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Road Trip Routes: 7 Days Along the Carolina Coast

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Coastal Carolina Books and Maps

For most people, beaches and an oceanside vacation bring states like Florida and Hawaii to mind. However, the Eastern Seaboard — more specifically the Carolina Coast — has beautiful shorelines, fun activities, and historic cities to visit. If you have some time to spare, consider this week-long road trip down the Carolina Coast.

Quick Facts:

  • Number of Days: 10
  • Number of Cities: 5
  • Total Drive Time: 8 hours and 14 minutes
  • Total Mileage: 424 miles

Note: All driving instructions are in italics. 

Holiday Road Trip: Celebrate July 4 with these events in New Bern, North Carolina

7-Day Road Trip: Carolina Coast

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Bodie Island Lighthouse

Photo: C Watts

Day 1: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

This coastal Carolina trip starts off in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina — the same historic city where the Wright Brothers flew the first airplane. This small town in the central Outer Banks gives you a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean, boutique shopping, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. You can venture down to Bodie Island Lighthouse for an array of beautiful pictures. From the top, you’ll have a beautiful view of the Outer Banks. Keep in mind, though, the lighthouse is only open during the summer months.


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Day 2: New Bern, North Carolina

First thing in the morning on day two, you’ll want to hit the road. It’s a 3-hour drive to the next town: New Bern, North Carolina.

On the second day of your road trip, you’ll wake up in New Bern, North Carolina. New Bern is located on the Trent and Neuse Rivers and has tons of tourist entertainment for those passing through the area. There are outdoorsy activities available throughout the city, including paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking, golfing, boating, off-roading, and biking. New Bern also hosts annual festivals and other events.


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Day 3: Wilmington, North Carolina

Rise and shine early on day three to drive to your next stop: Wilmington, North Carolina — the drive will take you around 2 hours.

Wilmington, North Carolina sits comfortably between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, giving you two different options for waterfront activities. The historic district downtown has a lovely boardwalk along the river with waterfront restaurants, boat tours, and more. If you decide to take a boat tour on the Cape Fear, you’ll see several filming locations – including the crane from Iron Man 3 and the Rivercourt location from One Tree Hill.


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Myrtle Beach

Photo: the ed17

Day 4-5: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Another early morning drive, day four starts off with the trip from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The drive will take about an hour and a half.

One of the most popular tourist destinations on the Carolina Coast, Myrtle Beach offers all of the favorites: tanning by the beach, delicious seafood, and gorgeous scenery. There are places to stay on every budget, from luxury resorts and hotels to motels and campgrounds. Myrtle Beach has several annual festivals, including the World Famous Blue Crab Festival and the Carolina Country Music Festival.

There’s so much to do in Myrtle Beach, you’ll want to dedicate two days to enjoying as much of it as possible.


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Day 6-7: Charleston, South Carolina

On the morning of day six, you’ll leave Wilmington and make the two-hour drive to Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston, South Carolina, is a lively city with rich history and beautiful scenery. Whether you want to relax at the beach, take photos of Rainbow Row, or explore the plethora of museums in the area, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Charleston has maintained its historic feel with cobblestone throughout the city, and you can take a horse-and-carriage tour or a bus tour for a guided experience. Similar to Myrtle Beach, you’ll want to dedicate your last two days in Charleston before heading home.



4×4 Fun: Check out these off-roading trails in New Bern

Sources: RoadtrippersOuter Banks Visitors’ Guide, Visit New Bern, Visit Myrtle Beach,