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Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

Chicago, Illinois
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Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

I am planning a summer vacation for my family to North Carolina. We would like to spend some time in the GSMNP area, Ashville, Durham and ultimately the Outer Banks. Flying to/from looks to be a bit complicated so I am considering turning this into a road trip since we will already be doing a fair amount of driving within North Carolina anyway. I would appreciate any tips on best routes and stopping points from Chicago to Ashville/GSMNP and then for the return from the Outer Banks. We will have approximately 8 days for the trip. Thanks!

NC
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1. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

I would suggest looking into renting a cabin while in the mountains. They really help give you that mountain feel while visiting. Do you already have ideas for Asheville? I always recommend the Biltmore House. Definitely something to see.

There's really nothing in Durham, so I'm curious to know if you already have plans for there (maybe visiting family?). I can't really thing of anything to do there for a tourist.....

Have you already made reservations for the Outer Banks? Places fill up very quickly there in the summer, so I would suggest you try and make reservations as soon as possible for the best selection.

As far as routes, are you looking for the faster route or a slower, more scenic route?

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

Thanks much for the suggestions! I will definitely look into the cabin idea. As for Durham, the purpose there will be college visits for one of my kids, so we will literally just be passing through. Going to look into VRBO for the Outer Banks I think.

As far as the routes, I would say the scenic route on the way down and the fastest route on the way back. Trying to get an idea of a good overnight stopping point in both directions if we don't feel like driving all the way through.

Edited: 25 April 2014, 03:59
Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

We love the area in the GSMNP around Townsend, TN. It has small hotels and cabins and some nice restaurants but is not crowded with amusement parks like the Pigeon Forge area. You can go tubing on the Little River, do some hiking and drive the Cades Cove loop road for loads of history, scenery and wildlife.

My avatar of the bears is from the area last July.

Cleveland
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4. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

Dayton, with its aviation history attractions, would be about halfway between Chicago and Townsend, about a 10-hour drive without stops in total.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60785-c185858/Dayton…

Cleveland
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5. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

If you want to return on I-80, attractions might include the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Antietam/Harpers Ferry, Donegal, Ohio Amish Country, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, and Cleveland attractions.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g50207-s407/Cleveland…

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g50207-c198218/Clevel…

Chapel Hill, North...
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6. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

Durham is a GREAT town! It's foodie-heaven and full of creative endeavors, great music, great beer, great theater, museums. There is definitely plenty to do in Durham. It is not situated in the most scenic area of the state (neither mountains, nor beaches), but it's very pleasant scenery. nytimes.com/2013/…36-hours-in-durham-nc.html

While in Durham (for Duke, I presume), as you take your tour of campus, be sure to see Duke Chapel and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Afterwards you can head to any number of fantastic restaurants. TA has pretty good reviews, but some of the top ones I know of include, Revolution, Watts Grocery, Parker & Otis, Dame's Chicken & Waffles, Nana's, Nanataco, Q Shack, Guglhupf, Tylers at American Tobacco Campus (great place for a bite, and free concerts Thurs nights). Duke Gardens also has music in the summer.

The Nasher is an excellent art museum. MotorCo and the Casbah have music, as does Beyu Cafe (also good eats). The Durham Performing Arts Center has touring Broadway shows and other concerts and shows. The Durham Bulls (AAA minor league) are always a fun night out.

Many vacation homes rent by the week at the Outer Banks, but you should be able to snag a hotel room, but I wouldn't be surprised if they required a multi-night stay. Do make reservations in advance!

I would recommend Asheville or Boone/Blowing Rock (a little closer to the Triangle — Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill).

Post your NC questions in the NC forum and you'll get more responses on what to do in the Old North State.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

Thanks PeachBelle! I will look into that area. I also read about Townsend in a guide book and it appears to be a nice base for exploring the GSMNP area!

Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

Thanks all for your suggestions! And I will definitely make a post to the NC Forum as advised!

9. Re: Road trip.....Chicago to North Carolina

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