2 weeks road trip to Southern States

Old Jan 7th, 2016, 09:22 PM
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2 weeks road trip to Southern States

Hi my husband & I (newly retired early 60's) are planning a road trip February 2 - 17. We land in Orlando ready to leave on Feb 2nd. We have tickets to Daytona Race Feb 17 -20 and after that we have 3 weeks to tour central florida.

We have come up with a plan but are not sure if there will be enough time to see all without driving a lot or if we would be able to see more.

leave Orlando driving either to tallahassee or jacksonville - leaning towards tallahassee and then continuing into
Mississippi (natchez, vicksburg, jackson)
Arkansas (?)
Alabama (birmingham, montgomery)
Tennessee (chatanooga, memphis, nashville)
Georgia (atlanta, savanannah, jekyll island, madison)
South Carolina (beaufort, charleston)
North Carolina (ashville, blue ridge mountains, winston-salem, jacksonville)
back to orlando florida

We are interested in the plantations, gardens, music, driving scenic roads, prefer smaller centres not really into driving around the larger centres, walking on piers and harbors, people watching, shopping, casinos

If anyone could let me know if this is enough time, approximately how long we should spend at each place and if we should not bother with some things and add others.

I would appreciate any help I could get - thank you very much
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 03:56 AM
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At first I thought this was your driving itinerary but it backtracks in some places, so perhaps not.
I think I'd drop Arkansas.
You have omitted NOLA!! I think I'd do that in place of the Mississippi portion.
Reversing your direction might also give you a different look on what you want.
From Orlando head up the southeast coast to Savannah, Beaufort and Charleston.
From there perhaps up to Charlotte, Asheville, (I would omit Jacksonville for sure--it is "out there").
On to Nashville, Memphis, down to NOLA. Stop in Birmingham/Montgomery if that is a desire.
Then back to Orlando along the gulf coast.
It is still a LOT to do in the length of time if you plan to spend any time to really enjoy places, but a nice trip.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 03:58 AM
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You say 2 weeks some places and 3 weeks other. Another plus would have been an open jaw flight--into Orlando (or Jacksonville) and out of NOLA on my plan or some other departure city so you don't have to go all the way back to Orlando.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 04:09 AM
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I do understand the desire to avoid cities, so maybe you would want to avoid New Orleans, but the general loop Gretchen proposed is a nice one and since it is a loop, you could do it in either direction.

Except in the Florida area, getting lodging along your route should be no problem if you are willing to stay in motels/hotels near the main roads. For the time in Florida you might be wise to get lodging as that is a popular time for folks to get away from the cold.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 06:49 AM
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Thanks for your replies. I see I have more work to do.

So just to clarify we arrive in Orlando Feb 1st and plan on leaving for our road trip on Feb 2nd and returning to Orlando for Feb 17th (for NASCAR race). At this time we have rented a condo in Orlando from Feb 17th until Mar 9th. We have our flights booked into and out of Orlando because that is where we planned on spending the majority of our time, but then decided to take a road trip.

If we drop Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama - would that make our drive more leisurely and relaxing, still being able to see quite a bit.

Would you recommend 4 days in both New Orleans and Memphis/Nashville areas and play the others by ear - stopping and going as we feel like it?

If I read the replies correctly we really should be concentrating on Savannah, Charleston, NOLA, Nashville and Memphis with side trips thrown in if we see anything that catches our attention

Thanks again and if you have any suggestions of places and locations that we definitely should stop or not stop please let me know.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 07:56 AM
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I'd recommend 1 in Savannah and 3 in Charleston. Then it is a fairly quick drive to Asheville for at least a day. You'll need to factor in your driving times for some parts.
Maybe 3 full days in NOLA--there are some interesting sites en route. You will also have to find out when Mardi Gras is for that part.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 08:12 AM
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Mardi Gras is WAY early this year - Feb 9. The first full moon of Spring is early this year - March 23; Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring; Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter; Fat Tuesday (in French, Mardi Gras) is the day before Ash Wednesday. Cribbed the explanation from the Mardi Gras website.

