4 day road trip on the US' East Coast: What to see, where to stay, what to eat?
May 20, 2008 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Roadtrip along the US' East Coast from New York to Port Canveral, FL with 4 days to make the drive. Where should we stop along the way to enjoy ourselves?

It's just my wife and myself, so there's no children to consider. The roadtrip is from July 17th-20th (considering leaving after work on the 16th to give us even more time). We'll be taking I-95 down and it'll take us through New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia & Florida.

This isn't the first time we'll be making the drive but it is the first time we're stopping along the way for anything more than a place to sleep.

We've never really gotten to enjoy North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia so our plans are to make that the focus of most of our free time there, stopping in Raleigh, NC, Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, but we can easily be swayed elsewhere (although Savannah is calling us).

We'd also like to end up within 4-5 hours of Port Canaveral on the final night, the 19th, so we can get to our cruise relatively early. We've picked St. Augustine, FL, mainly because it seems central to a bunch of places we plan to hit up from Roadfood. We're certainly not tied down to the place so other recommendations are welcome.

We're always on the lookout for good eats, preferably with a local flavor, but it's nice to have somewhere to explore when the eating's done.

So where should two hungry travelers expand their horizons along the eastern seaboard?
posted by unsupervised to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'm from NY, my wife's from NJ, so we've covered those states fairly extensively. I've been to Virginia countless times so there's no pressing need to return there on this trip.

I feel bad not giving Maryland a fair shake. I've only been there a handful of times and even then it was mostly just to pee.

I should also add that this isn't a once in a lifetime thing, but a foothold into places we'll hopefully return to explore in the future.
posted by unsupervised at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: I've not made the trip myself -- but I do have a very good reference for you; the guidebook ROAD TRIP USA follows various two-lane highways with an eye towards the unusual roadside attraction and the best diners; one such route is the exact route you're taking. There's an online version of the book, and here's the chapter for your route. The print version also has radio recommendations in the margins.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If I were you, I would hop on US-17 in Fredricksburg, VA and take that down instead of I-95. You should check out Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina.
posted by Any Moose In a Storm at 7:45 AM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: I've given my South Carolina advice elsewhere, but I will suggest you leave the wasteland of I-95 and spend some time on US 17. That's where you'll see the real side of the South Carolina coast, not just the same interstate culture you'll see anywhere else. If I was to not miss one thing on a barnstorm tour of SC, it'd be Charleston. There's tons of guides to the city's dining and entertainment, so grab a handful and plan to spend a full day.

However, you are required by law to stop at South of the Border at least once, so you might as well get it out of the way.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:48 AM on May 20, 2008

You forgot Virginia and DC. :) But depending on the time of day you go through, you might want to take a long way around the DC area, unless you'd like to stop there -- any kind of restaurant you can think of, tons of museums and national monuments.

I really like the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore (seafood, nice aquarium, etc) -- not sure how close 95 passes, though.
posted by ecsh at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2008

@ecsh: 95 passes very, very close to downtown/inner harbor. Like 1/2 mile
posted by waylaid at 8:14 AM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: I'm in agreement with those who say take Hwy 17 from Charleston to Savannah, absolutely beautiful. On your way, take a little side trip on Hwy 21 into Beaufort, SC for dinner at the Saltus River Grill, or on across the bridge to Port Royal and the 11th St. Dockside.
posted by netbros at 8:18 AM on May 20, 2008

Best answer: On your way down:

Assateague Island - I'd always wanted to stop there and did recently, found it very beautiful and satisfying, and we only spent about an hour. The wild "ponies" were easy to see.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel - if you enjoy marvels of modern engineering, this is pretty amazing.

Eastern Shore of Virgina - moody, untrammeled, hidden-away, interesting a bit of old, weird America.

And crab shacks. I once came across this great page listing real-deal old-school crab shacks in MD and VA. Can't seem to find it again (it was a person's hobby page, non-commercial, and contained his ratings and listings. Really good). Anyway, it's worth a search to find a good, waterside crab shack.
posted by Miko at 9:30 AM on May 20, 2008

Stop in Savannah, GA. Go to Sweet Leaf, eat some Souther BBQ, go to some galleries. It's beautiful there!
posted by octomato at 10:34 AM on May 20, 2008

However, you are required by law to stop at South of the Border at least once, so you might as well get it out of the way.

If that is true, then we probably should have just let the South go when they wanted. South of the Border is one of the vilest places I've ever visited. I love kitchy stuff. I like junky, out-of-the-way, run-down old tourist destinations. South of the Border is far, far, beyond that. Unless you love the smell of urine, do not stop there. Keep your money as far from Pedro and his racist overlords as possible. Every other fun, junky, interstate destination is to South of the Border as your buddy's poker night is to dog fighting. Unless the idea of camping on hot concrete next to a giant interstate interests you, SoTB is probably not for you. I may be mistaken, and visiting a giant warehouse full of adult novelty items might be right up your alley, but if it's not, don't go to SoTB. Imagine somebody high up at Disney went down to Tijuana in the late 60s, took the brown acid, drew up plans for a family-friendly nightmare in South Carolina, followed his dream, and then abandoned it for 40 years. This does not begin to describe the wasteland that is SoTB. The one benefit to having visited SoTB is that in any other situation, whether it be a 5 hour Catholic wedding, repeat viewings of Made of Honor, high impact oral surgery, you can say to yourself "At least I'm not at South of the Border." But, honestly, you can do that ANYWAY. Say it with me: "At least I'm not at South of the Border." There you go. Now you don't have to stop. Ever. Don't.
posted by one_bean at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you do follow the Road Trip USA route suggested by EmpressCallipygos, be sure to follow their advice for Virginia and check out Chincoteague Island. Their annual Pony Penning takes place the last Wednesday and Thursday of July, so as you'll be there the week before, you'd be able to enjoy the carnival without all the crowds that come the following week (the carnival is open on Fridays and Saturdays all month). Also, you could check out my in-laws' ice cream parlour.
posted by LolaGeek at 10:59 AM on May 20, 2008

Fernandina Beach, Florida, isn't all that close to I-95, but it is worth visiting, for reasons similar to St. Augustine.
posted by oaf at 11:09 AM on May 20, 2008

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