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Road trip from Massachusetts to Georgia - do I need reservations?

We are planning a road trip from Massachusetts down the coast as far as Savannah and then back up via the mountain route in April. I would love to do this without reservations but not sure if that's a good idea. We are fine with chain motels.

Possible overnight stops include:
Chincoteague, Va
Mateo, NC (just in from Nags Head)
Beaufort, SC
Savannah, GA (2 nights)
Six Mile, SC (staying with relatives 4 nights)
Asheville, NC
Charlottesvile, VA
Front Royal, VA
Lancaster, PA

We have the freedom to add a few days where/when we want thus the desire to not have reservations.
What do you think? Which of those places, if any, would you feel you needed a reservation?

Posted by
18102 posts

Will the trip overlap with Easter/spring break? That might matter, especially at the southern coastal locations.

For this year, much might depend on whether a lot of lodgings are closed due to insufficient business.

You might take a look at a website like booking.com and see what shows up for your approximate dates in each location.

Posted by
9176 posts

You won't have a problem. You might want to make reservations one or two days ahead of time.

I've been living in a hotel in NC for over a year now. The company that owns my hotel owns a few throughout the state. I talk to the manager and he tells me that we're doing between 25 and 50% occupancy and we're performing better than most of the other hotels within the company.

Except for holidays, you shouldn't have a problem. People are not traveling and they don't expect an uptick in business until the summer. But as stated, some hotels may be closed due to the pandemic so check ahead perhaps in the mornings you depart to see what is available.

Posted by
1203 posts

Isabel, good choices. I've been to savannah, Asheville and Lancaster under normal circumstances.... is Biltmore on yr list??

My brother lived in the Lancaster /ephrata area for years.....lots of lovely things to see and do there.... are you photographers?

Posted by
128 posts

I'm from Hershey PA area near Lancaster and live in NC now SE of Asheville in the Charlotte region. Agree that you probably don't need reservations in April except for Easter weekend. I had to look up where Six Mile, SC was as I hadn't heard of it. You'll be near Greenville, SC which is a wonderful little town. I'd recommend adding it and Charleston, SC to your visit list if you have not been before.

Posted by
1533 posts

While you're in Lancaster check out the historical property maintained by the Rock Ford Foundation
https://historicrockford.org
to bring us back to Europe, this plantation farm was a Georgian pile that served as home for one of Washington's generals,
and it was architecture like this that inspired Jefferson and other rebels to advocate for a revival of classical (Roman) construction, because they were trying to contrast monarchical space with democratic space. Hence the development of various buildings in Virginia, like Monticello and the University, with the columns, etc. It was the opposite of Georgian. Sort of.

Posted by
1662 posts

Where do you want to stay in Savannah?

Some of the really nice places are small and might fill up, but if you’re fine with the standard hotel then I think you would be fine right now

Posted by
1715 posts

We have been everywhere on your list while driving across country. We’ve done extended road trips across America for years and never had a problem, particularly if like us, you have no problem with chain motels. Our ideal stay was a cheap motel with a restaurant in the parking lot; last check-ins, first departed. It was decades before we even had a cellphone, let alone TripAdvisor. Now in the age of Covid I’d guess it will be simpler yet to find your choice of accommodations. If Easter is in the mix I might plan around that. I think Savannah is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and we’ve been many times. There are some sweet places in the heart of the historic area that you may want to plan for also. Years ago we used to stay at the Planters Inn on Reynolds Square. There are several choices. Safe travels and stay healthy.

Posted by
733 posts

Thanks for the replies.
I'm thinking we'd go the middle two weeks of April, so after Easter. I'm hoping to get the vaccine before we go so that's kind of dictating the dates but leaving the 11th is my choice.

I'm not including Charleston as I spent 4 days there a few years ago. Also went to Savannah but only for 2 days and didn't get to Tybee Island which I want to do plus my husband was not on that trip that's why I'm planning on Savannah. And no, don't really care where we stay. This trip is not about where we stay at all, hotels will just be for sleeping.

