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  1. #1

    Default September Road Trip from Washington DC to New York City, taking the long way.

    Hello all,

    My boyfriend and I are planning a four week road trip to the States in September 2010. We're restricted to four weeks mainly because it seems to be the maximum amount of time we can rent a hire car without incurring hefty fees, but also we've decided that for our budget, and realistically, four weeks is a good amount of time for us to explore.

    Firstly, we are in our early twenties, we both enjoy big cities, natural scenery, interesting museums, small towns, good food, and nightlife, and most of all music. I studied English literature and American History at University so I obviously have an interest in both of those things, too!

    We've previously taken a road trip in California in 2008 for two weeks so are familar with driving long distances/spending not too long in one place and driving automatic vehicles/on the "wrong" side of the road :)

    We've printed out a huge map of the area of the states we are interested in and covered our study wall with it. We've mapped out a possible itinerary, which I would appreciate all advice/comments on. I want to make sure that the route we are following makes some sort of sense. We don't want to be tied down to reservations, so will probably only book in advance hotels/motels in major cities. We like the idea of camping, but need to work out whether buying all the camping gear (we wouldn't bring any over with us) would significantly (enough) outweigh the costs of staying in cheap motels. We're used to camping, and although I like the luxury of showers/straightening irons, I can live without for a day or so if need be! We're not really into hostels or shared accomodation though, so that is not an option.

    I've spent hours reading these forums, so I hope I am not repeating questions others have asked in the past!

    Please see possible itinerary below:

    1. Arrive in Washington, DC. Stay here for one night
    2. Drive to Virginia - spend night here - not sure where, was thinking Virginia Beach/somewhere coastal. We don't know much about Virginia so we've not got our hearts set on stopping here
    3. Drive to North Carolina. Stay the night somewhere in NC. Again, we've no particular thoughts of where.
    4. Drive to South Carolina. Stay in Charleston.
    5. Drive to Savannah. Stay here for one night
    6. Drive to Atlanta. Possibly stay here for a night - happy to just visit though.
    7. Great Smokey Mountains National Park
    8. Great Smokey Mountains National Park
    9. Nashville
    10. Nashville. We sorta want to make a detour to Glasgow (in Kentucky) whilst we are here because we spent about 50% of our time in Glasgow, Scotland so think this might be fun! We may be completely wrong though!
    11. Stop either somewhere in Alabama or Missouri to break up our journey to...
    12. New Orleans
    13. New Orleans
    14. Loooong drive to Austin
    15. Austin
    16. Head towards Memphis...stop somewhere along the way for the evening
    17. Memphis
    18. Head towards Chicago...stop somewhere along the way for the evening
    19. Chicago
    20. Chicago

    From here we'd need to get back to NYC before night 28...we've been to NYC numerous times, and although I love the city, I could forfeit spending a lot of time here if the itinerary called for it. I would definitely want to be able to spend at least a day there though because it would break my heart to be so near and not take in the sights and sounds of my favourite city (tied with Paris!)

    Between Chicago and NYC we'd thought of maybe going into Ohio, perhaps visiting Cleveland, then down to Pittsburgh and across PA, but if there is a more interesting route to take, then i'd be interested in hearing about it!

    Sorry for the absolute essay I have just provided you with. I'd be really grateful if somebody could take the time to look over the proposed itinerary to see if they think it is realistic, or even if what we have proposed makes any sense whatsoever. We obviously think that it does, but we're crossing such huge expanses of land, it can be difficult to look at a map and understand exactly what it is we're trying to achieve. Any places you think we'd enjoy would also be gratefully received. As we are in the first stages on planning, this is really an open book for us - we'll consider any suggestions to make this the best road trip ever :)

    Thanks for any & all advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default History, Scenery, and Music

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You've actually done very well at putting yourselves within shouting distance of some of the best places for music (Nashville for country/western, Austin for a great and eclectic night life, Memphis for the blues, Chicago for jazz, and Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). For scenery with the Atlantic Coast, the Great Smoky Mountains, The Mississippi delta and Gulf coast, and the Appalachians and Great Lakes on your return drive. The bit that seems a bit weak, at least as I read your intentions is the history, so let me point out a few of the great sites you'll be near on your trip. Besides the obvious, such as Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the monuments and archives in Washington, there's Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown - all within a very small area of tidewater Virginia (just northwest of Norfolk). Then along North Carolina's Outer Banks, you have Kitty Hawk, the site of the Roanoke colony and some old haunts of Blackbeard. Finally, throughout the South you'll find numerous Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields.


  3. #3

    Default Coastal VA and NC

    Hello Dani,

    Here are a few thoughts regarding parts of your trip:

    If you like undeveloped or lightly developed coastlines, consider leaving DC headed east to the Delmarva Peninsula (named for DELaware- MARyland-VirginiA) and known in Maryland and Virginia as "The Eastern Shore". There you'll find Chincoteague and Assateague, small islands adjacent to one another and connected to the mainland by causeways and drawbridges. Chincoteague is developed with a village and much in the way of accomodations. Assateague is undeveloped and is a National Seashore and wildlife refuge. One can drive to Assateague for the museum and the public beach, which is just a short walk from a parking area and bathhouses/changing areas in the event you'd enjoy a swim.

    A day's drive south, across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and through the urban/industrial corridor known as Tidewater (encompassing Virginia Beach, Norfolk, etc) lie North Carolina's Outer Banks. The northern reaches are rather heavily-developed (as is the oceanfront at Virginia Beach--very touristy and not at all my own tastes), but south of Nags Head, NC 12 passes through long stretches of National Wildlife Refuge and National Seashore. It takes a bit of time, but you can ride the free ferry to Ocracoke, thence a modest fee takes you on a +2 hour ferry ride to Cedar Island, from which you're connected to the mainland by a causeway and can continue into South Carolina. Along the way, you can visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse at Buxton.

    On the return trip, or on the way south if you can pass on the coast tour, and near where NC, Tennessee, and Virginia share a border, lies "The Crooked Road", aka Virginia's Heritage Music Trail. The Crooked Road highlights the earliest days of country and bluegrass music and features a number of venues, museums, and exhibits scattered along and near to US 58, one of the curviest highways anywhere, hence the nickname for the Trail. If small towns intrigue you, you're in luck with Norton, Clintwood, Bristol, Abingdon (home of the Barter Theater), Damascus, Galax, and Floyd, all being Virginia towns in either the coalfields of the Cumberland Plateau, the Great Valley of Virginia, or the Blue Ridge Mountains. Information is readily available at If you've a half-day and like to cycle, consider the rails-to-trails Virginia Creeper Trail at Damascus, where you can rent cycles and a shuttle ride to the crest of the Blue Ridge, followed by a 17 mile all downhill "glide" back to Damascus. The trail is smooth and there are a couple of cafes catering to riders along the way. This is not "single track" appealing to hard core mountain bikers, but instead it's a "fat tire cruise" and is an immensely enjoyable way to see the Blue Ridge Mountains up close and personal.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  4. #4


    Brilliant, thank you both so much for taking the time to reply.

    I think the main thing I'm concerned about just now is that what we have planned is do-able, and since I received no negative replies on that, I can go ahead assuming that we're all good :)

    Thanks again - you've both given me some good places to look into.

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