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  1. Default Planning a trip to Carolinas & Georgia from Maryland - 4 days

    Hi folks!

    Me and my wife are planning a road trip from near Baltimore, Maryland to the Carolinas beginning this coming Friday. We plan to leave really early Friday morning and be back on Monday night. Our initial plan was to have a get away at Myrtle Beach. This is where we have a weekend stay (Sat,Sun nights) courtesy of a great group on deal.

    I was looking at the map and an extensive road trip plan began to form in my mind. We have decided to see as many places as possible within the 4 days time period. I love to take road trips and wish I could undertake more but difficult to do so because of working a daily job and simultaneously running a business.

    I would need your advise on choosing scenic routes and places to see.

    So here is the game plan:-

    Part 1 (Friday)

    We leave on Friday morning (5:45am) from Hanover, MD to MORGANTON, NC 28655 (approx 7.15hrs). We will stay over night with friends.

    But I have decided to add on a visit to Biltmore Estate since it is only 1 hour drive from Morganton. I added Bilmore because that is the closet to our Friday destination of Morganton. I know estate visit is pricey but is it worth it? Or would you guys suggest something else on this route to Morganton or close by? I thought about Salem, NC and Ronaka, VA but Biltmore seems different and more enticing at least from the reviews. But I am in two minds considering the ticket price of $53/person.

    Google maps is advising taking I-81. I take that to be the most scenic route?

    Part 2 (Saturday)

    Plan to go from Morganton to Charleston, SC. This is the places we plan to visit there:

    - Fort Sumter
    - Charleston City Market
    - Battery Street
    - Charleston Water front Park

    Plan to leave Saturday night towards Myrtle Beach.

    Part 3 (Sunday)

    Go down to Savannah, GA and see the following places:

    - Savannah squares
    - Forsyth Park
    - Bonaventure Cemetry
    - Bluff drive.

    Head back to the base at Myrtle Beach for the night.

    Part 4 (Monday)

    The last day. Wake up early and see Myrtle Beach and the boardwalk at Celebrity Circle. Leave for Maryland at around noon- 1pm.

    I know we are cramming a lot in this visit but this is how we like it. We did something similar last year in our trip to the Outer Banks. Seeing as much as we can is our philosophy since our vacations are so rare and just seeing new places excites us both.

    Now you guys know my route trip. Would love to get your feedback and advise on anything I can change on this list or route options. I am also open to visiting a city/place which is more interest than the ones I have mentioned.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I can understand planning a trip where you are always busy, but I think your idea to base yourself out of Myrtle Beach and then try to do a daytrip to Savannah is rather foolish. It's practically a 500 mile round trip, and it's just not realistic to think you'll have time to really explore the city and the places you've listed, once you factor in the 8+ hours you'll be in the car. Unless you're willing to give up your discounted room in Myrtle Beach, I wouldn't recommend Savannah for this trip.

    I would also say the same thing about heading to the Biltmore. Personally, It's not the kind of thing that interests me, so I wouldn't spend that kind of money, but it is also another thing where I don't know where you'd be finding the time to actually make it worth your while to visit. You're looking at 500 miles just to get to Asheville, which is 8-9 hours in good conditions, but leaving at a little before 6am means you're also going to need to plan for traffic delays as you will almost certainly be delayed by the morning rush hour. On top of that, you'd still have the hour to get back to Morganton.

    Those are the spots I would change. There are still plenty of things you can cram into your trip so you are always busy, but you can do that without having to rack up so many miles that you aren't actually doing or seeing anything except staring at highway signs.

  3. #3

    Default A "bridge too far"?

    Hello Maestro,

    Like AZ Buck, the Biltmore Estate isn't an attraction which interests me, so I can't speak to the value of including it in your plans. If you do, however, I can offer a suggestion as to routing on Friday: I'd go directly to Asheville, NC via I-81 to Johnson City, TN, there picking up I-26 south/east to Asheville. Be aware the highway loses its Interstate designation somewhere around the TN-NC border, but it's nonetheless 4 lanes divided all the way into Asheville. The main reason I'd take this route is the scenery. The Shenandoah Valley is beautiful, as is the southern half of the drive down I-81 from Lexington to the TN line through the Great Valley, with the Blue Ridge on your left and the Alleghanies on your right all the way. From Johnson City, TN, you'll climb out of the Great Valley into the Blue Ridge Mountains and will be in the mountains the rest of the way to Asheville. I have family in the Boone/Blowing Rock area as I type this, and they report the autumn colors are nearing peak at the 4,000' elevation of our place up there. Being a bit lower, the I-26 route from Johnson City to Asheville should be seeing peak colors in the next week or so.

