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Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

Chillicothe, Ohio
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Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

August 8 through the 15th or 16th, we are having our bathroom remodeled in our home, so need to vacate for a week-ish. What better excuse for a vacation, right? We have family near Wilkesboro NC we would like to visit for 2-3 days or so. We usually go to Gatlinburg TN every year, so we'd like to stop there for a couple days as well. We'd also like to take our 3 kids (8, 6, 2) to the ocean. They've never been, so we were thinking maybe Outer Banks or Virginia Beach. We also have family near Culpeper VA, it would be a bonus if we had time to see them as well. Suggestions? Routes? A loop would be nice so we don't have to backtrack, though it stinks that if we were just going straight to Wilkesboro, we could just hop on I-77 and head south. Right now I'm thinking I-75 to I-40 to Gatlinburg for a few days of hiking, then a trip through the mountains to Asheville for a day to see a cousin, then on to Wilkesboro. From there to the coast and then home through Virginia, I'm just completely unfamiliar with this area and portion of the potential route.

We like anything kid friendly, outdoors activities (hiking and exploring), historical sites, and local attractions (mom and pop type places). We also like ice cream, anything fire department related (husband is a career FF), birdwatching (I'm a bird nerd), interesting geologic formations (I'm a geologist). We don't care about amusement parks (we have 2 amazing ones in Ohio that we frequent), shopping (I can take it or leave it), or nightlife (kinda hard with the kids). Our budget is also not infinite. The place we usually stay in Gatlinburg is $85/night, so we'd like to stay at or below that for a beach hotel if possible.

I'm cross posting this in a few other forums as well. Thanks for the help!

Raleigh, North...
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1. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

Wilkesboro is very near Blowing Rock and the Blue Ridge Parkway which will take you pretty close to Culpepper-I would break it off at I-64 to Charlottesville which would be a nice stop and is about 30 miloes from Culpepper. You could backtrack through Fredricksburg, Richmond and Norfolk to Virginia Beach, but it is a long way home. If you go directly from Wilkesboro to Wrightsville Beach near Wilmington, it is a 4.5 hour drive

Chillicothe, Ohio
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2. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

I'm considering NOT going to Gatlinburg this year. I77 to Wilkesboro for our first stop may be our best bet, and then on to the beach and beyond. We love the mountains and hiking, but I'm sure we could find some places to hike near Wilkesboro.

Raleigh, North...
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3. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

Stone Mountain State Park is nearby. Also the BRP is less than 20 miles away and offers numerous trails. There might also be some trails at the Kerr Scott Resevoir which I think is also a state park. Last week I had my first lucnh at Brushy Mountain Barbeque near downtown N. Wilkesboro and it was good. Checkit out if you get a chance

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4. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

If you like birdwatching then going to the Pea Island visitor center that is just south of Nags Head, across the Bonner Bridge would be a good stop. There are several large wildlife refuges in NC, if you go to www.fws.gov/refuges you can look at the locations and see which ones might be convenient to your route. You can take NC route 64 east to go to Manteo, accommodations there would be less expensive then ocean front and it is a quick drive to Nags Head, with lots of free parking areas if you want to go to the beach. Heading north from the Outer Banks you could go to the Great Dismal Swamp which is home to lots of birds and wildlife. The Dismal Swamp is a wildlife refuge mostly in Virginia, and also a North Carolina state park. From the Suffolk area in Virginia that is not far north of the NC VA state line heading back from Outer Banks, you can get on Virginia route 460 and head west to avoid all the Norfolk/ VA Beach/ Hampton traffic,

Chapel Hill, North...
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5. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

Have you spent much time in the Boone/Blowing Rock area? It's just an 45 minutes from Wilkes and has a lot more to offer for hiking, mountain top views, etc. We have a family home in Boone and go up frequently. Our route takes us up hwy 421 right by WIlkes so I'm fairly familiar with it. Wilkes always feels like we're almost there when we're on our way and feels like "Awww...we've left the mountains..." when we go home.

