The Ultimate Southeast Road Trip | GOGO Charters Travel Guide
Is your cubicle making you claustrophobic? Have you run out of Netflix shows to binge watch? Are you absolutely sick of your monotonous drive to work every day? If so, it might be time to unleash your inner wanderlust.
We put together this fun 5 day road trip guide that’s sure to leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world. So grab a pal or four, gas up your car and get ready to see the beautiful American Southeast like never before.
1. Charlotte, NC
With a well-balanced mix of east coast city-folk and southern charm, Charlotte has landed the coveted first stop on our Southeast road trip. Though many think of Charlotte as being a basecamp for banking companies (AKA Banktown), it’s also known fondly by many other names – Queen City, the Hornet’s nest and of course, the Pimento Cheese Capital of the world.
Downtown Charlotte. Instagram: @cltstories
Water Sports: Spend an afternoon at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where you can participate in a variety of watersports including kayaking, rafting or paddleboarding. If you’d rather stay dry, the Whitewater Center also boasts an impressive array of land activities, like rock climbing or ropes courses.
Whitewater kayaking. Instagram, @usnwc
NoDa Art District: NoDa is Charlotte’s historic arts district located just two miles north of Uptown. You’ll find plenty of things to explore including active street vending, NoDa brewery and a gallery crawl on the first and third Friday of every month.
NoDa Historic District. Instagram: @mattshdr
Soul Gastrolounge: If you’re looking to try some quirky but delicious small plates, stop by Soul Gastrolounge and order a plate of rocky mountain oysters, lamb lollipops, or one of their signature sushi rolls. Night owls can stay late and enjoy the tunes of a resident DJ while sipping one of their funky signature cocktails.
Soul Gastrolounge cocktails. Instagram: @katelynblaire
AirBnB: This stylish mid-century AirBnB in Echo Hills is centrally located between Uptown Charlotte and Plaza Midwood and can comfortably sleep up to four people.
2. Charleston, SC
3 h 18 min (208.9 mi) via I-77 S and I-26 E
Bust out the fedora’s and floppy hats – there’s nothing but charm in Charleston. One of the oldest cities in the US, Charleston will sweep you off your feet by its rich history, breathtaking sites and out of this world cuisine. After an afternoon in Charleston, you’ll understand why the city was voted “America’s Most Friendly” by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Historic Charleston. Instagram: @racheljoy429
Folly Beach: After a long stretch of driving, there’s nothing better than kicking your feet up in the sand at Folly Beach, just 15 minutes outside of historic downtown Charleston. This beach town offers a quiet and cozy feel, opposed to tourist-haven Myrtle Beach, and is the perfect little getaway for a mid-day stroll or sunset picnic.
Folly Beach. Instagram: @explorecharleston
Battery Park: Rich with American history, Battery Park was once a defense ground during the War of 1812. Today, this southern landmark is home to dozens of gorgeous mansions and a green oasis of Palmetto and ancient oak trees. Many cannons and cannonball piles still remain in their original place, offering visitors a chance to time travel back to 1812 (or at the very least, get some pretty epic photos.)
Battery Park cannons. Instagram: @lusi.inthesky
Sightseeing Tours: Established in 1972, Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest carriage company in historic Charleston. Still family-owned and operated, the company offers guided horse and mule-drawn tours of Charleston’s downtown and residential historic district for the thousands of visitors hoping to take in the charm and history of the city in a more authentic way.
Mule-drawn carriage ride. www.palmettocarriage.com
The Gin Joint: Tucked away on Charleston’s historic East Bay Street, you’ll find no shortage of booze at this pre-prohibition era bar. Known for their sophisticated, balanced cocktails alongside defiant bar food, The Gin Joint offers a menu of seasonal drinks alongside its signature Bartender’s Choice, where patrons choose two flavorful descriptors from a word bank and let the bartender deliver.
The Gin Joint bar. Source: The Gin Joint
AirBnB: This airy, renovated cottage transcends the authenticity of historic Charleston with 150 year old pine wood floors and cozy interiors, located just a walk from downtown and a 15-minute drive to any of the beaches.
3. Savannah, GA
1 h 54 min (107.4 mi) via US-17 S and I-95 S
This little coastal city packs a big punch when it comes to charm. The pedestrian-friendly Savannah is bursting at the seams with culture, from the dozens of beautiful garden squares filled with street performers and horse-drawn carriages to the modern and progressive Savannah College of Art and Design campus, you’ll find that Savannah is truly unlike any other city in the U.S.
Downtown Savannah fountain. Instagram: @gcca_cheer
The Collins Quarter: The Collins Quarter offers a local, fresh farm-to-table menu inside a unique space styled after Melbourne’s historic Collins Street. From a decadent champagne breakfast to a delicious lunch or dinner cuisine paired with fine wines and craft beers, The Collins Quarter offers a casual cafe environment that all will enjoy.
