Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip

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phlmaestro
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2017/09/27 16:31:12 (permalink)

Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip

I expect to be driving with my friend from the Philadelphia area to Charlotte, NC, on a Thursday in a couple weeks. We'll be leaving Philly early in the morning and will be on a tight schedule as we will be going to that evening's Eagles-Panthers game in Charlotte.
I had initially looked at the map and just figured that taking 95 to 85 to Charlotte was the obvious way to go. I have a restaurant agenda mapped out for that route.
But last night, I started worrying about Baltimore and Washington traffic and poked around online for alternate routes.
It looks like the alternates are to take 81 through Virginia to 77 or to link up with U.S. 29 or U.S. 15 and take one of those most of the way down.
Are there any thoughts on this from people who have much experience on these highways?
Are U.S. 29 and U.S. 15 in VA and NC like highways or are there many traffic lights when they go through towns?
If we take 81, I don't like the idea of driving on the PA Turnpike to link up with it in Carlisle. I'm considering taking a route from just north of Baltimore that will eventually link me up with 81 in Winchester, VA.
Food is obviously on my mind for this trip, but because of the need to get to Charlotte as quickly as possible, it has to take a back seat to finding the fastest route (although I have no doubt I'll find something good to eat on any of these routes).
Time won't be a factor during the return trip, so I can base that on where I want to eat.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
 
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/27 17:38:02 (permalink)
    Actually, I think I've figured it out.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 00:05:23 (permalink)
    phlmaestro
    Actually, I think I've figured it out.

    If "leave on Wednesday instead of Thursday" is what you decided on, then I think you came up with a good solution.
    #3
    JRPfeff
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 05:17:26 (permalink)
    I have heard that DC is to be avoided at all costs. I'm not familiar with your alternate route, but travel through Virgina on non-Interstates is pretty good. WV Interstate highways are outstanding.
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    IndianaPete
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 07:39:30 (permalink)
    I did this drive a few years back from Philly to High Point, NC.  We definitely went through Delaware for about 15 minutes so we must have done the Baltimore I-795 outer loop.  It must not have been bad because I don't remember it.  We were on it on a weekday in the late AM. I remember we entered/exited WV twice on the way there without leaving the interstate.  We spent a bit of time on Skyline Dr and the Blue RIDGE Pwy for the scenery, but opted to get on I-81.   Hope this helps verify your decision.  We were tourists with no schedule except that we spent the night in Shenandoah, so it was a leisurely two day trip for us.
    post edited by IndianaPete - 2017/09/29 09:58:45
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 07:59:43 (permalink)
    Thanks for the comments. 
    When we did our Mid-South trip a couple years ago, we went west on the PA Turnpike until it links up with 81 in Carlisle. We then took 81 all the way down through Virginia. 
    I've settled on taking 81 again because I read so many comments from people on other boards also indicating that the D.C. area on 95 is to be avoided at all costs, with 81 being by far the most suggested alternate route. But I'd prefer not to head in a northwest direction (even if it's only a little north) for the first two and a half or so hours of the trip, so at this point, subject to further change, my plan is to take 95 South until just north of Baltimore and link up with 695, taking that to I-70 West for a little while, then hooking up with US340 and taking that to VA-7 West, which will link us up with 81 in Winchester, VA.
    The other option would be to link up with US 29 and take that down through central Virginia. But I don't know what 29 is like and am inclined to play it safe and take the route I know.
    I wish leaving a day earlier were an option, but my friend - the driver - would prefer to only take two days off from work. We'll hang out in NC Friday and drive home Saturday.
    At this point, the two options I'm looking at for Friday are to remain in Charlotte and maybe head down into South Carolina, not too far from Charlotte, for lunch; or, drive up to the Chapel Hill-Durham area Friday and spend the second night around there before driving home Saturday.
    post edited by phlmaestro - 2017/09/28 08:07:24
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    Ivyhouse
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 09:31:33 (permalink)
    I have been on 340 to Charlestown, WV.  It is not a highway, there are traffic lights.  Have been on 15 in MD --  the part that is the northern extension of I-270.  That IS a highway, i.e., no traffic lights, it is also just two lanes in that section.  I-70 between Baltimore and Frederick, MD. is usually ok, but it is also impacted somewhat by commuter traffic.
     
