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  1. Default NEED SUGGESTIONS Washington DC, Memphis and Blueridge PKW

    Hello everyone:
    My family and I live in Argentina, South America. We are planning a trip to New York, Philadelphia and DC in July 09. After completing that tour I would like to drive from Washington DC to Memphis going through Kentucky (Louisville and Lexington) and take the famous Blueridge Parkway and back to DC for my flight back home.

    I need recomendations as to which route to do going out from Washington, as well as getting back not going through the same places. Also : is the Blueridge Parkway worth it its whole extension? Is it better taking it North to South or the other way ?

    Since Ill be traveling with two kids ( 8 and 11 years old) I need to know if there are any amusement parks or similar attractions in the route I mentioned at the beginning , just in case they get tired of so much scenic drives.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Sounds like a great trip!

    Hello and welcome to the R.T.A forums.

    Quite a trip coming up there.
    I can't help mutch with your questions as i am not familiar with that area but someone will be along soon i'm sure. Here and also here you will find some info on the blueridge parkway to get you started and you can also use the search button in the green bar for finding further info.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-27-2008 at 02:19 PM. Reason: added another link

  3. Default thanks for your welcome

    Thankyou for your welcome SD. Ill take a look at those links you gave me.
    Sorry for that duplicate thread, its my first post, it was unvoluntary. SEe you, Leo.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Washington <-> Memphis

    Sure, there are a couple of routes between Washington, DC and Memphis, TN. From Washington, take I-66 west to either I-81 or the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest to the area in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and from there just take I-40 west to Memphis. An alternate route fo0r the way back would be to take US-51/Us-68 to Bowling Green, KY and the nearby Mammoth Cave. From there, I-65, the Bluegrass Parkway and I-64 will take you to Charleston, WV and I-79 up to Morgantown and I-68 will put you in position to use either I-70 or US-40, the old National Road back to Washington.


  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by LEO41 View Post
    Also : is the Blueridge Parkway worth it its whole extension? Is it better taking it North to South or the other way ?
    Hello Leo, and Welcome to the US, in advance,

    Although I love my home state of North Carolina and the South in general, I must guess many would find a traverse of the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) to be "too much of a good thing". The BRP extends 469 miles from Cherokee, NC in the Great Smokey Mountains to the border of Shenandoah National Park (SNP) in Virginia. There, the Skyline Drive (SD) begins and it traverses the SNP for another 105 miles. In most ways, the SD is an extension of the BRP.

    With a multitude of turn-outs to stop and take in the view, short hiking trails, special exhibits, and such, the average travel speed for the BRP-SD is very slow, something less than 30 miles per hour. Given its nature as a scenic drive as contrasted to a "through route", the BRP is fairly curvy, and as such can be difficult to negotiate for hours on end, and particularly so for the 2 or 3 days it would take to drive the entire length of the BRP and SD.

    That said, and with regard to amusement parks for the children, you can consider getting on the BRP at it's southern end near Cherokee, which itself is fairly close to Gatlinburg, TN. Gatlinburg is home to just about every type of amusement park attraction you can imagine. A good day's drive to the north brings you to the vicinity of Blowing Rock, NC, where the Tweetsie Railroad amusement park features an old-style Western town and a several mile long ride on a train powered by a genuine early 20th century steam engine. Along the way, the train is "attacked" by robbers and the "good guys" emerge to defend the train and engage in a mock gunfight, defeating the robbers. It's all geared towards children's enjoyment. Also in that vicinity is Grandfather Mountain, home to the "Mile High Swinging Bridge", an environmental habitat (a zoo-style attraction) and a number of other attractions.

    As you proceed up into Virginia on the BRP, by about Fancy Gap/Floyd/Roanoke, you've reached a point where I-81 is close by on the west and US 29 is not far away to the east. Either gives you the opportunity to return to faster travel as you return north if it turns out you've had your fill of the BRP by then.

    Enjoy the planning and the trip!

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-28-2008 at 07:40 AM. Reason: fixed broken quote

  6. Default

    Thankyou very much for your recomendations. Foy's description of the options is so detailed (sounds as if you know every corner of the region) and AZBuck's route sounds great ( gonna take a look at a us map to get it better). Thanks for the links also AZ. See you, LEO.

  7. Default DC to Memphis

    Hi people at Roadtrip America :

    My name is Leo and Im from Argentina. I once posted a question concerning driving from DC to MEM and need some additional advice. Im planning on driving DC to MEMphis in July 09 and Im interested in going through Lexington KY, Chattannooga TN, Nashville TN. I need some opinions concerning safety. Is it safe on the road as well as in the cities I mentioned (DC, MEM, NASHVILLE, CHATANNOOGA) travelling with two kids 8 and 11 years old? Are there any recomendations you can give me such as unsafe areas and precaution suggestions ? Since Im so far away, I have no knowledge on this matter and want to have a joyfull trip and Im very eager to getting to know this area.

    Thanks, Leo.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 03-26-2009 at 04:57 PM. Reason: Merged threads.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Common sense.

    Each of the places you have mentioned is someone's home and they live there in safety and go about there daily business, so you do not need to worry unduly.