I have looked at booking.com and there are plenty of choices everywhere we are going but of course early February and mid April (especially this year) are two very different things, that's why I'm asking. I think mid April misses spring break (but then I don't know when southern states do spring break) but I'm sure there are still plenty of people not tied to an academic spring break that will be traveling at that time. I put in mid April dates into booking.com but that's 10 weeks away so I'd expect there to be vacancies that far out.

But it sounds like it would be safe to have a list of hotels that sound good and just try booking them in the morning as we head out.

Posted by
2978 posts

Another vote for you should have no trouble getting a room. To maximize your time in each place pre-select places you’d like to see in each. There’s plenty to see in Lancaster County, PA but it can be spread out, such as Strasburg Railroad, Lititz, Ephrata, Intercourse. The pedestrian only downtown area of Charlottesville is nice to walk around. There are plenty of very good restaurants in the city. Front Royal is smaller and hotel selection might be a little more restricted than other places, but it has the advantage to being right by the entrance of the Skyline Drive/Shenandoah National Park. To me, the town itself has little to offer.

Posted by
6169 posts

Spring break in the NE is not in March usually April. However with COVID , it may be a moot point.

Posted by
3035 posts

To me, the town itself has little to offer.

Nearby Winchester is larger and looked like it had things to offer. Front Royal is almost suburban DC.

Posted by
67 posts

You could always book your first week with hotels that offer free cancelation and then play it by ear from there. That gives you a little security without giving up flexibility. Also look into the website hoteltonight.com for last minute bookings

Posted by
69 posts

Hello from Savannah. Spring break for about half the schools here in Georgia is the 2nd week of March, and the other half it is the week after Easter. Savannah is generally pretty busy in April. Don't know what this year will be like compared to previous years.

Posted by
1605 posts

hey hey isabel
few years back we flew to charleston and drove direct to hilton head where we stayed for 6 nights and did day trips, one of those nights we spent in charleston to see couple friends we met on cruise ship that live there and owned a restaurant. my first time to this area and loved it
we drove to savannah, parked the car and went roaming. did a trolley tour to be informed of places of interest. parks, fountains, statues, gardens, antebellum homes, different colorful flowers, haunted places in the city, cemetaries, diverse neighborhoods, food, river street marketplace, shopping, local souvenirs
ate fried green tomatoes for the first time (never heard of them) so so good
mrs wilkes dining room. it's down home southern family style, sit where ever they lead you to, menu is what they bring to table. no reservations 11am - 2pm M-F get there early, stand in line.
bonaventure cemetery. interesting, private in the beginning, and historical, who's buried there, sitting above the wilmington river. if you do go get a map.
friend read about yemassee, a lowcountry town and train station. stopped to see the remodeled station, shocked to see China Town chinese restaurant, been there a long time, carolina cider shop, frampton plantation house, seeing cotton growing along the hiway and back roads.
drove thru the small town of beaufort, it's artsy fartsy, and like it. my brother was stationed there 40 years ago so had to drive thru, over the bridge and thru the streets.
also drove to tybee island, fish boats along the way wanting to buy if i stayed longer being so fresh. drove a little around town then walked along the beach.
we really had a fabulous time being tourists. i grew up in rural/ranch area of hawaii so this was a new and wonderful experience. enjoy and have fun. lots of different opinions here, it's my 2 cents
aloha

Posted by
872 posts

Yes to Greenville, SC, as mentioned above. Yes to Chincoteague. Beautiful. Yes to Biltmore. A must see at least once in your lifetime in my book.

Other towns along I-81 in Virginia worth a look or overnight for their old downtowns include Staunton and Lexington, VA.

I’ll also ask “Why Front Royal?” unless you’re going to Shenandoah. Woodstock, New Market, and Winchester have more interesting if small old towns/main streets in my opinion (Route 11). BTW, the garden cafe in Woodstock is great for coffee or lunch (it’s a garden center advertised on the interstate exit sign.) Edit: I guess if you’re jumping from Charlottesville to Front Royal that means you’re taking Skyline Drive and/or Blue Ridge Pkwy?

