The Best Road Trip from Chicago to Myrtle Beach
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- Chicago to Indianapolis
- Exploring Nashville
- Exloring Asheville
- Myrtle Beach
- Exploring Myrtle Beach
- Roadside assistance
- Fast route
- Scenic route
- Roadside assistance
Visit numerous iconic cities and attractions as you drive from urban America through the countryside and mountains, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
A road trip from Chicago to Myrtle Beach covers four distinct types of landscape: bustling cities, peaceful countryside, dramatic mountains, and sandy beaches. You’ll find loads of iconic spots—and a fair few hidden gems—as you head southeast!
With the help of car insurance comparison and broker app with help from Jerry, here’s an itinerary that will let you hit all four over the course of a week! From where to eat and sleep to what to do, Jerry’s got you covered.
And part of that coverage is great roadside assistance! There’s nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire, cracked windshield, or an empty tank. For just $6.99, Jerry offers an excellent program to give you peace of mind as you hit the road.
From one city to another: Chicago to Indianapolis
Driving time: 3 hours
You could spend weeks exploring everything the Windy City has to offer. From delicious cuisine to fascinating museums, it’s a sprawling metropolis easy to lose yourself in.
But we’ve put together some quick hits, including the Field Museum and foodie necessities. Day one finishes with a drive to Indianapolis to get your journey started in earnest.
Eat breakfast at Bryn Mawr in Chicago. They have a unique acorn squash & tofu plate—a really interesting and tasty veggie option!
For lunch, hit up Saucy Porka South Loop in Chicago. It’s an Asian-Latin fusion food truck-style spot, famous for its tacos and banh mi.
Grab dinner at Mimi Blue in Indianapolis, a quirky meatball bar with vegan options. Mix and match meatballs with different sauces for a plate that’s uniquely yours.
Take a look around the iconic Field Museum in Chicago. It’s one of the best museums of natural history in the US—highlighted by “Sue” the T-Rex. Basic admission will cost you $26.
If you have time before you get going to Indianapolis, head to Millenium Park (picture in front of The Bean optional!).
Field Museum, Chicago
If you need to spend the night in Chicago, Freehand Chicago is one of the city’s trendiest, most interesting hotels. Once you reach Indianapolis, bed in at Ironworks Hotel, a cool-looking industrial spot just outside the city.
Indianapolis to Louisville
Driving time: 2 hours
Have a look around Indianapolis before heading south to Louisville. Along the way stop at Muscatatuck Wildlife Refuge, which boasts a whopping 8,000 acres of wetlands and nature.
Enjoy breakfast at Cafe Patachou in Indianapolis, dubbed a “student union for adults.” It features tons of fresh ingredients.
Stop anywhere on the road for lunch en route to Muscatatuck Wildlife Refuge. Maybe grab some food for a picnic—but don’t litter!
Choose between some iconic Louisville places for dinner. Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse is a great option, as is the Brown Hotel for a signature Louisville “Hot Brown”—an open-face turkey sandwich covered in melted mozzarella.
Stop at Muscatatuck Wildlife Refuge along highway 50 in Seymour, Indiana. While you’re exploring nature at its finest, keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and turtles in the wetlands.
Once you get to Louisville, explore on foot before dipping into the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum for a primer on baseball history. Stop into Sunergos for a coffee and pastry pick-me-up.
The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum
Don’t be misled by the strange facade of the Vu Guesthouse. The hotel is a converted tobacco factory that now has 34 rooms and a coffee lounge, and it’s a great pick for your night in Louisville.
Louisville to Nashville
Driving time: about 2 hours
Drop into the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville before meandering further south to the Music City—with a brief stop for some more beautiful landscapes on the way!
Tuck into breakfast at Wild Eggs, a midwestern chain specializing in hearty American food.
Grab a quick lunch at Spelunkers Cafe in Mammoth Cave National Park, a spot for a quick salad or sandwich after you’ve explored the caves.
Once you get to Nashville, finish your day with dinner at Folk for specialty pizza.
The Muhammad Ali Center celebrates the life of the renowned boxer and Louisville native. Allow yourself a couple of hours to explore the museum, which has plenty to offer both adults and kids.
