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  1. Default Missouri to North Carolina (Outer Banks) -- Best route?

    We are driving from southwest Missouri to the Outer Banks of North Carolina this weekend and can't decide whether to take the northern route across I-64 or the southern route across I-40. Any fun places for children along either route -- just to let them run around for an hour or two? We will leave either Thursday evening or early Friday morning and would like to be within 7-8 hours of NC by Friday night. Don't mind driving 10-12 hours in a day. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Conundrums

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forums!

    Usually, when you have a tough job making a choice between two options, it means that there is very little to differentiate them. That is the case here. The two routes are within a few miles and a few minutes of each other with the I-64 route being marginally shorter. Fortunately, if this is a round trip you don't really have to choose. Just take one route there and the other home. There are kid friendly stops along all the Interstates, and both of these routes will give you some very scenic driving through the Appalachians. Unfortunately, you won't have a lot of time to sample the sights along the way and you'll need to get in about 3-4 hours of driving on Thursday evening in order to make the trip by end of day Saturday. Don't forget that you'll lose an hour to the time zone change going east.


  3. #3

    Default Show Me.......the OBX

    Hello aandmneal-

    Arriving at the Outer Banks (OBX) on a Saturday normally means arriving for a week's rental, as those units typically "change out" on Saturdays and Sundays (a mix of each).

    Whether or not that includes your family, the other several million travelers headed that way will be headed for their scheduled arrival for a week at the beach. The great majority of them, in turn, will be our friends from Up North and the near Midwest, and they'll flow in mostly from I-95 and I-64 from Richmond, through Tidewater (Williamsburg/Hampton/Norfolk/Va Bch/Chesapeake) enroute to VA and NC 168 and finally to US 158. And therein lies your challenge: taking the I-64 route puts you squarely in the middle of a weekly world-class traffic jam which can make the segment from the Richmond side of Tidewater all the way to your rental a good 4-5 hour exercise in agony when a lesser-traffic time frame would have you there in 2.5 hours at most.

    So, yes, I'd strongly recommend accessing I-40 by the most efficient route from your part of MO and taking I-40 all the way to my city of Raleigh, thence US 64 all the way to the OBX.

    I'd certainly agree with AZBuck on the Thursday evening departure, not the least of which due to the fact that it pretty much eliminates the weekday rush-hour traversing of Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville. There are innumerable exits with small chain motels along I-40 in TN, so if you could get reach TN safely on Thursday night, I'd look for a spot between, say, Memphis and Nashville. Such would allow you to avoid morning rush in Nashville and you'd likely pass Knoxville well before evening rush. Asheville, NC would be your spot within 7-8 hours of the OBX, with 4-4.5 hrs to Raleigh and 3-3.5 hrs to the OBX from Raleigh. The I-40/US-64 routing also puts you on mostly asphalt surface Interstate or modern, ultra-smooth concrete on the newer section of US 64 east of Raleigh. Much of I-40 in western and central NC has 70 mph posted limits (and lots of it in TN, too, I believe) and the majority of US-64 east of Raleigh is 70mph. There is, however, an approx 35 mile stretch of 2-lane US 64 between Columbia, NC and Manns Harbor, NC, just before you reach the OBX. It's quite isolated and while there will be something of a bottleneck, it's of amateur proportions compared with the potential for miles of stop-and-roll coming down US 158 at the end of the I-64 route.

    As you'll see from perusing your maps, the I-40/US-64 route brings you through Manteo to the southern portion of Nags Head. If your final destination is down that way, or is on Hatteras Island (Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, etc), perfect--you avoid all of the madness to the north, where US 158 crosses Currituck Sound and connects to the northern approaches. If instead you're bound for the northern beaches (Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Duck, or Corolla), I'd still give strong consideration to the I-40/US-64 route. You'll be caught up in the congestion by the time you get halfway up the US 158 Bypass from where US 64 terminates, but that will leave you with but a few miles of it rather than dozens or over a hundred miles of it.

    Lastly, if you are in fact headed for the northern beaches, Holy Smoke it can take a while to get up there on Change-Over Day. A single 2 lane highway (NC-12) brings you from Southern Shores on US 158 all the way for +25 miles to Corolla. There are literally thousands of rentals up there, and the last time I drove it, on a TUESDAY morning in July of 2008, it took me 1.25 hours to reach Corolla from the junction of US 158 and NC 12 at Southern Shores, below Duck. All I can suggest if you're going up there is to leave your Friday night overnight VERY early on Saturday. If you get to your place well before check-in time, go see the Currituck Lighthouse, hit the ice-cream shops at Corolla, or belly up to a bar somewhere and watch the majority of the crowds stream by, slowly.

    Needless to say, getting out of there on Change-Over Day is difficult, as well. If you leave Friday evening, intending a Sunday arrival at home, don't dare go up to Tidewater and get into it's rush hour and have to cross the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel or the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel or the stretch of I-64 up past Williamsburg on a Friday night. Go back the way you came instead. You'll have clear sailing westbound all the way to Raleigh.

    Have fun on your OBX RoadTrip!

    Last edited by Foy; 07-13-2009 at 10:26 AM. Reason: Clarity

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