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Author Topic: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back  (Read 4508 times)

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Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« on: March 28, 2015, 03:42:42 AM »

Iím planning a trip from my home in Chicago to the Southeast, and I was hoping I could get your input. Iím looking for any comments you might have on the route that Iíve sketched out, things I might want to look out for or avoid. For the most part, I prefer the interstates, but if there are some particularly nice smaller roads, Iíll take those into consideration. Iím also on the lookout for interesting things (road-geek-wise and regular-wise) to see along the way.

Iím especially interested in finding some good barbecue along my route in South Carolina, so if you have any suggestions Iíd appreciate them. And anything that there might be to do in Asheville. Iíll be spending some time in the mountains there, but Iíd also like to explore the town a bit.

As far as the ďendgameĒ of my itinerary goes, Iím having some difficulty in deciding if I should take I-64 to I-65 or I-75 to I-74. Iíd prefer the second of these routes, but only if thereís something interesting for me to see along the way. As for the last bit, Iím not sure if I should take I-57 or I-65. Because this is so close to home, though, I think Iíd prefer whichever way is faster.


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Interstates clinched: 4, 57, 275 (IN-KY-OH), 465 (IN), 640 (TN)
State Interstates clinched: I-26 (TN), I-75 (KY), I-75 (TN), I-81 (WV), I-95 (NH)

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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2015, 06:48:41 AM »

I'd avoid the I-4 through Orlando.  It's like driving on Long Island or out in LA.
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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2015, 08:04:02 AM »

Perhaps I should have said on the Eisenhower or the Kennedy.
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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2015, 09:04:29 AM »

You're probably going to want I-75 and I-74 to get to Indy. Plenty of construction this year on I-65 in Southern Indiana and the highway usually has more traffic as it is.
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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2015, 10:00:19 AM »

I'd avoid the I-4 through Orlando.  It's like driving on Long Island or out in LA.

Yes I-4 is to be avoided, but if you want to clinch it, I'd do it early in the morning or late at night, or just know that you'll be slugging it out. Otherwise taking Toll 408 west to the Turnpike to Toll 429 south is a good bypass to avoid the routine traffic congestion through the theme park areas.

If you are coming south into Bradenton during the peak hours, both bridges across the Manatee River routinely clog up through to the respective signals at SR 64. I-275 south to I-75 south to SR 64 west is a better way to go during the evening commute hours.

35 miles of I-75 are currently under construction from north of I-4 to Sumter County for six-laning. The only problem spots are in Hillsborough County however, and that is during the evening peak hours for northbound. The turbine at I-4/75 also routinely sees congestion.

Is your path from Pensacola to Gulf Shores taking you on I-110 south to US 98 Business to SR 292? CR 292A can be a good alternate to avoid some of the congestion along Sorrento Road (SR 292). SR 292 along that stretch is mostly woods and suburban sprawl anyway, whereas CR 292A runs along the north shore of Big Lagoon.

Alabama 182 is a blitz of condo towers from Perdido Beach west to Alabama 59. The spur west from Alabama 59 is more low key. The drive out to Fort Morgan is a nice one, but it does take awhile.

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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2015, 10:18:47 AM »

When you cross into Mississippi from Arkansas I would take US 61 all the way down to Natchez. It also goes through Vicksburg and has a civil war park.

Also in Alabama if you take the ferry from Dauphin Island there is an old fort on the other side (Fort Morgan). If I remember right it's free to enter and you are allowed to explore the fort yourself (no tour guide). The fort is built to blend in with the hill.
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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2015, 03:43:10 PM »

Definitely I-75 and I-74 over I-64 and I-64. Not only is there construction in Louisville, but the route (I think) is more scenic if you go through Cincinnati. Don't go into downtown Cincy, though, use I-275 to connect.

