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  1. #1

    Default October Boston - Nashville trip...opinions/advice needed please!

    Hi guys. Greetings from Merry Old England! What a totally brilliant web much useful stuff here for an unseasoned roadtripper like me. But...I'm interested in any opinions you might have on a two week Boston - Nashville road trip that I'm planning with a couple of friends. Here's our initial attempt at a rough itinerary:

    Day 1 - Arrive in Boston (I've visited Boston before)
    Day 2-3 - Drive to Quabbin Reservoir and then down to NYC
    Day 4-6 - NYC
    Day 7-10 - Drive to Nashville via Washington DC, Blue Ridge Parkway & Great Smokey Mountains
    Day 11-12 - Nashville
    Day 13 - Memphis

    This gives us maybe a day and a half to spare.

    First of all, is that a realistic distance to cover in the time I've made above? We want the trip to be moderately relaxed, perhaps no more than 6 hours of driving in any one day.

    I'm kind of aware that we're planning to take in a lot of Fall scenery with New England, Blue Ridge and the Smokies...surely this can't get boring though?

    Any advice on one-way car rental? Budget seem to be cheapest after some searches online...

    One last thing: Are there any beautiful/fun towns, attractions, detours along our route that you would recommend?

    Please feel free to rip my plan to shreds if that's what it needs!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Those distances are very realistic. If you were to go from Boston to Nashville via Interstate highways, it would only take three 6 hour driving days, so you have plenty of extra time to meander.

  3. #3

    Default Welcome to the Blue Ridge Mountains

    Hello Ben,

    Here are some thoughts and ideas for you and your travel partners to consider for the trip:

    While a true RoadTripper would say there are no bad roads, the Interstate 95 (I-95) and related segments from NYC through Philadelphia and Baltimore onward to DC is often considered (OK, maybe only by me) to be a hellish experience with congested traffic which is to be avoided at virtually all costs. If I had time to spare, I'd travel either down the Jersey Coast to Cape May, taking the ferry to Lewes, DE, thence the Chesapeake Bay Bridge back to Annapolis, MD and on to DC, or I'd swing west from NYC, on I-78, to the Poconos in PA, thence down I-81 and US 15, and approach DC from the northwest, say down I-270 from Frederick, MD. Since you have much in the way of mountain scenery already planned, I'd probably do the former, coastal route myself. Be advised of the need to book ahead for the Cape May Ferry, though. Somewhere along the Jersey Shore between NYC and Cape May is Asbury Park, where you might have a beer at the Stone Pony, Bruce Springsteen's signature venue.

    Further south, the Skyline Drive (SD) and Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) combine for some 570 miles of mostly ridgetop driving (I believe the BRP is 470 and the SD is about 100 miles). While I love the mountains, most would find traveling great distance, in Autumn, at 25 to 35 mph exhausting. I know I would. You would at the very least need to plan this segment for a midweek timeframe, as you might only average 20 mph on an Autumn weekend. From the DC area, US 29 parallels the SD/BRP a relatively few miles to the east/south and I-81 parallels it closely on the Shenandoah Valley side, at least as far down as around Wytheville, VA. The point being one can run the SD or BRP to the point of enjoying it less and less, then jump off at a crossing to either US 29 or I-81. I happen to think the Shenandoah Valley is absolutely spectacular, so I might favor driving the SD to US 33 at Swift Run Gap, thence US 33 north/west to pick up I-81 at Harrisonburg. Either Staunton, VA or Lexington, VA offer quaint downtowns and plenty of bars and restaurants. You might jump back on to the BRP just at either Buena Vista or Glasgow.

    If you're intent on seeing the Smokies and the highest parts of the Blue Ridge, you'll probably want to get back onto the BRP by around I-77 at Wytheville and stay on it all the way through Asheville, NC to its terminus at Cherokee, NC. That will take you though the highest-elevation sections of the whole BRP in NC and southwestern VA. You'll likely want to stop at Blowing Rock, NC, drive to the top of nearby Grandfather Mountain (elevation just under 6,000') and see the Craggy Gardens further south closer to Asheville.

    Despite a lifetime of living in or near the NC mountains, I have practically no familiarity with the ranges a ways south of Blowing Rock, where I went to college in nearby Boone, NC, so I really can't help you down that way.

    The sights and activities an outdoors person like myself would consider including would be a half-day ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a bicycle trail with an all-downhill 17 mile segment ending in Damascus, VA, a canoe trip on the New River in either NC or VA, some hiking from the parking area at the top of Grandfather Mountain, and perhaps a steam locomotive ride near the southern end of the BRP near Sylva and Dillsboro, NC. There are innumerable opportunities for other perhaps more refined activities if that's your style, too, with art on display at Floyd, VA and Blowing Rock, NC, and more fancy B&Bs than you could ever shake a stick at the whole way from DC to Cherokee.

    Pipe up if you have more specific interests, and welcome again.


  4. #4


    It's good to know that we should have plenty of time to check stuff out off the Interstates.

    I-95 does sound like it could be a bit of a nightmare, but the coastal route you suggest sounds like an excellent idea and well worth trying to fit into our schedule. We're all love our music so the Stone Pony sounds ace as well, I've heard about it but hadn't realised we might be close to it.

    I think dipping in and out of the SD and BRP from the Interstate is the only way to do it, sounds like we'd definitely run out of time and patience if we attempted anything close to the entire stretch.

    Thanks so much for your replies, your advice is going to be really helpful in our route planning.

  5. #5

    Default Addenda

    For my own information I just located Asbury Park on Mapquest and was a bit surprised how far north in NJ the town is. I'd thought it to be more of a South Jersey Shore burg. Anyway, it appears one could readily swing by the town and then return to I-95 (aka The Ho Chi Minh Trail) if speed traveling to DC were the governing factor. There is no question that the Garden State Parkway down to Cape May has plenty of congestion potential itself, and if your traverse were to be, say, on a Saturday, with Sunday having you cross the Bay Bridge at Annapolis enroute to DC, you'd likely find very congested conditions crossing the BB, too, as US 50/301 there is the main route between the DC/Baltimore area and the Ocean City, MD and nearby Delaware oceanfront resort communities.

    If you end up overnighting in the Baltimore area, look for something near the Inner Harbor or Fells Point. The former is rather upscale in terms of venues, events, and dining, while the latter is Ground Zero for music and pub crawling. They are within a short water taxi ride from one another, and I presume the water taxis will run well into the Fall up there.

    Enjoy the planning and the RoadTrip!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Unfortunately, Asbury Park has declined over the years. It's no longer particularly safe when you get off the boardwalk and Ocean Avenue, so be aware if you do go there. The Stone Pony is on Ocean Av, so you should be fine there.

    Congestion on the GSP is only an issue close to NYC in morning and evening rush hours - and if you are traveling southbound, even in evening rush hours it's not bad south of Perth Amboy because there are about a zillion lanes. They have a local/express lane setup. Forget Friday evenings in the summer though, it's nasty all the way down with weekenders going to the shore, and the same applies northbound on Sunday evenings.

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