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suggestions please?

uk
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suggestions please?

Hi, we are thinking of exchanging our time share week for the Westgate Smoky mountain resort at Gatlinburg in December 2010. Firstly, will the weather be ok for us at this time of year? Secondly, we have no idea of distances across Tennessee and would like to see as much of it as possible during a 2 week period. We would have to stay at least 6 or 7 nights at the resort as it is a time share week but it could either fall in the middle of the holiday or towards the end of it. I know this is a very open request but we are only at the early stages of planning. We are a married couple with no children and are not particularly fussed on kids either. We love walking along easy/moderate walking trails and would rather not be in big cities if possible as we love nature and wildlife (e.g. we much preferred Huntsville, Muskoka to Kingston when we visited Ontario in Canada). We love country and western music and nice food, although we are not fussed on dressing up for fine dinning. In terms of accommodation, we like fairly high standards and usually choose places with a bit of character rather than the big chains. I hope this gives a bit of an idea of us and I really look forward to your suggestions so that I can start my planning. Thanks in advance.

Boston...
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1. Re: suggestions please?

Welcome to the Tennessee forums. You may want to post this query in the main Tennessee forum as well as this one so you can get all angles.

Tennessee is a pretty long state and, truth be told, the west end doesn't have much to do with the east end. It's two hours from the Smokies to Chattanooga, four hours from the Smokies to Nashville, two and a half hours from Chattanooga to Nashville, and about three and a half hours from Nashville to Memphis. The most a drive from city to city will take you is a given morning or afternoon. I think perhaps the most advantageous route for you is a loop starting in Nashville running around through the Smokies and Chattanooga and back again.

Nashville and Memphis are both definitely "big cities," and don't offer much in terms of hiking, nature, and wildlife, but given your interest in country music a stay in Nashville is a must, at least for a couple days before driving east to the Smokies for your weeklong stay at Westgate. Then you can drive south through the mountains down to visit Chattanooga for several days before looping back up to Nashville again to catch a flight back home.

Chattanooga to some extent offers the benefits of both the city and the wilderness. It rests at the southeastern fringe of the Cumberland Plateau and the northern tip of Lookout Mountain. All around the city are nature preserves, usually around canyons and gorges as opposed to the peaks and valleys of the Smokies. Like in the Smokies, there's plenty of easy hiking to waterfalls and scenic views in places like the Lula Lake Land Trust and Tennessee River Gorge (take an ecocruise). The majority of Chattanooga hotels (like in most places) are chains, but there are several like the Stonefort, Mayor's Mansion, and Bluff View inns that have character and history. The majority of restaurants downtown are the sort that offer above average food in a more casual atmosphere, and there are only two chains I can think of (Sticky Fingers and the Mellow Mushroom). Chattanooga was involved the Civil War (second largest battle fought at Chickamauga), railroading & manfufacturing, tourism, and Trail of Tears (began more or less in Chattanooga), so history here isn't just an old building here or a historic marker there but remnants of cataclysmic events that shaped the entire nation. There are also unrelated attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium, Hunter Museum of Art, and Chattanooga Zoo. Because Chattanooga for most tourists is still off the map, about 80% of the attractions here are squarely off the beaten path, which is neat.

Nashville, Tennessee
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2. Re: suggestions please?

The previous poster gave some good info. If I were you I don't know that I would drive west of Nashville either. Not much here in West TN other than Memphis and it is a big city with not much in the way of nature. Downtown area is mainly blues music. And as said before it is a long drive from Gatlinburg.

Nashville does have a lot of country music bars and things like that downtown. Also the Grand Ole Opry is there. The Opryland hotel is very nice and will be fully decorated for Christmas in December. That would be nice for you to see. It is not walking distance to downtown but I think they have a shuttle. They also offer river boat dinner cruises with entertainment and Opry tickets. You can look on their web site and find a lot of info.

www.gaylordhotels.com and click on Nashville TN. I think you would enjoy a few days in Nashville.

We have only been to Chattanooga once, other than passing through, so I can not offer any advice there.

Gatlinburg will give you the nature you are looking for. There should not be many kids there unless it is close to Christmas or the Christmas parade. The weather here in TN can be crazy. This year Christmas Eve was 57 degrees and sunny and a few years ago it was snowing on Halloween! We were in Gatlinburg the first week of December and it was cold and snowed one day. They closed the roads to the park the day it snowed. The next day was cloudy and cold (low 30's) but no snow. So you may have cold, snowy and wet or sunny and low 50's. Hope you have a great trip to TN!!!

uk
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3. Re: suggestions please?

Thank you both so much for your replies, they have been very helpful and have given me a good idea of how I'm going to plan my holiday. I will take up your suggestion of posting in the main Tennessee forum just incase anyone has any other ideas but I think you have both told me what I really needed to know. Thanks again.

Boston...
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4. Re: suggestions please?

