10 Weekend Road Trips You Need to Take Before You Graduate

We're back with another themed week on the site: Travel Week. This semester, Her Campus FSU has created themed weeks dedicated to exclusive content we believe all of our readers should have access to. Keep up on the site for the next few days as we cover everything from the best places you need to roadtrip to before you graduate to the top eats across the pond (that's London town, for those of you who haven't brushed up on your British). We promise we'll leave you wanderlusting for more. After all, summer vacation is just a few weeks away! 

Graduation is slowly creeping up on me and I’m beginning to weep inside. Atleast I can graduate knowing that I was able to make unforgettable memories taking incredible weekend road trips during my time as an FSU student. Some of them are still on my list of things to do, but I’ve got a month left! Check them out and make plans for yourself before you graduate.

Bearpaw

Location: 2100 Bear Paw Ln, Marianna, FL

Travel Time: About an hour via I-10 W

What You’ll Need: Bathing Suit, Towel, waterproof case for phone, cooler for snacks and beverages

There’s nothing like a relaxing day spent floating down a river. If you’ve ever been to a water park and have experienced a lazy river before, Bearpaw is just like that, with the added fun of being in an actual river. You have the option of taking a boat out, kayaking or canoeing, or just floating in an inner tube. What is supposed to be a four-hour trip took my friends and I six, because we stopped at little banks along the way...and got ourselves stuck in a few tree branches as well. You are welcome to bring your own inner tubes, but Bearpaw Adventures will have some to rent. You can also buy a cooler float, which is one of the most convenient inventions I’ve ever come across. For more info on visiting Bearpaw visit it's website here.

St. George Island

Location: Beach on the coast of the Florida Panhandle

Travel Time: About an hour and 40 minutes via U.S. 319 S

What You’ll Need: Beach essentials, wallet and car ride tunes

In Florida, you’re never too far from a beach getaway, and St. George Island is one of the prettiest places to go for just that. This small and adorable beach town has great food, great shops, an historic lighthouse to explore, and of course, the whole place is a beach. Located in the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean waves remain pretty calm, and the sound could put you right to sleep. If you’re on the beach late enough, you may catch a glimpse of some wildlife, like tiny crabs, coming out of hiding. I’ve taken the trip here quite a few times, and my number one suggestion is to stop for some ice cream once you’ve had your fun in the sun.

Courtesy: Shannon Hickie

Florida Caverns

Location: Florida Caverns State Park, 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, FL

Travel Time: About an hour and 15 minutes via I-10 W

What You’ll Need: Shoes you don’t mind getting dirty, a light sweater, phone or camera to take pictures on, money to pay for parking/cavern tour

Isn’t it crazy that Florida is able to have caverns, being at such low sea level? You’ve probably never even thought about that unless you have been to the Florida Caverns, but the experience is pretty mind blowing (and if you don’t know what caverns are, they are underground caves). Before going on the cavern tour (led by one of the park rangers), there are some hiking trails to explore throughout the State Park. They’re sure to get you into the zen, natural mood required to appreciate such beauty as the caverns. It is $5 per car to park, and to go on a tour of the caverns, it costs $8 per person. I visited the caverns while third wheeling a friend’s date and would 10/10 spend another day spelunking with that lovely couple. Get more information from their website here.

Courtesy: Shannon Hickie

Providence Canyon

Location: Providence Canyon State Park, Canyon Road, Lumpkin, GA

Travel Time: 2 and a half hours

What You’ll Need: Shoes fit for hiking, camping gear (if you plan on camping), plenty of water and snacks

Who knew you didn’t have to go all the way to Arizona to get a glimpse of some canyons! The great thing about Providence Canyon is that there is so much to see, so much to hike, and can easily be a day trip or a weekend camping trip. There are a total of eight canyons to explore, with trails taking you into them as well as around them. Don’t worry, you won’t get lost; convenient signs guide you along every trail you come across. Further away from the canyons are camping grounds within the state park and biking trails. I went here with one of my best friends and got some pretty sweet pictures...as well as an appreciation for the old faulty farming practices that created such a landmark.

Courtesy: Shannon Hickie

New Orleans

Location: Louisiana

Travel Time by Car: About 5 hours and 45 minutes

Travel Time by Bus For Fraternity Formal: About 8 or 9 hours- as long as the bus doesn’t break down.

What You’ll Need: A good amount of cash, nightlife attire that you don’t mind getting alcohol spilled on, shoes you don’t care about, a pickpocket-proof purse, your real 21+ I.D.

