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  1. Default The South East - Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and the Carolinas

    Hi - we're coming over from England to do a 16 day road trip starting and finishing in Atlanta later this month. We've got no specific route planned, but were thinking of heading into Tennessee, then Kentucky, Virginia, North and South Carolina and then back to Atlanta. We're particularly after recommendations for places to go exploring (maybe cycling?) in the blue ridge and/or smoky mountains and some good places to stay, fun bars and wotnot on the way. Also - any pointers about where to go in TN, KY and VA would be great, as we don't know anyone over here who's been to any of those states. Essentially, any advice would be massively appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Tom

  2. #2

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    In Kentucky, Mammoth Cave Nat'l Park is a great stop. It's the longest cave in the world, and there are all sorts of tours you can take (including a couple of caving tours which are a lot of fun if you're physically able).

    In eastern KY, Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Parks are beautiful & good places to camp, hike, and climb.

    Central KY has beautiful drives through rolling green hills and horse farms. Get off the interstate and take the secondary roads in the area near Lexington, Versailles, Georgetown, Frankfort, and Nicholasville. The Kentucky Horse Park is just north of Lexington & is a good visit.

    Of course, there are lots of distilleries to visit (Makers Mark, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, etc). Most offer tours & bourbon tastings.

    If you're interested in history, check out Lincoln's Birthplace in Hodgenville (the cabin is inside a building!), Shakertown, Fort Boonesborough, Perryville Battlefield, My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, etc.

    Actually, I'd recommend Bardstown in general. It's a great small town. You can have lunch or dinner at the Old Talbott Tavern & if you ask, they'll let you check out the rooms upstairs that aren't currently occupied.

    City-wise, Louisville is full of history & fun stuff to do. Churchill Downs, multiple historical homes, walking around the Victorian-era homes in Old Louisville, the Belle of Louisville steamboat, the Louisville Slugger Museum, dinner & shopping at the indie shops in the Highlands, the Muhammad Ali Museum, the Science Center, walking along West Main with all the cast iron building fronts, etc. The State Fair is Aug 19-29 - lots of fun, especially if you've never been to one (think fried Twinkies and pork chop sandwiches, rows of cows, pig racing, and an enormous talking man on a haystack - http://www.courier-journal.com/blogs...-facebook.html ).

    This is probably more info than you ever needed! :)

  3. Default

    On of the best trips I ever took was to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park,which is between North Carolina and Tennessee. I highly recommend it. You can get detailed information at nps.gov.

  4. #4

    Default Cycling and paddling in NC and VA

    Hello Tom,

    Welcome in advance to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. I do a bit of cycling and paddling in the area and can recommend the following:

    Cycling: Both the Virginia Creeper Trail (VCT) and the New River Trail State Park (NRT) are "rails to trails" conversions, featuring streamside low gradient routes with firm, packed pathways resulting in easy pedaling. The VCT is the more mountainous of the two, with Damascus, VA (aka Trail City, USA) at its center, in between the all-downhill 17 mile traverse from Whitetop Station back to Damascus and the up-and-down more pastoral segment between Damascus and Abingdon, VA. Damascus is around an hour's drive west-northwest of Boone and Blowing Rock, NC. Bike rental and shuttle services abound in Damascus and the simplest of searches will show many of the services as well as images of the trail. The NRT is a larger affair, being a 57 mile trail along the New River in Virginia, with Fries ("Freeze") and Galax on the south end and Pulaski on the north end. I believe there are rental services in Fries.

    Paddling: Some very enjoyable flatwater paddling is available on the New River in northwest NC and southwest VA, roughly between Jefferson, NC and Independence, VA. More adventurous whitewater paddling is available along the Tennessee-NC line on the Nolichucky River, where the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) is a premier operator of guided raft and inflatable kayak trips. NOC runs trips from its main headquarters at Wesser, NC along the Nantahala River, too, and these are intermediate trips in terms of whitewater. Wesser is down in the Smokies while the Nolichucky and New are in northwestern NC and adjacent VA, in the Blue Ridge.

    Many use Blowing Rock as a base of operations for the NC Blue Ridge. Blowing Rock sits at around 3,700' so is normally cool even in August, and its location along the Blue Ridge Parkway and its many attractions (search for Grandfather Mountain, Moses Cone Memorial Park, and Julian Price Park for examples) are within easy access of Blowing Rock. Main Street there features shaded benches at the town's park, normally a cool spot to unwind and people-watch. Also in Blowing Rock is The Canyons restaurant, with the entire dining area plus the deck having a view of Grandfather Mountain (find their webcam online for the view). The Canyons has a jazz brunch each Sunday. It enjoyed a reputation as a college student bar in the 1970s, and fortunately the walls can NOT talk. Be generally aware than there are plenty of counties in TN, KY, VA, and NC which are "dry", meaning no alcohol sales. That's not to say there aren't fun places to be found, but just to advise you it's sort of hit-and-miss in terms of bars.

    Enjoy planning and taking your RoadTrip!

    Foy

  5. Default Thank you!

    Thanks so much for all the advice we've been given so far.
    It's incredibly helpful and hugely appreciated. We can't wait to fly over.
    tom

  6. Default

    If you have a chance, you should check out the Carolina Coast or even the Outer Banks. Simply beautiful and very relaxing!

  7. Default

    Virginia...check out Luray Caverns in the Shennandoah Valley

  8. #8

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    For anyone traveling through Tennessee, you must stop by the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. The tour is free and very fun, and while Lynchburg is a small town there are a few things to do nearby. Since Jack Daniels is a predominating force in Lynchburg, the Jack Daniels website is very informative regarding nearby attractions. Also, you will be in close proximity to Chattanooga with lots to do there.

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