and cuteness around every corner. The citizens of Door County are just about as welcoming as they come.
Truly a part of Florida’s Forgotten Coast, the largest cities – Tallahassee and Panama City – are over an hour away (in a vehicle which is not a 1985 VW van.) With a population hovering around 2,500, there are more than 900 historic homes and buildings. You won’t find high rises but miles pristine beaches and a strong maritime culture. And, that translates to incredible sea food options. Apalachicola is recognized by top chefs as having some of the finest oysters in the country.
OK, “cute” may not entirely be the right adjective to describe Clarksdale. Located in the Delta Region of Mississippi, I once blogged about Clarksdale as, being in the middle of nowhere, where people are from everywhere. We met Germans, Swedes and people from all over the US in this little town which isn’t too easy to get to. The reason they come: the Blues. This is where the Blues – and Rock n’ Roll, for that matter – was born. In Clarksdale it is said one can sell their soul to the devil, in trade to play a mean guitar.
A kind camp host in Ohio made the recommendation for us to visit “Puddin’ Bay.” It wasn’t until he pointed it out on a map, I realized he was saying “Put-in-Bay.” A tiny island in Lake Erie, roughly 35 miles east of Toledo, Put-in-Bay is steeped in history due to its significant role during the War of 1812. The primary industry is tourism and is a popular summer resort and recreational destination… of course, we were there in off season so renting a golf cart (the preferred mode of transport), and finding a camp spot was easy. To paint an image of Put-in-Bay, think no stop lights, ice cream shops, candy bars and merry-go-rounds.
Bisbee is in Arizona, about 100 miles southeast of Tucson. Originally founded in the late 1800’s with its mining industry: gold, silver and copper. Today, it’s a town of artists and freethinkers. With its centerpiece hotel, the Copper Queen, reportedly sold by Phelps-Dodge mining company for a whopping $1.00… and still had a hard time finding a buyer! Sold in 1970 the buyer’s had a large renovation project on their hands and once completed, a new rebirth occurred, bringing Bisbee into the current century, but seriously hanging on to its wild west, mining roots.
Literally in the heart of Texas, is the hill country town of Fredericksburg. Reminiscent of little German villages, landing in Fredericksburg is like walking into a warm Santa’s village. There was every imaginable tasting opportunity – wine, wurst to hot sauce – and an open air museum which offered a peak into early settler life. Additional bonus: the unincorporated neighbor town of Luckenbach offers the throwback fun of the 70’s with hug-ins, chili bust, song-pickin’, domino playin’, and beer drinkin’.