Posted by
18102 posts

Check driving times carefully if you head off the interstates. As I recall, the speed limit on the Blue Ridge Parkway is 35 mph.

Posted by
872 posts

Isabel, just to add to acraven’s comment....
A few years ago I lost the car radio signal on a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I would imagine cellular service could be spotty in areas. Just a heads up that it can happen. Not for long stretches, but it’s a possibility.

Sounds like a great trip! Great places to visit!

Posted by
733 posts

Thanks for the replies. I'm so glad so many of you think reservations will not be necessary. I don't think I have ever (literally) done a trip without reservations (33 to Europe and countless others in the US) but for this one I really want to. I have an idea how long I want to spend in each place but would love to just decide to add a night - and if I have reservations that means all the remaining ones need to be changed as well. I just retired (into a Pandemic, so I could travel more - not quite working out as planned so far) so this is the first trip where I actually could just extend the whole thing by a few days or even more.

Chincoteague is someplace we went on family vacations (renting a house with two other family households) when my kids were little (for about 5 summers) so stopping there is just for nostalgia sake plus it's about 7-8 hours drive so makes for a good first day. And Front Royal is because it's a logical place to stop after a day of Sky Line drive. But if people have other suggestions of where to stay at that end of the Shenandoah National Park I'd love to hear them.

Posted by
872 posts

Isabel, as potential alternatives to Front Royal, you could stay at one of the national park lodges or cabins. I would definitely make a reservation if staying in the park. Visit goshenandoah.com for details. If you like historic properties, the Mimslyn Inn at Luray is an option. May also want to make a reservation if staying there. Luray is on Route 211 so not quite at the northern entrance of the park, but 211 will take you back to I-81 if you’re finishing the trip on the interstate. All of these places are too close to home for me to have spent the night, but I’ve eaten at the lodges and have been to Luray during the day. There are also some old fashioned cabins and motels along 211 (for example Brookside west of Thornton Gap on 211). It all depends on what level of lodging you’re seeking. If you’re viewing Front Royal as just a place to stay at a Holiday or Hampton Inn and then head on, there’s nothing wrong with it. It just comes across as a little “meh” to me compared to some other towns in the area. Hopefully others posters will weigh in with additional ideas!

Posted by
2527 posts

Nags Head, N.C. is known for its beautiful beaches. But it may be too cold to fully enjoy them in mid-April. I guess you could wear a turtleneck sweater and a windbreaker for a walk on the beach. You may have sunshine then, but cold temps and wind.
Some hotels and restaurants close every year for the winter, and do not open again until May.
The tourists just aren't there until then because of the cold.
Likewise for beautiful Chincoteague, Virginia.
You should check to see if some hotels and restaurants will be open.

Other than the above concerns, I don't think hotel reservations will be necessary.
I like the idea of just wandering until the spirit moves you to stop for the night.

Coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia will be much warmer that time of year than those in North Carolina and Virginia.
Savannah, GA is much more of a tourist destination and they'll be ready for you, with all hotels and restaurants open.
Unlike the Outer Banks area, Savannah doesn't close for the winter.

Posted by
2527 posts

One more destination I will suggest is St. Augustine, FL.
It's not all that far south of the GA state line.
St. Augustine is a lovely old Spanish city, with a Spanish fort, Castillo De San Marcos, built in the 1600's.
Historic buildings in the Old Town area will be as close as you can come for now to a visit to Spain.
Lovely beaches, lighthouse to climb the stairs for a view.
Lovely hotels in the Old Town area, walking distance to the Spanish fort.
Ride around town, look around, take your pick of hotels and B&B's.
Nice weather, but not hot, by mid-April.

Posted by
4646 posts

You will be passing close to our home, St. Simons Island, Georgia (between Savannah and Jacksonville, FLA). If you had more time you could stop in the Golden Isles (Brunswick, St. Simons and Jekyll Island.)

I always make reservations and research for a good B&B or Hotel. Do your research (use Kayak.com and TripAdvisor).

The Biltmore Estates is worth a day in Asheville.