This 8-day road trip takes you on a journey to the highlights of the southeastern coast before heading inland to the Appalachian Mountains. You’ll taste true Southern cuisine in Savannah, explore the South Carolina Lowcountry, and hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although this version starts and ends in Atlanta, the route is easily adjusted for a starting point from any city in these three states.


  • Experience the tastes of Savannah on a walking food tour
  • Explore the waters around Tybee Island by kayak or paddleboard
  • Toast the sunset from a sailboat in Charleston Harbor
  • Drive the famous Blue Ridge Parkway

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 From Atlanta to Savannah with a stop in Macon Savannah, GA
Day 2 Explore Savannah & Walking Food Tour Savannah, GA
Day 3 Day Trip to Tybee Island Savannah, GA
Day 4 From Savannah to Charleston with a stop in Beaufort Charleston, SC
Day 5 Explore Charleston & Sunset Sail Charleston, SC
Day 6 From Charleston to Asheville with a stop in Columbia Asheville, NC
Day 7 Explore Asheville & Forage for Dinner Asheville, NC
Day 8 From Asheville to Atlanta: The Scenic Route  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: From Atlanta to Savannah with a stop in Macon

Forsyth Park, courtesy of Visit Savannah
Forsyth Park, courtesy of Visit Savannah

From Atlanta, you'll take I-75 south to Macon, where you'll stop for lunch (Macon is approx. 1.5 hours drive from Atlanta).  Enjoy lunch on the outdoor patio at The Rookery in downtown Macon. Drive down Georgia Avenue to find historic Hay House, a grand residence built in the mid-1800s. Just across the street is the Cannonball House, so named due to the cannonball damage it sustained during the Civil War.

Just outside of Macon is the Ocmulgee National Monument, a prehistoric Native American site that preserves more than 10,000 years of Native American culture. The park has 8 miles of walking trails, most of which are less than a mile and present a good opportunity to stretch your legs before the next part of your drive. Take the main path from the Visitor Center to the Great Temple Mound, which leads to three of Ocmulgee's most popular points of interest –the Earth Lodge, the Trading Post site, and the Great and Lesser Temple Mounds.

From Macon, you’ll follow I-16 east and reach Savannah in approximately 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.

You'll arrive in Savannah in the mid- to late-afternoon. The oldest city in Georgia, Savannah has a rich history, an amazing food scene, and a beautiful riverfront. The 2.5 square mile Historic District is very walkable and meandering through it is a great way to get to know the city before dinnertime. Take a stroll along the oak-lined, cobblestone streets and through some of the city's 22 historic squares. 
Dive into Savannah's thriving culinary scene with dinner at Husk, where you'll find fresh seasonal ingredients constituting reimagined Southern classics. It's important to plan your dinners ahead of time while in Savannah- these prestigious eats are usually reservation-only. 

Total driving time: approx. 4 hours, depending on traffic 

Day 2: Explore Savannah & Walking Food Tour

Wormsloe Historic Site, courtesy of Explore Savannah
Wormsloe Historic Site, courtesy of Explore Savannah

Eat an early breakfast at B. Matthews Eatery. Later this morning, you'll take a 3-hour walking food tour through the Historic District and River Street. You'll taste Southern staples like traditional BBQ and try imaginative twists on the classics. You'll also sample local kinds of honey, like the famously rare Tupelo Honey, made from flowers that only bloom in a small spot near Savannah for 10 days a year.

After the food tour concludes, you can take the short drive (10-15 minutes) to Bonaventure Cemetery, just outside the downtown area. The site is famous for its folklore, moss-covered oak trees, and hauntingly beautiful headstones. Take a guided walking tour to learn the stories behind some of the sculptures, or meander through the cemetery on your own.  You could also visit one of the nearby plantations like the Wormsloe Historic Site instead.  This former plantation is the site of the oldest standing structure in Savannah. Walk one of the many nature trails around the estate and learn about its storied history along the way. 

Head back to Savannah for sunset, which can be enjoyed from many locations throughout downtown. We recommend heading to the Peregrin Rooftop Lounge for views of the cityscape and the Savannah River. Make a reservation for dinner at The Grey, a popular choice for modern Southern dishes. Afterward, head next store to Prohibition for some craft cocktails.

