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  1. Default NJ to TN - need some tips!

    Hi everyone

    I'm not new to road-tripping - pre-baby & marriage I traveled quite a bit from the Midwest to Cali and the Pacific NW. However that was nearly 10 years ago, so I am hoping to get some tips and refreshers once I explain our plan.

    My husband, 5 year old and I would like to travel by car from NJ to the Great Smoky Mountains in TN over the Summer. The entire trip will take 10 hours in no traffic, however we will not be travelling straight through, I would like to stop at the mid-way point. The plan is to leave early in the morning and get 4-5 hours in, stop and eat dinner / rest overnight before proceeding the following day.

    Has anyone done this trip before and do you have any suggestions as to where to stop - bearing in mind we have a 5 year old? Something family friendly, please. Also, as a side note, any cabin/resort recommendations in the Great Smoky Mountains would be lovely. We're looking at Dollywood right now and a few others. Would be great to hear from those who have stayed somewhere in the GSM and can make a recommendation.

    I would also love some suggestions as to what we can do once there. For example, we would very much like to go fishing - do you know of any spots in the GSM that are appropriate for a 5 year old? Any other suggestions and tips would be very much appreciated! We will probably spend one day in Dollywood theme park regardless (I am a big fan of Dolly Parton myself, and my daughter will also enjoy it). The rest of the time we are open as to suggestions. We all enjoy the outdoors, hiking, natural beauty, nature, etc. Would love ideas!

    Thank you in advance :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Overnight at Skyland Resort?

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyTrails72 View Post
    The entire trip will take 10 hours in no traffic
    I don't think that will ever happen in this reality! I am not sure where you are starting from, but it's about 600 miles from just about anywhere in New Jersey to the Great Smokies. So, splitting into two days is smart. Welcome to the Trip Advice Forums. Sounds like a great adventure for your family. One of our correspondents just posted about an attraction in Pigeon Forge that I would like to try some day -- and I think your 5 year old would find it fun -- I've not checked their site for age restrictions -- but basically you roll down a hillside in a huge plastic ball. Check out it here. Probably not what you were thinking of -- but I just saw that post.

    Unfortunately, it's been a while since I was in the Great Smokies -- but several of our regular contributors live in the area.

    Shenandoah NP is certainly within the 300 mile radius of your first day. I've stayed at the Skyland Resort -- lots of kids and nice hikes in the area.

    I am sure that others will be along soon with recommendations for the GSM.


  3. Default

    Hi Mark!
    Unless Google Directions is fibbing to me, I'm being told that from my address in Northern NJ to Dollywood, it's 10h 44 min - so 11 hrs which in reality given traffic, etc will more than likely be 13 hrs! FYI we are in Woodland Park, NJ (I'm about 12 miles from the Lincoln Tunnel in NYC).

    Thanks for the recommendations! I will check out Shenandoah but will skip the giant ball down the hill LOL.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 07-20-2016 at 03:40 PM. Reason: Removed Quote of Entire Previous Post

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Google maps is almost certainly fibbing to you - as they do to pretty much everyone. Even without traffic, there's just no way that anyone could cover nearly 700 miles in 10 hours 40 minutes, once you factor in the bare minimum of slow downs. A good rule of thumb is that in the real world, add at least 20% to online mapping program estimates.

    In any case, yes, 13 hours would be about the minimum that I would expect this trip to take, and an overnight stop really is essential. But, it does look like your plan already takes into account the real world realities that google doesn't, so you should be in great shape!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Shenandoah is beautiful and the resort mentioned would be a great stop. There's a big meadow not far from Skyland Resort, and a lot of kids love to play in it. Bear in mind that driving the 105 miles from Front Royal to Waynesboro, on Skyline Drive, is about a 4-5 hour drive -- at 30 mph, plus stops.

    Google assumes that you are just going to drive at the speed limit during the entire length, not slowing down for construction (a definite reality in the summer), or stopping for gasoline, food, or restrooms. It assumes that you'll never come across an accident which will stop you completely, or slow you down to a crawl. You can either add 20% to the times they suggest, or take the mileage and divide by 55 or 60 for interstate highway travel.


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