If you’re looking to visit North Carolina’s beaches, it’s a long trip through three states. But there’s plenty to see along the way on highways 20, 95, and 74. Break up the road trip with stops at quirky landmarks, with some great tunes, and in a comfortable car.
After leaving the Atlanta metro area, there’s a two hour or so hour stretch to the state line. Conyers is right outside the city but feels worlds away, the perfect spot for a detour. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is a Trappist monastery that offers tours of its facility and even overnight stays. Arabia Mountain is also nearby and is a granite mountain with miles of hiking trails.
Georgia’s Lake Country is a destination in its own right with two major lakes for boating, fishing, and other outdoor adventures. But the charming towns around the lakes, like Milledgeville, Eatonton, Madison, and Greensboro, can’t be missed for the Antebellum architecture and museums. In Milledgeville, visit the home of author Flannery O’Connor at Andalusia while in Eatonton there’s the Uncle Remus Museum.
The last stop in Georgia is Augusta, which has plenty of great restaurants to have a meal. It’s also home to award-winning golf courses like Augusta National, home of the Masters. But there’s plenty to see year round. Hop aboard a boat on the Augusta Canal to learn about the waterway’s importance or see priceless works at the Morris Museum of Art. The Augusta Museum of History is one of the best in town with exhibits including a Masters jacket and costumes owned by Augusta native James Brown.
Columbia is another great place to stop and stretch your legs. The South Carolina capital is one of the South’s underrated destinations, especially for families. Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden is a favorite with countless animal habitats and a zipline over the park. EdVenture Children’s Museum is one of the nation’s top-rated children’s museums. The area around Lake Murray is also lovely for relaxing as is nearby Congaree National Park.
It’s easy to miss this particular exit, but it’s home to one of the state’s most unique roadside attractions. The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden has been featured in countless publications for its quirky shapes of bushes. But that’s not the only reason to stop. Bishopville is also home to the South Carolina Cotton Museum and the Button Museum.
Dillon is a town on the line between South Carolina and North Carolina and is a popular stop for road trippers. It’s home to South of the Border, an outlandish roadside attraction inspired by Mexico. It features multiple shops, restaurants, rides, and even overnight accommodations at their campground and hotel.
Wilmington has many attractions in addition to the nearby beaches. Battleship North Carolina is a restored World War II battleship that is now open for tours. Hollywood Location Walk visits “Wilmywood” and its notable filming locations. Cape Fear Museum of History highlights the area’s natural and cultural history from prehistoric fossils to Native American settlements to the present. If you make it out to Wrightsville Beach, leave a message at the famous Mailbox on the northern end. You can also get a permit to drive on the beach at Fort Fisher.
About the Car
For this trip, we borrowed a new Chevrolet Blazer. I was expecting the Blazers I’d seen growing up but this model is a stylish mid-sized SUV. The features I loved most were the satellite radio, massive sunroof, and a WiFi network that can hold up to five devices. I was even able to work on blog posts on the road! It wasn’t too big for me, despite the fact that I drive a small car, and had alerts for blind spots that were very helpful. The hatchback can be accessed by tapping your foot underneath and has plenty of room for luggage and beach chairs. It’s a great car for your next road trip!
Weber Shandwick and Chevrolet organized our borrowed ride.