Road Trip - IL, KY, NC, GA, TN

Nov 1st, 2019, 07:19 PM
  #1  
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Road Trip - IL, KY, NC, GA, TN

We are in our 60s and considering taking a nine day road trip from Chicago the end of March 2020. Our main goal is to be in Savannah by Thurs., Mar 26, to enjoy their music festival and historic home tour. We would also like to spend a few days before that in Asheville, NC, to visit the Biltmore Estates.
Basically this is what I have so far:

Day 1, Chicago to Frankfort or Lexington, Ky, driving Old Scenic Pike Rd either today or tomorrow, depending on where we stay. (5-1/2 hours?)

Day 2, Visit Kentucky Horse Park and then drive to Asheville, NC. (4-1/2 hours?)
Question: Will we be able to drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the drive from Kentucky to Asheville? Or is that something we should save for the following day?

Day 3 Blue Ridge Parkway if we didn't drive it the previous day. Folk Art Museum
Which would be the best direction to drive it from Asheville? We would only want to drive a few hours.

Day 4, Biltmore Estates

Day 5-7 Savannah, GA (5 hours)

Day 8, Nashville, TN (7 hours)
Considering staying in East Nashville. We probably would only have the time and energy to walk somewhere for dinner. If there's a quiet place with music that would be great. Any suggestions?

Day 9, Chicago (7 hours)
What do you think? Is this crazy? We originally were going to fly to Ashville and fly out of Savannah, but could be pricey picking up and returning a car in two different cities.
Thanks for any advice or opinions,
Laurie

blackmons is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2019, 05:08 AM
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You won't be on the BRP but the road through the Pigeon River Gorge just before you get to Asheville is one of the prettiest drives in the mountains. No views but the river is pretty.
If you are going to the Folk Art Center then go north a bit on the Parkway where it is.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2019, 07:31 AM
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Since you planned on going through TN anyway, you could take the City of New Orleans south to Memphis and rent a car there. The train leaves Chicago Union Station shortly after 8PM every night and is in Memphis early the next morning. Rent the car in Memphis after a good breakfast. At the end of the trip return the car in Memphis and take the train north overnight to Chicago.
tomfuller is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2019, 12:35 PM
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Tom, why would they take a train when their subject line clearly is labled "Road Trip"?
Stop pushing Amtrak on every single damn post. Might work for some but if you read the body of their post instead of just the title, you can see it would not work given the places they want to visit.
jamie99 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2019, 01:03 PM
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My only thought is that weather conditions will be your guide from KY to Asheville. It is a pretty drive. There are enough cool things in KY to see.
TDudette is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2019, 02:59 PM
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I looked at google's time estimates and have driven those roads a good bit and think they may be optimistic. And I have a lead foot driving and do usually fine Google's times pretty good--so I am a little mystified. Just a thought.
I think the Lexington (HOrse park visit), drive, Asheville and BRP is going to be crowded.

And yes, no matter how convoluted, we are going to get a recommendation to "take the train". LOL
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2019, 07:18 AM
  #7  
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Thanks for all your suggestions. At Tom's suggestion I looked into the train, but that would still involve a lot of driving. Maybe I'll look into that option someday to visit Memphis and New Orleans.
Thanks for the heads up on the travel times. I'll keep that in mind when we're planning. We'll save driving the BRP until Day 3.
Our visit to the horse park will be brief as my husband really isn't interested. I just wanted to get a "taste" of Kentucky.
I am a bit worried about so much time driving, but I guess this will be a test as to how well we do on long car trips. If it's scenic, I don't mind.
Thanks,
Laurie
blackmons is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2019, 07:28 AM
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Another thought is to fit in a wildflower hike in the Smokies. We could skip the horse park and drive to Cove Hardwood Nature Trail on our way to Asheville. If there are accommodations nearby, maybe we could spend the night nearby.
blackmons is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2019, 11:00 AM
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By the way, the Pigeon River Gorge I mentioned is on I40 from Knoxville to Asheville.

If there sin't that much interest in horses, I'd let horse Park go personally. You'll see some nice country around there.

Your driving times aren't that much IMO (but I AM a driving fool and a LOT older than you!!). I think the drive from Savannah to Nashville will be taxing--it's just not that interesting. If you aren't sightseeing in Nashville, why not make a stop in chattanooga instead.

Instead of the BRP per se you could make a detour off of I40 through GSMNP down to Cherokee and then back up to Asheville. In March traffic will not be bad.

And a final thought about the BRP--if you do it be sure it is a sunny day. On cloudy days the road can be above the clouds in the valleys with no views.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 4th, 2019, 06:52 PM
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Thanks, Gretchen. I like your idea of taking a detour through GSMNP down to Cherokee and then back up to Asheville. That would work for seeing wildflowers.

