A road trip from Chapel Hill to Charleston has all the hallmarks of a memorable holiday. The route offers the opportunity to see state parks, historical sites and major cities along the way. This road trip will also provide the chance to see one of the most-visited national parks, old plantations and wonderful theme parks suitable for kids and adults. You can even take a detour and drive along the coast for the entire trip. Learn more about planning this unforgettable Chapel Hill to Charleston road trip.
Whether you're a history buff or you simply enjoy being in nature, national parks are a reliable way to kick off any good trip. Here are some nearby national parks you should consider.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers part of the Appalachian mountain chain and is home to some of the highest peaks you'll find anywhere. The 522,419-acre park stretches through Tennessee and North Carolina, and it's the largest protected area in eastern North America. The combination of its biodiversity, scenic views, and rich cultural heritage makes it one of America's most visited national parks. Some of the animal species that live in the park include black bears, wolves, mountain lions, wild turkeys, and over 200 bird species. Things to do at the park include backcountry hiking, biking, fishing, and guided tours. Getting to the park will take you four hours by road if you take the I-40.
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is home to the largest intact bottomland hardwood forest in the eastern U.S. The 26,276-acre park is located right in Central South Carolina. The park's lifeline is sustained by water from the Congaree and the Wateree Rivers as nutrients carried by the two rivers are deposited in the floodplains. Getting there isn't much trouble since the park is only an hour away from Charleston. In addition to learning about the diverse plant life, you can go hiking through the numerous trees to get an up-close look at the variety of plant life that can be found within the park's grounds. Other attractions include fishing at the Congaree River, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. If you enjoy backcountry camping, the park has campsites and cabins so you can stay a night or two.
State parks are often more accessible than national parks. They're also less crowded, which is perfect if you're looking for a quiet destination. Below are some noteworthy state parks along the way that should be included in your Chapel Hill to Charleston Road Trip Itinerary.
Raven Rock State Park
Raven Rock State Park is located in Harnett County, North Carolina. The 4,810-acre park sits along the fall zone, where hard, resistant rocks transition to softer bedrock. This change in the landscape makes the park a popular attraction for hikers. Other pursuits include horseback riding, fishing, and canoeing. Just make sure you adhere to all the safety regulations, especially those concerning watersports. The park also has an RV campground right at the entrance. Facilities provided at the campsite include toilets, full hookups, a bathhouse, and a tent pad.
Jones Lake State Park
The 2,200-acre Jones Lake State Park is found in Bladen County, North Carolina. It's only 40 minutes from the city of Fayetteville, which is directly on your route. The park is a popular destination for visitors who are fond of a relaxed picnic under the pine trees. Jones Lake and Salters Lake make the park a great place for watersports, and kayaks, canoes, and any watercraft under 10 horsepower are allowed on the water. You can also explore the 10-mile trail around the thickets. Jones Lake State Park has more than 20 tent and RV campsites with full hookup, picnic areas, and bathhouses.
Colleton State Park
Colleton State Park covers just 35 acres, making it the smallest park in the state of South Carolina. Located in Colleton county along the I-95, it's the perfect stop along your route since it's only an hour from Charleston. Despite its small size, the park has enough activities to keep you entertained throughout the day. The main attraction at Colleton State Park is the Edisto River. Guests can take part in various recreational activities, such as fishing, canoeing, hiking, and kayaking. Like other state parks in South Carolina, there are campsites for RV campers complete with full hookups, dumping stations, and a picnic area.
Although exploring nature is fun, you can keep things interesting by visiting locations other than parks. Try everything from shopping malls to amusement parks to several other sights worth stopping for. Here are a few suggestions.
Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park
Parks alone may not cut it if the kids are coming along on the trip. Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park is located in Wilmington, North Carolina, and requires heading south until you hit the ocean. Although it will take you an extra hour from Lumberton, it's well worth the drive. Popular attractions at the park include laser tag, rock climbing, go-karts, mini-bowling, a water park, and a golf course.
Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Park
Wet’n Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park can be found in Greensboro, North Carolina. Getting there will take an hour's drive eastward from Chapel Hill. The 48-acre park is the largest water park in North Carolina with an impressive 38 water rides holding more than 3 million gallons of water. Attractions at the park include a gigantic wave pool, a 76-feet water chute, raft rides, and slides. Guests can also shop and dine at the park.
Magnolia Plantations and Gardens
This 464-acre property is one of the oldest plantations in South Carolina. Magnolia Plantation is just 25 minutes from Charleston and makes for a fun way to close your trip. The two major attractions are the romantic-style Magnolia Garden and the Drayton family home that has stood the test of time. The house will give you a glimpse of what it was like to live on a plantation. The tour will also take you through the humble slave dwellings on the property. You can take a piece of the garden home by purchasing plants at the Gilliard Garden Center.
Driving backcountry roads may be a bit more quiet and tranquil, but it's also nice to come across some major cities during your travels. Below are the cities you'll pass through on this Chapel Hill to Charleston RV road trip.
Raleigh is the state capital of North Carolina. Although the city extends into Durham County, a large part of it is in Wake County. Raleigh forms part of the Research Triangle Park with nearby Chapel Hill and Durham city. Given their proximity, Raleigh is the first major city you'll pass through on your road trip. While there, you can visit the dump stations in the tri-city area, such as the Triangle RV park, for rest and sanitation.
Fayetteville is found in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Although the city began with just 3,000 residents in the 1800s, it has expanded and now hosts more than 200,000 people. The city is known for hosting a major U.S Army installation known as Fort Bragg. Like any major city, there is no shortage of campgrounds. You can check-in at the Lazy Acres Campground, which offers full hookups and other modern amenities.
Columbia is the state capital of South Carolina. It's the second-largest city in the state with a population of more than 131,000 people. Established in 1786, it was the first city to be named after Christopher Columbus. Today, Columbia is known for the Riverbank Zoo and the Columbia Museum of Arts. There are numerous RV dump stations, like the Camden RV Park, where weary travelers can stop for a quick rest.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Chapel Hill to Charleston, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Chapel Hill or Charleston.