If you want an amusement park to replace Gatlinburg's offerings you might check out Tweetsie, especially if you have any train lovers in your crowd. It's a small little park based around a real train (Tweetsie) instead of a roller coaster. They usually do some Thomas the Tank Engine days in the summer. www.tweetsie.com

The High Country of NC (Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, Valle Crucis) would be an easy day trip from your relatives' house and you could explore Grandfather Mountain, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, etc.

For the beach, the Wilmington area would be a bit shorter drive than Nag's Head or Va Beach. It's just over 4 hours from Wilkesboro to Wrightsville Beach and about 5-5.5 hours to Nags Head or Va Beach. If you miss all the hoo-ha of Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, SC is just about an hour south of Wilmywood and could make a day trip. I avoid the place myself, but some people love it. The NC Aquarium at Ft Fisher is a great stop for the whole family close in to Wilmington.

Edited: 21 April 2014, 22:49
Chillicothe, Ohio
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6. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

Thanks everyone! With all the hiking options and the BRP, I think we're going to skip Gatlinburg this trip and get our fill of the mountains in the Wilkesboro area! Another person suggested Wrightsville Beach, so I'm looking into that option. :) I like Myrtle Beach, but I also like smaller and quieter. So now, we're going to head straight down I-77, which will get us to Wilkesboro in about 6 hours with stops. Good deal!

Chapel Hill, North...
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7. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

Wilkesboro is not really mountains IMO. Boone is mountains. Wilkes is foothills. Go to Boone and Blowing Rock for your mountain activities.

The kids would probably get a kick out of gem mining and you might like it too. You can find real gemstones—lots of little garnets, but also lapis, topaz, rubies, emeralds. There are tons of places (ubiquitous like mini golf at the beach). http://www.docsrocks.net , http://www.highcountryoutdoors.com/gem.htm , http://www.raftcavehike.com/gem-mining .

Grandfather Mountain is a great stop, too. I think you would be interested in the geology there. It's also a good place for birding — you can sometimes see ravens wheeling around. They also have a nice gem and minerals exhibit in the museum.

grandfather.com/experience-the-wonder/…

grandfather.com/experience-the-wonder/…

Here are a couple of sites to check out:

http://www.blowingrock.com

http://www.boonencmagazine.com

http://highcountryhost.com

Other places not to miss include Linville Falls, driving the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the old original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis (not the one in Boone). The kids might enjoy running around at Julian Price Park off the BRP or Moses Cone Manor (many hiking trails), also off the parkway.

have fun!

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8. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

The outer banks are amazing, so much to see in a compact area. I just went for the first time in march. Look up Jockeys ridge sand dunes, the wright brother's memorial, both were fun. The wright brothers obviously give you some history but its also a beautiful place. The sand dunes are great, they have a little walk through inside to check out the local animals, plant life ect.and I believe that was all free at the dunes, then take off your shoes and go wondering. The kids can slide or roll down the dunes ( I wanted to !) And you can see both the sound and the ocean from there. Ask about the mini golf course that's buried under it. And look for the tree tops sticking out - I'm saying too much but I was really impressed.one more thing, there is fees if you want to go hang gliding but you can do that there too ! Not too far from there is "the lost colony" - I can't think of the name but there is a neat area to wonder around,and they do stage play in the summer i believe, and a beautiful garden to walk through , the garden area has a fee of 8 dollars if I remember right. I you decide to stay, stay at the Cavalier in kill devil hills. I wrote a review for them you can read. Perfect place to stay ! I hope youhave as much fun as i did ! P.s. my little was actually taken standing on the dunes :)

Edited: 26 April 2014, 16:22
North Carolina
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9. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

In the Wilkesboro area, head to Stone Mountain State Park for some good hiking, a little history and geology. There is even a place for your children to slide down a creek into a 'swimming hole'. There are some trails at Kerr Scott Reservoir - hiking and biking. If you are interested in biking, you could head to Galax Va (about an hour away) and bike along the New River Trail (flat trail along the New River). Another option (and a longer drive) is to head to Whitetop, Va and bike along the Virginia Creeper Trail (downhill all the way through some beautiful scenery) - bike rental places will shuttle you back. There is also good kayaking and canoeing in that general area - along the New River near Jefferson.

10. Re: Road trip from OH to TN to NC to VA

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