Day 3: Day Trip to Tybee Island

North Beach, courtesy of Tybee Island Visitor Center
North Beach, courtesy of Tybee Island Visitor Center

Tybee Island is a scenic, bicycle-friendly barrier island just 30-minutes from downtown Savannah. Pick up your picnic necessities from The Grey Market before the short drive out to the island. 

There are a multitude of ways to spend your day exploring Tybee. One way to see much of the small island is to rent a bike - this place is exceptionally bicycle-friendly, boasting both trails and bike lanes. For a six-mile ride, bike the McQueen's Island Trail across wildlife areas and saltwater marshes.

Make sure to visit the Tybee Island Lighthouse, Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse. Panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah River, and surrounding islands await you at the top of its 167 steps. 

Just across the street from the lighthouse is North Beach, where the mouth of the Savannah River meets the Atlantic. This beach is best for beachcombing, and the nearby marshes are great for bird and wildlife watching. Follow the North Beach Birding Trail for the best possibility of sighting rare birds. 

Continue walking down North Beach to Mid Beach, a popular beach spot for locals looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of South Beach. If you chose not to bring a picnic, have lunch overlooking Mid Beach at The Deck

This afternoon, explore the island’s many rivers, marshes, and inlets on a kayak or paddleboard. You can paddle out to the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, just north of Tybee, or head south to Little Tybee Island. This uninhabited nature preserve is actually twice the size of Tybee Island and is an oasis for wildlife, salt marshes, and natural dunes. There are no roads or bridges to Little Tybee, but you can still visit the island by kayak, paddleboard, jet ski, or boat.  

Once you’ve had your fill of Tybee Island, head back to Savannah for a 'low country boil' at River House Seafood, located in a restored cotton warehouse on River Street.

Day 4: From Savannah to Charleston with a stop in Beaufort

Hunting Island, courtesy of Beaufort-SC
Hunting Island, courtesy of Beaufort-SC

This morning, sleep in and have brunch at Collins Quarter before leaving Savannah behind. 

Just north of Hilton Head Island, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge boasts over 14 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails. 

From here, head to the city of Beaufort on Port Royal Island. A little town located halfway between Savannah and Charleston, Beaufort is the second oldest city in Georgia and is full of Southern charm. 

Wander around The Point, a dozen blocks of historic residences, or go shopping on Bay & Carteret Streets. Have lunch on the patio at the Firehouse Books & Espresso Bar on Craven Street.

After lunch, take the Sea Island Parkway another 10 minutes further out to Hunting Island State Park, which boasts trails through maritime forest and as well as 4 miles of beach. Walk one of the marsh boardwalks onto an island with excellent wildlife viewing and beautiful views. 
History buffs should include a stop at the Old Sheldon Church Ruins just outside of Beaufort. The church was set on fire in 1779 during the Revolutionary War, and again in 1865 in the Civil War. There is not much left of the church today, but the ruins tell a story of its long and dark past. 

Nearing Charleston, take the short detour to see the Angel Oak, a 65-foot live oak tree estimated to be around 300 years old. 

Once in Charleston, take a stroll around the walkable and historic downtown area before heading to The Ordinary or Edmund's Oast for dinner. 

Total driving time: approx. 2.5 hours, depending on traffic 

Day 5: Explore Charleston & Sunset Sail

Waterfront Park, courtesy of Explore Charleston
Waterfront Park, courtesy of Explore Charleston

Start your day at One Broad Street for a healthy and hearty breakfast. 

The well-preserved Historic District is best explored on foot. Take a self-guided walking tour starting at City Market and make your way through the cobblestone streets to Rainbow Row, a line of 13-pastel-hued row houses built in the mid-18th century and located just south of Broad Street. Don't miss the 'Museum Mile,' so named for the abundance of museums and historic homes along this stretch of Meeting Street. 

For lunch, grab a picnic from The Daily and enjoy it in the sunshine at Waterfront Park

After lunch, rent bicycles to explore the rest of the historic downtown area. Make your way to Hampton Park near The Citadel for a scenic ride. 

Bring along a bottle of wine for your sunset sailboat cruise. You'll sail around the harbor, with views from the water of White Point Gardens, Charleston Water Front Park, Castle Pinckney, and beneath the beautiful spans of the Cooper River Bridge. 

You don't have to go very far to find great dining options around every corner. For dinner, try 5Church or FIG.

Day 6: From Charleston to Asheville with a stop in Columbia

Congaree National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service
Congaree National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Start your day with breakfast at The Harbinger Cafe & Bakery before starting today's drive to Asheville. 

