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Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

south Africa
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Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

We are a South African family travelling to the US in June/July. We plan to spend time in Disney, then drive up to Washington DC. We want to sleep over in Savannah (one night), Atlanta (2 or 3 nights) and rent a cabin near Bryson City (3 nights). Then we have 2 nights (Sun and Mon) to get to DC. Our children are aged 15.11 and 7. I have looked at the area between the Smokys and Washington and I'm not sure what would be the best options. I see there are good music in that area, but I'm not sure whether a Sunday and Monday are the best days for that. Also Shenandoah National Park, but I think by that time we might have had enough of the mountains and would want to do something different. Charlottesville might be an option for one of the nights. Do you have any suggestions, please? My daughter loves horses and we would have enjoyed a rodeo, but I haven't read of any rodeos in the east. Are they only held in the western part of the country? A good science museum or something like that would also be great. Thanks for any input, also regarding the rest of the trip.

Arlington, Virginia
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1. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

As much as I enjoy Shenandoah NP, I'd probably agree that after 3 nights in a cabin in Bryson City, you don't need to overnight in SNP.

So you might want to make the scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP towards Charlottesville (about 6 hours driving) and overnight there. The next day, you could visit Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, and/or the campus of the University of Virginia, of which Thomas Jefferson is the "father". Then on to Richmond (1 hour) where you'll find the hands-on Science Museum of Richmond. We used to enjoy taking our children there years ago and here's a link to recent reviews of that museum (which appears to be as good, if not better, than it was when we used to go): tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60893-d27…

Or you could go directly to Richmond as there is a lot of Civil War history to see there as well as a fantastic (and free) fine arts museum. Plus, if you time it right, you could see a minor league baseball game played by the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Minor league baseball is especially good for kids and people unfamiliar with the game because there are lots of fun things going on between innings and the tickets and parking are inexpensive. The Diamond, where the Flying Squirrel play ball, is a very nice stadium.

http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t3410

Virginia Beach...
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2. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

If you are still in the VA/DC area August 2-3, Colonial Downs Race Track has The Virginia Stampede Rodeo. Here are details:

www.colonialdowns.com/promos/viewpromo…

If the rodeo dates don't work for you maybe a trip to Colonial Downs would be interesting, it's just southeast of Richmond off I64.

The Virginia.org site is helpful for finding fun things to do.......

http://www.virginia.org/

Hope this helps.

south Africa
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3. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

Thank you both for your feedback. It sounds very good. We leave end of July, but I will have a look at the Colonial Downs website, thank you.

south Africa
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4. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

What about Chimney Rock and Blowing Rock? Is it worth working those two stops into our itinery? Thanks for your input.

Springfield, VA
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5. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

My husband and I enjoyed our visit to Chimney Rock, but it is a pretty small town with not much else to do. You might look at stopping for a couple of nights in Asheville, NC, which is near Chimney Rock (so you could make a side trip). Asheville is a great small city with lots to see and do.

North Carolina
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6. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

Chimney Rock is lovely and a good side trip from Asheville. Blowing Rock is a sweet town, but after being in the Smokeys, I don't think it's worth more than a stop for lunch if it is convenient.

Charlottesville...
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7. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

We drove from Cherokee, NC to Charlottesville a few months ago and the drive was enough for one day using Interstate freeways, not the Parkway. Asheville is an interesting town with the Biltmore Estate as the biggest attraction. That would be an all day touring event, though. Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be slow - think 30 miles per hour - and crowded on weekends. You might check out the calendar for Lexington, VA Horse Center - several horse shows going on at end of July/first of August. http://www.horsecenter.org/ Lexington is off I-81 before you reach the turn off (I-64) for Charlottesville).

Charlottesville is a nice town to visit because it is relatively small - about 50,000 in the city and another 50,000 in surrounding Albemarle County. Monticello is a great plantation to visit - lots of American history including slavery. The tour guides are good with children and adults, and most enjoy it. UVa (university of Virginia) starts August 26 but orientation starts 2 weeks prior, so that could fill up hotels with visiting families. There is quite a bit of bluegrass music in the area all the time. The Jefferson Theatre is a live music venue and my adult nephews (in their early to late 20s) go there all the time, as does my boss (50 yrs old). Richmond is a larger city with some great museums and Civil War statues, and a minor league baseball game is great fun, even if you aren't a big sports fan (and is much easier to understand than cricket)

So in answer to your questions re 2 days between the Great Smokies and DC, Charlottesville would be a great stop for 2 nights - one day to get there with possible stop in Lexington on the way. Or, you could spend 1 night in Asheville for Biltmore Estate and 1 night in Charlottesville.

south Africa
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8. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

Thank you very much everybody for the information. It helps a lot with all the decisions. We have booked accommodation in Washington and in the Smokys. However, we are hoping to find accommodation where we are late afternoon for the other days. That would give us more freedom to explore. Just a little worried that we might have trouble finding something not too expensive as it is July holiday season. Would you advise me to rather book in advance, or can we take the risk?

9. Re: Family travelling from Smokys to Washington DC

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