What is the reason behind your suggestion of stopping in Chattanooga instead of Nashville? I think that would make the last leg of the trip a couple hours longer. I only picked Nashville because it's the half-way point between Savannah and Chicago. We have no interest in sightseeing in Nashville though.
Thanks,
Laurie

blackmons is offline  
Nov 5th, 2019, 01:26 PM
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No particualr reason in case you did want to see a bit. --I looked at the map and you really might be better off from Savannah going up through Charlotte and back the same way you came down to Lexington. That way you bypass Atlanta and Nashville traffic. The times on all 2 routes mapped out on google are basically the same.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 11th, 2019, 08:48 AM
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On your return, the drive Savannah - Atlanta is boring! (I drive it a lot to see relatives).
You shouldn't have a problem with timing, so avoid arriving in Atlanta before 10 am and after 3:30pm. Depending on weather, traffic, accidents, it could add 1 hour + to your driving if you arrive during rush hours.

Nashville traffic can also be a pain due to the Interstate highways merging and splitting through town. Again, avoid going through downtown during their rush hours. So, if you mean to stay in the area East Nashville, you could use more local roads to reach your Interstate on the north side. If you mean to stay on an Interstate east of Nashville, just consider the time you would want to start the next morning driving through the city and what route you would take. Sorry, I can't recommend a place for music. We are usually just passing through and occasionally stay at a motel along the Interstate.

I like the Folk Art Museum outside of Asheville and always stop in if in the area.
Kay2 is offline  
Nov 12th, 2019, 09:03 AM
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We drove most of the Blue Ridge Parkway in early April last year. There was little traffic and most visitor centers, etc were closed. (This includes rest rooms.)
https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/hours.htm

We stopped to see the Biltmore estate which was interesting but not the trip highlight we'd been expecting. Be prepared for what seemed to us extremely high entrance fees. The basic daytime entrance fee for a self-guided tour and wine tasting is $75 per person, somewhat less if you order on line in advance. Special guided tours cost more.
Vttraveler is offline  
Nov 13th, 2019, 03:55 AM
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i will mention that there is also a rooftop tour of Biltmore that our daughter took and liked it a lot.
Yes, Biltmore IS expensive to tour--just a fact of life.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 06:27 AM
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Thanks for all your help. A rooftop tour sounds interesting. I'll look into it.
I've changed my mind about making this a road trip. Too much driving in too short of a time. We're going to fly into Asheville and stay 4 nights and then drive to Savannah for 4 nights. I booked a flight out of Hilton Head, which was much cheaper than flying out of Savannah. The more I research, the more I want to see. We'll be staying 2 nights at an Airbnb near the Botanic Garden and 2 nights up in the mountains in Candler. Candler is only 20 minutes from Asheville but will give us an opportunity to hopefully enjoy some views and hear birdsong in the morning. Between Biltmore, the River Arts District, downtown bookstores and restaurants, the Folk Art Center on the BRP, and hopefully seeing some wildflowers in late March we'll have more than enough to do and still not enough time.
In Savannah, we're staying in the historic district and will be busy touring and enjoying the music festival and home tours.
Looking forward to it!
Thanks,
Laurie
blackmons is offline  
Nov 14th, 2019, 07:29 AM
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It sounds like a more manageable and enjoyable trip with that change in itinerary.

You might want to consider visiting a place called Pearson's Falls which is SE of Asheville and I think very close to the route you would take to Charleston. It is a botanical preserve with lots of wildflowers and lovely waterfalls.
https://www.pearsonsfalls.org/
Vttraveler is offline  
Nov 18th, 2019, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by blackmons View Post
Thanks for all your help. A rooftop tour sounds interesting. I'll look into it.
I've changed my mind about making this a road trip. Too much driving in too short of a time. We're going to fly into Asheville and stay 4 nights and then drive to Savannah for 4 nights. I booked a flight out of Hilton Head, which was much cheaper than flying out of Savannah. The more I research, the more I want to see. We'll be staying 2 nights at an Airbnb near the Botanic Garden and 2 nights up in the mountains in Candler. Candler is only 20 minutes from Asheville but will give us an opportunity to hopefully enjoy some views and hear birdsong in the morning.
Good changes.

Do you want suggestions for the drive between Candler and Savannah?
starrs is offline  
Nov 19th, 2019, 05:39 AM
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Thanks, Vttraveler. Pearson Falls sound lovely.
And I would appreciate any suggestions between Candler and Savannah. Thanks, Starr.
blackmons is offline  
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