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Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

San Diego...
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Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

I need help. My husband is taking me on a 30th birthday road trip (9 nights) in April from DC to Charleston, SC. We are from San Diego and have NEVER experienced any part of this area. We will spend 2 nights in DC then drive up to Gettysburg and stay 1 night there. The plan from there is to wake up in Gettysburg and drive to Mt. Vernon/Fort Washington area to start really moving down along our road trip. FYI: We really like beautiful scenery, American history (he is a big History/Military History buff and I really enjoy American History), great food, towns filled with character, etc. I think that what I've listed below is the path we intend to drive (although it seems to be ever-changing as I continue to get new vital input).

DC (2 nights)


Gettysburg (1 night)

Fort Washington & Mt Vernon

Fredericksburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA/Jamestown

Fort Monroe, Hampton

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (drive/experience it)

Virginia Beach, VA

Outer Banks, NC

Beaufort, NC

Myrtle Beach, SC

Charleston, SC (2 nights)

My big question at this point is where to stop and stay. As you can see, we have 4 nights left to place somewhere along the trip. I feel like Virginia Beach, while full of hotels, is not really what I'm looking for based on what I indicated we like above, right? Can/Should we see all the things I've listed in a day and still push into the Outer Banks before we actually STOP to stay the night somewhere? Is that overzealous? If so, where would be a good place to stop and stay prior to the outerbanks?

I was thinking a couple nights in the Outer Banks, NC would be good and then I'm thinking Beaufort, NC would be a great place to stay before Charleston. I was thinking 2 nights in Charleston would be good before we fly home around 5:30pm. (PS-Is a day trip to Savannah worthwhile/necessary/doable with 2 nights in Charleston)

I know this is all over the place so I am posting this in VA forum, NC forum and SC forum. I appreciate the help you can give me.

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1. Re: Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

I think your itinerary is a bit ambitious. You have nine nights, but have already accounted for 5 of them--with the other four you want to be able to hit 10 places, some of which could really use a lot more time.

You are from San Diego, so I would say if anything, drop the beaches. Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks are great summer vacation spots for people in the midatlantic, but for someone from San Diego, I don't think they will be anything that new or exciting. And I say this having grown up in San Diego, and spent some summer vacations in the Outer Banks while living in the DC area.

Spend more time in Williamsburg, which is really cool, and full of American history. Maybe 2 nights, at least?

If you and your husband really like American/Military history, I think you can't go wrong by visiting the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico (you'll go right past it).


It is free, fairly new, and really well done. It takes you right back to the Marine Corps roots in the American Revolutionary War. You walk in a circle that re-creates different periods when Marines played their part in our Nation's history.

Also interesting, but perhaps not on your path unless you eliminate the beaches, is the National D-Day Memorial, in Bedford, Virginia. It is located there because of the high ratio of casualties from that town.


Seriously though, there is a lot to cover here, and you have better beaches in San Diego. See the things on the East coast that you can't see there.

Arlington, Virginia
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2. Re: Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

Good advice from Laura about skipping beaches and adding museums.

Also, I would recommend hiring a Licensed Battlefield Guide for your tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield. These guides are crazy-smart when it comes to knowledge of Gettysburg and I'm sure you both would enjoy a tour with someone who knows so much.


La Plata, Maryland
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3. Re: Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

I used to live almost next door to Fort Washington National Park, and while the grounds and the river view are beautiful, I don't know that it's worth a trip there if your time is limited. Its museum is very tiny, and visitors sparse. I would like to add, you should avoid if possible driving in metropolitan D.C. during weekday rush-hours. The Amer. Auto. Assoc. for years for years has said the area has the second-worst traffic in the USA - it's bad even as far south as Fredericksburg VA. I also recommend the Marine Corps Museum. Your husband may also like the U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis (near Williamsburg) which is free of charge and has many indoor and outdoor vehicles of all kinds on display. Colonial Williamsburg is possibly the world's premier living-history site - from I-64, follow the little green signs to the visitors center, then buy visitor passes and board a shuttle bus which encircles the colonial district every 10 minutes.




Edited: 11:22 pm, January 23, 2014
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4. Re: Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

If you are flying in to Dulles Airport, why not head right up to Gettysburg from there? Depending on when your flight arrives, you actually would spend 1 night upon arrival, then day 2 sightseeing, then head out on day 3 to DC area and spend night 3 & 4 there, then drive down to Mt Vernon and spend part of day touring that. You could push on down to Williamsburg if you can handle a long day and plan on night 4 & night 5 there - allows for you to spend one full day touring this great American Revolutionary history site. Or, if you are going to spend time at the Marines Museum, then possibly stop in Fredericksburg. Remember, DC traffic is bad - think L.A., except there aren't many alternate routes like in LA - which is why I 95 is such a parking lot. There are several Civil War sites near Fredericksburg too.

Skip the beaches - outer banks, Virginia Beach etc - because you have wonderful beaches in San Diego. The water is much warmer in the summer here but the water will still be cold in April. Day six will be driving down to Charleston, SC - a wonderful historic city. You can easily spend a full 2 days looking around there. Skip Myrtle Beach - again, being from San Diego, this isn't anything special for you. Some folks really like Savannah and deem it a worthwhile side trip, but I haven't been there, so I don't know. I do know the plantations were interesting in the Charleston area, as well as spectacular food.

Which airport are you flying out of? If you are doing a roundtrip Dulles, that will take some driving to get back from SC. Another idea is to skip DC all together, if you aren't a big museum or monument fan, and then you could drive down Highway 29 and hit Manassas, take a side trip to Harpers Ferry (interesting small historic town), then come back and hit Charlottesville for Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, go to the Bedford WWII memorial, then head to Williamsburg. Lots of choices, but based on your interest in history, this might be quite a trip. I am originally from California, and all the history in this area still amazes me.

Edited: 10:21 pm, January 24, 2014
5. Re: Where should we stop to stay? DC/Gettysburg to Charleston,SC

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