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  1. Default Outer Banks or Florida?

    Hi. I am from Malaysia and am currently on Work & Travel. I am looking to go on a road trip a for about 6 days starting and ending in Atlanta. I will be making this trip early January. I am currently torn between going to Key West, Florida and the Outer Banks after some suggestions from friends.

    I am really looking for a way to see and experience America and taking some great photographs as oppose to doing touristy activities or theme parks. I am far more interested in learning about American culture and 'seeing' America at its best.

    I'd appreciate any views and suggestions. Thanks.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Make the Most of Your Time

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The problem with Key West is that it is basically at the end of a very, very long two lane bridge, and once you get there, you are on a very small island. A nice island, but a small island to be sure. On the other hand, the Outer Banks are a bit closer in distance, and a lot closer in terms of time, and there are a number of historic sites, museums, wildlife refuges, lighthouses and the like, besides the beach. If I were making the choice and had a limited amount of time, I'd head for the Banks.


  3. #3

    Default But then there's the weather.......

    Hello Seng,

    While I wholeheartedly agree with AZ Buck in that I'd choose the Outer Banks over South Florida/Key West any time, early January is not often a great time to visit due to the weather. Many motels and restaurants close between early December and early March or even April, and heavy coastal storms called nor'easters can lash the banks for a day or two or three at a time, overwashing roads and isolating travelers for hours to days, and interrupting the State-operated ferry services.

    Then again, one can find perfect bluebird weather, with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s, and with the warm-weather crowds long gone, that can make for a wonderful trip. I would simply suggest some close study of weather patterns and having a Plan B in place if it looks like a storm is brewing for the Outer Banks.

    Something a bit closer to Atlanta and intriguing to me are parts of Florida's Gulf Coast, where I hear small communities like Cedar Key can be quite nice. Surely there are others. Such would involve far less travel than Key West and might just be an attractive Plan B if a nor'easter is headed for the Banks at departure time.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  4. Default

    What kind of weather are you looking for?

    Average temperatures in the Outer Banks will be highs in the low 50s, lows in the high 30s.
    Average temperatures in Key West will be highs in the mid 70s, lows in the mid 60s.
    Of course, these are averages. I've spent some pretty cold winters in the Florida Keys!

    Winter is high season in the Keys, so cost is a factor. Reservations is another.

    If you venture out to Key West, may I suggest a very long day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park?

    It is a wonderful destination, but don't torture yourself attempting it on an extremely windy day with high seas.

  5. Default Have decided on North..


    Thanks for replying to this thread and I greatly appreciate the insight you have given me. After some much consideration, I will be heading North instead since I will be going to Hawaii later in my trip. Considering how I'd like to see more facades of the US of A, North seems to be a better option after all.

    The situation right now is that I will be leaving on my road trip from Atlanta and hope to make a round trip back in 6 days. I am definitely stopping at Charleston and on towards Nags Head at the Outer Banks probably. After which, I have no clue on where would be nice to stop. I am looking to go through Virginia and back down to Atlanta via the Blue Ridge Parkway(or the portion that is still open anyway). Would Kentucky be too far of a drive (was hoping to catch a glimpse of the horses).

    Any ideas on interesting stops would be greatly appreciated. And I must add that what a great and helpful community you all have going here. Hope to hear from you guys soon.


  6. #6

    Default A few thoughts about the northern route

    Hello Seng,

    Without taking any time to really map out travel distances and time estimates, I nevertheless offer the following ideas to think of:

    Charleston, SC to Nags Head, NC is a long day's drive, particularly if you attempt to run up US 17 through the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand, Wilmington, NC, etc. While it's longer, exiting Charleston on I-26 to I-95 to US 64 is nearly all 4-lane, much of it with 70 mph speed limits. It's still a long day that way, but it's do-able.

