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2 week driving tour of Tennessee, advice please

2 week driving tour of Tennessee, advice please

Old Nov 17th, 2019, 04:19 PM
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2 week driving tour of Tennessee, advice please

We are 2 couples in our 60's. we will be flying from the Northwest & renting a car,Would like to to see Nashville, Memphis, the Smoky Mountains & Gatlinburg (or any other suggestions) Travelling last week of March, first week of April (dates are flexible). Would appreciate any help with most efficient route as well as any suggestions for accommodations ( budget)
At first glance, accommodations seem quite expensive in Nashville & Memphis, are there any suggestions for more economical alternative.
I apologize for being vague, but we are just starting our planning & any help would be appreciated.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 04:31 PM
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You posted in Europe.
Hotels in Nashville and Knoxville are not expensive compared to other cities. What is your budget? What are your interests?
#1 tip = skip the tacky and traffic filled Gatlinburg. Stay in Cherokee or Townsend for the GSMNP.
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Old Nov 17th, 2019, 05:28 PM
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Okay, here's a first draft. Assuming you are flying into Nashville. Every segment is 3 hours or less except for the last drive from Asheville NC to Nashville.
I stay in Hampton Inn (free breakfast) or HIlton Garden Inns (cooked breakfast, sometimes free to Honors members) and prices are usually in the $100 to $150 range in TN.
Fly into Nashville. Spend a couple of days.
Drive to Memphis. Spend a couple of days. See Graceland and eat some BBQ.
Drive to Tupelo MS. See Elivs' childhood home (highly recommend). Stay somewhere close or if you get an early start, continue on.
Drive to Scottsboro AL and visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center You never know what kind of deals you'll get there.
Continue to Chattanooga. Spend a couple of nights there. I'd splurge a bit and stay at the Chanticleer Inn on Lookout Mountain.
Continue on to Knoxville. Not sure what you want to see there.
Visit GSMNP. If you aren't doing hiking, you can drive through north to south in an hour. More time if you loop over to Cades Cove - if that road is open. You may encounter bad weather in the park. If that's the case, take an alternate route.
Spend the night in Cherokee NC. (south entrance of GSMNP). If you want to stay in a "vintage" hotel that gets great reviews and backs up to the river, stay at the Pink Motel.
If the weather is good and the Blue Ridge Parkway is open, drive from Cherokee to Asheville NC on the BRP. If not, take the expressway.
Stay in Asheville for a couple of nights. Visit the Biltmore house and estate. The Downton Abbey exhibit will be there through April 7th.
Drive from Asheville to Nashville and spend the night before your flight out. Or for a couple of more days if you want more time.
Check the concert schedule for the old Ryman - Grand Ole Opry for your dates. The Ryman is the "mother church" of country music and is literally an old church. Great concerts there.

Here's a link to the history of the Ryman -
https://www.ryman.com/history/1944-1974/

Last edited by starrs; Nov 17th, 2019 at 05:50 PM.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 04:30 AM
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The Civil Rights museum in Memphis is excellent. The Sun Studios tour is also good/fun.

For an inexpensive stay on your way to/from Memphis you could consider Tunica MS. It is a casino town so lodging and food are very cheap. My husband and I stayed there on our way north from visiting Clarksdale MS last spring. We stayed at the Quality Inn. Rooms are under $50/night if you book now. The historic museum in Tunica is quite interesting.

On the same trip we drove most of the Blue Ridge Parkway and stayed in Chatanooga and Asheville with friends. We went to the Biltmore estate which is impressive If you go there plan to spend at least half a day to see the gardens and (if interested) do the wine tasting included with the basic admission. The basic tour of the mansion is self-guided but you can also sign up for specialized guided tours. We experienced some sticker shock so check into the cost of tickets in advance.

Many of the Blue Ridge visitor centers and sites are closed in April so be prepared for that.
https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/hours.htm
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 04:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Vttraveler View Post
The basic tour of the mansion is self-guided but you can also sign up for specialized guided tours. We experienced some sticker shock so check into the cost of tickets in advance.

Many of the Blue Ridge visitor centers and sites are closed in April so be prepared for that.
https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/hours.htm
Great suggestions!

You can get AAA discounts for the Biltmore but not when you buy tickets at/for the Biltmore. You have to buy them via AAA before you go.

