Southern Charm and Spanish Moss: Charleston to Savannah

The most painted bridge in the U.S. It's a landscape artist's dream!
The most painted bridge in the U.S. It's a landscape artist's dream!

This is the eighth and final post in our Summer Road Trip series. We have covered road trippin’ Maine, Maui, Florida, California, the Finger Lakes, Arizona and Route 66.

Recommended Time: 5-8 Days

Postcard Perfect

Postcard Perfect

Let me paint you a picture: Giant live oaks shrouded in Spanish moss tower above a mile-long driveway that leads to a stately plantation set on acres of manicured gardens—and a swamp complete with an alligator or two. It’s enchanting—quintessentially Southern. A road trip from Charleston to Savannah means being encompassed in the elegance of a different era. It includes comfort food, a few ghost stories, and scenes from Forrest Gump. It’s full of history, folklore, and, of course, that famed Southern hospitality.

Begin your road trip in Charleston, consistently ranked the No. 1 small city in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure. It’s friendly. It’s charming. It’s Charleston. The best way to explore it is by horse-drawn carriage with Palmetto Carriage Works. Pass by historic mansions, gardens, and churches in the Holy City, while learning the history that made it what it is today. Make sure to spend some time exploring Charleston City Market for some handcrafted souvenirs, most notably handwoven sweetgrass baskets, a centuries-old tradition in Charleston.

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Every history buff will enjoy a visit to Fort Sumter National Monument, which, on April 12, 1861, was shaken by explosions that signaled the start of the American Civil War. Be sure to venture just 12 miles north of Charleston to visit Middleton Place, a stunning plantation sitting on America’s oldest formally-designed gardens. Spend the day observing the working plantation, taking a house tour, or kayaking down the Ashley River.

Next, it’s time to soak up some sun and sand on Hilton Head Island. This is the perfect mid-way point between Charleston and Savannah, and a beautiful respite from city life. A playground for wealthy retirees, there is no lack of beautiful resorts and world-class golf courses! Spend a day or two strolling along the beautiful beaches or playing a round of tennis before continuing on to Savannah.

Savannah’s 2.2-mile Historic District is full of activities—from art gallery hopping on River Street and strolling through scenic Forsyth Park, to gorging yourself with Paula Deen’s downhome cookin’. Board the Old Town Trolley for an easy hop-on, hop-off tour of the best sights in the city.

But don’t be surprised if the city gives you the creeps. After all, it’s called America’s Most Haunted City—a city built literally upon its dead. With unmarked graves beneath your shoes, it’s no surprise that Savannah is as heavily draped in myth and legend as it is in Spanish moss. Visit Bonaventure Cemetery, made famous by the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and be sure to take one of many ghost tours in the city—including one that escorts you in a hearse!

Have you soaked up Charleston and Savannah’s Southern charm?

Places

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC, United States

Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head Island, SC, United States

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA, United States

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC, United States
http://www.charlestoncvb.com/

Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head Island, SC, United States
https://www.hiltonheadisland.org/

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA, United States
http://www.visitsavannah.com/

Route 66: The Classic American Road Trip

Historic Route 66 by Randy Heinitz.
Historic Route 66 by Randy Heinitz.

This is part seven in our Summer Road Trip series. We have already talked about road trippin’ Maine, Maui, Florida, California, the Finger Lakes, and Arizona.

Recommended time: 2 weeks

Get your kicks!

The most classic of all road trips, Route 66 is often referred to as America’s “Mother Road,” connecting 2,400 miles of ribbon-like highway between Chicago and Los Angeles. It’s epic, and something everyone should do once.

Photo: Chuck Coker

This road is the stuff of legend, tread by dreamers, adventurers, and desperados. Taking the journey is like driving through bygone days. Now the slowpoke’s route to the West—and technically not even an official route anymore—it was once a major path for westward migration. It was established in 1926, crossing eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, people drove along Route 66, stopping at the towns along the way, and subsequently promoting economic growth within them. Today, it’s full of kitsch and nostalgia—a ribbon of road that’s filled with crazy attractions and a whole lot of nothingness.

Start in Chicago by taking your picture next to the “Rout 66 Begin” sign. It’s a mere 60 miles before your first roadside attraction emerges through the cornfields—the 28-foot fiberglass spaceman, Gemini Giant looms over the Launching Pad Drive-In restaurant. This stop in Wilmington is your first of many photo ops. Continue on to Springfield where you’ll explore the life of Lincoln through his presidential library and museum, his home, and even his tomb.

Photo: Jasperdo

Next, it’s on to St. Louis where the 630ft-tall Gateway Arch towers over the city.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss Kansas! A mere 13 miles of the road (less than 1%) passes through this state before turning toward its southern neighbor, Oklahoma. Stop at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum to stock up on all your essential memorabilia. Flags from all eight states along the road fly over this attraction in Clinton, OK. Continue 70 miles to Texas and stop at the Devil’s Rope Museum to “get hooked” on barbed wire.

Photo: Kevin

Make one more stop at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico, to see real dinosaur bones—including a T-Rex—before moving on to Albuquerque, known for its art and culture. Take a short detour to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

The next bit of the drive takes you through Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The “trees” are fragmented and fossilized—some with a diameter of more than 6 feet—and all over 225 million years old!

Photo: Ethan Kan

Cross the state and stop in Oatman, where you’ll feel like you’ve been dropped onto a Wild West movie set, complete with daily staged gun fights. Barstow, CA, is your final stop before Santa Monica. Visit the Route 66 Mother Road Museum where you’ll get a glimpse into life in the early 20th century.

Reaching Palisades Park marks the end of your massive journey. Find the Will Rogers Hwy memorial plaque, and take a picture to commemorate your time on the Mother Road. Celebrate your journey with a ride on the 1920s carousel on the Santa Monica Pier.

Photo: Neil Kremer

Although it was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985, Route 66 is a pilgrimage for many Americans. It takes us to the very core of our country, and lets us embark upon an epic quest, like so many did before us.

Have you made the journey along Route 66?

Places

Chicago, Illinois

Route 66 Pizza, South Indianapolis Avenue, Chicago, IL, United States

Gemini Giant

Gemini Giant, South East Street, Wilmington, IL, United States

St. Louis, MO

Gateway Arch, Saint Louis, MO, United States

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, West Gary Boulevard, Clinton, OK, United States

Devil's Rope Museum

Devil's Rope Museum, Kingsley Street, McLean, TX, United States

Tucumcari, NM

Tucumcari, NM, United States

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM, United States

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM, United States

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, United States

Oatman, AZ

Oatman, AZ, United States

Barstow, CA

Barstow, CA, United States

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, United States

Chicago, Illinois

Route 66 Pizza, South Indianapolis Avenue, Chicago, IL, United States

Gemini Giant

Gemini Giant, South East Street, Wilmington, IL, United States

St. Louis, MO

Gateway Arch, Saint Louis, MO, United States

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, West Gary Boulevard, Clinton, OK, United States

Devil's Rope Museum

Devil's Rope Museum, Kingsley Street, McLean, TX, United States

Tucumcari, NM

Tucumcari, NM, United States

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM, United States

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM, United States

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, United States

Oatman, AZ

Oatman, AZ, United States

Barstow, CA

Barstow, CA, United States

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA, United States
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