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3 Week Roadtrip Starting in Nashville - Where to Go?!

3 Week Roadtrip Starting in Nashville - Where to Go?!

May 9th, 2013, 08:38 PM
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3 Week Roadtrip Starting in Nashville - Where to Go?!

Hey All,

I am in the beginning stages of planning a three week road trip out of Nashville (I'll be flying in). I have tons (too many) places I want to see...wondering if what cities/towns are MUST SEE'S? Should I rent a car or take the bus (or a combo of both)? Thinking of ending up in Washington, DC...

allie_mac is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 03:22 AM
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NO to the bus.
Where are you coming from. What are you interested in. Why starting in Nashville. Are you flying out of Washington then?
Gretchen is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 07:29 AM
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I was thinking of starting in Nashville as it would be easy to fly in to (I am flying from Vancouver, Canada) and I love country music so am really excited to see Nashville...but really I could start from anywhere. I was thinking of flying out of DC so that I don't have to loop back to my starting point....but that might be hard with a rental car...any suggestions as to where to start/end? Thanks!
allie_mac is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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I'd think that it would be easier to fly to Chicago (either airport) and then take the train to Memphis and then drive to Nashville if you really want to see it. Drive back to Memphis when you are done seeing Tennessee. Take the train (City of New Orleans) onward to New Orleans and spend at least one night there and then take the Amtrak Crescent from New Orleans to Washington. You could also fly home from Atlanta.
This avoids dropping a car in a place other than where you rented.
tomfuller is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Great tips! I wasn't thinking of going to New Orleans this time....my "bucket list" for this trip is:

Hilton Head
Virgina Beach
Washington DC

I doubt I will get to see all those places (and that's okay)...I am starting to figure out what I might get to see...

What about starting out in Atlanta? Renting a car, doing that area, ending in Nashville then taking the bus to Richmond and doing that chunk?
allie_mac is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 11:43 AM
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Why Virgina Beach? Just a desire to go to the beach--cool. Otherwise, not sure the appeal.

You love country music? How about Blue Grass or Old Time? If so, you might enjoy stopping in Floyd, VA. Check out:

As a Canadian do you have much interest in the history of the USA? If so, Charlottesville is great, otherwise, another area of VA might be of greater interest. Have you looked at the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive yet?

Please tell us a little more about your interests so we can make more suggestions.
schlegal1 is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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You've got 'way too much goin' on.
I might suggest Charlotte as a loop starting and ending.
It is possible that Nashville is the outlier.
Believe me, you do not want to take a bus any time anywhere.
Atlanta is not as attractive for this as other.
You can do better with other beaches than Virginia Beach.
I'd suggest a loop of Charlotte, Charleston, coastal areas, up to Virginia, Williamsburg, Washington DC and back to Charlotte.
Raleigh--not so much. Richmond, maybe.
Why are you interested in Birmingham and Montgomery, because that might indicate an interest in the civil rights movement/monuments.
Gretchen is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions!

I am a 26 year old English teacher. I loved to travel and have lived abroad in Europe. I have always wanted road-trip the US but only have three weeks this Summer so I figured I would start with the South and then maybe do another part next year!

I am interested in the History and am interested in seeing civil rights museums / monuments. I am not, however, a history buff (by any means). I am not super into night-life. I like the idea of going to a beach-town (for one stop) but won't be heart-broken if I don't...Nashville is a must because I am a huge country music fan. Otherwise, I am fairly open. I read a lot of blogs, so some places I have heard of and seem interesting (i.e. Charlotesville).

Can I see "enough" civil rights museums, etc. in Atlanta and skip Birmingham/Montgomery?

I have never been...so I really am starting from scratch! I have picked up a few books that I am making my way through but any suggestions would be appreciated! THANKS!
allie_mac is offline  
May 10th, 2013, 05:36 PM
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much more in Montgomery and Birminigham for civil rights.
Gretchen is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 08:42 AM
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Allie, I responded on another thread and suggested one loop. Now I've read this thread and see what you want to see in DC and VA. Now that I know you have 3 weeks I'll say you can easily do that.

