Whether you’re looking for breathtaking natural wonders, vibrant cities, historical landmarks or quaint fishing villages, America’s East Coast has it all. Our ‘To the Outer Banks and Beyond’ self drive is the perfect option for couples or families who want to jump behind the wheel and explore the very best sights and sounds of the Atlantic Coast over the course of nine unforgettable days.
Stretching across Virginia, North Carolina and down the Atlantic Coast, the beautiful peninsulas and barrier islands of the Outer Banks offer an outdoor travel experience like no other. From north to south, the 200 mile route splits from the mainland and is famed for its open sea beaches, national parks and pristine fishing villages. There’s also a chance to visit Kitty Hawk, the exact spot where the Wright Brothers launched their famous first flight.
Heading further down the coast, you’ll experience authentic Southern hospitality in historic cities throughout South Carolina and Georgia. With so many amazing destinations to choose between, our carefully planned route ensures that you have plenty of time to enjoy historic markets, museums and the best examples of Antebellum architecture.
- Explore pristine beaches, sand dunes and fishing towns along Virginia's Atlantic Coastline
- Travel across the Outer Banks, a unique 200 mile route famed for its incredible beauty and natural landmarks
- Visit the exact site at Kitty Hawk where brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright launched the world’s first successful airplane
- Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets and vibrant historic quarters of Charleston, South Carolina
Start your Journey
Charlotte - Durham
Arriving at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, there’ll be plenty of time to pick up your pre arranged hire car and get your bearings before heading north along the Blue Star Memorial Highway towards the nearby city of Durham.
You’ll have the chance to stop at Chapel Hill and Raleigh along the way, or head straight to Durham to give yourself plenty of time to visit the city’s vibrant Ninth Street district, beautiful central park or the world famous Duke University. We recommend taking a trip on the Bull City Connector, a fare free bus route that connects a number of the city’s best attractions. From there, it’s back to your hotel to enjoy a comfortable night’s stay before setting off the next morning.
There’s time for a good breakfast in Durham before setting off on the 200 mile journey to Virginia Beach, which is situated in the heart of Chesapeake Bay. The city is famous for its magnificent boardwalk, stretching for miles across a picturesque Atlantic coastline. A relaxing stroll along the sand dunes of Sandbridge Beach is a great way to spend a few hours in the afternoon, and it’s certainly worth heading up to the top of the Cape Henry Lighthouse to take in the view in all its glory.
Elsewhere in the city, First Landing State Park offers a winding trail through dense forest and marshland that leads to the site of the Jamestown colonists who landed here from England in 1607. You could also check out the vast range of exotic marine life exhibits on offer at Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center – home to sharks, stingrays and sea turtles.
The Outer Banks
Thousands of people from all over the world flock to Virginia every year to travel across The Outer Banks, a unique 200 mile stretch of peninsulas and sandy beaches that splits off from the mainland into the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you like to surf, kayak, paddleboard or simply relax and soak up the ocean breeze, there are few routes that offer such sheer natural beauty at every stop along the way.
The route itself is scattered with quaint fishing towns, wonderful restaurants and incredible picnic spots, not to mention a diverse range of wildlife and bird species. We recommend a trip over to Kitty Hawk, the famous site where the Wright Brothers launched the world’s first successful airplane – definitely a must see experience for anybody visiting the area. After a long day’s travelling and sightseeing, we’ll have a comfy bed waiting for you down the road at the Best Western Ocean Reef Suites.
Continuing Down the Outer Banks
Having passed through into the state of North Carolina, the Outer Banks experience continues as you drive along a magnificent string of barrier islands. An early morning start is well worth it for those who want to take time to soak up the sights and sounds of this beautiful region. You’ll have the chance to stop at one of the four famous lighthouses in the area, which for hundreds of years have been responsible for guiding ships safely into the bay.
Many people make an advance ferry reservation to book their place on an unforgettable journey across Pamlico Sound to Cedar Island. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled, as there’s a good chance you’ll spot a few dolphins following the wake of the ferry. From there, you can continue by car until you reach the historic waterfront town of Swansboro and your accommodation for the evening.
Your next destination is the bustling coastal city of Myrtle Beach, which is situated just on the other side of the South Carolina border. Known for its seemingly endless beachfront, vibrant entertainment scene and celebrity designed golf courses, there’s no shortage of interesting things to do once you’ve dropped your bags off at your oceanfront resort.
Relax on the beach before dining in first class restaurants that serve up local seafood at reasonable prices. If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s worth taking a ride on the giant Myrtle Beach Skywheel to get a unique view of the city and surrounding coastline.
Georgetown & Charleston
Head over to the city of Georgetown to get a taste of South Carolina’s fascinating history and heritage. Many of the old colonial houses, theatres and public buildings are still standing, giving the downtown area its own unique feel, like a place stuck in a long gone era. A trip to the local Kaminski House Museum is highly recommended to get a sense of Southern life in centuries gone by.
From there, it’s back on the scenic road, heading south towards another historic city – Charleston. Here you’ll find incredible Antebellum architecture, Civil War museums and local plantation tours, all of which offer a first hand insight into local history and the humbling days of colonialism. The city itself is a patchwork of cobblestone streets and elegant neighbourhoods, namely the French Quarter and Barrier districts.
Having explored a few of the best cities that South Carolina has to offer, it’s time to cross over the Savannah River into Georgia, heading straight for the state’s oldest city – Savannah. Whether you’re a lover of nature, history or delicious cuisine, Savannah is brimming with fascinating museums, galleries and artisanal markets. Even if you’re not in the mood for a sit down meal at a local restaurant, a picnic stroll in the magnificent Forsyth Park is a perfect alternative.
Savannah is also home to Bonaventure Century, a site made famous by John Berendt in his 1994 novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – later adapted into an acclaimed motion picture directed by Clint Eastwood.
Return to Charlotte
After experiencing the warmth of Southern hospitality, it’s back on the road north as you take another scenic route towards Charlotte. But the journey isn’t over yet. There’s plenty of time to stop at Congaree National Park on the way, a hardwood forest reserve that boasts diverse wildlife and incredible natural beauty.
Of course, you may decide to head straight to Charlotte to explore the city, take in a museum or two or spend the day shopping.
Depart from Charlotte
After nine action packed days travelling the very best of America’s Atlantic Coast, all that’s left to do is return your rental car and head over to Charlotte Douglas Airport to catch your onward journey.
- International flights and airfare taxes
- Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 9 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
- Board basis: Room Only
- Car hire and insurance
- Visa arrangements and fees
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses, such as beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
- Attractions and excursions
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