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  1. Default Offbeat, blue highways NYC-NOLA

    Hi everyone. This is my first post, but far from my first road trip. I once drove 15,000 miles alone around North America, taking a photo every 100 miles. I can tell you about that trip another time.

    For now, I'm planning a road trip with my wife in late March (12th-16th) through a part of the US that is unfamiliar to us both. We're visiting a friend in New Orleans and flying back to New York a week later. To get there, we plan on renting a car one-way.

    We have about four or five days to get to New Orleans and we would like to visit friends in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. We prefer avoiding interstates whenever possible, but are probably going to drive straight to the Research Triangle as quickly as possible and take our time from that point onward. We'd rather stay in memorable B&B's than motels, and we are on a fairly tight budget.

    Help us plan an unforgettable trip that will furnish great photographs, delicious meals, and a taste of the history (both good and bad) of the American South. Bonus points for recommendations of seasonal events.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Obvious and Not So Obvious

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The obvious 'blue highway' for the first part of your trip would be the aptly named Blue Ridge Parkway along the spine of the Appalachians in western Virginia. But since you plan to make tracks as far as Chapel Hill, that would not work out too well. It is by no means a road that can be driven at anything faster than a sedate pace. Between Chapel Hill and Columbia, I'd probably use US-501/US-1. That's as direct a link as there is, but those are still just 2-lane roads through a rural section of the Carolinas. A recommendation from personal experience is GA-16 across northern Georgia. For a nice simple break plan on visiting the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton. Then in Alabama, have a look at the Talladega Scenic Drive, and for a great history fix, try to work in a visit to the Old Cahawba site outside Selma.


  3. #3

    Default To Chapel Hill, then Columbia

    Being ardently disgusted with urban area Interstate traffic, I avoid it whenever possible. Although it violates to some degree your principle of getting to Chapel Hill as quickly as possible, you've much time, so consider this:

    At DC, take I-495's western leg to I-66, west to US 29, and take 29 south to US 15 at Culpeper, VA (no, I did not leave out a "p"). US 15 transects central and southern Virginia and is a true gem of Road Tripping travel. Mostly 2 lane, it follows the eastern edge of the foothills of the Blue Ridge through rolling crop farm and horse farm country, small towns and villages, remote military school towns (Fork Union), historic mining areas (Arvonia-slate, Dillwyn-gold, and Willis Mountain- kyanite). A short loop barely a mile out of the way takes you through the campus of Hampden-Sydney College outside of Farmville, VA, a 1,000 man all-male private liberal arts college amidst farms and forests. Close to the NC line is Clarksville, VA, right on Kerr Lake, and home to a nice B&B on the main street (US 15 business, aka Virginia Avenue). On the south side of Oxford, NC (a pretty burg all its own), you can pick up I-85 to Durham, where US 15-501 then takes you into Chapel Hill. The time difference for "The Scenic Route" will vary by how much DC-to-Richmond crap-ola you avoid on I-95, and also by how much your transit coincides with school-bus times on US 15. Having traveled each way many a time, I'd say it's on average an hour longer. But the drive-----the drive is SO much nicer.

    And, from Chapel Hill southward surely you'll want to take US 15 on down into the Sandhills region near Southern Pines, and from there US 1 on through the NC and SC Sandhills to Camden, SC, where I-20 is poised to carry you into Columbia. By taking that route, you're avoiding all sorts of less scenic and downright lousy routes between RTP and Columbia. I dunno, it'll take maybe 3-3.5 hours from Chapel Hill to Camden, and another 20-25 minutes to Columbia?

    From Columbia, I'd be fairly inclined to close my eyes (figuratively) and blow through Atlanta (at non-rush hour) and remain on I-20 to Birmingham, thence strike slightly north of due west on US 78 to the vicinity of Tupelo, MS, say howdy to Elvis, and take the Natchez Trace Parkway all the way to Natchez. From Natchez, south on US 61 takes you to one iteration or the other of the Great River Road the rest of the way to and through Baton Rouge and on to N'Awlins.

    Yeah, you'll be pining for an 8-lane expressway after all of that. But, you will also have seen parts of the South few see.

    Enjoy the planning and the trip!


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