I'd say "no" to Memphis because it's such a long (boring) drive out to there and back.

I'd say "probably not" to Birmingham and Montgomery.

One option would be to start in Nashville and head east on your loop. That way, near the end of the trip you can make the decision that IF you have time/extra days you can add in those two (or three) cities. I've driven all of your route and my guess is that you'll decide not to. But one never knows.

Add in Appomatox in your VA part of your trip.
starrs is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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Birmingham/Montgomery could be a 2 day/1 night add-on from Atlanta if you want.
starrs is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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I might do something like this, based on your bucket list and interests:

Nashville - 2-3 full days
Birmingham - 1-2 full days
Montgomery - 1 full day
Savannah - 2-3 full days
Charleston - 3-4 full days
Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill - 2 full days
Richmond - 1 full day
Washington DC - 3-4 full days (probably don't need a car here)

There's a lot of driving in there, but it is a road trip. The busses are only an option if you really, really need to; the schedules in the American South are infrequent, the depots are often not in great parts of town, and it's just a slow way to go to be tied to someone else's schedule. Plus public transportation in the South is, generally speaking, not great, so you'll want a car in most of these cities anyway. You could do a day or two in Savannah without a car, same in Charleston or Nashville, but I wouldn't want to be in Raleigh/Durham without one.

I have no idea why you'd fly to Chicago just to keep going to the South. We have airports here. I've taken Air Canada from Nashville to Vancouver via Toronto; there are other possibilities as well. The main cost that I'd look into is a one-way dropoff fee for the rental car.
jent103 is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 11:51 AM
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Pretty attractive itinerary, that. I wouldn't do that much in Birmingham. The combo of Raleigh/Chapel Hill/Durham is a good one.
If you take off the Birmingham it gives the driving day to get to Charleston/Savannah. I could cut one day off of Savannah also to add to the need for drive time.
And the "problem" is it isn't a loop so the drop off maybe prohibitive,as well as needing an open jaw flight plan.
However, if the drop off is prohibitive, you could just head out for Nashville for the return.
Gretchen is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 12:00 PM
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I agree. The drop off charges could be killer while a loop can take you to very different types of places to see. With three weeks you can easily do a loop.
starrs is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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Hi All,

Thanks for all the suggestions! Sorry about the confusion with the different threads...I have not used this forum very much and didn't really realize I could post about a bunch of different things in one thread! My bad. I will just use this thread now!

I want to see Washington, DC because I have always wanted to see the capital/White House, etc. Maybe it should wait for another trip? Though I thought I could see Richmond and that area with it.

I love the idea of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill - thanks for that suggestion!

Starrs - What is awesome about Asheville/Jekyll Island/Madison/Appomatox? I hadn't considered those places yet!

If I want to see a beach town which one should I see? (I would prefer a smaller/quieter town).

Here's where I am (sort of) at right now...Still haven't decided which way I want the loop to go, or where I want to start from. I am leaning towards Charlotte though. Thanks for all the suggestions about car rentals - I will definitely be renting one and I will plan on looping back and flying out of one city.

Atlanta - maybe
Hilton Head - or a different beach area
Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill
Charlottesville (can I do a day trip here?)
Washington DC

allie_mac is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 02:04 PM
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I think Washington is one of the most undervalued capitals in the world. It IS world class. You should not miss it by any means--whether this trip--or another.
Atlanta is a real driveby--it is just a big city and gridlock is its name.
Choose a beach--Charleston has wonderful beaches. jekyl Island also, but also a little off your "beaten track".
NOT Hilton Head--please. It is a housing development built on a beach island. Sterile. NO soul.
As you head north from Charleston driving you could even go to Pawley's Island and spend a night ON the beach at the LItchfield Inn. Get the real soul of the southeast coast beach which is NOT Hilton Head.
You could go from the Triangle area to Charlottesville and then to DC and bypass Richmond, if you need to.
Gretchen is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 02:30 PM
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"Atlanta is a real driveby--it is just a big city and gridlock is its name"

I completely disagree with this, especially considering the OP's interests in civil rights and museums.
starrs is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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Maybe. But also an interest in "southern culture". I think Atlanta has paved over a lot of that. You pays your money and you takes your choice. If she can pass through on the way to Charleston on one of these scenarios, fine. But it will be a search mission in my opinion.
Gretchen is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 05:33 PM
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She isn't interested in museums, by the way. ;o)
Gretchen is offline  
May 11th, 2013, 05:50 PM
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I understand that you don't like Atlanta.

