Just because you’re heading home from Florida after a relaxing winter in the sun, doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. We’ve highlighted some northern routes that will make the trip home seem like another vacation!
Have you traveled U.S Route 17? This coastal route takes you through North Carolina and Virginia as you head north. Make a stop in Wilmington, North Carolina and explore the River District which has shops, restaurants, and views of the Cape Fear River. Further north, you’ll find New Bern, the state’s first capital and the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. A quick way to see this quaint historic town is to take the New Bern Trolley Tour which details the history and architecture of the town.
On to Virginia, your stops might include Chesapeake and Williamsburg to start. If Virginia is for lovers, then Chesapeake is for history lovers – check out the Civil War Trails and Harriet Tubman State Park. More American history can be found with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg or historic Jamestown. The Abby Aldrich Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg is a delight housing one of the largest collections of American Folk Art. If you time it right, you might end up in Winchester during their annual Apple Blossom Festival which will run this year from April 27 to May 5. Festival events include a wine fest, carnival, live music, and a parade. Old Town Winchester has shops, café, and historic attractions.
Another beautiful route to consider is traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway. As America’s longest parkway, the Blue Ridge Parkway could also be called America’s most beautiful parkway. Stretching between 29 counties through North Carolina and Virginia, the ride promises breathtaking views, waterfalls, and plenty of historic sites. Don’t miss Blowing Rock, Chimney Rock State Park, and the Southern Highland Folk Art Center (all on the NC portion of the Parkway) and Mabry Mill, the Natural Bridge, and the Blue Ridge Music Center (all on the VA portion of the Parkway.)
Another fun road trip would be to pick one of the wine trails in North Carolina and Virginia and make stops along the way. In North Carolina, the Southern Gateway Wine Trail puts you smack dab in the middle of BBQ country (Lexington County) so you can have some good eats after you sample some wines. Four wineries and some tasting rooms can be found on this trail, including Childress Vineyards, founded by NASCAR legend Richard Childress.
Virginia offers the Monticello Wine Trail with 33 wineries along the route, which is outside Charlottesville. Check out www.monticellowinetrail.com for a listing of wineries and suggested routes. Music lovers take note, Blenheim Vineyards is owned by Dave Matthews, of the Dave Matthews Band.
If you want to just drive and stop where your fancy desires – consider these towns along the way as you head north.
Boone, North Carolina: Possibly one of the prettiest college towns around, Boone, North Carolina has more to offer than the education at Appalachian State University. Learn how to defy gravity, or at least what gravity is all about, at Mystery Hill, where thanks to scientific phenomena you can watch a ball roll uphill and see water flow upward (www.mysteryhill.com)! Tour Linville Caverns and see the amazing stalagmites and stalactites (www.linvillecaverns.com) or stop by the Mast General Store to pick up some cool gear and experience this historic gem that has been around since 1883.
Luray, Virginia: A stop in Luray is guaranteed to strike nature lovers with awe and make a nature-lover out of anyone who isn’t. Shenandoah National Park can be enjoyed through hiking, biking or a scenic drive on Skyline Drive, a 105-mile drive running the entire length of the Park. There are also several wineries in the area and don’t miss a visit to Luray Caverns, the largest caverns in the eastern United States (www.luraycaverns.com).