About an hour outside the city, enjoy a guided tour around the caves at Mammoth Cave National Park. At more than 412 mikes, it’s the largest known cave system in the world!
After that, kick off your drive to Nashville. Have a walk around iconic Broadway and maybe stop off for a happy hour drink and bite.
Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville
The Russell is a converted church with funky rooms and stained glass windows—a fun pick for your two nights in Nashville. A portion of your nightly rate will be donated to local nonprofits fighting homelessness.
A day in Nashville
The music city presents a number of options for music and sightseeing. Explore the roots of country music before checking on the city’s quirky cultural features.
You have to try iconic Biscuit Love for breakfast. Get the bonuts to share—you definitely won’t be disappointed!
For something a little lighter, stop for lunch at Cafe Roze to enjoy fresh salads and healthy sandwiches.
Finish your Nashville trip with dinner at Lou Nashville for American fare (and an extensive wine list—after all, you’re on vacation!).
Country music fan or not, you’re in Nashville—so drop by the Country Music Hall of Fame in the morning to learn about the origins of some of America’s most famous music.
Later, visit the Parthenon, a near-full size replica of the famous Athenian building that shows the city’s art and culture. Finish off your day with a stroll around Centennial Park.
Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville
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Nashville to Asheville
Driving: About 4 hours
For your first major change in scenery, switch urban Nashville for secluded Asheville. Drive to a secluded city in the heart of Appalachia for the night—and get your hiking boots ready!
Pick up a quick breakfast from The Russell’s coffee lounge in the morning. For lunch, stop in Knoxville—about halfway between Nashville and Asheville—and grab a slice of pizza from The Tomato Head.
Chiesa is a good option for dinner., with great pasta dishes on the menu. It’s also in the Montford District, a cool place to stretch your legs after a big meal.
The last hour of your drive to Asheville is one of the prettiest drives in America, cutting through the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee into Appalachia. So sit back and enjoy the scenery (make sure you fuel up before you head into the countryside, though!).
If you arrive in Asheville with some time to spare, spend the afternoon visiting Biltmore Estate. Built by George Vanderbilt, it’s America’s largest home and rests on a beautiful 8,000-acre estate in Asheville’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville
Catch some rest at the Princess Anne Hotel, a historic building that opened in 1924 and offers good rates. If you want something fancier—and a little more expensive—go for the Omni Grove Park Inn.
Exploring southern Appalachia: Asheville
Get your hiking boots on and enjoy the outdoors! Nearby Pisgah National Forest is home to a plethora of hiking trails. If you’re up for something moderate, give the Looking Glass trail a try, a 5.8-mile out-and-back walk.
Pisgah National Forest
Get up early and have a good breakfast in the hotel. Both the Princess Anne and Omni Grove have substantial breakfast menus.
Grab some sandwiches for lunch en route to Pisgah National Forest and eat them on the hike while you enjoy remarkable views.
For dinner, Twisted Laurel is a great option for Mediterranean food. It’s a charming cafe that offers healthy meals and an extensive cocktail list. Their lasagna is an ideal treat after a long day of walking!
Drive about 45 minutes into Pisgah National Forest to the Looking Glass Rock trailhead. The trail is 5.8 miles out and back at a gentle climb. And when you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent vista of the Appalachian mountains. It’s dog friendly, too!
On the way back, stop at the North Carolina National Arboretum. The 434-acre public garden offers 65 acres of cultivated gardens, 10+ miles of hiking (in case you aren’t tired yet!), and plenty of art, science, and nature exhibits to explore.
North Carolina National Arboretum
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On the road: Asheville to Myrtle Beach
Driving time: 6 hours (including stops)
After a long day of hiking, relax on a slightly longer car ride that cuts from mountain scenery to the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy some beautiful views and interesting landscapes along the way.
Check out Early Girl Eatery, a farm-to-table southern-style spot in Asheville for a hearty breakfast before you hit the road.
Grab lunch at Real Mexico Restaurant y Tienda in Columbia, South Carolina for tasty tacos.
There are a few good options for dinner in Myrtle Beach, but Hook and Barrel does fresh seafood that’s not to be missed!
Set off from Asheville early, stopping at Chimney Rock for dramatic views and mountain air. Make your way to Columbia for lunch before heading straight east to Myrtle Beach.
