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~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

New York City, New...
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~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

Hi all! My boyfriend and I are planning a ~3 week long road trip in the South this summer. We're flying down to Chapel Hill and taking a car from there (we're starting in Chapel Hill because I have family there who are willing to lend us their car). We have 20 days altogether, and are a bit overwhelmed. We want to see a lot of places, but we also don't want to overload our schedule. How far Southwest do you think is reasonable? My boyfriend grew up in the South but has never really traveled Southwest, so if we could make it into the New Mexico area that would be awesome. But we also realize that might be too far. We were thinking of doing a loop, so going as far South and West as possible and then heading back to Chapel Hill a little more North (i.e. going through Kentucky).

Things we want to do/see:

- Beautiful countryside number 1--we want to hike, a beach is also always great, maybe even camping

- Good food

- Maybe horseback riding? And other outdoorsy activities...

- Visit culturally vibrant cities (New Orleans etc.)

I've heard that since we're going to be in Chapel Hill, Asheville is a must. I'm also thinking we should hit up Savannah and New Orleans? If we do make it as far West as New Mexico (assuming we went through New Orleans first) how should we navigate Texas (i.e. what cities are worth making a detour to visit)? Is it unrealistic to think we could get that far West though?

Any thoughts would be appreciated. We're planning on nailing down some accommodation reservations, and then figuring it out other times.

Just some more info:

- We're in our mid-20s

- Budget: about 2700 for road trip (including gas, lodging, food, misc.)

- Willing to drive long periods of time (and also at night) but more interested in substantive stays and the ability to stray from itinerary/go off the beaten path

Thank you so much!

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1. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

Follow up: assuming we're stopping over in Savannah, what are the most recommended beach-y places to go to along the North/South Carolina coast?

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2. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

With three weeks and all you want to see in the south I do not see how you can do it all and include Texas and New Mexico. You will have to decide if you want to see more of the south or if you want to see New Mexico. It takes us almost two days to drive across Texas but we are driving on I 10.

Now if you want to forget the south and head straight to Asheville then across the Great Smoky mountains of TN/NC and then head out I 40 you can travel to Memphis- Little Rock- OKC- and on to Albuquerque/Santa Fe. This will be a minimum of three 10-12 hour driving days. You could come back to NC on I 10 and visit San Antonio and New Orleans.

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3. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

Beachy places-

Myrtle Beach in SC and Wrightsville and Carolina Beach in NC. Myrtle Beach is very touristy imo but a lot of people love to visit.

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4. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

You're in your 20s. You can certainly do the SW if you want to drive long days. I went to California from Chapel Hill multiple times in my 20s and didn't take 3 weeks. I think I did a round trip over 2 weeks in January and drove cross country in about 5 days multiple other times. I wouldn't do it now, but it was fun then.

PeachBelle is right that Savannah is not going to be too much on your way, but you could probably squeeze it in there if you really want to. Let's see...one time I did Mobile AL, to New Orleans, to TX (don't remember where, but I know I went through Pecos) to Phoenix (maybe through Albuqurque or Santa Fe — I've been to both) to LA.

Another time I did I-40. Asheville is a great town and is worth a stop, but it won't get you too far on your first day. You'll probably also want to spend a little time in Nashville and Memphis, but you might want to pick one for an overnight. When we did 40 we got as far as Knoxville the first night, drove on through Nashville and onto Memphis for the second night. Went through Oklahoma City, Tucumcari NM, Flagstaff AZ (Grand Canyon), and Los Angeles. Hung out in LA with friends for about 4 or 5 days and then turned around and drove back. Zoom! If you go at that pace you really don't have much time at all to explore along the way. It's a lot of looking out car windows and then relaxing/exploring when you get to your destination

If you want to do some of the SW I'd pick out the main areas you want to see and get out there quickly and then take your time coming back and seeing the sights.

You can do it, but you just have to prioritize. You can't possibly see every scenic thing there is to see between Chapel Hill and New Mexico and get there and back in 3 weeks, but you can get on out there and spend some quality time exploring your main destinations.

Is there a particular place in New Mexico you had in mind? Santa Fe springs to mind for me, but you might also want to bust on over to the Grand Canyon (what's another 7-8 hrs?).

For beaches on the way back you've got all the Gulf Coast beaches as well as Tybee Island at Savannah, Folly Beach at Charleston (along with many others), not to mention the 350 miles of NC coast line.

Edited: 08 July 2014, 04:28
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5. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

If you have family in chapel hill you could hold off seeing savannah and charleston for another trip.

2 days drive to ALabama/ Florida coast

2 days at coast

3 days new Orleans

1 day drve

4 days San Antonio/Austin

1 day drive toward NM

3 days ABQ/Santa Fe

4 long driving days back to chapel hill along I-40 ( nights in Oklahoma city, Memphis, Nashville)

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6. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

Hello all!

Thank you so much! Very helpful. Yes, I think right now we want to do too many things at once and just have to figure out whether seeing the South West or having a leisurely time in the South is more important. I just want to make sure that whatever we're doing we're not just spending all our time in major cities, as we're from NYC and I'm really excited about being in beautiful landscape.

But all these answers give lots of food for thought!

7. Re: ~3 week road trip starting and ending in Chapel Hill, NC

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