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  1. Default Southern Circle from DC, Carolinas Coast and Appalacians

    We're setting off on a roadtrip starting next month and I wonder if anyone has any tips or suggestions based on my vague idea of a route.

    After spending a few days in DC, we're hoping to head south either through Virginia or west then south via the Delmarva penisula (not decided on this so open to opinions). Then we'll hug the Outerbanks and Carolinas coast running all the way down to Savannah.

    Then we plan to head inland to Atlanta before heading north through the Smokies and then take the Blue Ridge Parkway back up to DC.

    We have one day short of two weeks to do all this and that doesn't seem too onerus.

    Please comment! And thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    We just did some of the above a few weeks back, but we were going from south to north. We left Jacksonville FL (on I-95) heading north, where you pass through Savannah. Once in SC, we left I-95 and caught US-17 which heads towards the coast of SC and NC. Bear in mind that much of that is not within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, but you certainly could beeline over to the sea on spur roads. Along the way are some plantations to tour, if you are interested -- one is the Hope Plantation.

    Also realize that US-17 goes through many small towns. There are parts of it which are 4-lane divided but other parts are two lanes with many stop signs and stop lights. Once you start nearing Myrtle Beach, SC, it seems to be one stop light after another for miles.

    In the west coast of Virginia along US-13, there is Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. A wildlife preserve, there is a small museum and beach access. Also along that route out to Chincoteague is the Wallops Island Flight Facility, which is part of Goddard AFB and NASA. There is also a small museum there. Both museums are free.

    If you go down the Delmarva, you may want to choose US-113 instead of US-13. There are less traffic lights!


  3. #3

    Default Down, and back

    Hello cubegame,

    Just a few ideas you may wish to keep in mind concerning each leg of your trip:

    I'd try to avoid coming down the Delmarva, through Tidewater, and on down towards the Outer Banks on a Saturday or a Sunday. The weekend days are "changeover days" for the thousands and thousands of weekly rentals, and given that much of the clientele comes from points north, it gets fairly congested from Tidewater on down. Might be that a September trip would see the weeklies curtailed, but I'd just keep it in mind.

    I'd also try to avoid reaching the southern end of the CBBT, where Tidewater begins, on a weekday after, say, 3pm. The shipyards and the Navy generally end their workdays by 3pm, having started at 6 to 7am, in the mid-afternoon and a heavy afternoon rush hour begins along US 13, I-64, and VA 168 as workers head for the suburbs in the city of Chesapeake, VA and those down to and within NC.

    If you're planning on taking the Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry to get back to the mainland, be advised that reservations are strongly recommended.

    I agree with the sentiment and observations concerning US 17 from about the NC-SC line all the way past Myrtle Beach. It's very congested, despite bypass status. The segment of US 17 north of Wilmington, NC does go through towns and there are some stoplights up that way, too, but nothing like the SC segment. I'd consider spending more time on the OBX and the Wilmington area, then shoot over to I-95 at Florence, SC, and just run the slab to Savannah.

    For the return trip, be certain to account for the slow average speeds on the BRP and its northern extension, the Skyline Drive (SD). I imagine you know the SD requires a fee (it passes through Shenandoah NP), while use of the BRP is free. Together, they comprise 574 miles of slow, curvy driving (469 for the BRP, 105 for the SD). At an average travel speed not in excess of 35 mph (taking into account the max 45 mph speed limit plus the desire to stop a lot), you're looking at least two to three days of travel to run the entire combined length. Some who have done so, or who have attempted it, come away with the feeling that the whole length is too much of a good thing. The northern part of the BRP, roughly from Roanoke, VA up to and including the entire SD, is paralleled on each side by either US or Interstate highways within a few miles, so dropping off of the mountain and finding some less curvy routes is always at hand.

    Sounds like a nice trip. Enjoy!


  4. Default

    Thanks for the tips so far. Lots more reading to do for me.

    We'll be leaving DC on the Monday so hopefully if we take the Delmarva route we'll be ok for traffic.

    I am wondering about the need for reservations for the Ocracoke Ferry, what sort of time in advance is recommended? It's not likely we'll know we're in the area until the day before.

  5. #5

    Default Been a while


    It's been over 20 years since my one and only ride across the sound on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry. It was on a Spring-time Sunday afternoon and the jam-packed nature ferry spoke volumes to the need for reservations, which we had. I'm not aware of my home state of NC having expanded the ferry service, so reservations still seem necessary. All I can suggest is contacting the ferry system with your question. I've had occasion to phone them (1-800-NCFerry) and they're quite helpful.

    The short-hop from Hatteras Village to Ocracoke does not take reservations and until recently was free (unlike the much longer run to Cedar Island, which is on a much larger vessel and has required a fee for at least the last 20 years or so). A fee for the short-hop was legislated recently but a court action has caused a stay in implementation, if I recall my regional news reading correctly. In any event, it can be hard to predict how long, if at all, one may have to wait for that ferry. While surf-fishing, I've had a number of over-and-back trips during a weekday with no waiting whatsoever. Then again, that was 25 years ago, so who knows now? The point here is trying to "time" ones arrival at the Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry, located on the far end of the 18 mile-long island from the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry, can be tricky unless you're planning to spend some time on Ocracoke Island to begin with, and come to think of it, that's a pretty good idea. Ocracoke is spendid.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Five years ago

    In 2007 I arrived at the ferry, not even knowing I should have booked. There were several other cars waiting as well. We all ended up getting onto the ferry. It was a weekend.

    I would think that if you rang them the day before, you'd be pretty right. That's what I would do, if I were going there now.


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