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  1. Default DC-SC-NC-DC (with google map!)

    Hey everyone!

    So I'm going on a road trip in a week with a few friends (in our small sedan... oh boy...), and would love suggestions about where to stop along the way, in terms of fun things to do to break up the drive. Anyone know where we could find that information?

    We're all college students, so we're looking for the silly and FREE/CHEAP. We have very tiny budgets, and slight resentment for touristy family destinations.

    We're planning on doing a loop from DC to Litchfield, SC to Raleigh to Boone, NC back to DC (although we could go through Charleston and Columbia, NC if those would be more interesting). Here's the route

    Any suggestions, or can anyone tell me where to get suggestions?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-10-2008 at 09:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Lots of Free Things

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    We maintain lists of things to do in each state. Some are major attractions, some are off the wall, and some are free. Another source of such strange roadside attractions can be found here. The most overlooked, and usually free, places for scenic, quiet, etc. stops are our public lands: state and national wildlife refuges and forests, and state parks. Avail yourselves of them. If your objective is beach and you have an aversion to "touristy family destinations", then I'm surprised you chose Litchfield, on the Grand Strand, as your goal. Take a look instead at the Outer Banks of North Carolina which might suit your stated aims better.

    Much more to the point, though. 5 people in one small car is going to get old fast, no matter how solid you think your friendship is. Make sure you all know beforehand just what you're getting yourselves in to. This might help. Also plan on making frequent stops for out-of-car time and rotate who's sitting where.


  3. #3

    Default A few observations


    While your text shows a loop beginning and ending in DC, the map work shows you leaving from New Haven, CT. Perhaps the "touring" part of the overall trip from New Haven is the DC loop? Oh, and you probably mean Columbia, SC (its capital city) rather than Columbia, NC (the county seat of Tyrell County).

    With such a long trip, the sights to see are innumerable, so I really won't have much to say about all that, especially since it's not clear if you're hikers, museum buffs, or just what-such. Plus, a week doesn't allow for a great deal of diversion, it seems.

    But, the Boone, NC area is close to my heart, being an Appalachian State University graduate. Near Boone is the Linn Cove viaduct section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, along the side of Grandfather Mountain, and the privately-owned mountain has a paved road to the top of one of its several peaks. There you can tour the museum, walk the "Mile High Swinging Bridge", and engage in a very strenuous hike to the highest of the peaks. Be advised the Parkway does no snow removal so is closed in sections following snowy weather (most recently Friday, March 7).

    On the return trip, you'll enjoy I-81 (and the route you chose through Mountain City, TN, and Damascus, VA is PERFECT). In fact, a day's diversion in Damascus could involve riding the Virginia Creeper Trail on mountain bikes. It's a "rails to trails" masterpiece which includes a 17 mile all downhill grade from Whitetop Station back into Damascus. Several businesses in Damascus cater to riders with shuttle service and bike rentals. I'm headed there in late April, myself. The Web is rich with pictures and descriptions of the trail and the services in Damascus.

    There are a number of interesting stops in the Shenandoah Valley, among them Virginia Military Institute (see how different the college experience can be!), Massanutten Mountain, the Newmarket Battlefield, and many others.

    If I were headed for New Haven, and given my own distaste for all of I-95 north of Richmond, VA, I'd stay on I-81 all the way to Scranton, PA, thence I-84 over to the NY State Thruway, thence back in to CT via whatever routes make sense there. Doing that will completely (and beautifully) bypass DC, Baltimore, Philly, NJ, and all of the NYC congestion and madness. The ride along I-81 through northernmost VA, WV, MD, and PA is very, very scenic. From Harrisburg through the Poconos to Scranton is entirely rural and features some pretty serious mountain terrain, and I would not be surprised to find some side trips and hikes close to your route.

    Have a fun and safe trip.


  4. Default

    thanks for the advice, everyone!

    the bad news is that the new haven -> ny leg is just me meeting everyone in NY. then we'll have 5 people in the car from ny -> dc,

    the good news is that in DC we're ditching one, so we'll only have 4 people for the majority of the trip.

    i'm kind of thinking of nixing boone from the itinerary , because it adds 8 hrs and 500+ miles to the trip, but I really want to see the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also need to be back in DC at a decent hour on Thursday, and that's our 8 hr drive day: is that unreasonable?

    What do you guys think? Would it be better to take boone off and miss the sights, or are things exciting enough there for it to be worth it?

    Also, should we worry about planning things in advance or just take the road as it comes? I don't want us to be bored.

    Thanks so much for all the advice!

  5. #5

    Default Parkway access- NC and VA

    OK, gang, I get you now-

    If Boone is on the table primarily to gain access to the Parkway, there are alternatives worthy of considering.

    If you're going to be here in Raleigh, regardless, you can look at a very pleasant, entirely rural drive due north up NC 50 to US 15 at Creedmoor, NC, thence on up US 15 towards Charlottesville, VA. Along the way, do a drive-through at Hampden-Sydney College, just south of Farmville, VA (see what a different experience college is for some--H-SC is a 1,000 student all-male college smack dab in the middle of the forests and fields of Prince Edward County, VA. It's 6 miles to town! Beautiful campus, too). At Dillwyn, VA, turn north on VA 20 through Scottsville to Charlottesville, where Jefferson's Monticello is at the junction of VA 20 and I-64. Turning west on I-64, you're but 25 miles or so from Rockfish Gap at the crest of the Blue Ridge. Technically, the Blue Ridge Parkway ends there, but Rockfish Gap is the southern end of the Skyline Drive, a virtual mirror image of the BRP which traverses Shenandoah Nat Park. The Blue Ridge Mountains are distinctly different there than down here in NC, with the main ridgeline being the route of the Skyline Drive and having frequent views 3,000' down into the Shenandoah Valley on the west and to the Piedmont to the east. You can run the Skyline Drive way north (all the way to Front Royal near I-66) or, if your time runs short, you can jump off at any of several points south of Front Royal and have a short run over to US 29 to the east, thence up to DC.

    As is the case with the BRP, Skyline Drive is subject to winter closures. The Shenandoah NP website has a section for Skyline Drive status, section by section.


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