    RE: traffic around Baltimore and DC, in general it is typically not great, but the usual times/days are more predictably worse than others -- Monday-Friday morning and evening commute times, major holidays.  Also, if you are coming through on the weekend pay attention to football schedules.
    #7
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 09:40:27 (permalink)
    Thanks, Ivyhouse. That was helpful.
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    Davebassman
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/28 15:45:27 (permalink)
    Too bad you are in a rush. A nice (but slow) alternative to I-81 is Rt. 11 in the Shenandoah Valley. A lot of small towns to stop in and have a meal or shop. 
    #9
    Greymo
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/29 09:33:29 (permalink)
    Davebassman
    Too bad you are in a rush. A nice (but slow) alternative to I-81 is Rt. 11 in the Shenandoah Valley. A lot of small towns to stop in and have a meal or shop. 


    Also, the Skyline Drive should be quite filled with color in a week or two.
    #10
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/29 11:04:48 (permalink)
    I'll see what we can do on the way home. Although I'm thinking of taking 85 and 95 as it will be a Saturday with no rush hour traffic when we get to Washington and Baltimore. I had restaurants lined up for that route, so I am hoping I don't have to totally abandon it.
    #11
    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/30 09:55:22 (permalink)
    Your 'decision point' will be the interchange of 95 and the 495 ("the Beltway").
     
    ----------------------
     
    If you want to go I-81 to I-77 to Charlotte take 495 West to I-66 West.  I-66 terminates at I-81; go South.  This route has the least traffic of any and as I-81 parallels U.S 11 it is an easy on/off to "Roadfoody" Shenandoah Valley stops in New Market, Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Roanoke.
     
    (Avoid the U.S. 29 route as there are now constant stoplights all the 130 miles from W.D.C. to Charlottesville; U.S. 15 is much the same.).
     
    ---------------------
     
    Back to the 95/495 'decision point'. 
     
    If you take 495 East you will save time and traffic by taking 295 South rather than continuing on 495.  I'd go 295 to 695 which becomes 395 to 95.  If that sounds too intimidating, just continue on 295 to where it hits 495 again at National Harbor/The Wilson Bridge, then take 95 South at Springfield to 85 to Charlotte.  That is the shortest route.
     
    ------------------------
     
    Then just use the resources of the Roadfood site to see what "gems" are along your chosen route.
     
    Whatever route you choose, your "must stop" - coming or going is for crab cakes at G&M Restaurant and Lounge.  And, if it were me, I'd make a side trip to  the Skylight.
     
    Happy trails!
    #12
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/30 11:38:14 (permalink)
    Thanks!  I've been to G&M for a crab cake, but I do have it on my list as a possible last stop on the way home this time around too if we still have the appetite and my friend isn't in too much of a rush to get home to his family. That's assuming we take the eastern route on the way home Saturday.
     
    On the way down, Thursday morning, I'm actually planning on getting off of 95 just north of Baltimore, onto 695 and taking that around to 70. I'll take 70 to 15, which I'll then take down to probably 66, but conceivably 64, and will take that west to 81. 
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    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/09/30 19:01:51 (permalink)
    From 70 @ Frederick, take 340 through Harper's Ferry and catch 7 West @Berryville to I-81. 
     
    Nice, open scenic road, more direct route, no traffic.
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/10/01 13:02:53 (permalink)
    MetroplexJim
    From 70 @ Frederick, take 340 through Harper's Ferry and catch 7 West @Berryville to I-81. 
     Nice, open scenic road, more direct route, no traffic.

    So you think I'd get as far as Staunton faster taking that route than 70 to 15 to 64 or 66 to 81?
     