But to say that finding museums and things to do with the civil rights movement is a "search mission" is a bit dramatic - and grossly incorrect.

I may think that Charlotte/Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill are all "real drivebys", but I don't think it's my place to say that on a travel forum. But since you are recommending the OP skip Atlanta because it's that and gridlock, perhaps you can recommend the museum/civil rights options in those four NC cities.

I was going to recommend the Wyeth collection in Greenville, SC (depending on the way her routing develops) but I am at a loss as to the museum/civil rights attractions in those four NC cities. I'm here to learn though so look forward to learning via your recommendations.

Allie, here's a link to a small museum (easy to see) with a stellar Wyeth collection -

Among the country’s premiere regional American art museums, the Greenville County Museum of Art draws visitors from around the world to see installations of work by two of the nation’s greatest artists, Andrew Wyeth and Jasper Johns.

Andrew Wyeth: The Greenville Collection is now the largest
and the most complete collection of Andrew Wyeth's watercolors owned by any public museum in the world. Discover this magnificent collection of works by America’s iconic watercolor master. Highlights include Four Poster and Dusk.

Allie, the finest museum in the southeast (or at least considered by most to be) is the High Museum of Art. They have special exhibitions (Frieda and Diego is closing this weekend and it was superb) - and among their standing exhibitions is a powerful collection of Civil Rights photography

If you are at all interested, the home of Margaret Mitchell who wrote Gone with the Wind is now a small museum a few blocks away.

Obviously, the main draw for you on your trip could be the MLK Center -
along with his memorial in Washington, DC. I went last month to DC and his memorial is powerful - as is FDR's adjacent to it. The combination of those two memorials to two amazing men is almost worth the drive to DC alone.

It is not difficult to navigate Atlanta and the King Center (and the High Museum) are very easy to find.

It may be a somewhat strange suggestion to take a tour of a cemetery, but Oakland was built during Victorian times and was built to be a public space/park. The cemetery itself is lovely and has spectacular views of the Atlanta skyline. There are guided tours by wonderful docents, and depending on the dates of your visit you may be there during one of their special themed tours -

Those tours include African American History at Oakland, Dying in Nineteenth Century Atlanta, Oakland and the Civil War, Jewish Grounds of Oakland, Victorian Symbolism at Oakland, Margaret Mitchell and Gone With the Wind, and The Women of Oakland. I highly recommend the tours at Oakland.

There are several restaurants adjacent to the park/cemetery including a favorite "Six Feet Under".

If you are looking for a glimpse of the old South, perhaps the best option in Atlanta would be the Atlanta History Center - http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/
We invite you to visit the Atlanta History Center, located on 33 acres in the heart of Buckhead. The History Center includes one of the Southeast’s largest history museums; two historic houses including Swan House and Smith Family Farm; Centennial Olympic Games Museum; historic gardens; and Kenan Research Center including the Cherokee Garden Library. The History Center also includes the Margaret Mitchell House, located at our midtown campus.

It is not antebellum, but I think you would really enjoy the Swan House - http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/...House/116.html

If you like walking tours, the Atlanta Preservation Tours conduct wonderful (and inexpensive) walking tours of Atlanta neighborhoods and the fabulous Fox Theater in Midtown (close to the Margaret Mitchell house and the High museum)

One last idea that combines a bit of history with fun and walking/hiking is Stone Mountain park on the east side of Atlanta -

Atlanta does have rush hour traffic as does most cities, but if you avoid getting on the interstate during rush hour, the city is very navigable. Skipping Atlanta because it's a city with traffic makes as much sense as skipping Washington, DC (and believe me, I didn't enjoy sitting in 30 minutes of traffic last month in DC. But the trip to and from DC was wonderful - as your trip will be.
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