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Northeast to Smokey Mtns - Suggested stops along the way?

Northeast to Smokey Mtns - Suggested stops along the way?

Old Apr 19th, 2006, 05:36 AM
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Northeast to Smokey Mtns - Suggested stops along the way?

Planning a family trip this summer (with 2 teenage girls) from the Northeast to Smokey Mountain NP, Asheville, etc.

I figure we'll head down I-81, making a stop in Gettysburg. Where else would you suggest stopping along the way, either for a short stop or overnight? Are there specific sections along the Blue Ridge Parkway worth driving?

I expect we'll go as far southeast as Charleston and possibly Savannah (worth seeing?) then head back up I-95. Any suggestions for stops on the way back? We've already been to Williamsburg, and have been to Wash DC and Baltimore several times.

Thanks.
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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Having traveled some years back with two teenage daughters and their father who is a Civil War buff, I can identify with the enormity of the task you face! You might want to consider stopping off in Harpers Ferry WV for a good mix of history & cute shops. As an added plus, the town is small enough that your girls could go off by themselves for awhile while you hiked the overlook by Jefferson's Rock and/or the old bridge emplacements from CW times. Lexington VA is further down the valley and would give you connections to both Lee and Jackson. Your girls would certainly be interested in touring VMI and/or Washington & Lee University and it's never too early to start getting a feel for different college campuses. The Peaks of Otter Lodge is located just off milepost 86 along the BRP and would make a good overnight stop. For more information on this facility, go to the Hotels tab above. The D Day Memorial outside of Bedford VA is worthy sidetrip. Although you certainly would not have to drive the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I would suggest that you get off I-81 to give yourself a much better feel for the Shenandoah Valley.
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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Going all the way to Charleston? That is about a 6+ hour drive on the interstate from Asheville, just so you knoow, and Savannah is another 2 hours. I would just do Charleston--more to do, good eats, history.
How long is this trip going to be?
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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Time isn't set yet, but looking at 7-10 days.
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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If your girls like amusement parks, you could stop at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pa., or HersheyPark in Hershey, Pa. Off I-95 are Six Flags America in Maryland and Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va., just north of Richmond. And of course Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Virginia has loads of wineries, if you're into that. Many aren't too far from I-81. Stop at the welcome center and pick up a Virginia Wine Guide.

There's Luray Caverns in Virginia in the Shenandoah Mtns area. The BRP somewhat parallels I-81 until you get to Roanoke, and then it starts to dip more southward into NC. Depending on how much of a hurry you're in, you could take the BRP all the way to the GSMNP. But I-81/I-40 will get you there a lot faster.

If you do end up returning via I-95, I suggest a few hours in Richmond. You can tour the Virginia capitol building (be sure to get a fresh-squeezed limeaid in the cafeteria). There is a fantastic statue of George Washington in the rotunda that was done by, I think, Rodin. You can also visit some dead presidents (US and Confederate) in Hollywood Cemetery there. I like Richmond.

Another suggestion is to visit Annapolis for a few hours. You can take a sail in the harbour or tour the Naval Academy or Maryland Capitol Building.

I also second the recommendation of visiting Lexington, Va. It's a pretty town and the two colleges are interesting.

I think you have a lot of options!
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 10:36 AM
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Actually, Charleston is a straight shot down I-26 and shouldn't take longer than 4-4 1/2 hours.

Yes, Savannah is worth seeing.
 
Old Apr 20th, 2006, 12:32 PM
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Having 2 teenaged stepdaughters and having done several trips with them I would think you need to have some cool/fun things to do and forget the history lesson. Besides, Gettysburg in the summer is stifling. Here would be my suggestions based on what our teen girls have enjoyed:
-Hershey Amusement Park and Chocolate factory
-Caverns - there are at least 2 along the route down 1-81
-Asheville - cool downtown to walk around in
Don't worry so much about the scenic drives...the first oohs and ahhs will be quickly replaced with boredom. If they are fairly fit/active you may want to consider Grandfather mountain and a walk across the swinging bridge.
-hiking or tubing once around Asheville
While they would like Charleston and Savannah especially for the shops but UGGH Hot and humid in Summer time...I'd reconsider that part of the trip and do it in the fall or spring . Hershey, Blacksburg, Charlottesville (UVA campus is beautiful) - Monticello; caverns, Asheville - it'll be much more comfortable than Savannah and the coast unless you just want to head for the ocean. Don't try and cram too much into your 7-10 days or you'll all be burnt out and miserable.
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 01:23 PM
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Thanks all. Leah, we plan on doing both some history and recreation. They're smart kids and can handle some history, but also enjoy hiking.

I don't have my books handy, but I know there's some whitewater rafting near GMSNP. Is it any good? Looking for at least class 3 water (had fun on the Arkansas R. near Canon City, CO a few years ago.)

I'm not a big fan of heat and humidity and even though we plan on travelling towards the end of June, we probably will skip Charleston and Savannah this trip.
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 02:39 PM
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I use the Nantahala Outdoor Center for info about rivers and rapids. Their website http://www.noc.com/ provides a good overview of the rivers in the area.

Stop at Route 11 chips in Middletown, VA and watch the chips being made and get some fresh -- fun and quick detour.

Peaks of Otter is a nice hike in Southern VA and Natural Bridge is another quick interesting stop. Love Harper's Ferry -- hike up to MD Heights for a great view.

On the way home you might take the route back up the Eastern Shore crossing the bridge at Annapolis. Chestertown, St. Michaels, Oxford, Easton are all nice stops. Could even take the ferry from Lewes to the Jersey Shore (don't know where you're going in the NE).
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 04:44 PM
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barry - our kids are top of the class as well but we try and balance out the museums/history stuff with active/fun things that are age appropriate. There are lots of white water rafting spots near Asheville.
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 06:00 PM
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Stop in Winchester to visit the new Shenandoah Valley museum. Fifteen minutes south of Winchester get off at the Middletown exit, and as mentioned above, visit the Route 11 Potato Chip factory for a tour and tasting. A few miles south of Middletown is the Cedar Creek Battlefield and Belle Grove Plantation, a new National Park.

Another few miles south is Strasburg where you can take I-66 to Front Royal (10 miles) and take route 340 another 10 miles south to Bentonville. You will find two or three canoe rental places there who will shuttle you up river (South Fork of the Shenandoah)for a 4,12, or 16 mile canoe trip. There is one class 3, a couple of class 2 and a a view of the mountains around you that is fantastic. After a day on the river, you might want to stay over in Front Royal.

Getting back on I-81, there is North Mountain Winery outside Tom's Brook, the Shenandoah County Courthouse (1795) in Woodstock, the Woodstock Tower overlooking the 7 bends of the Shenandoah River, (North Fork), the Shenandoah Vineyards in Edinburg, and the New Market Battlefield in New Market.
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