Our top method of traveling right now is definitely taking a road trip to some of the most beautiful outdoor spots in the USA. It’s less pressure than flying, and you get to go at your own pace in your own vehicle. Sounds like a blast to us!
If you‘re looking for general tips fro how to travel during Covid-19, check out our article here for everything you need to know!
East Coast Road Trip
If you’re on the East Coast, head to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a wonderful scenic drive through the changing autumnal leaves. This trip spans the parkway from Cherokee, NC to Charlottesville, VA, taking the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway from its start to finish. If you thought the best autumnal spots were only in the north then we dare you to take this drive and not say your mind has been changed about the forests Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Duration: 1 week Miles: 930 miles Time: 22 hours drive time Endpoints: Cherokee, NC & Charlottesville, VA Type: loop Route: Blue Ridge Parkway (some rest areas and picnic grounds have reopened, check the official list here.)
Our journey starts in Charlottesville, VA, heads south along the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cherokee, NC, cuts across the Smokey Mountains to Knoxville, TN, and loops back up I-81 to Charlottesville.
Blue Ridge Parkway from its start in VA to its end in TN.
I-81 from TN back to VA
Depending on where you’re coming from you can join the route at any time. If you decide to make the trip and out-and-back journey and not a loop, definitely take the first leg of the trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway to and from your personal endpoints.
The Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t going to be the shortest route in either miles or time, which means your maping system will most likely not suggest the Parkway as a route between stops, and, once you’re on the Parkway, map apps tend to tell you to exit the parkway and rejoin the highway, which is not nearly as scenic a route. We highly recommend taking a paper map or using a map which allows you to plot your own route.
Although we thoroughly enjoy every part of the parkway and encourage you to take it whenever possible, there are plenty of entry and exit points along the drive if you need to catch up on lost time or make the trip shorter.
No matter if you take the parkway the whole way, or if you hop on and off, definitely check out some of the many overlooks along the way, it’s a great way to stretch your legs and take in some great views!
We’ve put together a week long route, leaving plenty of time for checking out the scenery and allowing time to explore Asheville, NC, Knoxville TN, and Great Smokey Mountain National Park. Whether you like to road trip with city breaks, take hiking excursions, or just enjoy the beautiful road, this trip has a little of everything to make every kind of traveler happy.
Day 1: Charlottesville, VA —> Roanoke, VA
Milage: 138 miles Drive Time: 4 hours Must Stop At: James River Visitor Center
Day 2: Roanoke —> Asheville
Milage: 269 miles Drive Time: 7 hours Must Stop At: Maybry Mill
Day 3: Asheville, NC
What to Do:
- The Biltmore Open, capacity is limited, masks are required, cash is not accepted, and only clear bags are allowed.
- The North Carolina Arboretum Open, curtailed hours are 8am-7pm, the last admissions are at 6pm.
- New Belgium Brewing Company Open, outdoor seating only, reservations are required.
Day 4: Asheville, NC —> Knoxville, TN
Milage: 155 miles Drive Time: 5 hours Must Stop At:
Day 5: Knoxville, TN
What to Do in Knoxville, TN During Covid-19:
- James White Fort Open, the home of Knoxville’s first settler
- Schulz Brau Brewery Open, masks required
- Knoxville Museum of Art Open, timed ticket reservations are required
Day 6: Great Smokey Mountains
What to Do:
- Sugarlands Visitor Center Visitor Center near Cataract Falls with information and a short video.
- Cataract Falls Short walk into the park with rewarding waterfall views.
- Clingmans Dome Paved trail and observation tower a short walk from the Clingmans Dome Visitor Center and Store.
Day 7: Knoxville, TN —> Charlottesville, VA
Milage: 368 miles Drive Time: 6 hours
— Practical Travel Guides
The Coronavirus travel tips listed above are for general information purposes only. Practical Travel Guides assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents above. Practical Travel Guides updates all covid-19 related information frequently; however, we strongly recommend visiting the official government websites for the most up to date information on traveling during covid-19.