Feb 9 is smack in the middle of your roadie and New Orleans will be at its most jammed from the 5th to the 9th. From Feb. 10, NOLA will be quiet.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 09:22 AM
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Thank you thank you thank you!!! will try to finalize our itinerary this weekend and post for you to have a look at. Maybe you would like to add some more comments and suggestions. Am so happy for all the input from you and this site.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 11:52 AM
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If you're not that into cities, I'd skip Memphis and go to Nashville because the latter is thriving and the former is a bit iffy.

Thinking the small Gulf Coast cities along I-10 would fit your walk-on-the-piers needs.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 02:33 PM
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Itinerary Florida Trip

Arrive in Orlando 1230am
Feb 2nd Tittusville – rocket launch in am, leave drive to Jacksonville Florida

Feb 3rd & 4th Tour Savannah
Historic District
Old Town Trolley Tour
Savannah Riverboat Tour?
Anything else I should be doing to have a true picture of Savannah?
Dine at “Old Pink House” or “Mrs Wilkes Dining Room
Take a riverboat dinner cruise?
A haunted tour?

Feb 5th Tour Beaufort a more restful day – taking our time viewing homes, streets

Feb 5th – 8th Charleston – 2 nights – need to do a more in depth search of attractions
Not sure which of the following plantations we will be going to
Magnolia Plantation
Middleton Place
Hampton
Cypress Gardens
Drayton Hall
Historic Market – Waterfront Park

Feb 9th Tour Charlotte?
Uptown
4th Ward
Rosedale Plantation
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Mall?

Feb 10th Tour Asheville
On Off Bus
Biltmore Estates (is this worth checking out or more of the same plantations?)

Feb 10th – 13th Tour Nashville
Grand ole opry – check on who will be performaning & getting tickets
Country Music Hall of Fame
Ryman Auditorium – a show?
Belle Meade Plantation
Opryland – a show?
RCA Studio B
Johnny Cash Museum
Bar Hopping in evenings
Oprey Mills (Shopping?)

Feb 13th – 15th Tour NOLA – 3 days (mardi gras)
Will be a parade Sunday January 10th (worth changing my dates for Nasville, Asheville & NOL?)
Mardi Gras World Museum?
Try a King Cake (get from bakeries)
Experience Cajun Country: Swamp Boat Adventure and Plantations Full-Day Tour from New Orleans 170.00 US funds (whole day)
Bourbon Street
Garden District
Honey Island Swamp Tour ($25.00 US funds – 2 hours)
Jackson Square

Feb 15th - I-10 back to Orlando

Would like to spend some time in Blue Ridge Mountains - not sure where I do that?
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 02:58 AM
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We like Middleton Plantation. Your timing isn't good for azaleas and gardens to be in their glory.

You could go from Charleston to Asheville directly. Biltmore House is NOT a plantation--it is a real castle. Asheville is worth a day for sure.

If you decide to come to Charlotte and are obviously a NASCAR fan, you might enjoy going up to Mooresville just north to tour the NASCAR garages. There also may be tours of the Speedway.
Rosedale is lovely but not for your trip, IMO. There is Latta Plantation which is a 17th century home and grounds which is nice but if you need a day, you could skip.

From Asheville you could go to Cherokee and then drive through the GSMNP back to I40 to Knoxville and on to Nashville to give you a taste of the mountains.
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 02:51 PM
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There's a great little town that we love on the way (depending on your route) from Charlotte to Asheville: Black Mountain, NC. Stop for lunch (the restaurants tend to change, so I don't have a recommendation) and be sure to get some coffee at Dripolator. We drive from Louisville to Charlotte often to see family, and love to stop and toot around in Black Mountain. Surrounded by mountains with great little shops. Check out the Hardware Store on the corner of the main road.

Also, it may be too far out of the way, but I LOVED Jekyll Island, which is between Jacksonville and Savannah. I haven't been to Charleston yet, but it sounds to me like your latest agenda is a good one. Lots of flavorful places! Oh, speaking of flavorful, if you are driving from Nashville to New Orleans by way of Birmingham, right before you cross over into the Alabama state line, there's a great place to eat in Ardmore, Tennessee. It's called the Fried Tomato Buffet, easy to find, but you have to drive into Ardmore, about a mile from the expressway. Nothing fancy, just good simple Southern cooking. We love to stop there. We also like Fried Green Tomatoes south of Birmingham, in Hoover. Their original place is better (more charming--the Hoover one has no charm, but good food) because it's across from an old train depot, but it's not on your route. (Assuming that your route takes you through Birmingham.)