    If you'd care to make it a 2 day trip from Charleston to Nag's Head, you can consider working up the coast on US 17 north of Wilmington, thence northeast on NC routes to Swansboro, up Bogue Banks to Atlantic Beach, crossing the narrow sound to Morehead City, thence east to the end of US 70 at Cedar Island, where a NC State Ferry system boat will take you on a 2.5 hour excursion across Pamlico Sound to Ocracoke Island. Traversing Ocracoke's 20 miles to Hatteras Inlet will bring you to the 45 minute ferry ride over to Hatteras Village, and from there it's a straight shot for some 65-70 miles through Buxton to the Oregon Inlet bridge and on to Nags Head. Be sure to investigate the wintertime ferry schedules and any recommendations for reservations on the Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry, as such are virtually required during warm weather and may be in winter due to reduced schedules. If I were doing this, I'd consider overnighting at Atlantic Beach or Morehead City and getting an early start on the hour's drive to Cedar Island in order to enjoy the ferry trip during full daylight, and likewise the Ocracoke-Hatteras ride, plus a chance to see and climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse during daylight.

    Excepting the Morehead City to Cedar Island stretch, you're driving on a narrow barrier island for the entire segment from Swansboro/Emerald Isle to Nags Head, with the ocean frequently in view. There are many, many small parking areas where you can leave your car for a walk on the beach, too.

    As to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive, there's no way to predict what parts will be open--you're just going to have to be prepared with a map and the phone numbers for the Parkway and the Shenandoah National Park where recorded messages normally indicate which mileposts the roadway is closed between. If there has been snow and continuous cold weather, you can expect much, if not all, of each road to be closed throughout Virginia, as there are few efforts to plow them in January.

    Traveling to Kentucky's Bluegrass region (central KY) is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion. It would require a long day's drive across western VA and central WV on I-64, the majority of it through the mountains at high elevation, to get to central KY. To see Thoroughbreds without making such a trip, Virginia's horse country lies on the east side of the Blue Ridge from approximately Charlottesville to Leesburg on the Maryland line. I haven't a clue where one might arrange a tour of horse farms, but some investigation may well turn up something a traveler can stop and see.

    If American Colonial history and/or Civil War history interest you, a wealth of each can be experienced in the Williamsburg/Jamestown area, Richmond/Petersburg, Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania area, and from Orange, VA down to Charlottesville.

    There's a lot you can do and see on a 6-day round trip from Atlanta through SC, NC, and VA. Enjoy the planning and the RoadTrip!


  7. Default

    Hey Foy,

    Thank you so very much for your valuable information and suggestions. I can already see my road trip falling into place. I also believe that these suggestions will give a great mix between the great beauty of America's geographical nature and America's culture/history. I am very excited indeed.

    I will be doing further research based on what you've suggested. I'll post again later with my draft plan and would love to hear from you guys again.

    What a fantastic community that's going on here! Take care all and will catch ya'll soon.


  8. Default Updates!

    Hi all,

    Planning for my maiden American Road Trip has been fun and stressful at the same time! The need for balance between having the best experience possible without squeezing in too much is very delicate indeed. There is just so much to see and do in the U.S!

    Anyway, so far, I'll be driving from Atlanta to Charleston where I'll be staying for the night. The next day would be a trip north up to Beaufort with a brief stop at Wilmington for dinner perhaps. I am hoping to catch the earliest ferry at Cedar Island the next day at 7.30am to be able to experience the Outer Banks in daylight. I will be spending the night in Nags Head, probably First Colony Inn as they seem to have the best value from the limited options at that time of year.

    Onwards from there, things are still fuzzy. I am planning to spend two nights in Virginia. I am thinking of spending the nights in Williamsburg and just drive around to the surrounding areas during the day. I have read that Dayton has a small community of Armish people and was just wondering if it is worth the trip up to see them. I do feel that would really be pushing my scheduling and did not want to make the trip if it isn't a proper Armish community.

    Finally, I'll be stopping for one last night, possibly in Charlotte as it is almost the midpoint between Williamsburg and Atlanta. Let me know what you guys think. Have a great one everybody!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default They're Not On Display

    Although the largest and most well known Amish communities in America are in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, There are small scattered communities in Virginia. Unfortunately, the operative words are 'small' and 'scattered'. There are only a few hundred Amish in the entire state. Unless you know exactly where you're going and what you expect to find, I you probably should not go out of your way on the off chance that you will happen across them.


  10. #10

    Default The Bretheren in the Valley

    Dayton, VA is in the heart of Mennonite country in the Shenandoah Valley, near Harrisonburg. I don't know to what extent it's a predominant faith up there, but one does routinely see horse-drawn carriages, Mennonite groceries and bakeries, and of course many beautifully-designed and built churches, homes, and barns.


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