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  1. Default KY-NC-TN-VA Romantic Long Weekend

    I’d like to surprise my wife with a few days away toward the end of June, like the 25th-28th (though somewhat flexible). We live in Virginia Beach but would like to get to the mountains, but I don’t want to stay in the Smoky Mountains (too little time and too many tourists – we’d rather do that in the off season). I’m looking for inexpensive alternatives “off the beaten path” (not a lot of cha-ching in the bank for this). We don’t require a fancy place to stay; Comfort Inns are perfect, although a reasonably priced B&B would be nice. An acquaintance got me thinking about the Cumberland Gap area, but I see there are other places in striking distance from there, such as Kentucky Ridge State Forest, Big Stone Gap in VA, Cherokee National Forest in TN, and others. I know nothing about that general area, and I don’t see any articles elsewhere on this web site.

    We enjoy light hiking or walking – anything outdoorsy – or just driving around exploring small towns.

    I thought of heading west on Rte 58 across Virginia, which would be 9 ˝ to 10 hours to Cumberland Gap. That’s a little far but okay, because we both enjoy long drives for their own sake. We could always take a faster route back home, too. Or, if there’s anything closer that’s worth doing, I’d like to hear it!

    Any recommendations… or recommendations on what to avoid? We’re mostly wanting to just relax, as we are extremely busy with three kids and looking ahead to a very busy summer, and we just want some time to ourselves. Many thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Less Driving, More Romance

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The Cumberland Gap area would be perfectly fine for a short romantic getaway except for one thing. It would take half your available four days, a day there and a day back, just for the driving portion of this trip. That leaves only two days for romance. I'd suggest a 'target' a bit closer to home, the town of Lexington VA. It's only a half day's drive, is a romantic setting in its own right, and is close to some scenic and historic venues including Monticello, Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the University of Virginia campus (school will be out), the Virginia Horse Center, as well as the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests for simple strolls in the mountains. In other words, spend your time being romantic rather than getting there.


  3. #3

    Default Damascus, VA

    AZ Buck has offered, as always, some fine ideas for a closer-to-home weekend, thus enabling more "we time" and less travel time. I have another suggestion: Damascus or Abingdon, VA.

    Damascus is on US 58 about 15 miles east of Abingdon, where US 58 crosses I-81 near Bristol, VA/TN. Damascus bills itself as "Trail Town, USA" as the Appalachian Trail (AT) intersects the Virginia Creeper Trail in "downtown" Damascus. The Creeper Trail is a most enjoyable way to spend a half-day in the Blue Ridge as it follows the railroad grade of the Virginia Creeper train for 17 miles downhill from Whitetop Gap back to Damascus. The first 1/3 is the steepest, but a gentle application of the rear brakes is all that is needed to keep one's speed in check. Historic Whitetop Station is at the gap, and Green Cove Station is in the first 1/3rd of the run. Below Green Cove, the VCT runs in heavily forested stream gorges for the most part. By Taylor's Valley, the trail flattens out but is still downstream, and its course along Laurel Creek features many bridged crossings (with the high trestles only on the upper end). Taylor's Valley is a nice spot for a sandwich and a cold drink about 2/3rds of the way down. There are a small handful of B&Bs in Damascus, and the whole town is a walking distance situation.

    Grayson Highlands State Park is around 15 miles east of Damascus and includes Mount Rogers, the highest point in VA. A spur trail off of the AT leads to the summit of Mount Rogers. Whitetop Mountain, adjacent to Rogers, is a drive-up, and offers amazing views and is crossed by the AT near the summit.

    Abingdon is home to the Barter Theater and a number of other entertainment and dining options. It is also at the far west end of the VCT, although the eastern half is much more popular. Still, Abingdon is a good place to stay and offers quick access to the mountains.

    I've only been through Cumberland Gap a handful of times and the history is intriguing, but the elevation is low and I think spending a late June weekend all the way out there could be much too warm to enjoy hiking and cycling as much as can be enjoyed in the Damascus or Abingdon areas.


  4. #4

    Default And one more.........

    Since a 3 night stay a year ago, only with my hiking buddy rather than my wife of 35 years, I've often contemplated a long weekend in Hot Springs, NC. It's about 45 minutes to an hour northwest of Asheville, NC, and is a delightful small town. The hiking/paddling/cycling vibe is palpable, with the AT passing through on Main Street, right down to the white blazes which mark the trail being imbedded in the sidewalk. Lots of outdoors activity, cool very small town, nice drives outside of town (the one-hour drive to Max Patch Bald, a short walk-up with stunning 360 degree views of the Smokies, the Blacks, and the Tennessee Valley, and the Paint Creek Corridor immediately come to mind). There are several B&Bs and a good handful of small restaurants and bars, and it's all within walking distance of anywhere else in town.

    The namesake waters in Hot Springs are on the property of the Hot Springs Resort and Spa, located right on the edge of town. I've never used the massage, aromatherapy, etc services, but I've enjoyed the soak on two occasions. The natural hot waters, one of the only such sources in the East Coast states, are piped into Jacuzzi-type tubs. Soakers rent a tub by the hour, and the tubs are cleaned and refilled with fresh hot spring water between guests. The tubs are screened for privacy and about a dozen line the banks of the French Broad River and Spring Creek. Guests are free to bring their own beverages in non-glass containers. I'd guess the water starts out at about 100 degrees and will cool down some during the typical hour-long soak. Some of the tubs have cold-water misting apparatus to provide a cooling effect during summertime soaks.

    Enjoy the planning and the RoadTrip!


  5. Default

    Thanks a bunch! What great food for thought. I'll look into some of these ideas & let you know what I come up with. Any other ideas out there?

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