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Need Help in Planning a Smokies Vacation, including Biltmore

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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Need Help in Planning a Smokies Vacation, including Biltmore

We are planning a trip to the Smokies area in August and are looking for some input in planning. In addition to the smokies, we would like to visit Asheville, NC, Chattanooga, TN, and Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. We would be travelling by car from the southern New Jersey area. I have mapped out the following rough itinerary:

Day 1: Drive to Asheville. Stop at Luray Caverns, VA enroute.

Day 2: Biltmore Estate

Day 3: Chimney Rock Park, then drive to Pigeon Forge

Day 4: Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park

Day 5: Possible additional time at Nat'l Park . Also to include Tuckaleechee Caverns, Ripley's Aquarium or Ober Gatlinburg

Day 6: Dollywood

Day 7: Drive to Chattanooga. See the Lost Sea in Swiftwater enroute

Day 8: Ruby Falls/Incline Railway; Rock City

Day 9: Tennessee Aquarium, plus any other points of interest in this area.

Day 10: Drive to Mammoth Cave. Possibly see one or two of the private caves in the area (i.e. Diamond Caverns, Cave Museum in Horse Cave)

Day 11: Tour Mammoth Cave

Day 12: Kentucky Down Under

Day 13: Head for home

I am looking for input as to any other points of interest I may have missed. We are a family of three (2 adults & a 9-year old). We enjoy caves, moderate hikes (no more than 1.5 miles) nature walks, historic homes, museums, and scenic drives.

Please let me know if I have alloted too much/not enough time for any area.

I have posted this in all of the forums in the areas we plan to visit. For experts in this area, I would appreciate any input on the time needed to adquately see Chimney Rock Park and Biltmore. I figure a full-day for Biltmore and possibly a half day for Chimney Rock.

Thanks in advance for your input/opinions.

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1. Re: Need Help in Planning a Smokies Vacation, including Biltmore

One day for Biltmore and 1/2 day for Chimney Rock is about right. I would spend 1 more full day in the Smokies and 1 less in Ky.

Weaverville, North...
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2. Re: Need Help in Planning a Smokies Vacation, including Biltmore

This seems like a very aggressive and hectic itinerary. How long do you have, 2 weeks? Have you factored in all the driving time , traffic tie ups on I-40 between ASheville and TN, and stops? We have a 9 yr old as well. I can tell you that very few 9 yr olds will be interested by the Biltmore House and it would be a huge waste of money. Three Caverns, possibly 2 aquariums, 1 theme park (what is Kentucky Down under?), not to mention everything else you've noted...!!!

yikes. Our 9 yr old would remember maybe one or two of these things and otherwise would be on sensory overload. HOw about some downtime at the pool at the motel/hotel to cool off? Your child would probably enjoy this as much if not more than most of these other things. How about picking one cave, one aquarium, one theme park, one hiking/park destination....Remember it will probably be hot in August and our schools start in mid August so things will be crowded with parents and kids.

Here's what I would suggest

1. drive from NJ to Asheville - stop at Luray Caverns - take Blue Ridge Pkwy if possible for short distance - this has got to be a 12 hr drive for you - surely you are going to stop somewhere?

2. one night in Asheville - walk around downtown - maybe visit the WNC nature center or Health Adventure

3. drive to Gatlinburg - be prepared for lots of traffic in this area - go to Dollywood - spend 2 nights - go to Aquarium if it is too hot to go hiking

4. Drive to Chattanooga - stop at the Mayfield's ice cream factory for a tour.

5. Chattanooga - if you haven't done the aquarium go to this one - otherwise do the train and Ruby Falls - you may want to check on this as it seems more geared toward younger kids (train) spend 1-2 nights.

6. drive to Mammoth Cave and spend the 1-2nights in the area - Kentucky Down under etc -

7. Head for home - stopping somewhere along the way for 1-2 nights.

Austin, TX
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3. Re: Need Help in Planning a Smokies Vacation, including Biltmore

That does seem awfully agressive. I would imagine you'd end up cutting a couple of things along the way. But all are interesting things and it's not an impossible journey.

The Biltmore Estate usually has a deal where kids get in free during the summer and they have a lot of activities going on as it's their second busiest season (Holiday is first), including children's activities. The WNC Nature Center is usually a hit with kids as it's an unconventional zoo. (But if you're doing KDU, that might be redundant.)

I interned at Dollywood one summer and it get BUSY, especially now that they've got nearly four "real" coasters. Of course, everything is busy in the summer in the southeast.

Good luck!

4. Re: Need Help in Planning a Smokies Vacation, including Biltmore

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