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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Thanks to the good folks in this forum, I was motivated into doing a PCD for my X5 35i. After some inputs from the forum and a lot of reading of guidebooks and maps I have came up with the tentative route or cities to visit below.

I have decided on a more Southern route going back to California since I have been to Colorado and Utah. Looking at all these cities I'm thinking it's going to take 2 weeks or more to get home which is pretty long to drive. Please help me critique the trip and let me know if I should cut out certain city or change the route a bit for a more interesting destination. Too little time for a certain city? Too aggressive? Too tiresome? All opinions welcomed!

An "*" indicates a night's stay. The number of * indicates number of nights.

Greer
Asheville **
-deleted Tail of The Dragon
Charleston ***
Savannah
-deleted Atlanta
-deleted Birmingham *
-deleted Memphis *
+added Orlando **
+added Tallahassee *
New Orleans ***
Houston *
San Antonio *
Carlsbad (Cavern) *
El Paso
Tucson*
Phoenix *
Los Angele

I have also mapped the cities below with mileage indication for your reference, along with other cities or potential routes. Thanks for your time!





 

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You're driving from Asheville to the Dragon and then to Charleston in a day ? That's a long haul. Lots of mountain roads (slow driving). You'll be very tired after this leg of the journey.
Heading out of Savannah, unless you have a reason to go to Memphis, I would hit I-85 south in Atlanta to Montgomery, then on to Mobile (I-65 ?) and New Orleans (I-10).
 

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Looks like a great trip to me. I agree that the Asheville, Daragon, Charleston leg in one day is pushing it especially with two moms in the back seat. I would find an intermediate stop on the way to Charleston.

One thing that will make your trip a little easier is preloading your major stops into the navigation system through Google Maps. You can do this while you are still in California. See my post http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5984271&highlight=#post5984271. I'm not sure, but you may be limited to to storing ten Google Map waypoints. Just create a single map with all of the stops and download some on the road if that is indeed a limitation.
 

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When going to Asheville from Greer, I would take state hwy. 11 west to 276 north to Brevard and follow 276 through Pisgah National Forest until you reach the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take the Parkway to Asheville. This is a great "Mental Health" drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tom, yes, going to the Tail of The Dragon is problematic. It's about 100 miles from Ashville each way so if I start from Asheville and then back it's pretty much a "most of the day" event. Then I need to spend time to tour the Biltmore estate so I think I pretty much need to spend 2 nights at Asheville.

George, taking 11/276 from Greer to Asheville seems to add about 20 miles or about an hour compared to taking the freeways? Can be a viable option since I'll have the time to do this after leaving PC at about 3-4pm. Is the section through the mountain pretty windy though? Might be hard to take if I have to deal with hairpin turns for around 50 miles.

What do you guys think? Is the Tail of The Dragon worth the effort and time since it's out of my route? Is there a more sensible alternative to see the Smoky Mountain and experience some "spirited driving"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Looks like a great trip to me. I agree that the Asheville, Daragon, Charleston leg in one day is pushing it especially with two moms in the back seat. I would find an intermediate stop on the way to Charleston.

One thing that will make your trip a little easier is preloading your major stops into the navigation system through Google Maps. You can do this while you are still in California. See my post http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?p=5984271&highlight=#post5984271. I'm not sure, but you may be limited to to storing ten Google Map waypoints. Just create a single map with all of the stops and download some on the road if that is indeed a limitation.
Thanks! That's a great tip. I believe BMW Assist is included in my options. How do I send the way points to the Nav after I sign up? Thru a BMW Assist website?
 

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Tom, yes, going to the Tail of The Dragon is problematic. It's about 100 miles from Ashville each way so if I start from Asheville and then back it's pretty much a "most of the day" event. Then I need to spend time to tour the Biltmore estate so I think I pretty much need to spend 2 nights at Asheville.

George, taking 11/276 from Greer to Asheville seems to add about 20 miles or about an hour compared to taking the freeways? Can be a viable option since I'll have the time to do this after leaving PC at about 3-4pm. Is the section through the mountain pretty windy though? Might be hard to take if I have to deal with hairpin turns for around 50 miles.

What do you guys think? Is the Tail of The Dragon worth the effort and time since it's out of my route? Is there a more sensible alternative to see the Smoky Mountain and experience some "spirited driving"?
I'll probably get shot for saying this, but the dragon is over rated. I think George gave a good route suggestion. It'll give you a good mix of mountain driving and "seeing the smokies", although the section of the Appalachian mountains you'll be going through is technically the Blue Ridge mountains. You can decide when you get to Asheville if you want more windy, curvy roads (the dragon), or if you want to go straight to Charleston from Asheville.
 

