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Author Topic: noelbotevera travels!  (Read 18649 times)

noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #150 on: February 12, 2021, 11:58:00 PM »

Hi Noel,

I've been to both places.  Only once to Chicago (if you don't count air transfers at O'Hare).  So I'm probably not that qualified to recommend things in Chicago.  About eight times to Gatlinburg, so I can pass on some observations there, if you are planning to spend some time there if you ultimately choose the Smokys.

You may want to watch the time of year, as sometimes it can be hard to find a room, especially if an event is happening at the Convention Center.  Parking is pretty scarce, but everything is close so you will likely leave the car at the hotel and walk (or take the trolley) wherever you want to go.  The town is quite hilly though!

Don't discount the "variety of food" - you mentioned barbecue - off the top of my head Gatlinburg has Calhoun's and Bennett's for BBQ, both of which I found quite good.  If you like freshwater trout, many places offer that.  And lots of local restaurants - no need to settle for the chain places you can go to at home.

On the other hand, it can give off a "tourist trap" vibe.  That may turn some people off, others may find it kind of charming.  Lots of souvenir shops and the like.  Ripley's museum.  Guinness World Record Museum.  Aquarium.  Miniature golf.
I plan on steering clear of the tourist traps, which means avoiding Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I also plan on staying in Franklin, NC - it's centrally located and about an hour from everything. Anything you really recommend to see? So far I plan to see

-Tail of the Dragon + NC 28 or TN 32 (Tail is closer)
-Upper Whitewater Falls
-Cherohala Skyway
-Blue Ridge Parkway (literally start at the southern terminus and drive the entire day on the parkway; if we're lucky we make it to Asheville for dinner)
-Asheville (Zoo, Biltmore Estate, etc.)
-GA 60 or Atlanta if possible (both take 2 hours)
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webny99

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #151 on: February 13, 2021, 12:11:11 PM »

Cades Cove Scenic Loop is classic Smokies and a great spot to potentially see black bears, if that's something that interests you.

When I visited I was staying in the Knoxville area, and it was actually quicker to return via US 321 and TN 33 (thus avoiding the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge mess altogether), which was really nice.
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dlsterner

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #152 on: February 13, 2021, 10:49:07 PM »

I plan on steering clear of the tourist traps, which means avoiding Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I also plan on staying in Franklin, NC - it's centrally located and about an hour from everything. Anything you really recommend to see? So far I plan to see

-Tail of the Dragon + NC 28 or TN 32 (Tail is closer)
-Upper Whitewater Falls
-Cherohala Skyway
-Blue Ridge Parkway (literally start at the southern terminus and drive the entire day on the parkway; if we're lucky we make it to Asheville for dinner)
-Asheville (Zoo, Biltmore Estate, etc.)
-GA 60 or Atlanta if possible (both take 2 hours)

Fair enough :)

Asheville is an interesting city.  I can definitely recommend the Biltmore Estate tour.  They have other activities as well, checking their web site would be a good place to start.  I do see that your "listed" age is 16, but I will at least mention their winery tour, with an optional wine tasting at the end.  Which I enjoyed.

In the Smoky Mountains, if you are into hiking, you can hike (not too stressful, about 1/2 mile from parking lot at the end of the access road) to the top of Clingman's Dome (on the NC/TN border) which is one of the highest points in the eastern US. There is an observation tower there.

If you are staying in Franklin, you aren't too far from the Bavarian themed town of Helen GA - although that probably falls under "tourist trap".

The natural rock formation Chimney Rock is not too far away.

I'm sure others will have more ideas.

noelbotevera

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #153 on: February 21, 2021, 12:38:19 PM »

Here's my planned route from Chambersburg to Franklin. I have the entire day to drive, so that's why we can take a slower route (my family insists on interstates). . However, I'm taking the fast way back - likely starting north or northeast of Asheville.

Possible diversions:
-Clinch WV 93 near Mt. Storm (not too hard)
-US 19 between I-79 exits 91 and 67 (worth it?)
-US 19 between I-77 exit 20 (WV, near Camp Creek) to Princeton (WV/VA line) - both look like twisty and fun mountain roads
-VA 16 through Mouth of Wilson
-Blowing Rock (cheap, compared to Grandfather Mountain; though maybe hiking up the mountain is possible with time)
-NC 197 near Mt. Mitchell - worthwhile? Would then connect to I-26 north of Asheville, which I've heard is a great drive

I'm sure there's a more interesting route, but this is just looking through Google Maps.

Fair enough :)

Asheville is an interesting city.  I can definitely recommend the Biltmore Estate tour.  They have other activities as well, checking their web site would be a good place to start.  I do see that your "listed" age is 16, but I will at least mention their winery tour, with an optional wine tasting at the end.  Which I enjoyed.

