A Spring Drive Through the American South – Part One

If you’re worried the best of Spring might pass you by, we’ve got a trip that will reconnect you not only to each other…but to the history of America, as well.

Drive yourselves from Washington, D.C.  to Charlottesville, VA, Asheville, NC, Charleston, SC, and Savannah, Georgia for full-blown immersion in mountains, flowers, forests, swamps, fine old homes, Low Country cuisine, and even wine from America’s oldest vines.

We reckon it’s time to jump on in the car and see the South for yourself.

Ideal timing:  9-14 days between late April and early June

Packing: Charlottesville, VA and Asheville, NC are very laid-back places, and in our experience there was little need to dress for anything but comfort. Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA tend to be a little dressier, though, so be sure to bring a nice outfit or two for going out to dinner. Bring good city walking shoes. Sneakers or athletic sandals will come in handy for forests and swamps. Rain is always possible this time of year.

For suggestions in Washington, D.C. (the beloved town of my birth), see the Top 5 Spots for Romance in D.C. and  Between D.C. and the Deep Blue Sea.

From Washington, D.C. to the Skyline Drive, driving time is about one hour. Take the 66 West to the 340 South towards Front Royal, Virginia; from here, it’s 4 miles to the the north entrance of the Skyline Drive, the stunning, northernmost stretch of Shenandoah National Park.

The Skyline Drive takes at least 3 hours. It runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has a speed limit of 35 mph, and approximately one gajillion scenic lookouts (one of which is pictured above).

It ends not far from our favorite Virginia town, Charlottesville. It’s the historic home of Thomas Jefferson and birthplace of American wine.

North Carolina via the Blue Ridge Parkway is another 4-5 hours of driving. Learn from our crushing, over-ambitious error in judgement…and take a break before you become both tired and stuck.

Take the 64E to the 250 E to Charlottesville.

Charlottesville, is worth at least one day of your time…if not two:

  • Visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (with its brand new visitor center) and nearby, James Monroe’sAsh Lawn-Highland. Jefferson lived far beyond his means, and Monroe far more simply, but both houses are a fascinating but troubling glimpse of an 18th-century life built by slave labor.
  • Follow the Monticello Wine Trail. Jefferson fancied himself a vintner in post-Independence America, bringing choice (yet unsuccessful) vines back from France after his stint as ambassador. These days, the vines and the region’s reputation are thriving. Be sure to visit the Jefferson Vineyards, the area’s first winery.
From Charlottesville, it’s back to the Blue Ridge Parkway…and on to Asheville, North Carolina.     


Continued in

A Spring Drive Through the American South – Part Two


  1. And again, your post leaves me a touch homesick. This is almost the same drive we took when we first left NYC. And then we follow a slightly different route every time we drive between NYC and Atlanta.

    Lovely drive! Lovely post!


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