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Dec 6, 2007 11:36 PM

Help with SouthEast US Road Trip (VA NC SC GA) [moved from Not about Food board]

I’m looking for help in planning a road trip to the South East from New York City with my girlfriend, between December 21 and 29 roundtrip. Yes, I know that we’ll be travelling during an off-season week when many things will likely be closed.

We’d like to keep things cheap. Above all, we love food and will be seeking the best local grub around (that we don't get up in NY). In addition to restaurants, I’d love recommendations for other food-related sites, such as distilleries, old school grain mills, unique farmers markets, dairy farms, and whatever other exceptional food-related sources exist in the area. We also appreciate all other facets of culture as well as nature and scenic back roads (though we’re driving an old Hyundai Elantra, so no bad unpaved paths…I’ve learned my lesson), so any other suggestions on interesting things would be great.

We’re also looking for recommendations for cheap lodgings along the way; but if they’ve got a little bit more character than a Motel 6, that would be awesome. Since we’ll be doing a lot of driving, there’s no real need to sleep within big towns/cities if something better (and cheaper) is a bit outside. We’re also open to camping if it won’t be too cold.

The trip, so far, is fairly flexible. The only seemingly set dates would be Dec 24 and 25 in Atlanta, only because I expect most other places to be mostly shut down then. The first day, we will probably go via Pennsylvania to I-81 and make it as far as Roanoke/Lynchburg VA area to settle for the night. The next day or two, we’ll probably hang around Greensboro/Winston-Salem/Charlotte area. I’ve mainly settled on this area because of the reputed BBQ. Then it’s off to ATL, either through Columbia SC (worth visiting?), Greenville SC or some back roads. Is Athens GA worth a stop along the way?

After a couple of days in Atlanta (any neighborhoods that are more likely to lively on the 24th/25th?), it’s off to Savannah GA along I-75/I-16 for a day or so. Then we’re thinking of taking the coastal road to Charleston SC, Myrtle Beach and Wilmington NC before heading to Raleigh/Durham for the night and more BBQ.

I have no idea where to go on the way up through Virginia. Is Richmond worth a stop, or is it better to hit Virginia Beach (and Smithfield for ham)?

This is just a rough sketch. We’ve never been to this area before so we’re open to changing things around quite a bit and would love all your suggestions. I will make sure to report back in detail.


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  1. The problem with Smithfield is that it's not easy to continue north from there without either 1) driving out of your way back to an interstate or 2) crossing the James River on a car ferry. Having said that, though, I was going to suggest Williamsburg which is basically where you end up when you cross the river from Smithfield. There is a nice Christmas market in Colonial Williamsburg (boxwood wreaths and Colonial garden things, not so much food). There are also several good restaurants in W'burg. I actually like the colonial taverns...some people find them too touristy, but there are good modern restaurants in W'burg too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: maryelizabeth

      Yes! W'burg! It's an awesome little town. if you want good, cheap eats, you have to go to The Cheese Shop! It's in the town square, just off Duke of Glouster Street. They have the best sandwiches in the world! Get a bottle of wine and have a nice picnic on the green somewhere. W'burg is also beautiful around xmas. Definitely worth a visit!

      1. re: eightlegeddj

        This is ridiculous hyperbole. The Cheese Shop has fine sandwiches, but nothing particularly special and nowhere near what could be classified as "the best sandwiches in the world." Maybe they have the best sandwiches in that part of Williamsburg, maybe. I've said so on other threads, but the best sandwiches to be found in Williamsburg are a few miles from the Colonial area, at Carmine's.

    2. off 81 in harrisburg there's the glass lounge (4745 n front st) where i had a most excellent burger on a trip up to your neck of the woods this summer. fries were just so-so.

      camping-wise, if you drive king's hwy (hwy 17) up the ga/sc/nc coast, huntington beach state park is a really nice park; it's near litchfield/murrell's inlet, a bit south of myrtle beach (don't confuse w/ hunting island sp - heard it's nice, but can't vouch for it personally). myrtle beach sp is closer to myrtle beach (a decent walk up the beach, if you're so inclined), but it's not as nice as huntington, although it might be a tad cheaper. obviously, call any of these to be sure they're open that time of year. if you do drive 17, i recommend sticking to the business route as this will take you through many of the little touristy burgs along the coast; i love the tacky tourist stops from mid last century. at that time of year, you should run into little of the traffic that would preclude such a drive during the tourist season. for pure kitsch factor, many of the towns are worth seeing. also, you might luck out with a seafood shack or bbq hut along the way.

      fyi, you might get a better repsonse if you post the various legs of your trip on their corresponding boards.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mark

        Take a look at the North Carolina BBQ Trail, It list some of the older BBQ joints that are still cooking with wood. Some of the better ones to try are Skylight Inn, B's, Parkers, Allen & Son (only the one in Chapel Hill), A& M Grill, & Lexington.

        Every one has there ATF, but any of the above would provide you with a good taste of NC BBQ.

        1. re: chazzer

          I second Lexington BBQ, it is half way between Winston Salem and Charlotte. Lexington itself is with in 8 miles of the Interstate I-85 which you will be traveling southbound. "Lexington BBQ #1" has great bbq in my opinion.

          Lexington BBQ #1
          10 US Highway 29 70 S
          Lexington, NC 27295
          (336) 249-9814

      2. Mapleview Farms in Orange County, NC - northwest of Chapel Hill, NC would be worth a visit since you listed dairy farms. Check out their website for more info and directions - as well as weekly specials for the December calendar. Their ice cream is fantastic!

        1. On the trip between Charleston and Myrtle Beach you'll have to stop twice. Once at Jack's Cosmic Dogs right outside Mt. Pleasant and the second time at See Wees in Awendaw.

          In Murrells Inlet, south of MB, eat at Prossers BBQ. All you can eat buffet with home made mac and cheese, fried chicken, local fried oysters and shrimp, on site pulled pork, etc.

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