Yes, the BRP is not maintained re snow/ice. When there's snow/ice on the road, that segment of the road is closed. So March may be "too early" but if it's a mild winter, most if not all of the segments will be open. In any case, you can get on and off and use secondary roads to go to the next open segment.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 05:33 AM
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We didn't experience snow or ice but the temperature was in the low 30's in the morning of our first day on the Blue Ridge this spring in Virginia (We started from Rockfish Gap VA April 2nd. We were driving a camper van and had planned to stay in it overnight April 1st but opted for a motel instead!). The park service posts notices of closures but be aware that GPS and cell service aren't reliable on all sections.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 07:26 AM
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Yes, nightime temps can be low. The southern end (between Cherokee and Asheville) will probably be warmer than the VA end. No way to know.
Here are the temps and historical averages for March (click ahead for April) for Cherokee NC -

Daytime temps can be in the 50s, 60s and even 70s.
Nighttime temps for the first week of April (when they should be there) range from 34 down to 24 and then up to 48. Spring in the mountains. Hard to predict what actual temps will be. But VT is right that all of the VCs, campgrounds, etc. may not be open yet.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 07:28 AM
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Here's the link to the accuweather historical data. I think it got in the way of posting. Trying again...

Yes. Won't load. Go to accuweather.com. Enter Cherokee NC. Click back to look at March and April 2019. It will have 2019 data plus historical data for each day.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by starrs View Post
Okay, here's a first draft. Assuming you are flying into Nashville. Every segment is 3 hours or less except for the last drive from Asheville NC to Nashville.
I stay in Hampton Inn (free breakfast) or HIlton Garden Inns (cooked breakfast, sometimes free to Honors members) and prices are usually in the $100 to $150 range in TN.
Fly into Nashville. Spend a couple of days.
Drive to Memphis. Spend a couple of days. See Graceland and eat some BBQ.
Drive to Tupelo MS. See Elivs' childhood home (highly recommend). Stay somewhere close or if you get an early start, continue on.
Drive to Scottsboro AL and visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center You never know what kind of deals you'll get there.
Continue to Chattanooga. Spend a couple of nights there. I'd splurge a bit and stay at the Chanticleer Inn on Lookout Mountain.
Continue on to Knoxville. Not sure what you want to see there.
Visit GSMNP. If you aren't doing hiking, you can drive through north to south in an hour. More time if you loop over to Cades Cove - if that road is open. You may encounter bad weather in the park. If that's the case, take an alternate route.
Spend the night in Cherokee NC. (south entrance of GSMNP). If you want to stay in a "vintage" hotel that gets great reviews and backs up to the river, stay at the Pink Motel.
If the weather is good and the Blue Ridge Parkway is open, drive from Cherokee to Asheville NC on the BRP. If not, take the expressway.
Stay in Asheville for a couple of nights. Visit the Biltmore house and estate. The Downton Abbey exhibit will be there through April 7th.
Drive from Asheville to Nashville and spend the night before your flight out. Or for a couple of more days if you want more time.
Check the concert schedule for the old Ryman - Grand Ole Opry for your dates. The Ryman is the "mother church" of country music and is literally an old church. Great concerts there.

Here's a link to the history of the Ryman -
https://www.ryman.com/history/1944-1974/
I'd add in Nashville the Country Music Hall of Fame museum (and Studio B tour), and the tour of the Ryman. If you're there between Thanksgiving and Christmas you might want to visit Cheekwood Estate for the Christmas light display. A show at the Bluebird would be great.

And in Asheville, I'd add a visit to either Sierra Nevada or New Belgium breweries -- both are gorgeous properties, very eco-friendly. We took the tour at New Belgium, but visited both. We also "did" the studio arts section of Asheville at the same time as New Belgium - same general neighborhood.
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Old Nov 18th, 2019, 08:37 AM
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"Travelling last week of March, first week of April (dates are flexible)."
There are so many good Christmas options in Nashville. If you want to see mega-Christmas lights, a visit to the Gaylord Opryland is a must. I'm going up for a concert.

I did check the Ryman calendar listings for March-early April. Nothing other than the Grand Ole Opry appealed to me.

There's so much to do in the area. At least swing by to see the Parthenon. Franklin is a neat small town you may want to visit. You can do the Jack Daniels tour in TN (but not sample because it's in a dry county). Really a LOT to see in TN, once you decide on your basic route.

SO much to choose from in western NC (around Asheville) too.

Western NC and north GA (and eastern TN) is one of the prettiest corners of this country. The southern end of the Appalachian chain, the topography, foliage and lakes look a lot like the rest of the ridge all the way to Maine. I've been in PA and NY and felt like I'm still in my backyard full of rhodys.

Last edited by starrs; Nov 18th, 2019 at 08:39 AM.
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 06:25 AM
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Some suggestions of places to go in Nashville, thanks to Vince Gill -
.https://www.atlantamagazine.com/sout...5B2rhm-JAzQpaA
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Old Nov 21st, 2019, 10:57 PM
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Agree with the Country Music Hall of Fame and RCA Studio B Tour. I would add suggestions in Nashville the Frist Museum and the Bel Meade plantation. I was amazed by the beautiful indoor gardens at the Grand Ole Opry.

