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How best to spend 4 days between Atlanta and Memphis

How best to spend 4 days between Atlanta and Memphis

Old Jun 1st, 2005, 07:40 AM
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How best to spend 4 days between Atlanta and Memphis

Hi everyone - as ever, we are planning a long way ahead and would like some thoughts/help.

Next Easter, we are flying into Atlanta from the UK, for a two week vacation that will take us across to Memphis, down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and then back to Atlanta. So far I am just thinking of the first part of the trip.

We land at Atlanta on April 1, and I would really like to visit the battlefield at Shiloh (southern Tennessee) on the anniversary of the battle, 6th April. This means we'll have 4 days or so of sightseeing between Atlanta and Shiloh.

I am thinking at the moment about getting out of Atlanta, for a couple of nights in Chattanooga (for the city and the civil war battlefields of Chattanooga and Chickamauga), then places like the Jack Daniels distillery and the US Space and Rocket Center at Huntsville, Alabama.

Can anyone suggest other interesting places to go? Looking at the map, I see we're not far from the Great Smokey mountains. We (to our shame) normally end up looking at nature from within our car and not on long hikes, but I'm sure it's still worth a day of our time. And of course there is always Dollywood (or perhaps not). Or should we spend some time in Atlanta?

Thanks for your time,

Alan
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Alan, I can tell you that there are a number of Civil War battlefields not far from Atlanta that you might enjoy visiting on your way North. One is Kennesaw Mountain, where a very important battle was fought.

Another place well worth a visit is just outside of downtown, the Cyclorama. It depicts the Battle of Atlanta. It is one of only a handful of gigantic murals painted in the 19th century and is supposed to the the largest. There is a narrated program that tells the history of the battle and how the mural came to be.

It is right next to Zoo Atlanta, which is worth a visit since it is so close.

http://roadsidegeorgia.com/site/cyclorama.html
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 11:13 AM
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If you go up to Chatanooga, there is Rock City, which a neat place to visit. There's a train (tram?) ride up the side of the mountain that's scary and worth the trip. there are some interesting caves and waterfalls in that area too. Naturally, at this time, I can't think of but one....Ruby Falls.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 11:23 AM
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Chattanooga's a great place to spend a couple of days. We live in Atlanta, but typically make at least one weekend trip each year up to Chattanooga, and haven't really exhausted all the possibilities yet. Obviously, there's the Tennessee Aquarium, which is outstanding and has just opened its new Ocean Journey building, a 700,000 gallon expansion of the original facility. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (http://www.tvrail.com)is a lot of fun, and there's lots of other things to do and see in Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain. The local convention and visitors bureau has links to most of them: http://www.chattanoogafun.com.

That being said, there's plenty of stuff to do for at least a day or so here in Atlanta as well; the Coca-Cola Museum, the CNN Center tour, the Cyclorama (at least for Civil War buffs), Zoo Atlanta (Pandas!), the Carter Center and Presidential Library, the Fox Theatre (an amazing building, with tours most days at 10 am and weekends at 10 and 11 am), and lots more Civil War history just up the road toward Chattanooga at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (http://www.nps.gov/kemo/).

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is beautiful, and in April there should be dogwoods and azaleas blooming everywhere, but honestly, it's going the wrong direction if you're traveling from Atlanta to Chattanooga to Shiloh, and if you're not into hiking and outdoor activities, you'll see plenty of pretty scenery from the car during the rest of your drives. Maybe I'm just jaded from having grown up in the Ozarks in Arkansas and from spending so much time with the wife's family in Asheville, but just driving around the mountains doesn't do that much for me. Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Dollywood are really just tourist traps with very little (IMO) to redeem them.

It's not that far from Shiloh down to Tupelo, MS (70 miles, about an hour and a half to drive it), if you're interested in seeing Elvis Presley's birthplace.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 11:33 AM
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If you are interested in battlefields, going to the Smokies is going to get you off track. They are beautiful mountains, tho. And, if you plan for Dollywood, be sure to check and see when they open.

But back to the battlefields between Atlanta and Shiloh...do the ones in the Atlanta area that atlaswan suggested to you..definitely do Chickamauga that you have already decided on.

While in the Chattanooga area, definitely do Rock City and the Tennessee Aquarium.

After your stop at the Jack Daniels Distillery (see if you can get reservations to eat at Miss Mary Bobo's), you might want to stop in Murfreesboro at Stones River..then, I'm sure there are some battlefields around the Nashville area. Not a battlefield, but in Nashville is the Belle Meade Mansion and Gardens..and a replica of The Parthenon which is in Centinnial Park. Maybe you will have time to take in something at the Opry House.

