Driving from DC area to Outer Banks
July 12, 2017 2:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm in Alexandria Va., and will be going down to the Outer Banks in NC (Corolla/Duck) again soon. I've pretty much always gone straight down I-95, but is there a better route? As anyone who has driven it knows, I-95 on summer weekends.... well, let's just say it's a foretaste of hell, and maybe there's a better plan.
posted by easily confused to Travel & Transportation around North Carolina (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am not aware of any better plan, but it's been years since I did the drive. In our feckless youth, we would leave DC in the evening, drive overnight and catch the first ferry in the morning from Hattaras to Ocracoke. It was super miserable by the time we hit late 20s/early 30s. The drives back were also miserable in their own way, but we would caravan with carloads of people. Highly recommend stopping off to ride in monster truck Grave Digger at it's headquarters in Poplar Branch. It's a story I still get ooohs about years later.
posted by goggie at 2:48 PM on July 12, 2017

Goggie is right, there is no better way, but there are better times. IME, later is better.
posted by 4ster at 3:32 PM on July 12, 2017

Well sure, from where you are, hop across the Wilson Bridge and take 301 south. It may take longer, but you'll get to the bypass to 64 eventually.
posted by Rash at 3:40 PM on July 12, 2017

301 to RT 17 south will get you close to the 64/664 split, take 664 to 168, voila. usually not slower due to traffic but much more relaxing. Don't speed too much and enjoy. Source: I live near 168 and drive to the DC area regularly.
posted by Requiax at 4:52 PM on July 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you're leaving on a Friday afternoon or evening, then 301 is the way to go. I've taken both 95 and 301 and they're about the same amount of time, but 301 is a more enjoyable drive.

From the Beltway, take 210 South, then route 228 East to get on 301, and you'll avoid traffic in Brandywine and some of Waldorf. If you want to avoid most of the Waldorf traffic, then take Middletown road off route 228, turning on to route 227 to get on 301.
posted by hoppytoad at 5:06 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

301 is much less stressful. The top speed is slower, but the average speed is at least as fast as 95 on an average day, and sometimes much faster if 95 has a bad day.
posted by fedward at 6:34 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE you take route 50 to route 13 and go through the Delmarva, yes it takes a couple hours longer but it is so much less stressful and really really lovely. You can stop in all the cute seaside towns!
posted by capricorn at 6:52 PM on July 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nine millionething the scenic route. I have taken your trip many, many times and never ever taken I95 because it is hellish. I am also a fan of late night driving, but the scenic route is best regardless of your traveling time.
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 7:32 PM on July 12, 2017

Best answer: I'm headed to VA Beach from the south suburbs of DC tomorrow, and I'll be taking 17 S. Worst case, it's 45 minutes slower, best case, it's 3 hours quicker.
posted by COD at 5:12 AM on July 13, 2017

Best answer: Nthing 301 to 17 as the alternate route. Stop at Horne's at the intersection of 301 and 17 for breakfast all day. I used to do this drive a LOT between Baltimore and Norfolk.
posted by desuetude at 6:41 AM on July 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Warning: I love 301 S overall as a leisurely drive, but if you have never been on the Harry Nice Bridge, it is intense.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:01 PM on July 14, 2017

Response by poster: Hmmm. 301 sounds pleasant, but if it's hours slower it's probably out, sorry: I hate longish drives, and just want to get them over with as soon as possible! No fear of bridges, Harry Nice or otherwise; likewise no fear of tunnels; I just dislike being out there with fifty-seven gazillion others, all of us heading beachward like a bunch of demented lemmings.

Looks like it's likely to be good old hellish 95 again; but if I can squeeze an extra day of leave time out of my boss, I'll use that to take a combo of 17 and 301, stopping somewhere halfway for the night. Thanks, all!
posted by easily confused at 9:25 AM on July 26, 2017

> Hmmm. 301 sounds pleasant, but if it's hours slower it's probably out, sorry: I hate longish drives, and just want to get them over with as soon as possible!

It's not definitely not hours longer, plural. As COD said, worst case it's 45 minutes slower, best case it's three hours quicker.
posted by desuetude at 7:51 PM on July 26, 2017

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