One more food idea. If you are heading down I-10, which I'm sure you will be, you can take a little detour into Marianna, which is an old Florida town. You can either eat at The Wharf (I haven't eaten at that particular one, but it's part of a small chain that originates in Tallahassee, where they serve the BEST seafood--we love the shrimp po-boys) or you can eat at Jim's Buffet and Grill--best rutabagas ever! My food ideas are, by the way, for inexpensive food, nothing fancy or gourmet. If you want fancy, don't listen to me!

And as for plantations in New Orleans, this was a long time ago, but we loved visiting the Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation where "The Beguiled," creepy movie, was filmed. It was in a state of disrepair at the time, and they were fixing it up, which is what made it so interesting. I don't know what it's like now, but you might want to look into it. Story was that it was totally overgrown, and then they came in and started renovating it.

Sounds like a great trip. I am sure you realize that you are doing a TON of driving, right? Have fun! Oh, be sure and stop at some little stand along the way in south Alabama or Florida and get you some boiled peanuts!
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Old Jan 12th, 2016, 08:09 AM
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Thanks after your reply we have decided to lessen the amount of driving (since my husband is the only one who drives. Now the question is what route would you suggest?
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Old Jan 12th, 2016, 09:20 AM
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Then just do the Southeast coast and venture up to Asheville and maybe GSMNP. Drop Nashville and Memphis and NOLA.
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 10:48 AM
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Or, depending on the weather, drop the Atlantic coast and drive to NOLA and back. This winter is supposed to be cold and wet in the southeast.
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 10:50 AM
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PS--if you want a king cake, get it before Mardi Gras Day. We're seeing them in Krogers stores here in Atlanta now.
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Old Jan 14th, 2016, 04:10 AM
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While you are in Charleston, take the National Park Service boat out to Fort Sumter and get a little Civil War history while looking back at the city from the water.
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Old Jan 14th, 2016, 08:00 PM
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I agree with Gretchen. I think that I'd do Savannah, Charleston (which I've never done, but hear is lovely), Charlotte (not because I like the city so much but because you like NASCAR), Asheville, then come down through Greenville, SC (nice little downtown though I only mention it because it's on the way), through Atlanta back to Orlando. Or you could come back from Asheville by way of Knoxville and Chattanooga and then Atlanta. If you wanted, you could go to Gatlinburg--I'm not wild about it, but a lot of people are. It's right there in the Smoky Mountains, which are, of course, gorgeous. Or I'm thinking that you could drive the Blue Ridge Parkway when you're in/near Asheville. That's gorgeous.

Or if you don't want to go that far, then spend more time along the Georgia and South Carolina coast. One place that I've always wanted to check out is Hunting Island. Nothing to see there but beach, which sounds lovely to me.

I don't think that you'll miss anything by not seeing Nashville. New Orleans will be a loss, but that's so far in the other direction that I think you're making the right decision to not try and do it all. Especially since there's only one driver.

Let us know what you decide!
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Old Jan 17th, 2016, 11:37 PM
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I would give some thought to skipping ARK and LA and focusing on FL,GA,AL,MS,TN.Alabama and Mississippi offer a lot and you generally have less crowds and cheaper priced motels.As a Georgia native,if you have'nt visited the Peach State Here are my personal top 5 don't miss things to do....1-Go to the top of Brasstown Bald,the highest point in the state,about a two hour drive north from ATL. #2,Explore the interesting North GA town of Dahlonega-30 mins form Brasstown Bald.#3 Providence Canyon SP,45mins south of Columbus.Check it out on the GA State Parks website-it's often refered to as GA's Little Grand Canyon....#4 Savannah a great walking city #5 I'd pick Okefenokee Swamp,again look them up on NPS.gov-it's a National Park of course.....I left out a lot.Picking 5 is tough...3 weeks to see the south gives you plenty of time but watch the $$$$ motels are not cheap,even the 1 and 2 star rated one in the south.Have fun!
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Old Jan 21st, 2016, 08:44 AM
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Thanks everyone for all the help and suggestions. I will post my final itinerary later this week
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