Day 1: Spring is a nice time of year to experience the many attractions the Carolinas have to offer. We begin by traveling east through Missouri to Fairview Heights, IL, for night.
2: Today we cross southern Illinois and western Kentucky on our way to Ashland. Night in Ashland.
3: Just after crossing into North Carolina we arrive in Mount Airy, hometown of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for Mayberry on his popular television show. A brief city tour will acquaint us with some of the places Andy frequented in childhood. Later we continue to Raleigh for the night.
4: Today a local guide will show and tell us about the cities of Durham and Chapel Hill. We have a chance to see the campuses of Duke and the University of North Carolina. In the afternoon we continue east through North Carolina. Along the way we stop in Creswell to visit Somerset Place which gives a realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. We spend the next two nights on the Outer Banks.
5: A full day’s exploration of historic Roanoke Island with a step-on guide awaits us today. We visit the Bodie Island Lighthouse, then climb aboard a replica of the 16th century sailing vessel at the Elizabeth II State Historic Site. We visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, which features full-scale reproductions of the 1902 glider and the 1903 flying machine built by Wilbur and Orville Wright.
6: We travel to Fort Raleigh to stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens which feature the formal sunken garden. Our adventure takes us south to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We see the magnificent Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States. We board the ferry to Ocracoke Island to see the Ocracoke Lighthouse, built in 1822, the oldest structure on the North Carolina Coast. We ferry across to Cedar Island before going to Morehead City for night.
7: Today we enjoy more of the North Carolina coastline as we travel south to Wilmington to visit the Battleship North Carolina. During World War II it was in every major naval offensive in the Pacific, earning 15 battle stars. Night on the beach in Myrtle Beach.
8: The South Carolina coastline is in view today as we travel south to Charleston. We enjoy an exciting sightseeing cruise through Charleston’s beautiful harbor to famed Fort Sumter where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. Later we tour via carriage through Charleston’s historic downtown. Next two nights in Charleston.
9: This morning we tour the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in North America. Here we see and hear about how tea is grown and harvested. Following a box lunch at the Tea Plantation we visit Magnolia Plantation, selected as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens”. Founded in 1676, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond.
10: Our travel today takes us first through Columbia, SC, where we have a chance to see the South Carolina Capitol. Next we continue to Charlotte, NC, where we visit the Billy Graham Library. This 40,000 square foot experience allows visitors to discover the life and legacy of America’s Pastor. Later we drive to Mooresville for the night.
11: Mooresville is stock car racing country. A local guide takes us on a tour to see and hear about some of the famous NASCAR drivers and their garages which are a big part of the local economy. In the afternoon we drive to Asheville where we spend the night.
12: This morning we visit the famous Biltmore House and Gardens. Completed in 1895, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room chateau is as impressive today as it was more than a century ago. Biltmore House is truly a wonder of architecture and hospitality. We enjoy a self-guided tour of the house, as well as the beautiful gardens and grounds surrounding it. This afternoon we continue to Nashville for the night.
13: Our travel today takes us through the western tip of Kentucky and the southern part of Illinois as we drive west to St. Peters, MO, for the night.
14: As we travel back to our homes we have time to reflect on all we have seen and experienced in the Charming Carolinas.