In the Smoky Mountains, if you are into hiking, you can hike (not too stressful, about 1/2 mile from parking lot at the end of the access road) to the top of Clingman's Dome (on the NC/TN border) which is one of the highest points in the eastern US. There is an observation tower there.

If you are staying in Franklin, you aren't too far from the Bavarian themed town of Helen GA - although that probably falls under "tourist trap".

The natural rock formation Chimney Rock is not too far away.

I'm sure others will have more ideas.
Took a look at Biltmore - yikes, it's an arm and a leg. Will probably save it for another time; sadly, the wine tasting is off the table for this laddy.

I might get a chance at Mt. Mitchell, which is higher - though the view matters more than elevation. I guess we'll have to see.

I feel like I see a lot of Bavarian themed stuff around my part of Pennsylvania...however, I wouldn't mind paying for Chimney Rock (still - $22 per person to walk on a bridge? - no bueno.)

...Man, you're making my "things to see" list longer, huh? That's awesome but sheesh, a week isn't enough.
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kkt

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #154 on: March 01, 2021, 12:10:57 AM »

That's the nature of traveling.  Allowing two hours to see site X and discovering that you could easily enjoy the entire day there.  Or allowing two days to see city Y and discovering you could have been there for a month and not run out of things to do.
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kphoger

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #155 on: March 01, 2021, 11:21:43 AM »

That's the nature of traveling.  Allowing two hours to see site X and discovering that you could easily enjoy the entire day there.  Or allowing two days to see city Y and discovering you could have been there for a month and not run out of things to do.

Or scheduling five days there, and realizing you can't fill more than a half-day of activities.

That's the only reason I've been to Las Vegas.  My parents and I went to Lake Powell in July one time, only to find out it was 115 degrees with nothing to do unless you own a boat.  So we left and went to Vegas instead.
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webny99

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #156 on: March 01, 2021, 12:39:03 PM »

That's the nature of traveling.  Allowing two hours to see site X and discovering that you could easily enjoy the entire day there.  Or allowing two days to see city Y and discovering you could have been there for a month and not run out of things to do.

Or scheduling five days there, and realizing you can't fill more than a half-day of activities.

Discovering there's too much to fit in is much more common in my experience. Maybe Lake Powell is an exception, because I can't think of many other places where I couldn't find more to do.
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kphoger

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #157 on: March 01, 2021, 12:48:45 PM »

Discovering there's too much to fit in is much more common in my experience. Maybe Lake Powell is an exception, because I can't think of many other places where I couldn't find more to do.

I suspect I'd become bored in, say, Providence after just a couple of days.
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webny99

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #158 on: March 01, 2021, 02:38:22 PM »

Discovering there's too much to fit in is much more common in my experience. Maybe Lake Powell is an exception, because I can't think of many other places where I couldn't find more to do.

I suspect I'd become bored in, say, Providence after just a couple of days.

But you've suspected that ahead of time, so you probably wouldn't plan a two-week vacation there.

(And you could always take a trip to Block Island if you did get really bored...)
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kphoger

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #159 on: March 01, 2021, 02:47:52 PM »



Discovering there's too much to fit in is much more common in my experience. Maybe Lake Powell is an exception, because I can't think of many other places where I couldn't find more to do.

I suspect I'd become bored in, say, Providence after just a couple of days.

But you've suspected that ahead of time, so you probably wouldn't plan a two-week vacation there.

(And you could always take a trip to Block Island if you did get really bored...)

I did once half-plan a trip there, but ended up deciding on Shenandoah National Park instead.  This was more than fifteen years ago, so I wasn't as savvy at scoping out a city online as I am now.  It was a New England city I knew little about, and I assumed it would have a lot of interesting places to visit.  Now, looking back, I realize it probably has less stuff to interest me than I was thinking at the time.

That's a risk of going some place you know little about.  It could turn out to be a hidden gem, but it might turn out to be a dud instead.

YMMV
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Mapmikey

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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #160 on: March 01, 2021, 08:09:12 PM »

Based on the route you have from PA to NC, a stellar drive not for the faint of heart is VA 16 from Tazewell to Marion.

Other observations:
Note that NC 197 is not fully paved between I-26 and US 19E

Other things to do in the Franklin area:
Fontana Dam
Whitewater Rafting (Bryson City)
Tallulah Gorge State Park
Dillard House (restaurant)
https://www.greatsmokies.com/road-nowhere/
Amateur gem mining (might be a bit too tourist-trappy)
The town of Highlands NC is nice

If you go to Upper Whitewater Falls, right around the corner from there in SC is a terrific panoramic view of Lake Jocassee and a bunch of northwestern SC
https://goo.gl/maps/91Hrmv3JrJwGoc4t7
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Re: noelbotevera travels!
« Reply #161 on: March 01, 2021, 10:10:03 PM »

The town of Highlands NC is nice
The road from Franklin to Highlands (US 64) is no joke. It's also not for the faint of heart. And I second Tallulah Gorge and Fontana Dam.
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