With its world-class theme parks, great dining, and gorgeous weather, it's no wonder that Orlando is a vacation Mecca. Once you get your fill of active fun in the Magic City, a relaxing road trip from Orlando to Charlotte is in order. The southernmost east coast of the United States has plenty of natural and manmade attractions, from the cities of St. Augustine and Savannah to Congaree National Park. Veer northwest from Interstate 95 and take in the rolling hills of South Carolina, then cross into North Carolina and head for the Queen City of Charlotte to enjoy the amenities of a big city with a dash of small-town charm.
Congaree National Park
Less than two hours from Charleston, South Carolina, Congaree National Park contains the last old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. The beautiful trees here are also some of the tallest in the US, with some reaching a height of over 150 feet and there are cypress trees that are over a half-century old. The park is also a UNESCO biosphere reserve as it contains coastal, terrestrial, and marine ecosystems. Hikers will appreciate the varied trails with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting, and kayakers can enjoy lazy paddles on the river through the untouched forest.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A little under three hours' drive time from Charlotte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park combines jaw-dropping mountain vistas with early American history. From the park's North Carolina entrance in Cherokee, you can drive through the park to its Tennessee entrance in Gatlinburg. You'll pass both the lowest point in the Smokies, Newfound Gap, and the highest, Clingmans Dome, and get spectacular views the whole way. Cades Cove is a carefully preserved settlement of 19th-century buildings that beg to be explored. Hikers, fishermen, and nature lovers will find a wide variety of trails, streams, wildlife, and fauna.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Long before the mouse and the boy wizard showed up, tourists were flocking to Central Florida to play in the crystal-clear waters of Wekiwa Springs. Whether you want to swim, snorkel, or float around in a tube, the water is always a comfortable 72 degrees, making it a great year-round spot to include on your road trip itinerary from Orlando to Charlotte. Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle around, or you can hike the lovely wooded trails. The rest of the world will seem far away, so you'll find it hard to believe that the park is less than 20 miles from downtown Orlando.
Fort McAllister State Park
Civil War buffs will want to check out this historic park located about 10 miles south of Savannah. The fort was a stronghold of the Confederate Army, and it withstood seven Union Army attacks before General William Tecumseh Sherman captured it in 1864. Visitors can tour the well-preserved fort and museum, which contain many artifacts from the war. Those not interested in history can still enjoy hiking, fishing, and birdwatching on the Ogeechee River and nearby Atlantic Ocean beaches.
Edisto Beach State Park
Fifty miles from Charleston, this charming oceanfront state park offers a relaxing oasis as you near the end of your Orlando to Charlotte RV road trip. Summon your inner beachcomber, go hunting for seashells, or stroll along the easily accessible trails built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Campers of all stripes can find comfortable accommodations here, and boating and fishing are favorite activities. The South Carolina coast is one of the most beautiful in the world, and Edisto Beach lets you bask in that beauty to the fullest.
Lake Norman State Park
In the 1960s, Duke Power dammed part of the Catawba River and created the largest lake in North Carolina. They donated land on the lake's northern shore to create Lake Norman State Park about 40 miles north of Charlotte. Covering over 32,000 acres, boaters and swimmers flock to the lake, and the park's 37 miles of trails are sure to please hikers and bike riders alike. Nature and historical exhibits are also featured around the park.
St. Augustine, Florida
The oldest continuously inhabited city in the US, St. Augustine was founded by Spanish explorers in 1565. Its fort, Castillo de San Marcos, was completed in 1695, and history buffs will enjoy exploring its numerous historical exhibits and demonstrations. If history isn't your thing, you'll love the wide sandy beaches and charming restaurants. Best of all, it's within a few miles of Interstate 95, so it's an easy side trip on your Orlando to Charlotte road trip.
Florida is justly famous for its beaches, but Georgia's Golden Isles beaches are just as beautiful and infinitely less crowded. Consisting of St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, and Sea Island, they're great places to play golf, swim, hike, or just take a break from the road for a while. The ocean views are gorgeous, and Savannah is less than 90 minutes away for a bit of urban excitement. The islands aren't a secret, but they feel like they should be.
Hilton Head Island
For those who like their islands not off the beaten path, this world-famous resort off the southern coast of South Carolina is right up your alley. Stay at one of the many hotels or bed-and-breakfast spots, or you can establish your base in nearby Savannah and take the ferry over for a fun day trip. Whether it's shopping, golf, beachcombing, or simply relaxing, it's hard not to find an activity here that everyone can enjoy. Don't forget a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum, a Smithsonian Museum affiliate, and that gives a great overview of the island.
The largest city by area in the US, Jacksonville is a combination of contemporary urban and lazy old-time Florida. Home to both the prestigious PGA Players Championship and a branch of the largest private document collection in the world, the city has outgrown its reputation as a banking and military town. Be sure to ride the Jacksonville Skyway, a free people mover system within the main downtown area. Jacksonville area campgrounds have been praised for having some of the best beaches in the area, with plenty of paths for easy hiking and biking. Dump stations are readily available in and around the city.
With its stately live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and beautiful architecture, a visit to Savannah is well worth a detour from Interstate 95. Numerous sites offer a glimpse into every era of American history. Foodies won't want to miss a traditional southern boardinghouse meal at the legendary Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room. Savannah's restaurants offer everything from elegant haute cuisine to some of the best barbecue you'll ever eat. Savannah campgrounds are great stopping points on your road trip, many offering amenities like WiFi and RV repair sites. If you need a dump station, you'll find many in the area, including at campgrounds and road stops.
One of the most beautiful and historic cities in America, Charleston attracts visitors from all over the world. South Carolina's largest city has a rich history, beautiful weather, and a legendary food scene. You can explore antebellum homes, historic sites like Fort Sumter, waterfront trails, and even aircraft carriers. You'll start your final leg to Charlotte from here. Charleston campgrounds offer beautiful grounds with all the amenities. After a long day of exploring, you'll enjoy coming back and taking a dip in the pool or just relaxing at your site. Many campgrounds have on-site dump stations for added convenience.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Orlando to Charlotte, 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 Orlando or Charlotte.