This weekend trip is obviously not going to be filled with cleansing and refreshing moments where you’re surrounded by silence, running water, or tons of trees. However, there will always be something to do! My trip to New Orleans was through a fraternity’s Formal, and although I had a great time, I would recommend trying to make the trip without having to take a bus full of drunk people. Someone is most likely going to vomit and stink up the bus, and someone else will spill their drink on your date the whole time (but half the fun is getting there!). If you love great seafood, sugar-filled alcoholic beverages, and don’t mind crowds upon crowds of people, New Orleans is going to be a great time for you. During the day, there are historic places to visit, art and music to enjoy, and a riverside walk to stroll down. At night, Bourbon Street is the one and only destination. You can’t go to New Orleans without trying infamous drinks like the Grenade, the Hurricane and the Shark Attack. Without a doubt you’ll come across some street performers, or one of your drunk friends will get their palm read by a psychic homeless woman. A piece of advice: be aware of where your belongings are throughout your time in NOLA because someone’s phone or wallet is bound to get stolen. It’s all about the memories though, right?

Wacissa River and Springs

Location: Wacissa, FL

Travel Time: about an hour

What You’ll Need: A canoe, kayak or boat; bathing suit, cooler and an adventurous spirit

One of my favorite days last summer was when I took a trip with some friends to Wacissa River and The Blue Hole. The people I went with were natives of Tallahassee, which is how I was able to kayak along the river (so to all the students not from Tallahassee like me, find some local friends). The Tallahassee natives I went with pretty much gave me the insider scoop of the Blue Hole. It’s a spring located behind some trees off of the Wacissa river, and it’s not the only one! The river has quite a few springs you can explore and they’re all beautiful. The best thing about the Blue Hole is the floating deck and the rope swing. If you possess the adventurous spirit, you’ll have no problem climbing 20 feet up a tree to properly swing from the rope and into the clear blue spring waters. I didn’t think I had it in me, but in fact I was a natural.

Thomasville

Location: Georgia

Travel Time: About 46 minutes via Thomasville Road and US-319 South

What You’ll Need: Wallet, phone for pictures, an empty stomach, a sweet tooth

This quaint little town in Georgia is home to a variety of boutiques and other unique local businesses and restaurants. Personally, my favorite store was the bookstore, conveniently named Bookshelf. I bought a book from there (called Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates, in case you were wondering) and continued on my visit. There is plenty to see and explore here, but if you don’t stop for a cupcake at Sweetcakes, your visit was arguably worthless. I have a top three list of the best cupcakes I have ever had, and this cupcake is currently tied for first.

Ocala National Forest

Location: Ocala, FL

Travel Time: Depends on where you want to go within the forest, but about 3 and a half hours

What You’ll Need: Bathing suit, hiking shoes, water, snacks

We have now reached the section of places on this list that I have yet to experience. That doesn’t mean I can’t share them with you, though! My sources in The Swamp (AKA Gainesville) tell me it’s a good time. When I visited the National Forest's Website, I came across all of these amazing destinations! If you’re a fan of hiking, this forest is huge, so I’m sure you’d have plenty of ground to cover.

Ginnie Springs

Location: Ginnie Springs Outdoors, LLC, 7300 Gimme Springs Road, High Springs, FL

Travel Time: A little over 2 hours via I-10 E

What You’ll Need: Cooler and fun-in-the-sun gear

Another place I hope to go to before my time at Florida State is over at Ginnie Springs. This gorgeous destination has been recommended to me by one of the most adventurous people I know, Ashton Planz. She suggests taking the trip to Ginnie Springs because, unlike most places around Tallahassee (like Wakulla Springs), “not a lot of people know about it!” Ginnie Springs is like the Wacissa River in that it has a river you can travel down or springs to hang out in, and also like Bearpaw because you can either rent flotation devices or bring your own! Ashton’s experience at Ginnie Springs was mostly spent swimming in the spring, because her favorite part was how beautiful the scenery was there. Looking at photos of this place reminds me of the scene in The Little Mermaid where Eric takes Ariel out on a boat ride and then Sebastian sings “Kiss the Girl,” so I’m hoping my trip here is exactly like that.

Courtesy: Jordan Lindblom

St. Augustine

Location: East Coast of Florida

Travel Time: About 3 hours

What You’ll Need: Car ride tunes, wallet, hunger, your real 21+ ID

FSU alum Jordan Lindblom has so much to say about her visit to St. Augustine: “My favorite part was that fact that there was so much history in such a little town, yet it had grown with the times and offered opportunities to enjoy yourself and have a little fun!” When I asked her some of things she’d recommend doing, Jordan suggested visiting the winery and distillery for a tour as well as some free samples! In addition, Jordan recommends “going to the Ice Plant Bar above the distillery to order food and drinks; riding the trolley around town to see the sights and hear about the history; taking a walk down St. George’s Street to go into shops or listen to performers; eating at A1A Ale Works Restaurant, and visiting the fort and lighthouse.” It seems like there is a ton of sightseeing and eating to keep a tourist like me busy in St. Augustine, and I can’t wait to go!