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  1. Default Deep South road Trip

    Last time I posted was in 2010 when we went on our last road trip from Chicago to Seattle. we had some great advice followed by an amazing trip. We are now in our sixties (just) but young at heart!

    We want o see the Deep South and enjoy the history, music, wildlife including birds and scenery. We don't wan to spend too much time in cities although there are obviously some that are not to be missed.We think New Orleans, Memphis, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenadoah, Charleston and Savannah are all musts but can't quite make them into an itinerary that works. We thought it might be sensible to start and finish in Atlanta s we can fly direct from the UK. We would quite like to go to Nashville too although we are not really country music fans but it sounds like fun.

    We would be really grateful for any advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Nice to see you back here


    Nice to see you back here. What are the likely dates for this trip? We have lots of ideas and resources for a deep south road trip -- but need a bit more information from you.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Loop Through the South

    The thing about loop trips is that it doesn't matter where you start or end, as long as your gateway city is on (or very near) the loop. So I'd suggest that you routinely check three cities to serve as your port of entry into the US. Washington DC (IAD is the international airport). Baltimore MD (BWI), and Atlanta GA (ATL). Surprisingly, Atlanta is currently showing the cheapest roundtrip airfares for a randomly chosen two week period next spring, but prices will vary as time goes on and depending on exactly when you will be flying. I say surprisingly, because Atlanta is actually the farthest of the three airports from London, and has the least amount of competition since the majority of flights in and out of it are by Delta Airlines. Also, as you price shop, keep in mind that the cost of hiring a car may also vary wildly with airport and local fees and taxes, so be sure to shop for airfare and car hire as a pair.

    So, now let's lay out a basic loop that will get you to all the places you listed. I'm going to start in the Baltimore/Washington area but, as I say, once you have this marked out on a map you'll be able to see that it will work from whatever city you choose as your starting point. I won't be going into great detail, because much of your actual routing will depend on what you want to see, how much time you decide to spend at various points, and how much you want to 'wander'. Starting from the Baltimore/Washington area you'd first head west on I-66 to I-81 south. Running parallel to I-81 are two great scenic (albeit slower) roads - Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Those roads all roughly connect Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountain National Park. From there I-40 would take you west through Tennessee passing Nashville on the way to Memphis. From there you again have your choice of an Interstate (I-55) or a scenic road (The Great River Road) down to New Orleans. Next up I-10 would take you along the Gulf Coast to at least Mobile.

    Now you have a choice. If you want to include Atlanta on your loop, you can head up I-65/I-85 through Montgomery to Atlanta and then take I-75/I-16 to Savannah. If, on the other hand, you'd rather head straight for the coast, just stay on I-10 all the way to Jacksonville/St. Augustine and work your way up the coast from there. I-95 would provide the 'fast' way to Savannah, and then US-17 branches off into Charleston.

    From Charleston, US-17 follows the coastline northward to Norfolk and the Historic Triangle area of Virginia. You also have the option of taking a ferry from east of New Bern NC onto the Outer Banks and following NC-12 up (past the first British Colony in the New World and the site of the Wright Brothers' flight) to Manteo NC, and taking US-158/NC-188/VA-168 into the Norfolk area. I-64/I-95 will than get you back to Baltimore/Washington.

    Note that I've described the route in an anti-clockwise direction because that would put the ocean on 'your' side of the road, but there's no other reason you can't take it going the other way.


  4. #4


    If you fly into Dulles (IAD) or Baltimore (BWI), one option as a first stop is Harper's Ferry, a historical town that is about an hour and a half from those airports, more or less (Dulles is closer and has more international flights than BWI), and a nice place to rest after flying all day.

    Memphis, Charleston and Savannah, I have been to all three. Memphis is nice and worth an overnight, especially if you arrive around 2p or 3p, to enjoy walking around, listening to the blues, eating some good BBQ and drinking some cold beer. Charleston and Savannah are lovely southern towns on the water, easily 2-nighters each. You'll want to enjoy the southern gentile pace, the wonderful food and the sights. Plenty of walking around in both towns.

    Charlotte, NC, is another international airport that should be considered. As noted above, when considering costs consider both airfare and car rental together as car rentals can be very expensive. Sometimes you are better off renting away from the airport, e.g., from a downtown location--catching a shuttle/bus/taxi to downtown can save you a lot of money compared to an airport rental.

  5. Default

    Thank you so much for your advice. We are planning to travel in Late July and August because we work in schools and that is our long holiday and we plan to come for 3 weeks. We are a bit worried about the climate though. We could go at Easter but only for 2 weeks.
    We would really love to include New Orleans and the music of the deep south but also want to have some scenery and walking and beaches if possible . There are certainly lots of things to consider in the ideas already given. we are meeting up with our traveling companions to mull it all over in a few days.

  6. Default Will this work?

    We decided to change our plans a bit and go at Easter because of the humidity and heat in August down south and this is what we think we are going to do now
    Would love the experts thoughts on this

    New Orleans 3 days
    Vacherie 2 days
    Natchez 2 days
    Clarksdale 1 day
    Memphis 2 days
    Nashville 2 days
    Smokey mountains 3 days

    We thought us gives us lots of music, some history round the plantations and some scenic bits and walking.
    Just a bit worried it might be bad wether in the smokies and not sure where to head in the smokies for good walking and nice views?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Different

    Well, that's certainly a different trip than what you had first envisioned. And it's probably better in the sense that it's the result of more careful thought, and that the weather for being outdoors will likely be better. But it does have a couple of problems that I suspect you're aware of but merit discussion anyway. The obvious one is that this is no longer a loop trip. The second is that there's no obvious place to end up for your flight home. Finally, you've already accounted (when you add in flight days) for more than two weeks.

    The first is not an insurmountable problem. It just means that you may pay a bit more in airfare, and will almost certainly pay more for the hire car in the form of a one-way drop off fee. The second is a bit problematic. Possible gateways for your return flight include Charlotte and Atlanta, but both are a significant drive from the Great Smoky Mountains and while they could be done on the day you catch a redeye back to the UK, that will leave you exhausted when you step off the plane. With the days you say you're going to be spending in each town along the way, you're up to using up 17 days of your 'two weeks'!

    Assuming you can live with or work out those problems I will just note a few things. Your best source for info on "bad weather...good walking and nice views" in the Great Smoky Mountains will come from the park rangers. They will have the most intimate knowledge of the park, which trails might be closed, what the local weather may be doing at the precise time of your visit, and any wildlife migrations that might be going on. Spending a half hour or so at the visitors center talking to them could easily end up being the most rewarding time invested in your trip.

    Vicksburg is another town worth looking into as you make your trip, and I'd also encourage you to at least consider an alternative route between Memphis and Nashville, and that would be to take US-64 eastward through southern Tennessee past Shiloh National Battlefield to Highland TN and then up the Natchez Trace Parkway into Nashville.


  8. #8


    If you are able to arrange for flying into Charlotte, NC, then one option would be driving to Asheville, NC, just over two hours away, a nice town in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.

    Atlanta and Chicago O'Hare are my two least favorite airports in the USA because of flight delays and overall congestion. Terrible city airports to make connections (lost luggage!!!).

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