View Full Version : Massachusetts to the deep south for winter months

11-11-2008, 09:24 AM
I am ready for this road trip wanting to escape the long dark cold winter here in the Northeast! But my plan is pretty open so I could use some advice. I want to initially get past the cold probably into Va. somewhere on I-81. From there on I am open to suggestions. My final destination is somewhere along the Gulf coast. I am looking for small artistic towns and I am interested in history. I want to stay at bed and breakfast places mostly and maybe rent a cottage if I find someplace I want to stay for awhile. I know this isn't too detailed but any ideas are appreciated. Thanks

11-11-2008, 11:05 AM
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

Just for planning purposes, you'll need a minimum of 3 days one-way between, say, Northampton, and Mobile. So maybe two weeks to make the trip truly relaxing and worthwhile. But if you can spare that sort of time, then there are a host of lovely little towns along I-81 and the Piedmont/Blue Ridge heading south including Winchester (http://www.visitwinchesterva.com/) and Lexington (http://www.lexingtonvirginia.com/) in Virginia, and roads like the Cherahola Byway (http://www.cherohala.org/) in Tennessee and the Natchez Trace (http://www.nps.gov/natr/index.htm) a bit farther west. Certainly you can make this a very relaxing trip with New Orleans or the Gulf Coast (http://www.nps.gov/guis/) as your goal.

As far as finding B&Bs or quaint cottages or cabins, my wife is a master at this and all she does is use Googel to search for "bed breakfast townname" and then look for something that appeals to her, or look through one of the many 'vacation rental' web sites for places that rent by the week.


Dominic Longo
11-11-2008, 12:18 PM
well I -81 through Virginia is field after field after field. There are lots of historic sights that I saw signs for from the road

If you want something really cool go to I-26 east from it's merge with I-81. The Appalachians look great through that region. From there head south on I-85 through Georgia.

I just did that trip yesterday (Greenville, SC back to PA). If you want to enjoy yourself take a lot of time. But if you want to be unbelievably tired take 3 or 4 days.

11-11-2008, 12:58 PM
Thank you AZBuck and jimzdj36 for your advice. I should mention that I am traveling alone and would love to travel off the interstate as much as possible. I know sometimes there are two lane roads that parallel an interstate and go through small towns but you can still make good time. Know of any roads like this? Anyone been to Apalachacola, Florida? How about Cedar Key, Fla.?

11-11-2008, 01:40 PM
There are a host of roads that parallel I-81 and/or generally head south-southwest through the Atlantic coastal states. The Skyline Drive (http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/driving-skyline-drive.htm) and Blue Ridge Parkway (http://www.nps.gov/archive/blri/home.htm) are wonderful two lane roads but are subject to closures for most of the winter. On the other hand, there are wonderful four lane rods throughout the south that will afford you scenic drives through (and around) a good sampling of southern cities. Take a look on the map at US-11 (which runs alongside I-81) or US-221 south from around Roanoke, as well as some highways which stay more on the coastal plain: US-15, US-17 and even US-1 south of Virginia.


11-11-2008, 02:24 PM
Hello Pam,
On the opposite side of I-81 in northern Virginia is VA 42, paralleling I-81 from about Woodstock to Staunton, through the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Beyond Staunton, VA 42 jogs somewhat farther and a couple of large ridge lines away from I-81, but ultimately comes back very close to I-81 at Saltville.

The stretch between Woodstock and Staunton is one of the prettiest areas of rolling pasture, cropland, towns, villages, and crossroads communities you'll find anywhere. I'd say it's 50-60 miles long and has no large towns excepting Harrisonburg, which itself isn't exactly a metropolis. I could well imagine averaging 40-45 mph on that stretch and no better than 55 or so on I-81, which is laden with truck traffic and long grades where often trucks occupy both lanes, snarling traffic. I love the scenery on I-81, but the truck traffic today has taken some of the "shine" from the apple.

Your original post isn't specific as to trip dates, but be advised of the liklihood of closure of much of the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway at most any time from December-early to mid March, where the elevations get snow and ice in amounts similar to more Northeastern latitudes but where there are no snow removal efforts--the parkways simply close.

I've travelled much of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi and it's a wonderful and underutilized drive. Rolling hills and broad creek and riverbottoms through farm country with many small towns and villages along and immediately adjacent to the route. French Camp is a neat little village and the Parkway terminates at Natchez, on the Mississippi River.

My sister raves about Cedar Key, FL and the laid-back locals. It's one of her and her husband's favorite places in FL simply because it's so "Old Florida", whatever that means to you. I guess it's not as high luxe or glittery as other parts of FL tend to be.

Enjoy your planning and the trip.