Mom and daughter CT to Charleston, NC
Hi, I am a 20 year old college student. My father passed away from cancer in November, and I told my mom I want to go on a road trip with her so we can spend some time together and see the east coast. We are going from May 18-26. My half-brother and nephew (dad's side) live right outside of Charleston, so our destination will be there. We want to leave two days to travel there, and two days back. I have never been below PA so do you have any suggestions on where to stop? I really just want to see beautiful places and enjoy the ride. Is there a way to go that is more scenic? I also was thinking we could stop in Wilmington, NC or around the outer banks before we go to SC. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!
Two days is not a lot of time to make the drive from Connecticut to Charleston and see the coast, especially with all the Delmarva Peninsula, the Outer Banks and the Grand Strand have to offer, so I'd really suggest that on at least one leg, either down or up, you take 3 days. Here are some links to descriptions of what's available along the coastal route. For your shorter, 2 day drive, try using I-84/I-81/I-77/I-26 for a scenic high speed drive that avoids most of the cities on the east coast and that will take you by its own highlights
SC and NC
I'm sorry for your loss. My own father succumbed to ALS nearly 9 years ago, and we still feel the loss. My condolences to you and your family.
I'm sure you know the best known Charleston is in South Carolina, not North Carolina. It's a nice area to visit and I'm sure you'll have a good time there, plus you'll get there before the worst of the summertime heat builds up.
It's a tough ride from CT to Charleston. Not knowing where in CT you'd start from, I simply dialed up Hartford to Charleston on Mapquest and got nearly 900 miles. Given that the first half of that I-95 trip merely gets you down to about Washington, DC, that's really a day and a half trip to begin with, with no scenic detours. It's well out of the way to go to the Outer Banks (OBX) or Wilmington, NC (WIL) enroute, too, not the least of which is due to the congested non-interstate travel from any point on the I-95 corridor to the OBX, WIL, and thence on down to Charleston. So, in my opinion, there's really no way to visit either region as a part of a 2 day trip.
What you might consider is doing an express trip one way and a scenic trip the other. You could get as far, say, as Richmond, VA in a day on the way down, and that would leave you around 400 miles of mostly open road cruising to Charleston the next day, with only small cities along that remainder. Richmond features nice hotels downtown along the James River and right alongside of I-95 (not the I-295 beltway, mind you). On the return trip, you might go up US 17 to Wilmington, where the battleship USS North Carolina is a tourist attraction and the Wilmington waterfront across the Cape Fear River is a nice place to lunch, thence on up the coast to Morehead City, where you can venture east to Cedar Island and catch the 2.5 hour ferry ride to Ocracoke Island on the OBX. After an overnight on Ocracoke, you'd take the 45 minute ferry ride over to Hatteras, visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse at Buxton, thence up NC 12 all the way through Nag's Head, and connect with VA 168 into the Tidewater area of SE Virginia. From there, you can run up I-64 back to I-95 at Richmond, then on back to CT, or you can take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) across to the Eastern Shore of VA and MD, and run US 13 up towards Lewes, Delaware, and from there take the Cape May Ferry over to Cape May, NJ. I think that ferry is around a 3 hour ride and puts you at the far tip of the Jersey Shore, from which you'd navigate whatever way suits you best back to CT. I'd imagine the Tidewater area of VA would be a logical stopping point for the second night out of Charleston, making the return trip a 3 day run. In Tidewater, there are some nice high-rise hotels right on the water in Norfolk, just minutes from where VA 168 comes into I-64, so you could easily take either route home from there. A restaurant and shopping destination within walking distance from the hotels there is called Waterside, and from the hotels and waterside you're overlooking a large commercial and military harbor complex (and you can take water taxies or a longer waterfront cruise, time allowing). You could also overnight on the oceanfront at Virginia Beach and be just a few miles out of your way. On the Bayfront part of Va Beach, the Virginia Beach Resort and Convention Center on Shore Drive offers very nice views of the Bay and the commercial and military shipping going back and forth, along with some nice restaurants within just a mile or two of the hotel.
I happen to be one with little use for highly commercialized beach areas so would advise you that of the general return route described, the Myrtle Beach section, some areas around Morehead City, Nag's Head, and the Virginia Beach Oceanfront are highly developed tourist beaches. Ocracoke and the rest of the OBX communities along NC 12 are delightful with long stretches of dunes and highway and regular looks at the beaches between them.
Have a look at some maps and destination web pages and reply if you have any specific questions, won't you?
Thank you all for your suggestions. I'm going to talk to my mom about these ideas. I think we will try to spend 3 days coming back to enjoy, and just two to go down there so we can spend time with my brother. If I have any questions, I will let you know. Thanks alot of your help!