Just in case you're interested, here's an even longer spiel I splattered on the Road Trips Forum: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k3489997…

Just in case. ;) Very glad to be of help!

uk
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5. Re: suggestions please?

Hi, very interesting, thank you and we will definitely be visiting Chattanooga!Can you give your opinion on this idea please? We cant get a direct flight with BA from the UK to Tennessee and we really dont want the hassle of taking a second flight from Chicago etc, so we thought we might fly into Atlanta and stay there for 2 nights, then drive to Memphis for a 3 night stay (Husband wants to visit Graceland, etc), then 3 nights in Chattanooga, then 6 nights in Gatlinburg (timeshare week), then 3/4 nights in Nashville and then 1/2 nights somewhere between Nashville and Atlanta (any suggestions for this place?). Do you think that this would work and are there any changes you would make? Your other posts talk about Charleston and Savannah being nice, can they be built in? I look forward to your advice. Thanks.

Jasper, Alabama
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6. Re: suggestions please?

hi, How about from Nashville to Huntsville, Al There is alot to do there, They have the •US Space & Rocket Center, •Huntsville Botanical Garden, •Huntsville Museum of Art, •Burritt on the Mountain, plus more.

And then on to Atlanta. Just another thought.

Boston...
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7. Re: suggestions please?

You're at almost three weeks with the itinerary you describe, but if that's alright then all the better. I only say that I hear Charleston and Savannah are nice when I propose a trip up to the Southern Appalachian area and want to make clear I'm not putting down that more coastaly region. You could fit them in with more time.

You are spending a lot of time in -big- cities (more than a week), which you wrote you'd like to avoid, but if you're alright with that then of course it's your deal. You could consider, if you decide you want to deemphasize the cities, trading time in the cities for a short stop somewhere on the Cumberland Plateau like Fall Creek Falls or Scott's Gulf or some such. (The plateau is a system that streches from the northern to southern border of the state, from Cumberland Gap in the north to Chattanooga in the south).

But I would do a little restructuring, if it works with your reservation at Rivergate.

1 night Atlanta

3 nights Memphis

3/4 nights Nashville

6 nights Smokies (Gatlinburg)

3 nights Chattanooga

1 night Atlanta

uk
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8. Re: suggestions please?

Hi, thanks again for the replies. I suppose we have about 18 to 19 nights available at a push, especially if it means that we get a better holiday out of it. Its funny to have Huntsville recommended as we have literally just come back (last week) from Canada where we did a timeshare week in Huntsville, Muskoka so it seems weird to see it here again but in a different country! How long a drive would it be from Huntsville to Atlanta airport for the journey home and could we do Chattanooga to Huntsville instead of Nashville? If we were to stay at Fall Creek or Scotts Gulf (or both) then how and where could we build this in to the itinerary? Thanks again for the help, I'm almost there!

Boston...
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9. Re: suggestions please?

Ha, odd thought to visit a Huntsville in Canada and the US. Never heard of the norther one before.

Huntsville to Atlanta you're talking about four hours. By the way, if you're looking for driving time estimates (not counting stops, traffic, or stop lights) play around with Google Maps a little.

Understand that Nashville isn't on the way from Chattanooga to Atlanta. To visit Nashville "on the way" to Atlanta, you'd travel northwest, then retrace your path down to Chattanooga through to Atlanta. But yes, you could visit Huntsville between Chattanooga and Atlanta, but it's not exactly "on the way" either, turning a two hour drive into a six hour one.

Here's some maps. Here's the route you originally laid out in post #5 (throwing Huntsville in there as the "1/2 nights somewhere between Nashville and Atlanta): http://bit.ly/aPKsEU

Here's the edited route I laid out in post #7: http://bit.ly/dxFnNk

Honestly, flying into Hartsfield (Atlanta airport), navigating notorious Atlanta traffic, and then the two hour drive up into Tennessee seems like a much bigger hassle to me than a connection. Unless you have a particular interest in visiting Atlanta (and given everything on your itinerary already and your distaste for big cities I'd be surprised by it) I think I'd try flying directly into Nashville, Memphis, or Knoxville. Or even into Chattanooga if that works out, since security and tickets and that lot are a breeze.

Atlanta out, it'd look like this: http://bit.ly/a493pY

(I've thrown in Huntsville between Memphis and Chattanooga.)

Most spots on the Cumberland Plateau work best if you're driving from Chattanooga to Nashville, so having Memphis in the mix makes a stop there more difficult, but Scott's Gulf or Frozen Head could be visited on the way between the Smokies and Nashville. Potentially.

uk
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10. Re: suggestions please?

You are brilliant, thankyou so much for all the time you have spent on this. I had totally messed up where Atlanta was, as I still had the position of Dallas in my head (from when I was looking where the other flights went to), which is why I was thinking we would have to do Memphis first ,etc. Your maps were great at helping me get my head around the positions of these places in relation to each other and I think we will have a look at flying straight in and doing the loop you showed in your last map. Thanks again for all your help, its gonna be a great holiday xx.