I know you said you prefer interstates but from Johnson City, Tenn. to Lexington, I would take US 23 north through Virginia into Kentucky, then immediately turn on US 119 south to Whitesburg, then onto KY 15 north to the Mountain Parkway. Much of this route is four-lane (all of US 23, portions of US 119 and KY 15, and all of the Mountain Parkway) and the parts that are not four-lane are improved. Another option is to take US 25E north from Morristown, Tenn. to connect with I-75 at Corbin, Ky. It's all four-lane and you will get to see the Cumberland Gap tunnel as well as drive on the Pineville, Ky. floodwall.
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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2015, 12:31:35 AM »

I'd avoid the I-4 through Orlando.  It's like driving on Long Island or out in LA.
Yes I-4 is to be avoided, but if you want to clinch it, I'd do it early in the morning or late at night, or just know that you'll be slugging it out. Otherwise taking Toll 408 west to the Turnpike to Toll 429 south is a good bypass to avoid the routine traffic congestion through the theme park areas.
I was indeed planning on clinching it, although Iím now reconsidering because itís been made clear that this is folly. Iím generally loath to use toll roads though, out of principle, so going around Orlando like that is out. How is the traffic on I-4? Would I be going 40 or 45 mph or would it be stop and go the whole way? I would consider something like taking I-75 to US-301 to I-10 to I-95, but Iíve been led to believe that there are ticket traps all over the place in that area, and Iíd prefer to avoid that headache. 


You're probably going to want I-75 and I-74 to get to Indy. Plenty of construction this year on I-65 in Southern Indiana and the highway usually has more traffic as it is.
Definitely I-75 and I-74 over I-64 and I-64. Not only is there construction in Louisville, but the route (I think) is more scenic if you go through Cincinnati. Don't go into downtown Cincy, though, use I-275 to connect.
This is good information to have. Iíve reluctantly accepted that I-65 from Indianapolis back to Chicago is the best route despite all the annoying traffic scrums, but it would be good to avoid construction in southern Indiana on top of that.


Is your path from Pensacola to Gulf Shores taking you on I-110 south to US 98 Business to SR 292? CR 292A can be a good alternate to avoid some of the congestion along Sorrento Road (SR 292). SR 292 along that stretch is mostly woods and suburban sprawl anyway, whereas CR 292A runs along the north shore of Big Lagoon.
Iíll actually be traveling eastbound (and north) on this stretch, but to be honest, I thought Iíd just go from Fort Morgan on AL-180 to I-10 any which way, probably the Foley Beach Express. If you have anything better, Iíd be happy to hear it, though.


When you cross into Mississippi from Arkansas I would take US 61 all the way down to Natchez. It also goes through Vicksburg and has a civil war park.
Is US-61 a good road, both road-wise and scenery-wise? I did want to take the Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit, which necessitates a bit of a zigzag, but if US-61 is just as scenic, I just may go that way.


Also in Alabama if you take the ferry from Dauphin Island there is an old fort on the other side (Fort Morgan). If I remember right it's free to enter and you are allowed to explore the fort yourself (no tour guide). The fort is built to blend in with the hill.
I will definitely be checking this out.


I know you said you prefer interstates but from Johnson City, Tenn. to Lexington, I would take US 23 north through Virginia into Kentucky, then immediately turn on US 119 south to Whitesburg, then onto KY 15 north to the Mountain Parkway. Much of this route is four-lane (all of US 23, portions of US 119 and KY 15, and all of the Mountain Parkway) and the parts that are not four-lane are improved. Another option is to take US 25E north from Morristown, Tenn. to connect with I-75 at Corbin, Ky. It's all four-lane and you will get to see the Cumberland Gap tunnel as well as drive on the Pineville, Ky. floodwall.
Iím not so sure about the first route, but the second seems pretty interesting.
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Interstates clinched: 4, 57, 275 (IN-KY-OH), 465 (IN), 640 (TN)
State Interstates clinched: I-26 (TN), I-75 (KY), I-75 (TN), I-81 (WV), I-95 (NH)

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Re: Trip from Chicago to the Southeast and Back
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2015, 03:19:17 PM »

Are you interested in clinches? If so, it doesn't add all that much distance in the scheme of things to go down I-26 to Charleston and then back to I-95 via US-17. The construction on Route 17 is finished and it's four lanes the whole way; I think I recall the speed limit being 60 mph (I last used it the Saturday night before this past Christmas). Yes, this does take you off the Interstate for a while, but if you're interested in clinches, it's the way to go, and there are very few (if any) traffic lights once you're out of the Charleston vicinity.

Do not speed through Ridgeland, SC (chickenshit speedtrap town with jurisdiction over a small segment of I-95 between the US-17 merge and Hardeeville).

We had a pretty good dinner at Sam Snead's Tavern at Exit 104 in Georgia, though it's not a barbecue place.
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