Thanks to all the advice I've read here so far, I've been able to plan an awesome trip for the second week in October! I would like to ask a few more questions, though:
1. Our route will be 20 west from Dallas to Jackson, then to Hattiesburg, Mobile, Pensacola and on from there to the beach. We'd like to stop a few times along the way to stretch our legs and let the kids run off some energy (ages 4 and 5 1/2). Any fun suggestions along that route?
2. We'd like to stop overnight either in Jackson or Hattiesburg, MS. Where would we be more likely to find a safe, clean hotel with an indoor pool? I'm thinking the Drury Inn in Jackson may be our best bet, but would like to drive on to Hattiesburg so the second day drive isn't as long.
3. Some of the ideas I've found for rainy days or just something different are:
Fud Pucker's/Gator Beach
Southern Star Sunset Cruise
National Museum of Naval Aviation
Grayton Beach State Park
Are these going to be worth our time?
4. What is our best bet for shell hunting?