I-40 all the way.
Wow! Mapquest has you going through Columbia, S.C.
Now, I'm not so sure!Edited: 14 July 2012, 17:17
If you take the route through Raleigh/Durham, you could stop in Salem to visit Old Salem (Moravian settlement), if that kind of thing interests you. If you like art, the North Carolina Art Museum outside Raleigh is great. Another option is the Duke University Chapel. Lots of other options - it depends on what you like.
When you get to I 95 on your way to Asheville go N a few miles to Lumberton. Get off I 95 at Exit 20 in Lumberton, NC to the right then turn NW on Highway 201 which is N Roberts Ave. and go about half a mile to Fuller's BBQ for good road food. Or get off at Exit 22 and go to Nelson’s for good BBQ. I think Nelson’s is the best.
Fuller's Old Fashion BBQ @ 3201 N Roberts Ave., Lumberton, NC. 910 - 738 - 8694.
Nelson’s BBQ @ 4880 Kahn Drive Lumberton, NC 910 - 739 - 3350.
Stop in at the neat town of Black Mountain, NC which is 15 miles E of Asheville and enjoy the neat shops and restaurants.
I don't know about 40, that was my initial thought, too, but looking at google maps it shows the 74 route via Charlotte and Gastonia might actually be a little bit quicker. I'm not sure though. You'd probably hit more traffic lights that way.
Jbav, what are your interests?
There's not a lot on 74 btwn Wilmington and Charlotte. It's pretty classic small town North Carolina. A few traffic lights, maybe a barbecue joint or two, but a lot of piney woods and tobacco and cotton fields.
Charlotte has some interesting museums and is big on NASCAR if that appeals to you. Plenty of good restaurants.
If you're a golf buff you might want to swing by Pinehurst, home to many golf tournaments.
it just depends on your interests.
If I was just trying to make good time and get there quickly, I'd be inclined to go I-40 because it's a straight shot, no stops, and a higher speed limit.
Thanks for the replies so far. As for our interests, we are not into golf. We like the history of the area and pretty landscapes. I thought Charlotte might be just an ordinary suburban town to be avoided.
The Moravian settlement could be interesting. I didn't know about that.
The BBQs sound interesting, are they typical of NC? Are they just by the roadside for anyone to turn up? Sorry if I sound ignorant but I dont know much about the Carolinas apart from Civil War stuff. That is why we want to visit and we want to pack as much in our 3 weeks as poss.
We do like eating and drinking. Aren't there wineries in this area?
Thanks for all your help so far. I really appreciate it
There are wineries in NC - check out www.visitncwine.com I think more of them will be closer to the I40 route. As for BBQ, you will be able to eat it at many roadside restaurants where it is a specialty. It is very typical of NC. In fact, there is a raging debate about what type of BBQ is better - Eastern or Lexington style (based on the whether the meat is a whole pig or a shoulder, among other things). It is all delicious!
Thanks, the BBQs sound fascinating. We will definitely try them! We dont have things like that in England.......maybe because of our weather!
Just to add a bit to the prior comments...It seems the I-40 route would align more closely with your interests. I think your impression of Charlotte is accurate at some level. It's a nice city, and there are fun things to do there, but it's not so much a unique tourist destination as compared to other areas of the state. And due to the traffic it may actually take longer than the I-40 route. So unless you have a specific reason to go there (like the Nascar museum or Carowinds), I'd suggest avoiding Charlotte.
You didn't say how long you plan to take or how many stops you'd like to make or how much time you have, so I'll just throw out a few things out there:
For a very good example of NC eastern style barbecue, stop at Allen & Son just off I-40 at Chapel Hill. Nothing fancy--just great barbecue. And yes, everyone is welcome--just walk in and seat yourself.
Agree with ncpat's recommendation above for Old Salem in Winston-Salem--it is definitely worth a stop since you're interested in history. You can spend a few hours there taking the tours if you want, or you can just take 30 minutes or so to stretch your legs and walk around the settlement. Be sure to visit Winkler's Bakery for some mouthwatering treats!
Westbend Winery is located just a few miles off of I-40, just west of Winston-Salem. It's probably the best all-around winery within a reasonable distance of I-40. If you are more interested, you might want to make a longer detour up US 421 to visit more of the Yadkin Valley wineries--Raffaldini, Stony Knoll, and Flint Hill all get high marks, and there are a number of others in the area as well. You might even choose to make a day of it and stay in a bed & breakfast nearby.
Google the above for details and directions. Good luck!Edited: 16 July 2012, 13:33
To clarify, BBQ in NC is basically pulled, smoked pork, but there's quite a debate on the best way to prepare it and the sauces. A bbq joint is just a restaurant that serves bbq. In NC, "barbecue" is a noun. We have "cook-outs" in the backyard when people in other parts of the US have "barbecues". And barbecue in NC is ALWAYS pork unless otherwise specified. You can get bbq chicken, but it will say chicken. If it says just BBQ/barbecue/bar-b-cue/barbeque then that is always pork. In Texas they serve beef barbecue, but you won't usually find that in NC. Check out www.ncbbq.com/Modules/Articles/article.aspx…
As far as pretty landscapes in NC, the beaches and the mountains are the prime tourist areas. The mountains are beautiful and the beaches are beautiful. The nicest areas in between are best described as pleasant. There's not really a wow factor for anywhere in between the mountains in between. There are a lot of suburban towns. If you're looking for a place to stretch your legs or lay your head there are nice places to stop, but I wouldn't characterize anywhere in the middle of the state as a big tourist destination. Lots of nice places though, just not as much wow as far as pretty landscapes.
Doh, my proofreading skillz are slipping. That should be:
"There's not really a wow factor for anywhere in between the mountains and the beaches."