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  • Strolling along Oak Alley on St. Simons Island, Georgia
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    Starting Point: St. Simons Island, Georgia

  • Surfing in the Atlantic Ocean on Tybee Island, Georgia
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    Beach Beckons at Tybee Island, Georgia

  • Golfing at the Ocean Course, home of the 2012 PGA Championship, on Kiawah Island, South Carolina
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    Bask in Luxury at Kiawah Island, South Carolina

  • Iconic SkyWheel and the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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    Family Fun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

  • Heading in to dock at Wrightsville Beach, a 15-minute drive from downtown Wilmington, North Carolina
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    Surfing and Beach Life in Wilmington, North Carolina

  • In Emerald Isle, North Carolina, the Civil War-era Fort Macon State Park
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    Explore the Beauty of Emerald Isle, North Carolina

  • Hang gliding the 30-meter dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina
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    Wild and Scenic Nags Head, North Carolina

  • King Neptune statue on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, Virginia
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    Coastal Adventures at Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • The famed wild ponies of Chincoteague Island, Virginia
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    Final Destination: Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Flurry of activity along the concrete boardwalk and beach area at Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Cruise the Southern Coast

  • Route distance:
    1446.00 km
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

Picturesque views and fun in the sun in four states

It’s hard to find a more picturesque part of the South than the beautiful beaches of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. From riding waves to spotting sea turtles, these coastal destinations offer a medley of fun in the sun, on land and in the water. Make sure you pack a bathing suit or two as you weave your way along the coast from St. Simons Island in Georgia north to Chincoteague Island in Virginia.

01
Strolling along Oak Alley on St. Simons Island, Georgia
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Starting Point: St. Simons Island, Georgia

After a 110-kilometer drive from Jacksonville International Airport in Florida, take a deep breath and smell the ocean air as you enter the barrier island resort town of St. Simons via the Torras Causeway. There is plenty to explore – beaches, nature preserves and historic sites – on the largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Travel by car or bicycle to shop in between stops at several historic sites. For the best view on the island, climb 129 steps to the top of the St. Simons Island Lighthouse and Museum. Take a break from sightseeing and dine at local restaurants specializing in local meat, fish and organic produce in addition to Italian, seafood and savory Southern barbecue. Since you’re on an island, visit the Historic Coast Guard Station on East Beach. Tour the Maritime Center, then venture outside to rent sailboats, paddleboards and umbrellas and relax on the sand before venturing into the Atlantic Ocean. Before you head to Tybee Island, squeeze in a round of golf at one of the challenging nearby courses, including the Sea Palms, Sea Island and Frederica golf clubs.

164 km
2 hours by car
02
Surfing in the Atlantic Ocean on Tybee Island, Georgia
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Beach Beckons at Tybee Island, Georgia

A couple of hours north, you’ll find another beautiful Georgia island, Tybee Island. Known as “Savannah’s Beach” because it is 20 minutes from the city, the popular coastal paradise features kilometers of public beaches that teem with wildlife. Start your day with brunch before heading to the beach for lounging and swimming. Should you choose to venture farther out on the water, join a boat tour to watch bottle-nosed dolphin frolic in the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re feeling active, rent a bike and explore the island. You won’t want to miss the views from the busy Tybee Island Pier and Pavilion. Other great area activities include a visit to the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum. As your day winds down, and before leaving the state, visit the Tybee Island Crab Shack to see a collection of live alligators large and small in a pond next to the restaurant.

212 km
3 hours by car
03
Golfing at the Ocean Course, home of the 2012 PGA Championship, on Kiawah Island, South Carolina
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Bask in Luxury at Kiawah Island, South Carolina

As you drive onto Kiawah Island off the South Carolina coast, you’ll immediately notice an emphasis on nature and preservation. The barrier island is home to 16 kilometers of uninterrupted beaches, 48 kilometers of marsh and world-class golf at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Turtle Point Golf Course or the Ocean Course, which hosted the 2012 PGA Championship.  Stay at the Kiawah Island Sanctuary hotel, ranked by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the best hotel spas in the country.  The rooms and villas at this oceanfront hotel are a luxurious escape with plush amenities. Venture out to the beach, take a hike, watch birds and relax in this peaceful paradise. Don’t forget to dine at the Ocean Room, the only steakhouse in the United States to earn both Forbes 4 Star and AAA 4 Diamond ratings. Have some extra time before you head north to Myrtle Beach? Other nearby Charleston-area islands worth exploring include Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island and Seabrook Island.

190 km
3 hours by car
04
Iconic SkyWheel and the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
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Family Fun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

It’s an almost immediate realization seeing Myrtle Beach for the first time: This is a lively vacation destination filled with ocean-side amusements, bustling boardwalks, an entertainment district and kilometers of sandy beach. This hot spot is divided into North and South Myrtle Beach, and you’ll find great fun at either end. Start your day by strolling the Second Avenue Pier or Cherry Grove Pier to see what fishermen are catching; better yet, rent your own pole. Rent a bicycle to get some exercise and sightsee at a slower pace. Myrtle Beach has more than 100 golf courses, so schedule a tee time at courses like the Grande Dunes. Head to Broadway at the Beach and enjoy movie theaters, games and shops. While you’re near the boardwalk, see the city from a different perspective on the 57-meter SkyWheel ride; each night, its light show dazzles. Families love playing laser tag or taking on the ropes course at WonderWorks. To fuel all of that energy, you’ll find a plethora of places to eat, ranging from hot dog stands to upscale restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. At night, enjoy live music at the House of Blues or the more family-friendly Alabama Theatre. For lodging, rent a condo, villa or home, or stay at a luxury resort or hotel. Rest up; you’ll be busy in North Carolina.