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The dragon can be great. It can also $uck if you get a day where there are police every half mile or so or some one is doing 20 mph in front of you. I've driven it several times, but if it were me, on a trip like this I would skip the dragon. You can get a lot of mountain road driving from Greer to Asheville. As someone said, take 276 to Brevard, then the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville. I would stay in Asheville then head to Charleston the next day. Also there is much more to see/do in Charleston than in Savannah. I would go to Savannah, but shade any extra time in favor of Charleston. Also if you have the time you might want to take 17 out of Charleston over to Beaufort SC. It would give you a chance to see the low country up close. You can catch 95 near Beaufort to get to Savannah. Sounds like a great trip. N4S
 

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OK, here is another local's perspective on the SE part of your trip.

Charleston is uniquely awesome. So much history and well preserved charm. 2 days there would be nice. Savannah is OK but compared to Charleston is a poor second.

Skip Savannah, think about going on down the FL east coast and touring the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Just winding up the space shuttle program so this would be timely.

Avoid Atlanta, Birmingham, and Memphis (unless you have a reason to go there) ..... stay south toward New Orleans on the return route.

Did someone say you had back seat passengers? Spirited driving for you in the twisties will be a gut wrenching (what color interior did you say?) experience for them!

I love road trips .... hope you will have a ball with this one! :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Like I said, all opinions are welcomed! I'm thinking of going to Memphis because my mother-in-law wants to see Graceland...but it's a long way up and going into Florida would be more to see. Well, Atlanta/Birmingham/Memphis are also well-known cities that I haven't been to in the South.

How do the road side sceneries compare between the 2 routes (Atlanta-Birmingham-Memphis-New Orleans vs. Orlando-Tallahassee-Mobile-New Orleans) ?

Interior is Oyster...as in off-white! I'll steal a few barf bags from the flight. Nothing is going to get in the way of my Ultimate Driving Experience!
 

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How do the road side sceneries compare between the 2 routes (Atlanta-Birmingham-Memphis-New Orleans vs. Orlando-Tallahassee-Mobile-New Orleans) ?
Never been those exact routes, but expect flat, straight roads from Orlando to NO and rolling hills, gentile curves from ATL to NO.
 

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Thanks! That's a great tip. I believe BMW Assist is included in my options. How do I send the way points to the Nav after I sign up? Thru a BMW Assist website?
The BWM Assist part that includes Google Maps is free with the car. When you sign the purchase papers at the dealer have them fill out the BMW Assist form and give them your email address and sign the form. They should send the information in immediately to BMW. At that point you are registered with BMW.

If you don't have a Google account - gmail or whatever - you have to establish one on the Google website. The Google account doesn't have to use the same email address that you used for BMW Assist. After you sign into your gmail account go to maps.google.com. Create a marker at a location on the map, right click the marker, click more then send. Select car from the dialog box then BMW then fill in the email address that you used for BMW Assist. That's it. No BMW Assist web site is necessary although you might want to call the number on the BMW Assist website just to make sure that the Delaer registered you.

As far as Savannah and Charleston go, we stopped at both for two nights on the way home from PCD in March. Both are delightful places with plenty of sight seeing and great places to eat. It all depends what you're interested in. No question that the Space Center is an awesome experience. If you go that way a stop in Destin or Ft. Walton Beach, FL to walk on the beach is a memorable experience as you travel to New Orleans.
 

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Like I said, all opinions are welcomed! I'm thinking of going to Memphis because my mother-in-law wants to see Graceland...but it's a long way up and going into Florida would be more to see. Well, Atlanta/Birmingham/Memphis are also well-known cities that I haven't been to in the South.

How do the road side sceneries compare between the 2 routes (Atlanta-Birmingham-Memphis-New Orleans vs. Orlando-Tallahassee-Mobile-New Orleans) ?

Interior is Oyster...as in off-white! I'll steal a few barf bags from the flight. Nothing is going to get in the way of my Ultimate Driving Experience!
If your mother in law is a HUGE Elvis fan you may want to go see Graceland. I mean if she worshipps Elvis. I have been and it's ok if you are in Memphis anyway. I wouldn't drive that far out of your way to see it. Especially after seeing Biltmore, Graceland will look even more like the cheesie 1970's large house that it is. I would take the time and go to Florida or stay in Charleston an extra night. N4S
 

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You've got plenty of great ideas here. My 2 cents are as follows for some of the local travel you have planned:

Skip the dragon and take 276 up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and then go to Asheville. I would suggest stopping at Caesar's Head State Park for a restroom break and a nice overlook to walk out for an increadible view when the sky is clear. 276 will also take you through the Pisgah National Forrest and there is a waterfall you can park and walk to right before you get to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I like both Charleston and Savannah a lot but prefere Charleston. They are both similar in historic representation. I would stop in Charleston and replace Savannah with Beaufort and Hunting Island State Park to give you a different look and perspective. Hunting Island is a semi-tropical maritime forrest that houses a lot of wildlife. Personally, I vacation in the summer at Harbor Island (right next to Hunting Island) and Edisto Island. They are much more laid back and not overtaken by the large amounts of tourists in the summer.
 

