North Carolina/Virginia Road Trip

Old Nov 5th, 2004, 12:30 AM
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North Carolina/Virginia Road Trip

My sister and I are planning on taking a road trip late summer/early fall '05 thru North Carolina and Virginia. We'll be renting a car and plan to start at the Skyline Drive through to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and then east across to Wilmingon, NC. From there we'll head north along the coast and end up in WA, DC for sightseeing. We'll be travelling 1-2 months and staying mostly in campgrounds. We'd like to spend most of our time in the mountains of North Carolina particularly.
Any suggestions on where to stop/get off along the Blue Ridge Parkway? Places with alot going on, fun stuff to do outdoors, alot of locals or vacationers hanging out...any state fairs/events that we shouldn't miss?
What beach town would be best to stop in? Which beach campgrounds are best? We prefer popular campgrounds with lots of happy families!
Which roads should we take across southern NC? I'd like to stay away from big cities and highways and try and find less travelled roads/towns.
I'm hoping someday to relocate down south and am looking forward to this trip immensely.
Thanks y'all for the help!
ChelsieRandolph is offline  
Old Nov 5th, 2004, 01:39 AM
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Hey, I apologize. After I posted this I did a search and found tons on info on the Blue Ridge Parkway and NC. Hurray for all you southerners! I didn't think anyone travelled there, it's been soo hard to find travel books or forums on the south! Since most of my original q's are answered, I'll get more specific.
I told you I'm hoping to relocate to the south, so what towns do you recommend I check out? I'm looking for small town, almost rural, Christian, friendly, old fashioned American. Towns with some youth would be nice...I also am still wondering what campgrounds are best to stay at...youthful, hopping, family oriented, friendly...along the Blue Ridge Parkway and also the coast...
On the subject of southern food and restaraunts, I've been to Mrs. Wilkes Res't in Savannah and never spent a more enjoyable meal among strangers! I loved the family/homey atmosphere and the opportunity to meet people from all over...and the food!! Is there anywhere like that in the mtns?
I'd still like some advice on the best roads across sthrn NC, we don't mind wasting time, meandering...anywhere to camp/stay cheap along the way? Any towns we shouldn't miss?
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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 04:15 AM
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Chelsie, I am no help to you on campgrounds, but here are a couple of worth your time towns along the way in no particular order:
Flat Rock, NC
Staunton, VA
Fries, VA ( rent a bike and take a ride on the New River Trail)
Mt. Airy, NC (camp at the Pilot Mountain State Park campgrounds-reserve ahead and have lunch at the Snappy Lunch, just like Andy Griffith)
Asheville, NC
Seagrove, NC
Maggie Valley, NC
Hendersonville, NC
Beaufort, NC
Hammock Beach, NC
Southport, NC
I do have to offer the disclaimer that the beaches in NC during summer are likely to be very busy . My favorite time to visit them is October.

My best suggestion is to let your interests guide you, don't over plan and use campgrounds as a base to explore. The state parks are wonderful in both states but they do fill up fast.

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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 06:26 AM
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I will add:

Lexington, VA - small, attractive college town with lots of history

Brevard, NC - lots of beautiful waterfalls near this nice little town

Edenton, NC - haven't been there in a few years, but it is a small little, mostly residential, historic town

There are lots of local fairs going on during the late summer/early fall. Here is a link -
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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 06:27 AM
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Well, that was nice proofing - small and little are just slightly redundant.
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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 06:30 AM
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The first town that came to my mind was Brevard, N.C. It seems very "Mayberry-esque" to me. It is the closest town to the main entrance to Pisgah National Forest, where you will find camping at the Davidson River Campground, plus some primitive camping elsewhere in the forest.

Flat Rock/Hendersonville is close by, but has more of a wealthy-retiree vibe to me than a small-town-American vibe. Could be just my perceptions though.

Ashveville is a great small city, and is where I'm considering retirement (it's only 45 min from my current home) but it's very, very liberal/new age...that part irritates me but the beauty and the restaurants overrides that for me.

Black Mountain is another town you might enjoy. There are some Christian youth retreats in the area, I'm not sure about camping possibilities. It's east of Asheville on I-40.

There is also tent camping w. a bathhouse at Tsali in far western NC, near Bryson City. It sits on Lake Fontana right on the edge of the Smokey Mtn. Park. It's maybe 30 minutes west of where the Parkway crosses 19/23 near Waynesville, NC. There are usually lots of young people (and old) hanging out at Tsali because it's a huge Mountain bike destination w/ 50? miles of trails.

If I'm on the track of the kind of info you want, let me know, I'll try to be more specific.
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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 06:56 AM
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Chelsie, There are a series of books published by a company called John F. Blair which specialize in travel, culture, literature, and folklore of the southeastern US. Things like "Touring the Backroads of NC's Upper Coast." There's one for the lower coast and the mountain regions as well.
There's even one titled "Small Town Restaurants in Virginia." I find them a bit too folksy, but they are rich in the kind of information you are looking for.

Good luck planning your trip.
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Old Nov 5th, 2004, 08:03 AM
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I would veer off the Blue Ridge Parkway path for a couple days and see Charlottesville, if you have not seen it before. It's only about an hour or so away from the Parkway. I find the rolling hills and horse farms around western Charlottesville/Crozet to be much more beautiful than the Parkway (as there are so many trees in the Parkway).

