Please feel free to post as much as you possibly want on this thread, all advice is welcomed and needed!
I've just checked out Ocean City - definitely prefer this location to Virginia Beach, it's 100% more our scene and the bar sounds incredible. A day of fairground rides, arcades and games of pool while getting merry is utter perfection on a rest day. I think a day & night here before the drive to SFGAdv will be perfect. The drive across the bridge also looks quite unique and will be a nice change of scene.
Empire State at night could be an excellent shout, I think i've convinced him to do Top of the Rock anyway but could be another cool thing to add on if we get chance. Thanks for the Statue of Liberty tip too, I think he wants to do it it this time round so I'll keep an eye out for when the June tickets get released.
Thank you for all the great info re: Pigeon Forge, particularly the drive. Cade's Cove was one of my must see's and it definitely makes sense to add this into the travel day and give ourselves a lovely scenic drive before arriving. I'll be sure to look into the other suggestions too for the hike day. We're not regular hikers by any means so probably would be looking at a relaxing trail that isn't too taxing but with plenty of lovely photo ops. We've not done any rafting either so hopefully it doesn't end up being too wild! Any tips on 'must do' stuff for Nashville while we're there?
I'm still looking into the hotels and thanks for highlighting the Wyndham chains that are preferable. It would be great to get enough points to cover 1/2 nights in NY at the end but the planner in me is quite anxious at the thought of not having anything booked in while I rack up the points, but as they're redeemable all over it probably makes sense to still stick with one chain as we can still use them somewhere else in UK / Europe on our return.
Thanks again for all the input, so good to have tips from people who have been to these places time and time again, google only gets you so far vs talking to people who have direct experience. Very grateful to you all taking the time to help me out with my planning
For Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 2 of my favorite shorter hikes that aren't too far away are Laurel Falls and Grotto Falls. They are under 4 miles roundtrip. Townsend might be your best bet for rafting, they have some tubing options that aren't extreme at all. I also recommend any of the free ranger programs, very good quality. It would be very feasible to leave Nashville have lunch in Townsend, drive Cades Cove and Little River Road and be at Dollywood by around 4pm for the promotion. Those times get posted about a month before. If you wind up going with Wyndham- if you decide not to do a cabin then I think the Days Inn On the River or Baymont is a good fit. They are a short walk from the main activity of town, and have nice river views. You have to pay to park in Gatlinburg (except at hotel) , but the good thing is you could leave car at hotel and ride the trolley for less than $1 per ride. Also not sure what kind of roads you are used to driving on, but some of the roads in the National Park and mountains can be a bit nerve racking if your not used to the elevation. Again, let me know if you need info about hiking, Dollywood, or lodging in the area!
I live just outside of Nashville! Everyone thinks of country music, but there is a little of everything going on here. Downtown is very pedestrian friendly, I'd never be afraid to walk around. Main drag is Broadway. There are all kinds of bars playing all kinds of music with some great talent at all hours. They have windows open so you don't even have to go in. Also some neat shops. You can spend as much or little time walking around. I wouldn't stay downtown unless you just are dying to. You can stay for half as much 5-10 miles out. For the direction your coming from and going I'd recommend staying around Opryland or the airport. Parking can be high downtown, but you can park at the Nissan Stadium assuming nothing is going on there and walk across the Cumberland River pedestrian bridge, which is a neat experience as well. In the last 5 years or so Nashville has grown a pretty cool food scene. Some of the cooler places to eat are in the Gulch and East Nashville, although downtown has some neat places too. Nashville is known for hot chicken, Hattie B's is one of the better options. If your into Country music I'd check out the Country Music Hall of Fame, and RCA Studio B if your into Elvis. Ryman Auditorium is worth a paid tour, and there are all kinds of tour and party busses. Lane Motor Museum is a cheap and good way to kill an hour if your into cars. If your into art there is a replica of the Parthenon with a museum inside, or the Frist Museum downtown. The Tennessee State Museum is downtown, and its free and worth a walk though. I'd check the calendar for while your there, there are literally dozens of venues in town, and there is always a game, concert, or show going on. TPAC normally has a production touring from NY, but the best show for an outsider would be the Grand Ole Opry. Even if you don't like country music, its a fun show that has at least 8 or so artists.
Your_Torpedo wrote:I've just checked out Ocean City - definitely prefer this location to Virginia Beach, it's 100% more our scene and the bar sounds incredible. A day of fairground rides, arcades and games of pool while getting merry is utter perfection on a rest day. I think a day & night here before the drive to SFGAdv will be perfect. The drive across the bridge also looks quite unique and will be a nice change of scene.
Awesome! Since you like Arcades, check out Playland in Ocean City (It's called Marty's Playland if you look it up online but the building just says "Playland"). It's right next door to Trimper's rides and right by the the pier too. You can't miss it and it's the best arcade I've ever been to in my life. They have tons of games, many of which are absurdly old and a ton of fun to play and game prices / redemption ticket values are reasonable.
Re: Rt. 301, you should be able to slip by DC via interstates between 10 and 2 Mon-Th (for completeness, also 10-12 Fri, Sun AM, Sat???, most of the night). If you do the Rt. 295 route, I395 to it is scenic but confusing and a bit dangerous, and the I-295 route to DC-295 is only 2 minutes extra. Frankly you could get from VA to Jersey with lots of time left (I'm planning a day trip there next Sunday).
I haven't done Baltimore Inner Harbor but the timing might work. Virginia Beach is Ok I guess as a beach, but also not that close (or, especially, quick) from Williamsburg. OCMD would be preferred for all day. Both are expensive to stay at, but VA is close to lots of non-beach city.
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