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From Ohio to Great Smoky Mountain (or Shenandoah) with a baby and a senior

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Hello All,
We are planning our vacation trip in September and would need advice from you fellow Fodors. Me and my wife will be travelling with a 2yr. old and my mother. We picked Great Smoky Mountain or Shenandoah because we like hiking and nature exploring, but we are open for other options for a relaxing family vacation.

Here are my questions:
1. Is Great Smoky too demanding for travelling with a baby and senior? We want to make sure we are not stressed out during the trip. If not, what kind of gear would you recommend us bringing?

2. Can we do only one park or both (Great Smoky vs. Shenandoah)? If one, which one should I pick?

3. It's a long drive from Ohio to TN (or NC for Shenandoah), what's the stopping places I should consider?

4. Is any section of the skyline drive that I should not miss?

5. Hotel recommendations around either park? Around skyline drive?

6. Fun activities for the whole family?

7. Our dates are flexible, we are considering the first week of September, any reason this is a bad idea?

Here is a draft itinerary, we will be driving from Ohio, and stopped at Cincinnati first, then continue to TN.
Day 1 - Arriving some place around Great Smoky (Ashville?)
Day 2 and 3 - Great Smoky
Day 4 - Skyline Drive Part 1
Day 5 - Skyline Drive Part 2
Day 6 - Shenandoah?
Day 7 - Shenandoah?
Day 8 - Driving Back to Ohio

Thank you for the help.


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