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Great Road Trips: Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

Arts and Crafts, Beautiful Views, and Adventure Around Every Turn!

Driving in America has long been a family past-time for many years. Route 66 began the legends of many great road trips. Jack Kerouac wrote about an entire generation who traveled the great wilds of America, on the road. So it’s no surprise that to joy ride on a Sunday is something we’ve all done before.

I’ve traveled all over the United States, in search of these great routes, across this vast and beautiful country. Each route having a life of its own that creates its own personality and flavor, by mixing in the right mixture of culture, geography, and its people. One such road that stands out, in particular, is the Blue Ridge parkway. After having traveled extensively on its long and winding roads, you’ll understand why it’s one of the most traveled, and widely know of all road trips in America.

Starting at its most southern point brings you to one of the greatest national parks of all, the Great Smokey mountains. Known for its majestic peaks and beautiful scenery, it is also home to the largest mountain on the eastern side of the United States. Within the park are numerous campgrounds and lodgings, as well as plentiful activities, such as horseback riding and fishing. Nearby the start of the parkway also is Cherokee. A tourist town with many amenities and plenty of fun for the whole family, from the casino to mini-golf, Cherokee and the great Smokey mountains national park will fill several days of fun.

In between these two wonderful places is the gateway to The Blue Ridge parkway. Nature and wildlife abound everywhere. Trees are everywhere within the park, including many rare species of trees and plants. Tulips, serviceberry, dogwood, sourwood, sassafras, maples, hemlock, spruce, and fir, are a few of the many species of plants and trees that call these forests home.

Fun Things to Do Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a wonderfully scenic experience. With no street signs or billboards and a 35 mph speed limit, the Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through some of the country’s most beautiful land (which happens to be situated in Virginia and North Carolina). You can drive for just one mile or all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway – in either case, there are lots of fun things to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are five fun things to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway that anyone can enjoy.

1. Stop at one of the overlooks

There are a countless number of viewpoints along the Blue Ridge Parkway where you can stop and enjoy the scenery. Some of these overlooks have picnic areas, allowing visitors to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Don’t miss the view from the Mount Mitchell Overlook (Milepost 349.9) – Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain in the eastern United States and the view from here is amazing!

2. Go for a hike

Some of the Blue Ridge Parkway viewpoints also have trailheads, giving easy access to some great hiking. Whether you’re looking for a quick walk or a long day-hike along the Appalachian Trail, you’ll definitely find it along the hiking trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

3. Tour the sites at Mabry’s Mill

Located at Milepost 176.2 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mabry’s Mill features a preserved mill and several exhibits of life in the 1900s. Mabry’s Mill also has a restaurant and gift shop, one of the few such stops directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

4. Walk Across the Bridge at Grandfather Mountain

Although you have to pay to enter, Grandfather Mountain (Milepost 305.1) will not disappoint. The main feature is the Mile-High Swinging Bridge that connects two points of Grandfather Mountain. This park along the Blue Ridge Parkway also features great hiking (you can hike up to Grandfather Mountain from the parking area, which is relatively easy to do), a zoo-like area with bears and eagles, and a nature museum. This is a fun thing to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway that the whole family will definitely enjoy.

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