    I'm thinking probably Wright's Dairy Rite for our lunch stop, although if we feel hungry enough before we get to Staunton, assuming we don't take 15 to 64, the Southern Kitchen is also a possibility. 
    post edited by phlmaestro - 2017/10/01 13:04:39
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    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/10/01 14:07:30 (permalink)
    phlmaestro
    MetroplexJim
    From 70 @ Frederick, take 340 through Harper's Ferry and catch 7 West @Berryville to I-81. 
     Nice, open scenic road, more direct route, no traffic.

    So you think I'd get as far as Staunton faster taking that route than 70 to 15 to 64 or 66 to 81?
     
    I'm thinking probably Wright's Dairy Rite for our lunch stop, although if we feel hungry enough before we get to Staunton, assuming we don't take 15 to 64, the Southern Kitchen is also a possibility. 



    Of course the first thing you should ask is "why take such advice from a guy living in Dallas"?
     
    Well, from 1969 - 2005 I lived in Charlottesville, then Staunton, then Arlington & McLean, where we still keep a place for visiting 3 of my 4 kids in Arlington, Hyattsville, & Charlottesville.  I have made countless trips and have travelled all roads in that area.  Further, I used to have season tickets for the Orioles and can still get to A.C. blindfolded.
     
    --------------------------
     
    1)  So, 15 from Frederick to I-64 south of Gordonsville is lovely, but is often 2 lane and has many small towns along the way that do not have bypasses.  Besides, why take I-70 north to Frederick when your primary direction is south?
     
    2)  Take 95 south to 495, take 495 west to I-66 west.  Don't fear 495 because it snarls only on weekday rush hours; otherwise it is wide and fast and the same goes for I-66 which, west of Manassas, is, like I-81, "country interstate".  That is, set your own speed limit.
     
    I-66 terminates at I-81 at 81's mile marker 300.  New Market is 36 miles south, Staunton is 78.
     
    Southern Kitchen is the New Market exit (mile 264).  Turn right on Rt. 11 and it's a block and a half on your left.  If you don't mind salt, the country ham and red-eye gravy is .
     
    Wright's Dairy Rite is the Staunton 250 west exit (mile 222).  Take 250 west towards Staunton a little more than a mile and you will literally run right into it as it is on R.t 11 at its "T" intersection with 250.  To get back on 81, go south a mile or so on 11 (Greenville Ave.) and it runs right into 81.  
     
    If you have a little time, tour Staunton some; I  the place and may retire there. 
    post edited by MetroplexJim - 2017/10/01 14:13:37
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/10/01 15:19:16 (permalink)
    The problem is ... we would be getting to the D.C. area early enough on a Thursday for there to still possibly be a traffic problem on the way down. I plan on taking 95 home on Saturday.
     
    But I really appreciate your comments. I ate at Southern Kitchen a couple years ago. While the meal wasn't bad by any means, I would say it didn't live up to my high expectations after wanting to eat there for so many years. But I'm still open to giving it another shot. I'm just leaning more in the direction of Wright's, which I've never been to. I've been on a burger and malt kick lately. 
    post edited by phlmaestro - 2017/10/01 15:23:43
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    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Need Driving Directions Advice for Philly to Charlotte, NC Trip 2017/10/01 16:06:33 (permalink)
    Even in rush hour the only Beltway 'issue' you may encounter might be the two miles between the I-270 split and the Cabin John Bridge into Virginia.  Once you're in Virginia the "rush" is on the other side.  Same with I-66 going west; smooth sailing that time of day.
     
    The first time I ate at the Southern Kitchen was 1959 when my parents took me to the nearby Endless Caverns.  The most recent time was 2013 for breakfast on the way to visit an old friend in Staunton.  Though I did enjoy my Country Ham and red-eye gravy, it's nothing worth travelling over 20 miles for.  But, they still have their iconic neon sign.
     
     
    I always liked Wright's Dairy Rite, but again - it is what it is - a darn good 'old timey' drive-in/sit down, not a Michelin trois etoiles.
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