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  1. Default 50 yr old woman taking a road trip out of FL

    I have camping gear (though) haven't used in several years. I don't want to go far-Carolinas, Northern Georgia or Eastern Tennessee. It takes 5 hours up 95 just to get out of Florida from where I live. Want to drive there unpack and read for 5 days without the 7 other people who live in my home. Any ideas???

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Getting Away Without Going Far

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America forums!

    Two spots that I think might fit your bill are even closer than the places you mentioned. The first is still in Florida: Cedar Key, and the second is just across the state line in Georgia: Cumberland Island. A little father, but very relaxing and interesting: Charleston, SC;


  3. #3

    Default What amenities suit you?

    Hello latanak,

    Having cited the Carolinas, North Georgia, or East Tennessee, and given this is posted under Summer RoadTrips, is it a safe assumption you wish to include some elevation above sea level and cool temps in your plan?

    And, are you a "county, state, or national park" person? Will you require campground amenities like hot showers, a camp store, recreational waters (lakes or streams), hiking trails, or a town or two nearby?

    As you ponder all of that, let me offer a few thoughts right off the bat, all of the higher elevation variety:

    Julian Price Park, NC- Price Park is on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) at the foot of Grandfather Mountain (GFM) so it's in the National Park system. Elevation around 4,000', heavily wooded, +40 acre lake, canoe rentals, extensive (and safe and easy) hiking trails all over the place. Approx 10 miles south down the BRP lies the entrance to GFM, where you can drive to 5,300', see a museum, walk the "Mile High Swinging Bridge", hike to nearly 6,000' (strenous and difficult), and take in a nearly 360 degree, +50 mile view with only the effort to drive to the museum area. Approx 5 miles north up the BRP lies the Moses Cone Park, featuring a restored manor house, craft shop, and some 25 miles of very gentle gradient carriage trails reserved for hikers and horsemen (no mountain bikes). Several lakes, too. Next to Cone Park is the town of Blowing Rock, with several blocks along one side of Main Street home to auction houses, bookshops, and most any tourist retail store one can imagine (including Footsloggers, a outdoor outfitter which carries your overlooked camping needs). The other side of Main Street features the City Park, with bench after bench set about 10 feet up an embankment from the sidewalk, allowing for a people-watching afternoon in the cool shade. Restaurants, wine stores, and most anything else you might need can be found in Blowing Rock, too. I can only imagine Price Park's campground gets crowded in summertime, though (my family is fortunate to own a vacation home near there, so I don't camp in the area). I know for certain Blowing Rock is a bit "overpeopled" during summer for a 54 year-old curmudgeon like yours truly. Truth be told, you're liable to run in to some Sunshine State neighbors in Blowing Rock, as about 1/2 of the license plates you see are either tourists or snowbirders from Florida. Come to think of it, I think there is a campground on GFM, but unless you're OK with being well away from town and at an elevation which can sometimes be surprisingly cold, windy, foggy. or all 3 in midsummer, you might look for something more like Price Park, in the 3,500-4,500' range.

    Grayson Highlands State Park, VA, and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area: It's been +30 years since I've been there (college days in Boone, NC) but GHSP is way, way up there in elevation (4,000-5,500'), and remote (well off the BRP and away from major and minor towns, and accessed by "The Crooked Road" aka US 58. I can imagine GHSP being rather less crowded than Price Park but I don't know that for a fact. I know hiking opportunities abound there, though, as the Appalachian Trail (AT) passes through, and there are a number of Virginia's highest peaks accessed by the AT and other trails within the Park. There are a number of National Forest (NF) campgrounds in the area, too, as the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area pretty much surrounds GHSP. The NF unit there is the George Washington National Forest.

    Damascus, VA: Damascus is a delightful little town at the junction of the AT and the Virginia Creeper Trail (VCT), the latter being a rails-to-trails success story. The eastern half of the VCT is a 17 mile all downhill glide from the crest of the Blue Ridge back to town, and bike rentals and shuttle services abound in Damascus. Damascus is rather less la-de-dah than Blowing Rock, catering to modern active outdoor tourists (hikers and cyclers) than the BRP and other tourists in the much larger Blowing Rock area. I think there are campground in town or just a short walk from downtown, and I know there's a National Forest campground around 6-7 miles south, perhaps over the line into Tennessee, called Backbone Ridge, as well as some to the east, up The Crooked Road towards GHSP. Backbone Ridge is pretty out-of-the-way but is close by and along a nice stream. Abingdon, VA is a larger town on the western end of the VCT and about 15 miles from Damascus. It hosts the Barter Theater and more and nicer restaurants.

    Lastly, consider a place I know of along the Nolichucky River near Erwin, TN. The outdoor outfitter Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) has an "outpost" on the Nolichucky which they use as a meeting place and the take-out for their guided raft or kayak trips down the Nolichucky. They're one-day trips and I highly recommend one. Even without running the river, there's a decent commercial campground next door and one could do far worse than hanging out there for a few days, by the river, in the sun (or shade--you choose). It's pretty much out of the way and I doubt there are many other campers than those one or two-nighters who are there to run the river. Oh, and the AT passes by there, too. Not too far away lies The Beauty Spot, a bald peak you can drive to within 1/4 mile of, where 360 degree views into NC and VA are possible from the 5,000' elevation. Erwin is also not too far from Asheville, NC and Mount Mitchell, NC, at nearly 6'800' the highest point east of the Mississippi.

    From South Florida, access to Price Park/Blowing Rock is I-95/I-26 to Asheville, thence the BRP for about 90 miles to the Park. For the GHSP and the Damascus, VA or Erwin, TN area, I'd stay on I-26 past Asheville, pass over the crest of the Blue Ridge on it, and get off right at Erwin for the Nolichucky, or keep I-26 towards I-81 to get to the Abingdon exit, thence US 58 over towards Damascus and the GHSP.

    Don't see anything like that which suits you? Looking for more remote and/or primitive camping? Ask for more!

    Enjoy planning and taking your "getaway" RoadTrip.


  4. #4


    I live in Palm Beach County, so I know what you mean about it taking at least a half day's drive to leave the state!

    So I second AZBuck's recommendation of Cedar Key.

    I took a solo trip there in 2006, and it was super-relaxing, very affordable by South Florida standards and felt like a true escape.

    A favorite memory: A sunset trip to nearby Atsena Otie Key, a deserted island shaded by live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Dolphins surfaced next to our pontoon on the way back to the mainland!

    There was a real, and welcome, lack of national chain stores and restaurants in town, but plenty of cool independently owned shops and colorful local eateries to choose from.

    And although you can rent bikes and golf carts, I recommend the self-guided walking tour of the compact downtown...the easier to meet the town's multi-toed cats (which is about the only thing Cedar Key has in common with Key West).

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