    As to "bridge too far" comment, that's more of a personal observation, as well. After traveling from Hancock to Morganton via Asheville, then Morganton to Charleston to Myrtle Beach, I would be loathe to drive down to Savannah for a day trip on Sunday . I haven't checked the distance, but it's a haul, with either 1,000,000 stoplights on US 17 or the heavily-traveled I-95 as the route. Ugh. I'd much prefer a full day at Myrtle Beach, or perhaps a much shorter drive up to Wilmington, NC. Wilmington lacks the cachet of Charleston and Savannah, but is similar in many ways--old time port city, Civil War history, colonial history (Orton Plantation comes to mind), nice waterfront on the river for strolling, shopping, and dining, easy access to the Atlantic coast just over at Wrightsville Beach, or just a short drive south on US 421 to Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. In fact, you can make a loop by arriving at Wilmington via US 17 and returning down US 421 to Fort Fisher (Civil War history site), where the Southport Ferry takes you for a very nice 45 minute ride across the mouth of the Cape Fear River to Southport enroute back to MB. Check the NC DOT ferry system website for schedules, but I expect you'll find a departure about every 45 minutes to an hour throughout the day.

    Foy

  4. Default

    Hi Michael!

    Thank you for your feedback. The goal of the trip is to see as many places as possible without getting exhausted. I love driving and moving from one place to another sounds very exciting. But I do get your point and don't want to be a fool hence the post on this wonderful forum. I do get your point about the near 500 mile trip to Savannah but I do believe that a day trip to that city is worth it. There is more culture and historic places to see over there. Unless, you can convince me otherwise.

    As for Biltmore, I am in two minds as well. It is not something I am interested in either. I was looking at it as something which my wife might enjoy more. It seems like an experience though not sure how much of a. Also, keep in mind that I am putting that in my itinerary so that we get to our over night stay at Morgantan later in the evening when the hosts are at home. Trying to be a courteous guest. I have been looking at the maps and searching for a place to visit in that route and Biltimore was the one with the highest reviews. As Foy suggested I might be inclined to get to Johnson city first and take the route he mentioned to Biltmore. It does not really add many miles to the overall trip.

    Which 2/3 places both in Charleston and Savannah would you recommend? I am open to the opinion of the experts and value your input.

    Thanks again!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 10-08-2014 at 07:02 AM. Reason: Removed Quote of entire previous post

  5. Default

    Hi Foy!

    Thanks for the input and that suggestion about Johnson City. I looked at the distances and it hardly adds anything so I will be taking that route and stop over at JC. Any particular place to make a brief stop at in Johnson city that you would recommend?

    Also, Google maps is suggesting that I take I-26 E from JC to Asheville. It does mention I-23 in there somewhere but not sure. Is this the route you mentioned?

    Also, like I asked Michael which 2/3 must see places would you recommend for both Charleston as well as Savannah?

    Thanks again!

  6. #6

    Default That's the route

    Quote Originally Posted by maestro96 View Post
    Hi Foy!

    Thanks for the input and that suggestion about Johnson City. I looked at the distances and it hardly adds anything so I will be taking that route and stop over at JC. Any particular place to make a brief stop at in Johnson city that you would recommend?

    Also, Google maps is suggesting that I take I-26 E from JC to Asheville. It does mention I-23 in there somewhere but not sure. Is this the route you mentioned?

    Also, like I asked Michael which 2/3 must see places would you recommend for both Charleston as well as Savannah?

    Thanks again!
    Maestro,

    Johnson City is a nice enough town and a college town (East Tennessee State U), but is not high on the list of tourist or traveler destinations, or so I think. That said, I have a longtime client who lives there, and about a year ago I met him for lunch at the Firehouse Barbeque Restaurant. It was good, even for an Eastern NC barbeque snob like me. Location is a converted fire station complete with a 1930s vintage fire engine inside. I'd readily go there again, and if I recall correctly, it's not far off of I-26, on the west side, near the ETSU campus.

    Yes, I-26 follows the path of old US 23 for the most part, so if you're seeing I-26 changing over to US 23, down through Mars Hill and Weaverville, NC, that's the route of which I speak. I am 99% sure the last of the 2-lane stretches of US 23 is now 4-lane, but there could be a very few miles which aren't, and if that's the case, my recommendation does not change.

