Southern New Jersey to Nashville Tennessee
During Christmas week of 2013, my wife and I would like to do a road-trip from southern-NJ to Nashville. We'd like to take the most scenic and interesting route there. We have from Christmas to New Years for the entire trip, with the plans of doing all the site-seeing on the way there and then taking a more direct route back. If for some reason, we run out of time heading to Nashville and have to turn-around because of items of interests we detoured to, that's OK too. We have no plan on making any hotel/motel reservations or anything like that.
Thie first thing I thought of, as I read your post, was Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. It runs parallel with I-81 in Virginia, and takes you along mountain ridges with beautiful vistas and occasional views of wildlife. The park is open in the winter, but there are no services along the 105-mile drive. The road could be closed for inclement weather, as well. In the summer, we took 5 hours to traverse this road between I-66 and I-64. We went from Staunton, VA (south end of Skyline Drive) to north-central NJ that day -- long day, but well worth our time.
Getting Through the Corridor
As Donna points out, once you're west of the Fall Line, it's pretty easy to find a scenic route to Nashville, through the Shenandoah Valley, along the Blue Ridge, across the Great Smokies, etc. The problem is really getting from southern New Jersey to west of the Fall Line, [i/i.e.[/i] getting through the I-95 corridor. Now you don't say where in southern New Jersey you're starting from, but there are really only a couple of options for leaving that area: the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Cape May - Lewes Ferry.
If you really want scenic, are not worried about time or even if you actually get to your 'destination', and don't mind wandering back roads, then I'd suggest that you look at the ferry, then cross the Delmarva Peninsula on roads like DE-18 and MD-33 taking in towns like Georgetown, Federalsburg and St. Michaels before crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis, another great walking town, and then taking US-301 around DC to the southeast. Once you cross the Potomac, US-17 and VA-3 will take you through Fredericksburg and Culpepper and put you in shape to either head down to Charlottesville and I-64 or use US-33 to cross the Blue Ridge. At that point you're set up for continuing down the Shenandoah Valley and/or Blue Ridge to the Great Smoky Mountains and western Tennessee.
The other option if your in 'northern' southern New Jersey is to cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge and stick with I-95 to around Christiana DE. There take DE-273 through Newark to MD-273 to US-1. Cross the Conowingo Dam and then at Frogtown take MD-23 west to Blackhorse where you'll pick up MD-138/MD-137 to Hampstead. Next up, MD-482 and MD-27 through Westminster to Franklinville, MD-26 to Frederick and thence US340 west through Harpers Ferry VA to VA-7 west to Winchester. At that point, you are again on I-81 and set up for the run sown the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge.
Or if time permits, you can do one route to Nashville and the other one home.
Thanks for the suggestions. Keep them coming. I've probably do the 95-S route via the Delaware Memorial Bridge as a starting point.