Bluebird is famous, but not right in town. Puckett's or Acme might be good alternatives.

For hotels in Nashville, we stayed at the Capitol Hotel downtown. Easy walking distance everywhere and valet parking was $18, a score.

You can save some money by buying it on booking.com . You can save even more by booking it as a mystery hotel on hotwire. But you should study up how to use hotwire on betterbidding.com . There's a method.

Last edited by 5alive; Nov 21st, 2019 at 11:00 PM.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 08:24 AM
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There's so much to do in the area. At least swing by to see the Parthenon. Franklin is a neat small town you may want to visit. You can do the Jack Daniels tour in TN (but not sample because it's in a dry county). Really a LOT to see in TN, once you decide on your basic route.
We liked our visit to Franklin -- nice main street, and very interesting nearby Civil War site (https://boft.org/ ) On the way back to Nashville, we stopped in Leiper's Fork, which is a beautiful drive and a really neat little town, with its own distillery where you can take a tour AND taste (https://leipersforkdistillery.com/welcome)

Western NC and north GA (and eastern TN) is one of the prettiest corners of this country
I could not agree more. I was awed by the beauty of western NC.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by sf7307 View Post
We liked our visit to Franklin -- nice main street, and very interesting nearby Civil War site (https://boft.org/ ) On the way back to Nashville, we stopped in Leiper's Fork, which is a beautiful drive and a really neat little town, with its own distillery where you can take a tour AND taste (https://leipersforkdistillery.com/welcome)

I could not agree more. I was awed by the beauty of western NC.
Bell Buckle is another nice little town. Not a destination location but there are so many nice little towns in eastern TN - and definitely western NC and north GA.

If you could take a biscuit cutter and cut out sections of north GA, western NC, the grounds of Fallingwater in PA and on up to the woods of Hyde Park, you wouldn't be able to figure out where they came from. On an scientific basis I understand ecosytems. It's an entirely different thing to see the same thing all along the ridge of the Appalachians. And yes, I know the same is true of different ecosystems throughout the world.

I love to watch The Last of the Mohicians for the scenery and then wander western NC to see the locales. Between Highlands and Franklin NC is Dry Falls, a magnificent waterfall you can walk behind. Also in Franklin is a fabulous French restaurant - cash only, no reservations - located attached to the Hot Spot gas station. The chef returned "home" to cook for regular folks, although it's a destination restaurant throughout NC and the surrounding area. And one of the top 100 restaurants in the country is in the town of Clayton GA, along with about a dozen of other good restaurants. Blue Ridge and Dahlonega are two other options if the OP dips down into GA. It's a special corner of the world.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 10:33 AM
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Dry Falls

Behind the waterfall
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Old Nov 22nd, 2019, 11:38 AM
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If your going to be driving that much then be careful. I've driven through Tennessee once and in my experience they have a lot of really bad drivers. My Tennessee driving experience was something like this.

I'm driving north to Nashville and stop off in a town for gas, ( I forget the name of the town, I think it was Bucksnort but I'm not sure). So as I'm driving through town, somebody in a van in front of me slams on his brakes at forty miles an hour for absolutely no reason, and I come within six inches of his Bumper, thank goodness for anti-lock brakes. Then as I'm continuing my quest for gas, somebody comes speeding out of a parking lot and again comes withing inches of hitting me. So after I finally find gas and get back on the highway, I come to an over pass with a pickup truck literally driving backwards over the bridge. So my advice is to be very careful as your driving through that area.
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Old Nov 24th, 2019, 03:02 PM
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Just found this post and I'm madly taking notes and google mappung. Thanks for all the amazing suggestions, getting very excited for our 3 week driving trip, we leave Dec. 23 so we know our options will be curtailed due to weather and road conditions. But this is great info.
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Old Dec 4th, 2019, 02:49 PM
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There's a lot more to do in Memphis than Graceland and BBQ! And the weather can be quite good in March and April- or rainy. Downtown is very walkable- stop in the Peabody Hotel "where the Delta begins". If you are interested in gardens, the Memphis Botanic Garden is worth seeing. The entertainment district is Overton Square in midtown- good restaurants and very lively on pleasant days. The Rock and Soul Museum is a lot more interesting than it sounds, but you really MUST visit the Civil Rights Museum.
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Old Dec 5th, 2019, 03:58 AM
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If you go to the Peabody Hotel in Memphis you should try to time it when the ducks are arriving or leaving for the day
https://www.peabodymemphis.com/peabody-ducks
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Old Jul 15th, 2020, 02:04 PM
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Knoxville has some great places to visit. Stay away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you are worried about COVID. Foothills Parkway is nice and not that crowded.
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