I wasn’t quite sure what to call this roadtrip itinerary. I went with “Mid South” simply because it only includes a few states (Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia), and none of the Deep South (a region I’m keen to explore). So I’m settling on Mid South roadtrip itinerary. I hope that’s okay with y’all.
I took this trip with my friend in April of 2017. It was a chance for us to finally see each other after my year in New Zealand, and we decided to just make a whole roadtrip out of it. I knew I wanted to hit Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, but other than that, I kept my route pretty open.
With the help of my friend’s expert route-planning skills (she insists on using paper road maps, which is awesome), we came up with a pretty cool roadtrip. It was 10 days through parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, and we took it slow so that we weren’t spending all of our time in the car.
For anyone interested, here’s a quick look at our 10 day Mid South roadtrip itinerary!
Day 1 // Knoxville
The first day of my Mid South roadtrip consisted of driving about 8 hours from St. Louis to Knoxville. I didn’t end up doing anything here, but I wish I had taken the time to explore a bit. If you’re headed to the city, check out the Sunsphere in World’s Fair Park, the Knoxville Art Museum, and the Ijams Nature Center.
Day 2 // Gatlinburg
The next day, I drove south to pick up my friend so she could join me on this roadtrip. We did a bit of driving near the Smokies, and then settled into our hotel in Gatlinburg for the next few days. This is one of the major entrances to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Gatlinburg is a VERY touristy town, so you can expect plenty of attractions, restaurants, and all-around entertainment. We spent most of our time in the park, so I don’t have too many recommendations for what to do in town.
Day 3 & 4 // Great Smoky Mountains National Park
My friend and I spent the next couple of days exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There was a lot of rain during our time there, but that didn’t stop us from seeing as much as we could. I wrote an entire post about Great Smoky Mountains NP and what to do there.
Day 5 // Foothills Parkway & Asheville
Leaving Gatlinburg, we decided to head up around the northern edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to get to Asheville. We took the Foothills Parkway, and we were lucky enough to finally get a sunny day to see the Smokies on our way out. We arrived just outside of Asheville and headed to the West Asheville neighborhood for dinner at the Lucky Otter.
Day 6 // The Biltmore Estate
The Biltmore is one of the main reasons I took this Mid South roadtrip to begin with. I’ve dreamed of visiting for years, and it just seemed like a good time to go. We spent an ENTIRE day at the Biltmore Estate, and while admission was pricey, I feel like it was well worth it for the experience.
Day 7 // Northern Georgia
We left Asheville and hit the road. Our itinerary wasn’t totally planned out at this point, but we knew we were headed through Northern Georgia. We made a quick stop in Helen, a Bavarian-inspired town that I really wanted to see. It was another rainy day, unfortunately, so we didn’t do much.
After a huge lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (as a vegetarian, I don’t know what I would have eaten at a German restaurant), we stopped by the local chocolatier and then moved on. Our day ended in Dahlonega, a small college town with some cute shops to explore.
Day 8 // Amicalola Falls
Our main goal for the day was to see Amicalola Falls. The state park is so lush and green, and the cascading waterfall is beautiful. After seeing it from below, we drove to the top, and the view is absolutely incredible. It just green for miles. We took a break at the Amicalola Falls Lodge before driving on. We stopped in the town of Ellijay for lunch, and I was blown away by a local café called the Back Porch Bistro. I rolled out of there after a delicious black bean & hummus quesadilla, and a sampling of three kinds of dessert. We ended our night in Chattanooga.
Day 9 & 10 // Chattanooga
The final two days of the roadtrip were spent in Chattanooga. We stayed in a hostel called the Crash Pad, a hub for rock climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. We saw a lot in those two days, including the attractions atop Lookout Mountain (Rock City, Point Park), the Hunter Museum of American Art, and lots of public sculptures. This is a super cool city that I’m itching to go back to.
So that was our Mid South roadtrip itinerary! I drove straight back home to St. Louis after Chattanooga. 10 days was a good amount of time to explore this region (slowly, as I prefer to do), and I uncovered just enough to know that I need to go back.
If you want to create a similar roadtrip, you could cut a couple of days here and there if necessary. We spent about 4 days in the Great Smoky Mountains area, but you could easily cut it down to two days. Also, we took our time driving, and didn’t go very far each day, so you could certainly cram things together a bit more.
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