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My son and I drove the dragon on labor day weekend in 2009. We left from our home outside Columbia, SC, and drove up to the dragon and back in one 12 hour day. Charlston is less than 2 hours away so I would estimate 8 -10 hours to go Ashville to the dragon to Charleston. There are small places to stay closer to the dragon, you might want to do that the night before to get this closer to 8 hours. It also matters whether you go scenic routes or go to more major roads. Smaller roads that have to be traveled at slower pace look nicer but take longer. If you google the tail of the dragon you will get to a website that will give you a map of the scenic roads in this area.

I haven't been to the Memphis (other than passing through the airport) but I've been to Atlanta and Birmingham many times. I'm sure there are touresty things to do in each but I wouldn't go out of my way to visit either on vacation. The roads around Memphis would be a lot more interesting. Highways around Atlanta and Birmingham are good but boring. Roads around Memphis should be more interesting. Atlanta is huge with tons of traffic and people are unusally rude for the South (reminds me of NYC). Birmingham has some hills and people drive more politely.

Florida is terribly flat with really crowded major highways. But there are interesting things to see there. The gulf coast is less crowded.

Charleston and Savanah are good vacation spots. There is a beach at Charleston but I haven't been there. Both cities have a lot of history. You can do a walking tour of interesting sites in Charleston but a horse drawn carriage is a better idea in Savanah. As you come in on I-26 to Charleston, you pass a visitors center (with free parking) that will provide a lot of useful information. I don't watch the cooking channel but the ladies would probably want to go to Paula Dean's place in Savanah. I went there and it didn't do too much for me but the food is pretty good. Not terribly healthy but tasty. You have to go early (like early morning) to get a reservation. I think you have to go in person.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks to all for the valuable input here I have made some modifications to the itinery.

I replaced: Atlanta, Birmingham and Memphis

And added: Orlando and Tallahassee


In hind sight I'm kind of glad I did this. The incredible amount of devastation from the recent tornados has got me fairly spooked. Coming from California I never even thought of tornados until an experienced friend mentioned that I should take a weather radio. Soon after that the NC tornado hit and now Alabama. Hopefully the now more coastal route has lower probabillities... Man, those twisters are more scary than the earthquakes we have here.
 

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No offense to anyone, but if I were you, I would skip FL altogether. It's really boring, flat and one of the most awful places I ever lived. I was in the Orlando area for a couple years and that was bad enough, but anything outside the cities, Cape Canaveral or gator country further south is mind-numbing. It always reminded me of a giant trailer park.

Charleston, on the other hand, is one of the best places I have ever been. My wife and I go there every year and are always reluctant to leave. Spend as much time here as you can.

Have a great trip!

Eric
 

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I've been dreaming about doing a trip like this in a new car since I drove I80 (ish) west from Ontario to BC.

I hope the trip goes well. It looks awesome!

Memphis has some cool stuff besides Graceland (which was a small side trip on a school band trip) including Sun and Stax recording studios, but it's not really all that exciting if you're not into that kinda thing, and I recall that some of the landmarks aren't in great neighbourhoods for a brand new BMW.
 

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If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, do that. You will be passing right by the Petrified Forest, so that is good too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
No offense to anyone, but if I were you, I would skip FL altogether. It's really boring, flat and one of the most awful places I ever lived. I was in the Orlando area for a couple years and that was bad enough, but anything outside the cities, Cape Canaveral or gator country further south is mind-numbing. It always reminded me of a giant trailer park.
LOL, between you (no FL) and Laser (no Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis) I will have a very narrow path to get through that part of the country. The trip down to FL will stop at Orlando and back up to the pan handle. But like I said in the begining, all opinions are welcomed. Thanks!

I've been dreaming about doing a trip like this in a new car since I drove I80 (ish) west from Ontario to BC.
Drove from Toronto past Thousand Lakes to Montreal & Quebec. Loved it!

Been to BC, Whistler many times, drove from BC up the Sunshine Coast to the Desolation Sound. Love this area even more than Toronto/Quebec! Prestine.

Also been to Lake Louise drove thru Glacier Parkway to Jasper-absolutely breath taking...

Connecting the dots between those 3, I can just imagine XC Canada would be a helluva trip.

If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, do that. You will be passing right by the Petrified Forest, so that is good too.
I'm in LA so Utah and Grand Canyon are pretty much my backyard, I'm blessed :thumbup:
 
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