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Old 01-09-2012, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 2,339,271 times
Reputation: 986

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Last year I made a map of all the places I've visited in the US and noticed a very pronounced hole around Appalachian Mountains. And since one of my New Years Resolutions is always to travel more, I'm planning to take a road trip to see this part of the country.

So I rounded up some of my friends, and we're considering following this route:

Pittsburgh, PA
Charleston, WV
Roanoke, VA
Johnson City, TN
Asheville, NC
Knoxville, TN
Nashville, TN
Louisville, KY
Cincinnati, OH
Columbus, OH
Pittsburgh, PA

Google Map

I've heard that Asheville is beautiful in the spring, so we're looking to take a week in early April to do the trip. We'll probably be spending the most time in Asheville, Nashville, and Louisville.

I'm looking for travel and entertainment suggestions. Awesome bars or restaurants? Must see towns? The route doesn't need to be the quickest or the shortest, and I'm definitely willing to go out of the way for things. I like breweries and distilleries (already did the bourbon trail), cool scenery, and anything unusual. Thanks!
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Durham, NC
2,536 posts, read 8,121,470 times
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For a particularly scenic route, consider parts or all of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Shenandoah Nat'l Park (Skyline Drive) to south of Asheville.

Go see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and take in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I would put Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk, NC in place of Johnson City, TN.

Unless you're up for tacky-to-the-max, avoid Gatlinburg.
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,212,583 times
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Never go places that other people tell you to go. They have different interests than yours. Phone their 800 numbers and have each state send you their official state travel map. Stay on the back roads as much as possible.

On the Roanoke to Asheville section, take the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You're going to miss most of the true Appalachia. On the northbound swing, stay east of !-75 through eastern Kentucky.
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
27,093 posts, read 5,877,402 times
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Being a NC native, I agree with the below, but it does depend on your interests....or variety of same. History? Hiking? Nature?

Maybe check the state CD threads for info on specific areas. This entire area is lovely and some of the best spots are indeed off the major roads.

Sounds like a fun trip!!




Quote:
Originally Posted by mdp_az View Post
For a particularly scenic route, consider parts or all of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Shenandoah Nat'l Park (Skyline Drive) to south of Asheville.

Go see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and take in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I would put Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk, NC in place of Johnson City, TN.

Unless you're up for tacky-to-the-max, avoid Gatlinburg.
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Old 01-09-2012, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 2,339,271 times
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Thanks for the tips, everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdp_az View Post
Go see the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and take in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
These are both definitely on the list. I've read about Biltmore and have heard awesome things about Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I'm thinking about maybe camping for a night at the park.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdp_az View Post
I would put Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk, NC in place of Johnson City, TN.
I'll definitely look into it. Honestly, the only reason Johnson City is on the list is because one of my friends (who will be going on the trip) said he knows a great bar in the city. I'm not committed to stopping there.

EDIT: I just looked up Banner Elk, NC on Google Street View and it looks awesome. It dropped me right in front of Dunn's Deli.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdp_az View Post
Unless you're up for tacky-to-the-max, avoid Gatlinburg.
I'll put myself in the camp that thinks tacky is ok sometimes, in the right place and when done in the right way. I've actually never heard of Gatlinburg, but now that it's been mentioned, I'll look it up and see what I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Never go places that other people tell you to go. They have different interests than yours. Phone their 800 numbers and have each state send you their official state travel map. Stay on the back roads as much as possible.
I can see your point, but I've had great travel experiences based on recommendations from locals. The more official channels for travel information are useful, and I'll be getting information from them, but what I'm trying to do here is capture things that are more obscure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
On the Roanoke to Asheville section, take the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Definitely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greatblueheron View Post
Being a NC native, I agree with the below, but it does depend on your interests....or variety of same. History? Hiking? Nature?
History, food & drink, music, art, scenery. . . things like that. I like cities, so part of my quest is to see some of them, but I'm hoping for a lot of variety in this trip, including small towns and wilderness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greatblueheron View Post
Maybe check the state CD threads for info on specific areas. This entire area is lovely and some of the best spots are indeed off the major roads.
Good idea. Some day when I get some downtime at work, I'm going to canvass the NC, TN, and KY subforums.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greatblueheron View Post
Sounds like a fun trip!!
Yeah, I didn't take a spring trip last year, so I'm super excited. Just a few more months of winter. . .
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:31 PM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
4,239 posts, read 8,074,474 times
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Living in the mtns of western NC, 30 mins west of A'ville, I too am biased toward the 2 lane blacktop back roads, and the OP spending more time in western NC...a couple of comments/wonderments: that initial list of cities/waypoints is nearly impossible in a 'week' other than driving all day, every day.