The Collins Quarter brunch. Instagram: @thecollinsquarter
Source: Instagram: @dianadaley
Ghost Tours: If you’re interested in getting a closer look into the darker side of Savannah, check out the Dead of Night Ghost Tour. This 90-minute adults only tour starts at 11pm every night and weaves in out of the alleyways of historic Savannah. Murder, witchcraft, demons….nothing is off limits on this ghost tour. Book tickets ahead of time, as this tour often sells out.
Haunted Savannah fountain. Instagram: @ghostcitytours
AirBnB: This hidden gem of a cottage is nestled in historic downtown Savannah, walking distance from Broughton Street and more.
4. Jacksonville, FL
1 h 57 min (139.1 mi) via I-95 S
Known as the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Northern Florida, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in beautiful Jacksonville. Whether it’s world-class museums or beautiful state park beaches you seek, Jax has you covered.
St. Johns River views. Instagram: @jesssgonz
Museum of Science & History: Adults and kids alike will enjoy the exciting exhibits and interactive games of the Museum of Science and History (MOSH), located on the south bank of Jacksonville’s beautiful St. Johns River. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, dinosaurs, outer space, time or physics, MOSH has something fun for all interests and all ages. After MOSH-ing, make sure to stop by the Friendship Fountain for a colorful show of water and lights set in front of a scenic downtown Jacksonville backdrop.
Friendship Fountain. Instagram: @mariaa_lizethh
Beaches & Parks: Jacksonville is known for its many beautiful public parks, gardens and beaches. Check out Hemming Park if you’re looking for a friendly park vibe without leaving the city. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take a scenic 30-minute drive out to Big Talbot Island State Park to see some of the most breathtaking sandy white beaches filled with giant, beautiful uprooted trees. While you’re in the area, drive by or stop in and tour the Kingsley Plantation, a historic former plantation nestled along the Fort George River.
An uprooted tree in Big Talbot Island, Instagram: @sagerzz
Speakeasy : The Volestead is a unique, hidden speakeasy that boasts an impressive array of bourbon and rye whiskey, as well as a funky, upbeat vibe that you won’t find anywhere else in town. Step inside the bar and you’ll instantly be transported back in time.
Flaming baked apple Sazerac Instagram: @thevolsteadjax
AirBnB: The epitome of where luxury meets affordability, this dream house is located minutes from downtown Jacksonville in the quaint neighborhood of Springfield.
5. Atlanta, GA
4 h 47 min (345.8 mi) via I-75 N
“The New York of the South” is a title that many Atlantans wear proudly. Between the booming film industry, convenient public transit, or the beautiful downtown skyline, one could see why these two cities are often compared. One thing you won’t find in Atlanta – ridiculous NYC prices. Atlanta has all the conveniences of big city life, plus a whole bunch of southern hospitality.
Downtown ATL views. Instagram: @sesquipedalian_squib
Explore Downtown: Downtown ATL offers an abundance of fun, unique tours, and attractions guaranteed to entertain all ages. Check out the world-famous Georgia Aquarium and interact with beluga whales, penguins, sea otters and more. For a more media-rich experience, the famous CNN Center (aka CNN Headquarter) offers exciting up-close studio tours 7 days a week.
A massive whale shark swims by onlookers. Instagram, @georgiaaquarium
Walk the Beltline: If the weather’s nice (and it usually is) the Atlanta Beltline is a must do. This 22-mile loop of historic rail corridor connects shops, restaurants and vendors across the city. Rent a bike and get some exercise or walk the Beltline to enjoy the cities largest collection of temporary public art installations along the way.
The Beltline hike and bike trail. Instagram, @bradbenedict
Ponce City Market: This former factory has been recently renovated to house one of the cities most unique shopping and dining experiences. Nibble on some house-made beef jerky at Biltong Bar, jump over to Hop’s Chicken for some of the most mouth-watering deep fried chicken in the South, then finish it off with a King of Pops boozy popsicle for dessert. Still haven’t had enough fun? Check out the Ponce City Market rooftop Skyline Park, where you can play a variety of carnival games while enjoying some of the best views in town.
Ponce City Market exterior. Instagram, @meawatson
Skyline Park, located on the rooftop. Instagram, @skylinepark
AirBnB: This hip, artsy loft is conveniently located on the Atlanta Beltline and offers a ton of cozy interior space.
Now that you’ve seen how much the Southeast has to offer, get out there and make the most of it! These destinations are guaranteed to reenergize your soul and awaken your inner wanderlust.
If you decide to take our advice and visit any of these amazing places, we want to know! Tag us on social media with pictures from your journey or use the hashtag #GOGORoadTrip.
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