    It's a nice drive to and off of the Blue Ridge enscarpment along I-40 east of Asheville to Morganton. My wife enjoyed downtown Black Mountain, NC when on a cycling weekend a year ago. Downtown Asheville is chockablock full of good eateries, brew pubs, and a contingent of local hippies, hipsters, and artists which would make San Francisco proud. Not exactly my personal cup of tea, but the people-watching is extraordinary!

    I have never visited either Charleston, SC or Savannah, GA, so can not offer any suggestions.

    Have fun!

    Foy
    Last edited by Foy; 10-08-2014 at 11:37 AM. Reason: corrections

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default having it all

    Quote Originally Posted by maestro96 View Post
    The goal of the trip is to see as many places as possible without getting exhausted. I love driving and moving from one place to another sounds very exciting. I do get your point about the near 500 mile trip to Savannah but I do believe that a day trip to that city is worth it. There is more culture and historic places to see over there. Unless, you can convince me otherwise.
    Listen, Savannah is a fantastic city, with a ton of things to see, and some fantastic places to eat. The city is absolutely worth visiting, if you have time to actually explore it.

    We strongly recommend against trying to do a "daytrip" to any destination that requires 500 miles of driving, because the payoff just isn't worth it. By the time you've arrived there, you practically have to turn around and go back. Its the same reason we strongly advise against people trying to drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and back in a day. To me, there is a foolish aspect because you're driving more than 100 miles the wrong way (on a very slow and congested road at that) just so you found a "deal" on a hotel. Simply staying in Charleston, saving you at least 4 hours of backtracking, and around $40 in gas, would make a world of difference.

    Have you actually done a lot of 500 mile daytrips? It doesn't seem like you have a very accurate view of how long such drives will take. I mean, a 500 mile drive is 8-9 hours, in good conditions, with little traffic or construction, and if you treat it like a speed run. If you do something as simple as stopping for a sit down lunch at a roadside BBQ stand, your travel times will creep up and your available time at your "destinations" will become even more limited.

    Ultimately, it is your trip, and you can do whatever you'd like. Your trip is theoretically possible, but you say you "don't want to be exhausted," and I don't know how you'll fit all of your agenda items in without pushing your own physical limits.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Listen, Savannah is a fantastic city, with a ton of things to see, and some fantastic places to eat. The city is absolutely worth visiting, if you have time to actually explore it.

    We strongly recommend against trying to do a "daytrip" to any destination that requires 500 miles of driving, because the payoff just isn't worth it. By the time you've arrived there, you practically have to turn around and go back. Its the same reason we strongly advise against people trying to drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon and back in a day. To me, there is a foolish aspect because you're driving more than 100 miles the wrong way (on a very slow and congested road at that) just so you found a "deal" on a hotel. Simply staying in Charleston, saving you at least 4 hours of backtracking, and around $40 in gas, would make a world of difference.

    Have you actually done a lot of 500 mile daytrips? It doesn't seem like you have a very accurate view of how long such drives will take. I mean, a 500 mile drive is 8-9 hours, in good conditions, with little traffic or construction, and if you treat it like a speed run. If you do something as simple as stopping for a sit down lunch at a roadside BBQ stand, your travel times will creep up and your available time at your "destinations" will become even more limited.

    Ultimately, it is your trip, and you can do whatever you'd like. Your trip is theoretically possible, but you say you "don't want to be exhausted," and I don't know how you'll fit all of your agenda items in without pushing your own physical limits.
    I will keep that advise in mind but I know my limits and have driven in much tougher terrain overseas for longer duration so I think I will be ok. I agree that it will be at the limit, but hey what's without some adventure? I am the type who needs to go and see places instead of lounging around at the beach for a day. I wish I had more time available, but gotta do with what I have. Don't know when I will have the time to see Savannah so its definitely worth the shot.

    So any must see places that you would advise in Charleston and Savannah?

  9. Default

    Foy,

    Thank you for that I-23/I-26 route! I also happened to find a good lunch stop over in Johnson city.

    What about the drive back from Myrtle Beach to Maryland on Monday? The quick route is from I-95 but at the price of boredom. Any other route I can use without over extending the return trip?

    I loved the I-26 route because it added next to nothing to the original drive from Maryland to Baltimore. Looking for something similar here.

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Nothing else that will get you there in one day.

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