And, the Skline Drive/Blue Ridge Pkway, no matter where one 'gets on', is a 35-45 mph fairly empty, but slow go road. It does go close by to A'ville, and another 60 miles further southwest. In early April, much of the higher elevations of the BRP will still be leafless and brown, vs greening up down in the valleys/lower elevations. There are occasional closures for snow/winter repairs, even in April.

A'Ville is Beer City west of the Rockies, and it has dozens of galleries, street joints, bars/cafes, and about 2 dozen clubs full of every kind of music on the planet, Thurs-Sun nights.

The Biltmore is a several hour march through, and even that is skimming it, and pricey.

Smoky Mtn Nat Park can be breathtakingly cold in April...but empty and beautiful.

A lot of ground to cover between Pittsburgh and A'ville, just getting from point P to A, and back in a week or more...
GL, mD
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:46 PM
 
14,253 posts, read 23,969,886 times
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If you are looking for Appalachia, why Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, or Nashville? Don't get me wrong, they are all good cities but they are out of character.

If yo9u are looking for the more obscure, look for the "Off the Beaten Track" series of travel books. They always have some great ideas.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:49 PM
Status: "could've~would've~should've used 'have', not 'of'" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: A Yankee in northeast TN
10,450 posts, read 14,299,056 times
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Agree, too many cities and too little time on that list.
Various things mostly in east TN you might or might not find interesting, in no particular order:
TN bluegrass- advice from a local more info in the thread if it interests you.
The Lost Sea
Museum of Appalachia
Cades Cove
Martha Washington Inn
History of Rugby
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Wilkinsburg
1,661 posts, read 2,339,271 times
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I think I've done a bad job at explaining what this trip is about, so I'm going to try to clear up some of misunderstanding that I created. Here we go:

Quote:
Originally Posted by motordavid View Post
that initial list of cities/waypoints is nearly impossible in a 'week' other than driving all day, every day.
Well, I'm really only looking to spend time in Asheville, Nashville, and Louisville (unless of course you think I should do some rearranging!). I provided the long list to offer some insight into the route that I was considering, and to potentially elicit some suggestions for alternatives. Fortunately, I think that worked because I've gotten a lot of great responses, but it's also created some confusion.

Columbus, Cincinnati, and Charleston are close enough to Pittsburgh that I've seen them many times, and if anything, they'll be more or less pitstops.

Also, for what it's worth, this is going to be a Sunday to Sunday affair, with some driving potentially being done overnight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
If you are looking for Appalachia, why Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, or Nashville? Don't get me wrong, they are all good cities but they are out of character.
So I guess I've been using the term Appalachia to describe the general vicinity in which we'll be traveling, rather than for it's cultural inferences. The southbound leg of the trip is definitely for, in part, the Appalachian experience, and I decided on the northbound route because there are a bunch of cities to choose from, I like cities, and it's a relatively easy drive back to Pittsburgh.

So I guess an more accurate description would be "a road trip to several cities that border the Appalachian mountains," but it doesn't have much of a ring (ha).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DubbleT View Post
Agree, too many cities and too little time on that list.
Various things mostly in east TN you might or might not find interesting, in no particular order:
TN bluegrass- advice from a local more info in the thread if it interests you.
The Lost Sea
Museum of Appalachia
Cades Cove
Martha Washington Inn
History of Rugby
Thanks for the links, DubbleT. I'll be pouring through them later today.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Central Indiana/Indy metro area
1,501 posts, read 2,322,930 times
Reputation: 1430
I've been traveling this area a few times, and unless you have a few days to spend, you will basically just be driving from what it sounds like? Not a bad area for sight seeing tours.

If you can get a few days, visit Great Smoky Mtn. NP. Yes, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are tourist trap areas, but they aren't the only places in the area. GSMNP is a awesome place. I've been there twice in my adult life and there is still a lot I haven't seen. Not sure if you are hiking, or just want to drive and take in sights, visit new places. Either way, GSMNP is good for both types of vehicles. I've even heard a figure that something like 75% or more "visitors" to GSMNP never get out of their car. They are just driving US 441 through the park.

There are at least three drives when it comes to GSMNP. The first is US 441. It cuts through the park from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC. The next drive is the Cades Cove loop. This drive takes you to a Cades Cove area, which has a small pioneer village area. Not sure if things will be open when you visit. One drive I always read about here and there, but never really looked into is Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. When I get back to the area in the future, this is a must on my to-do list.

I've also heard that two places already mentioned are worth a visit: Shenadoah National Park's Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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