I have about 3-4 days off (unexpected) to drive from either Nashville or Dayton to my home in northern CT. I'm picking up a car, and essentially get to pick which city as the cars are the same. I could scrap the whole thing and have the car shipped, but I'm itchy to hit the road especially solo - no kids, spouse, or dog! My thought is to leave tomorrow so I could be back before T-day nuttiness. Part of this is a chance for me to get away, part of it is to test out the new car on the road, and part of it is a mini trial run as I'm planning a 5 week RV trip with just me, the kids, and the dog this summer out west.
By way of background, I'm mid 40's, in good health, and I used to travel quite a bit in cities for work - i.e. I commuted to Atlanta from New York for a year, spent 4 months working in Tampa, spent a lot of time in Chicago, Philly, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco. I'm comfortable on my own but I'm not a huge explorer. My favorite thing to do is hit the streets, poke around, check out some cafes, and eat some local street food.
So my two options:
Dayton - fly in midday, pick up the car, stay somewhere nearby or in Cincinnati or even hop on the road a little bit and drive east. I've been to Cincinnati, and with the exception of good German food (which I also get in mill cities in CT and MA), I'm not overly intrigued. Likely stay in a traditional downtown hotel with a pool and maybe a spa to get a massage before piling in the car for three days. If there was a really luxe spa, I'd consider that, but there isn't, and I'm not sure what else to do here other than eat.
Day 2 - drive like a maniac, 400-500 miles, stop somewhere at a Best Western or similar and crash
Day 3 - drive to my sister's in southeastern PA (near Maryland) for dinner, spend the night
Day 4 - leave in the morning heading up 95 through lovely Jersey to the Tappan Zee, then home by midday (6-7 hrs from PA)
Nashville - fly in daytime, take care of the car. I've never been to Nashville, and while I'm not a country music fan, I love local culture (especially food). Downtown sounds fun, possibly even Grand Ole Opry but I do have an early wakeup and will have traveled a lot that day. Or I could stay outside of the city and hit the road early. I drove through the Smoky Mountains as a kid and love that sort of thing. I have cowboy boots (did I mention I've spent a lot of time in Denver and Jackson WY?) and could be up for a brief bar scene with some ribs, dancing, southern food, etc.
I'd like to stop for little out of the way places here and there, not so many that I can't be in southern PA by day 3 dinnertime. I tried to use the app but it flagged far too many things, it was overwhelming.
Likes: Scenic drives, making good time, avoiding truck routes where feasible. Small divey restaurants and street food or really special regional cuisine. Beer, wine, hooch, and all of the above. Clean quiet hotels that are cheap unless they are unique. I won't be staying long enough to enjoy a B&B. Music - especially classical, blues, jazz, street music. New Orleans is one of my fav cities, along with NY and London.
Dislikes: New Jersey, the Mets, poor radio reception, traffic, museums, parks (I live on a mountain), shopping, casinos, touristy things, detailed plans.
So Q1: Nashville, Dayton, or forget the whole thing?
Q2: Can I blitz it in three days if I fly in midday tomorrow and have no planning?
Q3: What are 5 must-see's/do's along the way?
I'm leaning toward Nashville, a little bar scene or the Opry and some good southern cooking Day 1, then leaving crack of dawn 2 and stopping in PA at my sister's. Dayton just seems... ugh.
Advice please! I have to book my ticket and make my decision tomorrow (Sat) morning.I wish I had more time, I'd take the train down, mosey my way back, but my husband only has so much patience.