To be honest, Gretchen, I hadn’t even started thinking about my route yet. But since you’ve asked…
Like you I have a couple of different options, both of which hover around 9 hours of driving time (that’s NOT counting New York/New Jersey/DC traffic) – definitely do-able in a single day, but I will likely split up the drive both days for some stops along the way.
The first and most direct route is I-95 which, after skirting Manhattan, will take me down through Jersey, past Philadephia, through “Baltimore and DC now” (hmm… are you hearing Martha and the Vandellas, too – “don’t forget the Motor City…” Oh wait, that’s the previous weekend), and then a quick jog west to Charlottesville.
This route takes me through the southern New Jersey wine country which is home to 17 wineries in the area south and east of Philly, four of which appear close to I-95 according to the Garden State Winegrowers Association map.
The alternate route bypasses Philadelphia and DC, cutting west across New Jersey on I78 to Pennsyvlania and then picking up I81 to head south into Charlottesville. The attraction to this route (other than missing the Jersey and DC traffic)? Gettysburg. Not only have I never visited the battlefield, but what better tie in with the War and Wine series I hope to kick off with this trip? And there are also two wineries in close proximity to the park.
I still need to build out an actual itinerary, but right now I’m trending towards the I78/I81 route on the way down with a stop in Gettysburg the first day to visit the local wineries as well as the park. The park itself is open until 10 pm, so if I time it right, I should be able to make it to the area in time for lunch, visit the wineries and then make my way over to the park before the visitor’s center and museum closes and still have some time to drive around the battlefield in the evening. The next morning would then be a leisurely 3-hour drive to Charlottesville.
Then I’m thinking it’s the I95 route home; hopefully if I leave early enough I’d miss the worst of the DC traffic. My thoughts right now are to stop outside of Philly, spend the afternoon touring some of southern Jersey’s local wineries, then dinner and a relaxing evening in Philadelphia, before heading home the next morning.
Those are pretty full agendas, so I need to do some work on the itineraries – this is supposed to be a vacation after all, not an endurance test!