Stop in Florence for an afternoon snack and stroll if you need another break.
Chimney Rock, North Carolina
Myrtle Beach is home to a number of good hotels at different price points. For an affordable but luxurious stay, try Westgate Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort. If you plan on staying for a few days, try a vacation rental site such as Airbnb or VRBO.
A day on Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is full of attractions, home to 14 distinct communities and 60 miles of sand along the Atlantic Ocean. But after a long journey, nothing is better than soaking up some rays and enjoying local cuisine.
Head to Myrtle Beach staple Croissants Bistro for breakfast. Try the avocado toast and extensive coffee options.
For lunch, look into River City Cafe. They offer a wide range of food options in cool, seaside-themed digs. Their burgers are a Myrtle Beach staple, but give the Mahi sandwich a go.
Finish your day with yummy Mexican food at Banditos. The tacos are a must, accompanied by any of a number of their specialty margaritas.
Bring your swimming gear, beach towels, and sunscreen—a beach day is a perfect way to cap off the trip. If you’re inclined to give something else a go, check out any number of old-fashioned arcades along the beachfront.
You can also cap off your evening with a ride on the SkyWheel, which rises almost 200 feet into the night sky.
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Why you need roadside assistance
Unfortunately, breakdowns happen. Whether you run out of gas, collide with another car, or pop a tire, it’s possible that you might need help to keep your road trip going.
For those situations, Jerry has a great roadside assistance package. It features up to 10 miles of towing plus jump starts, tire changes, fuel deliveries, and more.
The package also comes with some exclusive benefits, including car advice, key replacement, and Uber credits. And it only costs $6.99 for one car!
The fast route back
The speediest way to Chicago is to effectively go back the way you came—but a bit more directly. Head up through North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana before arriving back in the Windy City.
Without an overnight stop, the journey will likely take you 12 hours. But if you fancy breaking it up, stay for a night in Lexington, about halfway to Chi-Town.
The scenic route back
If you’re pining for more mountain scenery—as well as another city to check out—you can extend the trip by three days.
Set off by heading northeast towards Virginia, getting on the famous Blue Ridge Parkway in Grayson County. Take the BRP north, stopping at Grayson Highlands State Park to stretch your legs. Get off the BRP at i-85, driving northeast to Roanoke, where you can stay for the night.
The next morning, drive five hours to Cincinnati and explore the Over-the-Rhine district for interesting architecture and a variety of food. You can also catch a ballgame at Great American Ballpark.
21c Museum Hotel is a good resting point for the evening—and a final stop before finishing the six-hour journey to Chicago.
Key Takeaway An extra couple of days will allow you to explore more mountain scenery, as well as another exciting midwestern city.
Finding great roadside assistance
No matter where you’re going or for how long you’re traveling, you’ll want excellent roadside assistance coverage. No one enjoys getting stuck on the side of the road with a flat!
For the best rate and coverage, try Jerry. Jerry’s roadside assistance includes tons of amazing features and benefits that will keep you safe and offer peace of mind during your trip:
- Vehicle towing up to 10 miles
- Tire changes
- Lockout services
- Fuel delivery
- Roadside reimbursement
- Rental vehicle roadside reimbursement
Your exclusive member benefits include Uber credits, key replacement, tire repair, and so much more. And it all starts at just $6.99 for one car!
“I’m saving money! I received a quote of half of what I was paying and added stuff like roadside assistance. I paid for 6 months upfront and it made it even cheaper! I’m blown away at how easy the process was. I’m so glad I gave this a try!” —Jerry user
Are there any must-try foods on my road trip?
Yes! We’ve covered some classics, but there are some local specials, too.
When you’re in Louisville, tuck into a Hot Brown, a warm, open-faced sandwich loaded with turkey and cheese. Otherwise, enjoy as many southern side dishes as you can—mac n cheese, baked beans, and collard greens are always good bets.
What happens if I break down?
It’s possible your car could malfunction, but you can take several steps to ensure that you’re as safe as possible. Get your car serviced on time, keep refilling your gas tank, and check your tire pressure before you leave. Most importantly, purchase the best, most affordable insurance—and sign up for Jerry’s roadside assistance program so you’re always covered!
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