122 km
2 hours by car
05
Heading in to dock at Wrightsville Beach, a 15-minute drive from downtown Wilmington, North Carolina
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Surfing and Beach Life in Wilmington, North Carolina

As you enter Wilmington, know that you will want to split time between the charming downtown riverfront and the spectacular Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville beaches. Surfer Magazine named Wrightsville Beach, a 15-minute drive from downtown, one of the Top 10 surf towns in the USA. Didn’t bring a surfboard? No worries, rentals are available. Stroll, paddleboard or bike the beaches or venture onto Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, the only concrete fishing pier in the state. Farther south, take a sea kayak tour at Fort Fisher and see white-sand beaches, salt marsh and tidal creeks. Check out the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher and touch a live shark. In Wilmington, children will love water fun at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park. For waterfront history, tour the Battleship North Carolina to experience the daily life of its crew during World War II. Wilmington's Riverwalk leads you on a 3.2-kilometer boardwalk stroll along the Cape Fear River, or you can take a river cruise to sit back, relax and enjoy the sights. Tomorrow, you’ll be ready for a new adventure.

132 km
2 hours by car
06
In Emerald Isle, North Carolina, the Civil War-era Fort Macon State Park
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Explore the Beauty of Emerald Isle, North Carolina

As you arrive in Emerald Isle, part of the 137-kilometer Crystal Coast, you’ll soon see why people are drawn to the barrier island; its seashores, nature preserves, inlets and forests are the perfect backdrop for sightseeing and outdoor pursuits. Hit the beach and visit the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier to see what anglers are catching. Rent stand-up paddleboard, surfing and kayaking equipment and test your skills. If you visit in the off-season, Sept. 15 to April 30, pay a small fee and drive along the beaches. Nearby, tour Fort Macon State Park, a Civil War fort surrounded on three sides by water. Learn about water life at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Then, get ready to head up the coast to see even more of it.

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285 km
3 hours by car
07
Hang gliding the 30-meter dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina
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Wild and Scenic Nags Head, North Carolina

Nags Head sits among the Outer Banks, a strip of barrier islands storied in history, wildlife and scenic beauty. Visit Jockey's Ridge State Park; at 30 meters, it is the tallest sand dune on the USA’s East Coast. Kitty Hawk Kites teaches more than 10,000 students a year how to hang glide down the dune's slopes. Head to Jennette's Pier to fish, shop and take in ocean views. Drive the long but rewarding Outer Banks National Scenic Byway to Beaufort. It begins at Whalebone Junction in Nags Head, extends 6.5 hours south and includes the famed, narrow Coastal Highway 12 as well as 3.5 hours on two ferries. Another must-see attraction, the Banker ponies, have been around more than four centuries; they are descendants of Spanish mustangs brought to shore by explorers. Refuel, relax and plot the course for your next destination at a local restaurant. Do you want Southern comfort food or fresh seafood on the water? The choices are plentiful.

167 km
2 hours by car
08
King Neptune statue on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, Virginia
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Coastal Adventures at Virginia Beach, Virginia

Pulling in to Virginia Beach, your mood will change to match the laid-back beach vibe of this family destination brimming with boardwalks, historical sites and irresistible sandy beaches. If you’re in town in late August, watch them compete in the annual East Coast Surfing Championships. Another option is a breakfast boat cruise. Afterward, run, walk, bike or even skateboard the concrete boardwalk parallel to the beach. Rent fishing gear and see what you can catch off one of several piers. At First Landing State Park, cycle, hike and explore almost 1,214 hectares where the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean meet. Go to Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center to see hundreds of animals, learn about conservation and watch IMAX films. It’s a fun-filled but bittersweet day; your road trip ends tomorrow.

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174 km
2 hours by car
09
The famed wild ponies of Chincoteague Island, Virginia
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Final Destination: Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Make the most of your last day on Chincoteague, a serene resort island retaining its natural beauty without high-rise condominiums and excessive traffic. Chincoteague is famous for the wild ponies that roam the island; visit in late July for the annual Sunrise Pony Walk. Explore Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and its 5,666 hectares of beach, maritime forest, and saltmarsh and freshwater marsh, all of which house a variety of animals, migratory birds and plants. Be your own guide and rent a bicycle or fishing boat. Perhaps you would be more comfortable on a cruise with the captain taking you through private waters to see incredible wildlife, including the dolphins and bald eagles. To cap off your day, watch the sunset over the Chincoteague Channel. It will soon be time to drive 137 kilometers to Norfolk International Airport, where you’ll catch your flight home.

Official Travel South Information

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