You will love Shiloh. I remember going there in either the 7th or 8th grade when we studied Tennessee History.

Have fun and happy planning!
 
Old Jun 1st, 2005, 03:41 PM
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Alan, I agree that Chicamauga is a place you'd want to visit. It's not far off I-75, which takes you up to Chattanooga. Here's some info on Chicamauga:

http://roadsidegeorgia.com/site/chickamauganmp.html

Another place you might enjoy is the new Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Marietta. I haven't been there but I here it is top notch. It's not far from I-75 on your way North. Here's the info.:

www.southernmuseum.org/area.html

Chattanooga is indeed well worth a visit. The city has become very tourist friendly and has a free electric shuttle that can take you all over town (but not up to Lookout Mountain, which is a must). The Aquarium is only second to the one in Monterey, California, in my opinion. My favorite place to eat is Lupi's Pizza, not far from the Aquarium. You can also walk over the pedestrian bridge over the river to the park and have an ice cream cone at Clumpy's. Sometimes there are are folks sculling on the river. Not quite like punting on the Cam but it's not bad! I'd devote an entire day to Chattanooga.

I second the recommendation of a visit to the Jack Daniels' Distillery in Lynchburg. It's about 30 minutes off of I-24 on your way to Nashville. I toured the Glenvlivet Distillery in Scotland years ago and this tour is equally good. The process is very different here. I will tell you that the JD Distillery is located in a dry county, so they don't give any samples of JD out. It's the ultimate irony.

Nashville is also worth at least a day. You won't be able to see everything but try to at least stop off at Centennial Park to see the Parthenon and catch some sun. Take a tour of the Ryman Theater, former home of the Grand Ole Opry or tour the Country Music Hall of Fame. Just walking down Broadway is fun. You'd probably really enjoy visiting the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home, if you like Civil War history.


One place West of Atlanta you might find interesting is Stone Mount Park, home of the largest exposed granite formation in the world. Carved in the front are Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Plenty of Civil War history there and a beautiful park, too.

Go to: www.stonemountainpark.com/newsite/default.asp

Hope that helps!
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Having lived for 12 years in the area of north Alabama and southern Tennessee, I would list these as my most favorite places (other than the typical tourist attractions):
-Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta
-Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL
-Mountains of northwest Georgia, for instance Fort Mountain and the park area there are very nice. If you have the time to get into that part of the state, you will enjoy crossing over Fort Mountain between a couple of interesting mountain towns.

I don't recommend any of the standard tourist attractions, not because they are uninteresting but because they don't very accurately represent any real part of the southern U.S. However, Rock City is very popular because of its strange rock formations, yet it's totally tourist-oriented.

I really don't place the Jack Daniel distillery in the same high category as the other items listed as my favorites, but if you want a distillery tour and are an aficianado of such things, then you will find it interesting.

I believe it would be especially regrettable if you visit in the southern part of our country and spend all your time in the larger cities and tourist attractions. If you can get out into the countryside and stop in some small towns here and there along your trip, you will gain a real appreciation of the genuine southern culture. I'm assuming you will be renting an auto, which will give you the flexibility you will need to vary your route as you wish.

When you are ready to plan the remainder of your trip, come back to this forum and I'll try to help. I've lived in the southeastern U.S. most of my life and have traveled extensively throughout the area. There are so many places known only to locals that are very special and worth seeing. Good luck.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Last time I looked, Stone Mountain was EAST of Atlanta.
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Old Jun 1st, 2005, 07:11 PM
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Excuse me, Rookie. I was typing a lot of information and I made an error. Thanks for pointing it out.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2005, 12:56 AM
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Thanks everyone, for your help. I think it looks like there will be plenty for us to do on the way to Shiloh.

I think we'll stay our first night in the Atlanta area, then two nights in Chattanooga, then a night somewhere around Lynchberg before going on to Shiloh. Now I can start planning properly!

Alan
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Old Jun 3rd, 2005, 05:22 AM
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In the Shoals area of NW Alabama (Florence, Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals) which is only about 45 miles from Savannah, TN (Shiloh), there are several attractions you may find interesting. Ivy Green in Tuscumbia is where Helen Keller was born and where the famous water pump is located where she first learned to sign. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame is also in Tuscumbia. The WC Handy Museum (father of Blues music) in Florence. Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River (first TVA Dam). There is a Frank Lloyd Wright (Rosenbaum) home open for touring in Florence. East of Muscle Shoals on AL157 is the site of the "West Point of the South" LaGrange College (burned to the ground by the Union Army in 1863) that has a Civil War battle re-enactment sometime in April.

Keith
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