Tennessee Vacation
July 1, 2008 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Tennessee Vacation: Dear Mefites, I'm driving from southern Wisconsin to an area outside of Knoxville, Tennessee for a week or two of vacation. Ideally, it would be good to know what Amazing Things are within, say, a two hour radius of this location. It would also be good to know if anything is worth a detour or two on the way there or back. Of course, I'll look over the generic travel literature, but what secrets and good experiences can you share? What should I avoid?
posted by fucker to Travel & Transportation around Tennessee (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
asheville, nc, is full of wonderful things to see and do--historic mansions, a neat quirky downtown, good food, outdoorsy stuff--and is only about an hour and a half from knoxville.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:49 PM on July 1, 2008

Sliding Rock (picture) (map), in the Pisgah National Forest.

This is *just* outside of your 2 hour limit. But it's amazin'... Truly something that's worth doing. Watching blue ridge local yokles in their cut-off jean shorts sliding down a very slick rock pouring with very (very!) cold water into the natural pool below (which is very very cold) is a treat. And doing it yourself is even better. Fun for the whole family. I think it costs $1 or $2 / person, but that's because they got all high falutin' and got themselves a lifeguard and other amem-i-ties. But seriously, this is a great way to spend the afternoon. The drive over is amazing as well, through the blue ridge mountains, and into NC.
posted by zpousman at 4:53 PM on July 1, 2008

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is definitely worth a look. Especially in the fall, but it's beautiful all the time.
posted by kindall at 4:54 PM on July 1, 2008

It's on the way to Ashville, too, or at least in the same direction. So you could make a (great) day of it. Ashville is the funky-Austin-Madison of NC (though it's much smaller than those towns, and not the capital).
posted by zpousman at 4:54 PM on July 1, 2008

Second kindall on the Smokies. It will be crowded this time of year, but it's definitely still worth it.
posted by puckish at 5:04 PM on July 1, 2008

Clingman's Dome in the Smokies was nice and cool when I visited and a storm was approaching.

You're passing through Kentucky, why not stop somewhere on the bourbon trail?
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:12 PM on July 1, 2008

In Kentucky, there's Cumberland Gap National Park, Pine Mountain State Park, and Kingdom Come State Park all pretty close to Knoxville. Depending on conditions, it might be possible to go to Cumberland Falls to (try to) see the moonbow.

Depending on what route you're taking, the Wild Turkey distillery might not be much of a detour, and they do tours (certain days during certain hours, though, so it's a bit inconvenient).

Oh, and some place I've never been, but very much want to: Blanton Forest.
posted by dilettante at 5:48 PM on July 1, 2008

just drove up to central wisconsin from middle tennessee this past month...are you planning driving through indiana or all the way down illinois?
posted by ms.jones at 5:56 PM on July 1, 2008

Go see Biltmore mansion in Asheville. Western North Carolina is awesome--and the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games are being held July 10--13--lot of fun! Lots of nice towns around Grandfather Mountain to stay (we like the town of Blowing Rock).
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 6:10 PM on July 1, 2008

oak ridge national lab is about 30 minutes outside knoxville and offers public tours.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 6:20 PM on July 1, 2008

OK, don't laugh, but... Dollywood, located in Pigeon Foge (!) down the road from Gatlinburg. Yes, Dolly Parton is tacky and the park kind of is too, but in a self-aware kind of way. It's well laid out, has fun rides and does seem to be genuine in its affection for the Southern rural life of her childhood. Most summers they run a special with Coke where you can get $5-$10 off a ticket if you bring in a specially-marked can. It's about half the price of Disney parks ($35-$40) and a fun diversion. Pigeon Forge is an alarming spectacle: an eight-lane highway lined with cheap motels, pancake houses, t-shirt shops and mini-golf. Gatlinburg is extremely touristy but with more charm. The Ripley's aquarium is terrific.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:49 PM on July 1, 2008

Gah, typo in first line - Pigeon Forge. Maybe jess will stop in and fix for me.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:50 PM on July 1, 2008

Here is the Tennessee Summertime Vacation site.
posted by netbros at 8:38 PM on July 1, 2008

Cherokee, NC is just across the Smoky Mountain park from Gatlinburg and the museum there is well worth a visit. The casino, not so much.
posted by Dr. Grue at 9:35 PM on July 1, 2008

Try to see the moonbow that dilettante mentions. I've been through that dang state a half-dozen times without getting the timing (i.e. fellow travelers) right.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2008

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