    Whether you are at home or any other country in the world just use your common sense and listen to your "built in radar" that might set of alarm bells if you start to wander away from well lit main areas into "seedy" ones, which is something you don't want to do anyway.

  9. Default

    Yes, the area you're describing is very safe. I'd be very surprised if you had anything except pleasant travels. You'll need to keep your eyes open in the big cities, which you're going to visit with your tour, but the other places you're describing will be almost rural compared to NY and DC.

    Why are you going to drive back to NY? Why not make it a one-way trip and fly home from your last destination? I think it'd be a better use of your time.

    I wouldn't be to concerned with driving the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is absolutely lovely and different from mountains in other areas, but it is rather repetative -- it's a great deal of the same thing.

    Within the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, you might consider a stay at LeConte Lodge. You can't drive there; you must hike. Food is brought in by lama. It's not a difficult hike, and your 8-year old could make it without difficulty so long as you don't expect him to carry more than a day pack with a few extra items of clothing.

    Cherokee is fun, but touristy. Your kids would enjoy it.

    White water rafting is a great sport, and you can find it in a variety of "thrill levels". With an 8-year old, I'd book a "family river", which means it's pretty tame. Also there's tubing, which means just floating down the river in a tube; you start out wearing two pairs of jeans-shorts, and when you finish, you only have one pair left 'cause the butt's worn out. When we used to go with small children, I'd always take rope with loops on the end so we could stay hooked to the children.

    Grandfather Mountain is another wonderful mountain spot, though it's a private spot and not so affordable as the national parks. Its claim to fame is the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The new swinging bridge isn't quite so cool as the rickey old model they had when I was a kid; still it's fun, and they have a very nice zoo. Definitely have the kids do the junior ranger program.

    Biltmore House is another mountain spot that you might enjoy, though the kids probably won't rank it high on their list. It's the majestic home of the railroad tycoons, the Vanderbilts. Be sure to tour the basement / servants' quarters -- they're much more interesting than the main house, and they give an interesting insight into the workings of a great manor house "back in the day". You can also tour the gardens, which are extensive. Mr. Vanderbilt didn't buy this property because it was lovely; he bought an empty mountainside and brought in all those pines and azaleas. It must be seen to be believed. Do not visit, however, during the spring flower special. We went once, and we literally couldn't enjoy the tour. We went in along with the crowds, but we couldn't see anything, and we ended up leaving after just a room or two. There's a winery on the property, and though I don't care for wine myself, everyone says it's very good.

    While you're in the area, you might enjoy Thomas Wolfe's home. It's a minor attraction.

    If you venture down towards the piedmont (the central area of North Carolina), your kids would definitely enjoy a visit to Hiddenite. NC is rich in gemstones, especially emeralds. Hiddenite is a little "hole in the wall" type place kind of near Greensboro. You can go in and buy buckets of dirt and "pan" to find the gemstones. My kids LOVE it. You will find a couple nice-sized gemstones in every bucket, which can be made into necklaces, etc. Sometimes people find something of real value. You'll be able to tell the professional treasure hunters -- they aren't nice to anyone. You will get dirty, dirty, dirty and wet, so don't go unless it's warm outside. The facilities are very basic; you'll have only a spigot and a hose with which to wash up, so I always take a couple wet-wet washcloths and leave them in a ziplock on the car hood in the sun -- when we finish, we have nice warm washcloths for our faces and hands. Mining is hungry work; take a picnic -- there's a drink machine, but no food for purchase.

    I've never been to Chatanooga, but there's a lot of stuff there.

    In Kentucky, consider Cumberland Falls Resort Park. Good hiking, nice swimming hole, and the only moonbow in the northern hemisphere. It's a very nice park. Kentucky and South Carolina tend to have the nicest state parks in this area of the country. I have to say that my own state, North Carolina, is at the bottom of the barrel in this regard; our state parks are okay, but they don't compete with those in our surrounding states.

    Nashville is nice, but I"ve only passed through. Country music hall of fame, Grand Ole' Opry, and the Hermitage (home of President Andrew Jackson) are all worthwhile. There's also a great water park right on the river, but I forget it's name; it's very near the Hermitage.

    Memphis is a nice city, and right on the Mississippi, which is something you'll want to see. You'll want to eat BBQ, see Graceland, and see the Mississippi River park.

    You'll have to pass through Virginia, and you'll be near some nice things there too. President Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello (in the Virginia mountains) is quite a historical site. I love Colonial Williamsburg, though it's probably not on your route.
    Last edited by MrsPete; 03-26-2009 at 05:31 PM.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Each of the places you have mentioned is someone's home and they live there in safety and go about there daily business, so you do not need to worry unduly.
    I can't really agree with this. Some people live in -- perhaps are forced to live in -- some downright horrible places, and some of them do not live there safely. Instead, they are victims of crime in their own neighborhoods. I think it's wise for the original poster to ask what type of places he's visiting.

    Bad things DO happen; for example, my husband was attacked in broad daylight -- literally attacked, it turned into a street fight, and much blood was involved -- by a street person on a trip about a year ago. The guy was probably mentally ill.

    I wouldn't choose to forego a certain city that I really wanted to see because of safety concerns, but I might take extra caution in choosing my hotel, and I might plan not to be out after dark IF I were warned about dangerous areas.

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