You'll take I-26 west out of Charleston. About 2 hours into the drive, you can take a short detour to Congaree National Park. The park preserves the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States. You can take a short hike along the 2.5-mile elevated Boardwalk Loop Trail from the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. 

For lunch, stop in the capital city of Columbia, just 30 minutes further northwest on Old Bluff Road. Dine at DiPrato's, a gourmet sandwich shop, and order one of their signature sandwiches.
Take a stroll around the downtown area, which features the State House as well as the University of South Carolina's famed Horseshoe, a lush quad surrounded by 19th-century buildings. Walk down Main Street and the Congaree Vista District for shopping and art galleries. From here, it's approx. 2.5 hours northwest to Asheville - you'll arrive by late afternoon.

Asheville is known for its vibrant culinary scene, so you can’t really go wrong in terms of dinner. Take a short stroll around Asheville's downtown area before walking over to dine in a 1930s roller rink at Buxton Hall or to sample tapas at Cúrate.

Total driving time: approx. 4.5 hours, depending on traffic 

Day 7: Explore Asheville & Forage for Dinner

View of downtown Asheville, courtesy of Explore Asheville
View of downtown Asheville, courtesy of Explore Asheville

Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains at the junction of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers, Asheville is known for its artsy, eccentric vibe and culinary scene. The city’s downtown area is small enough to be explored on foot, which is how you will spend your morning.

Walk on over to Biscuit Head’s downtown location for a filling breakfast before exploring the vibrant city center. Visit the 30 public sculptures along the 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail that tell the cultural and architectural history of Asheville. Book lovers rejoice - Asheville is home to a growing literary scene, and there are a number of independent bookstores that are definitely worth a visit. Pop into Malaprop’s or the Battery Park Book Exchange to check out their titles. 

If you’d prefer to explore the city's waterfront, you can spend the morning paddleboarding, kayaking or tubing on the French Broad River, which runs through the center of the city. You can also take a 30-minute stroll along the riverbank from Carrier Park to French Broad River Park.

For lunch, head over to White Duck Taco Shop and sample the many tacos on an ever-changing menu. 

This afternoon, you’ll venture into the forest with an expert guide and hunt for wild mushrooms, edible greens, berries, and more. You'll sample some of these right on the trail, and take your spoils to one of four award-winning city restaurants (like The Market Place) where the chef will prepare your finds as star ingredients in your dinner.

Day 8: From Asheville to Atlanta: The Scenic Route

View from the Devils Courthouse Overlook
View from the Devils Courthouse Overlook

Start your day with a tasty breakfast at Tupelo Honey before stopping at The Fresh Market for water, snacks, and a picnic on your way out of town. Today, you’ll make the drive from Asheville back to Atlanta, stopping along the way at various trailheads and lookout points. The listed suggestions vary in distance and difficulty, so choose the one that best suits your time and preference today.

Head south out of Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway, an incredibly scenic route along which there are numerous stunning lookout points and trailheads. After about an hour's drive, you'll come to Graveyard Fields (Milepost 418.8), where you can take a short hike to a beautiful waterfall. If you’re up for it, there is a longer 3.5-mile loop through a meadow to another waterfall. You’ll even find wild blueberries along this route if you visit in August! 

Further along, you'll come to Devil's Courthouse just past Milepost 422. Here, you'll find a short but strenuous 0.5-mile trail that climbs to the peak. Within the mountain is a cave where (legend has it) the devil holds court. The panoramic views here look out over North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Next up is the Richland Balsam Overlook (Milepost 431). Richland Balsam Mountain rises to 6,410 feet and is the highest peak on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Park at the Haywood-Jackson Overlook for the 1.5-mile loop hike that leads you to the top. This route climbs approximately 700 vertical feet, but it's not overly strenuous. 

Just after Milepost 451, you’ll turn off the Parkway and come to Browning Knob Overlook. If you're still in the mood for a hike, Waterrock Knob is a 1.2-mile round-trip to the summit. There, you'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of several mountain ranges from the highest pedestrian point on the Parkway. It is a steep climb, but the views are well worth it! 

The parkway ends just north of Cherokee, from which you'll continue south to Black Rock Mountain State Park. Here, you'll find even more stunning views; roadside overlooks provide vistas for up to 80 miles over the Southern Appalachians. From here, it's just 2 hours further south along US-23 back to Atlanta. 

Total driving time: approx. 3.5 hours