In NC, I'd make sure to catch Asheville and the Biltmore Estate, Chapel Hill (I'm partial, and the campus is lovely), and some Eastern NC bar-be-cue (if you do an internet search, you will be sure to find a reknowned BBQ place on your path - be advised Western NC and Eastern NC are very different BBQ's!). Southport/Oak Island are lovely, as is the rest of the coast. Of course, hit Hatteras, but make sure to get inland to the areas on the Sounds - like Bath or Edenton.
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Old Nov 9th, 2004, 09:39 PM
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Thank you all for your advice! Litespeed Chick, I appreciate your personal feelings on certain towns, I understand what you mean completely, your info was really helpful. Thanks especially for your confirmation that Asheville is new age/liberal...I'll make my visit brief! Thanks for your feelings on Brevard and Black Mountain, I think I'd like them. That campground in Tsali sounds like something we'd like also, I'll be sure to check into it!
Thank you, Dan Woodlief for the link to state fairs etc!
I'll definitely be checking out some of the towns you all mentioned...thanks so much! Edenton, Lexington and Brevard sound particularly interesting. We do plan on visting the Charlottesville/Staunton area, I've been there once before and loved it and the people! It sounds like the countryside there is beautiful too. And thanks for the advice not to overplan! I'm working on a loose timeline now, but do plan to remain very open and flexible.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 10:21 AM
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Chelsie, I've read some of the other postings and here is my contribution from an Asheville-ian. Towns along the BRPkwy that are worth a visit...Blowing Rock, Black Mountain, Waynesville and of course Asheville. Yes, it is a bit more liberal but it's not annoyingly so and there is so much to see and do here that it would be a shame to give it short shrift or pass it by altogether.
-Folk Art Center on the Parkway
-Grove Park Inn
-Biltmore Estate & Winery
-antiques shops
-galleries downtown
-Mast General Store
-tons of great restaurants
I like Waynesville better than Hendersonville. It is actually closer to the Parkway, has a lake (Junaluska) which H-ville does not, has a nice downtown and is at a slightly higher elevation, closer to Smoky Mtns
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 10:54 AM
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I second (or third or fourth) Edenton. Try to visit Somerset Plantation, a short drive away. Extremely interesting, and when we were there, late August a few years ago and boy was it hot, we were the only people there.

I preferred Ocracoke to Hatteras. But I'm no expert, I just thought it was a bit more charming.

There's a web site called, which I believed we used for our driving tour of NC. You can pick drives within various states.

Have fun.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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I have camped several times in Shenandoah (along Skyline drive). My favorite campgroud there is Loft Mountain towards the southern end of the drive. It is a large campground, situated on the top of a mountain and the sites around the outer loop have incredible views.

We also camped along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Otter Creek. It was a beautiful campround with several sites within ear shot of a creek.

Both of these campgrounds have nice campstores to buy supplies.

Hope this helps.
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Old Nov 10th, 2004, 11:27 AM
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I grew up in Roanoke, Va which is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and I wish I could move back. It's a beautiful area, great city but not expensive by any means with wonderful restaurants of all nationalities. I can't say enough wonderful things about Roanoke.
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Old Dec 29th, 2004, 10:42 PM
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Hello! I went to college in North Carolina, and miss it quite a bit. Though from the sound of it, Chapel Hill (where I went) probably wouldn't appeal to you!

That being said, because someone mentioned "Mayberry," I suggest that you check out Mt. Airy, the town in which Andy Griffith grew up. Much of Mayberry is based on this town. It is very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and would certainly give you your "old-fashioned American" feeling.

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Old Jan 15th, 2005, 03:53 AM
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Chelsie, did you decide on your itinerary?
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Old Mar 3rd, 2005, 10:51 PM
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The only campground I can personally comment on is the Carolina Beach State Park, just below Wilmington. I've stayed there too many times to count and LOVE it! It's family friendly, has a central showerhouse that's usually fairly clean, and we've never had any problems there. It's on the Cape Fear River and has lots of trails to explore. The beach is maybe a 5 minute drive away, but you have to be back in by 10 when the gate locks. However, you can still go down to the marina on the river and fish all night if you want. Last year the sites were $15/night. Can't beat it!
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Old Jun 18th, 2005, 04:32 AM
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I don't know about small towns in the area, but if you're interested in the history of the south, there's a Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond that is very interesting, and filled with artifacts.

While you're in the area, some of the best BBQ I've had is at King's restaurant in Petersburg, about 1/2 hour south of Richmond.
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Old Jun 18th, 2005, 05:30 AM
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I haven't read all the posts but at the foot of Black Mountain there is a lovely campground. a stop at Penlands nearby would be very interesting--an historic art and craft school with many artisans in the area. Also Mt Mitchell State Park--have to walk in a little way to the sites. All the Parkway campgrounds are VERY nice and well kept.
Brevard is famous also for its music camp. I think you may be too late for it.
I suggest you get the book (at the library hopefully) Southern Belly by John T. Edge. It documents REAL old style restaurants all through the South--while the Savannah restaurant may be cute, these are real. On your way to the coast do NOT miss eating some true NC BBQ, preferably in Goldsboro, NC.
The road less travelled across central NC might be highway 49. One town you might enjoy visiting is Sea Grove, near Ashboro--right in the center of NC. It is the seat of pottery in the South. There are probably 80-100 potteries in that area, several dating from the 1700's.
Beaches--maybe Holden, Ocean Isle, Sunset just a bit south of Wilmington. I don't know about camping--I swore off beach camping a LONG time ago.
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 05:39 AM
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Luray Caverns and Natural Bridge are not far from the areas suggested already along the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway part of your expedition. Both are wonderful geological spectacles. Happy Trails!
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Old Jun 20th, 2005, 05:53 AM
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Are these advices convenient for late Fall (I planned to do the same trip aftre Nov 11)?
Alain (Paris, France)
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