North Carolina and Smoky Mountains

Old Feb 18th, 2015, 06:20 AM
  #1  
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North Carolina and Smoky Mountains

My husband & I are from Florida travelling with two teenage daughters. We have never explored Georgia or North Carolina & would like to put together a 5-8 day road trip itinerary. Sometime in June or July, (we are used to the heat). We don't know where to start & could use some help from all you great experts. Can anyone suggest some ideas, and help with itinerary for very pretty routes, pretty towns, any places to stay away from? Target an area like the Blue Ridge Mountains and Smoky mountains. We are mostly looking to enjoy nature, hike to waterfalls, horseback riding, bicycling, we do love wineries too. I know there is so much to see in this part of NC and I want to make the most of my time there. We are not avid hikers and do not intend on doing anything strenuous or really long. I like relatively simple hikes with little challenges that don't take too much time and are particularly rewarding.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 06:57 AM
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You might enjoy visits to one or more of the beautiful North Carolina State parks. I recommend Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain and Stone Mountain. You could base yourself in either Mt. Airy or Pilot Mountain. From this point you could make an easy visit to Old Salem, an exceptional historical site.

If you are interested in this suggestion, please let me know. I would be glad to suggest wineries, restaurants and lodging.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 07:45 AM
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With teenage daughters especially, I'd add in some time in Asheville. It would be a nice "city" (a small one) to complement the nature, and has great restaurants and shops and vibes.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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I think Asheville and environs would be nice--travel up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway in addition to exploring the funkier parts of the town.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 12:25 PM
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jent103, Gretchen. I was thinking spending 2 or 3 days in Asheville and visit Chimney Rock Park in between, then heading out via the Blue Ridge Parkway towards the Smoky Mountains,spending the remainder of the trip there. (Right now I am looking into the Gatlinburg area close to the park or Blowing Rock) Does that sound like a reasonable itinerary? As for the exact places we will be seeing, we haven't gotten that far yet.
So, do I have enough time to see Asheville? Any ideas or comments are welcomed.
cmcfong thanks for the recommendations about the Hanging Rock, Pilot Mountain and Stone Mountain, how far is it from Ashville though?
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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You could stop in the NE corner of GA on the way up. Lots to do there from your list. Then on to Asheville for a couple of days. Then on to Blowing Rock area/ BRP if you want before heading home.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 12:36 PM
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Orlando to Clayton GA - 540 miles and under 8 hours
Clayton to Asheville - 90 miles, 1.5 hours
Asheville to Blowing Rock - 90 miles, 1.5 hours

It would make the drive up more bearable and give you time to enjoy things along the way.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 12:42 PM
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I think Blowing Rock area is nicer--Linville Gorge. Gatlinburg is a zoo. To be avoided!!
If you wanted a place to stay near the Park you might consider Fryemont Inn in Bryson City, NC. There is also a B&B just outside the Park near Bryson City that I'll try to get the name. Wonderful place and gives a GREAT entry into the Park
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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If you're after nature, I'd stay on the NC side of the park. Gatlinburg is fine for what it is, and the Tennessee side of GSMNP has a lot of great parts, but given your interests I think the Blowing Rock route makes more sense.

For Asheville, I think two or three nights would be fine. Three if you want to include the Biltmore (it's not my thing but it is a main attraction there, and would take a good chunk of a day).
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 01:13 PM
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lada, the area I mentioned is about 2.5 hours from Asheville. Mt Airy is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the VA state line. It is a lovely area popularized by Andy Griffith, but considerably less visited than Asheville.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 01:37 PM
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starrs, I love your idea to break up the drive to Asheville.
We really wanted to visit the park but decided to add Asheville first because we don't need a whole week in the park. I also know that there are lots to see in the entire region, which is making my trip planning confusing and difficult.
Gretchen, I know that Gatlinburg is a complete tourist trap. I think that you are right and we will skip it!
What if we go to Clayton first then Blowing rock and then Ashevile then back home? Is that a more reasonable plan? Help with itinerary!
Should we stay in Clayton and visit Tallulah Gorge?
any suggestions on accommodations?
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 02:24 PM
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Yes! There is so much to see and do in the area without even going into GSMNP. I have a place in the area and average a park day each decade. I avoid Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge like the plague. I'll write a more detailed post with specific suggestions and have several recommendations for restaurants and lodging. First tell me your price range and what kind of places you'd prefer. You're planning a great trip and the temps and humidity should be great. Two years ago it didn't get over 80 degrees and last year only a few days went over 80. It's paradise really.
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 04:00 PM
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I am looking for some hotels that are walking distance to downtown, or a non-rustic cabin We are trying to stay in the $150/night range.
Thanks in advance for all your replies!
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Old Feb 18th, 2015, 06:43 PM
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You could also try the Black Mountain/Montreat area. Montreat has a couple nice hikes and it is very easy to do day trips from there like Chimney Rock, Linville, grandfather Mountain, Asheville etc. the Highlands area has a lot of nice waterfall hikes.
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