95 Replies Latest reply: Feb 5, 2013 4:15 PM by chrisf RSS

Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington

sandyco Silver
Currently Being Moderated

My husband and I are planning a 3 week road trip to the USA in May 2013 flying from London to Atlanta and home from Washington. We plan to combine a few different interests - namely the Civil Rights Trail, Music of all kinds and spending a week doing the scenic drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Washington. Our initial plan which is not exactly written in stone is as follows: Atlanta 2 nights, Birmingham 1 night, New Orleans (just after the Jazz Fest) 4 nights, Memphis 3 nights, Nashville 4 nights, Asheville 4nights - Biltmore Estate, Charlottesville - Moniticello, Washington - flying straight home as we have recently been to this great city. So far the only hotel we have booked is the Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville. We'd really like some suggestions/recommendations and advice for our trip including hotels to stay at especially for the Blue Ridge Parkway drive.

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Location Brand Hotel
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
  • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    sandyco,

     

    Consider the RI or the Renaissance in Asheville, NC.  Both are very nice values and you will enjoy either, base upon your taste and budget.  The RI is at the entrance to The Biltmore.  There are many nice places to dine nearby each property.

     

    Nashville, The Renaissance or CY are within walking distance to Broadway places of interest.  The Hermitage is a wonderful place to visit

     

    Memphis, The Marriott at The Convention Center.  Easy trolley ride or walk to historic places.  Don't forget to visit Graceland!

     

    New Orleans, The JW or Renaissance. 

     

    You should get a lot of great suggestions!

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      sandyco Silver
      Currently Being Moderated

      HI Jerrycoin and many thanks for all your great suggestions. Will check them out.

       

      Message was edited by: sandyco

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  • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
    eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
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    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      sandyco Silver
      Currently Being Moderated

      Many thanks and love the Farmers Market suggestion - we do like our food! And thank you for all the great web links - will have a look at all of them.

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  • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
    chrisf Alumni Steward Platinum 20 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi sandyco

     

    We did a similar trip in 2011 ... we did a loop from Atlanta ... Hilton Head Island ... Jacksonville (NC) ... Williamsburg ... Christiansburg ... Gatlinburg ... Nashville ... and back to Atlanta ... we allowed ourselves 4 weeks.  We go to the USA once or twice each year and do a fair amount of touring whilst there.  In the Autumn of last year we were back in Virginia for a week and went up to the Blue Ridge Parkway ... visited Wintergreen - pretty spectacular scenery ... also toured Monticello and visited Charlottesville.

     

    A few pointers from our trip:

    1. Atlanta Airport ... I don't know if you have been there before but it is our most hated airport ... if you are coming in on an international flight, you have to collect your bags then put them onto another bag transfer system; then you have yo go through security again, so move any duty free into your checked bags or it will be confiscated.  Overall we found the airport poorly signed and the staff lacking courtesy and unhelpful.  (This is so rare in the USA ... we have generally had great service wherever we have visited.)  Atlanta city itself was disappointing ... a poor selection of shops and limited history/music in the centre.

    2. We chose to stay outside central Nashville ... we stayed at a Fairfield Inn over near the Grand Ole Opry.  (We have found that Fairfield Inns are a good touring overnight stop ... reasonably priced, free parking, complimentary breakfast, clean and reliable.)  We stayed near the Opry as we wanted to take in a show ... worthwhile ... a very unique experience.  There is also a good restaurant close by called the Opry Backstage Grill ... the food is good and the waiting staff are all aspiring singers and step up to the mike every so often whilst you are dining.  Both the restaurant and the Opry are within walking distance of the hotel we used.  There is also a shuttle that can be booked for a trip into central Nashville ... the front desk staff can sort this ... saves on parking fees etc. but you may need to get a cab back if you decide on a late one.  We were disappointed in downtown Nashville ... most of the music in the bars was very average and the food poor.  (We were lucky that Taylor Swift was in concert at the Bridgestone Arena ... our kids took the mick that we were going but she was outstanding.)

    3.  I agree with Jerry ... The Hermitage is worth a visit ... lovely grounds for a walk.  We found being outside central Nashville made visiting other locations easier ... we didn't have negotiate city centre traffic.

    4.  I stayed in Birmingham once on business and wouldn't really want to go back ... however, that was a long time ago.

    5.  We've never been to Memphis, so no comments on that.

    6.  New Orleans ... where to start ... we love the city!  We are there for a week at the end of April.  I am sure that one of the NO based MRIs will give you some 'must do's'.  We love Cafe Du Monde near the waterfront ... just sitting, drinking coffee and eating beignets for breakfast with live music!  Jackson Square is a great place just to sit and people watch ... there often stunning weddings at the big church.  A bayou trip is worth doing.  Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville is interesting for an evening ... the portions were huge when we were there.  For a special dinner try The Court of the Two Sisters ... our favourite ... although we have been recommended to Bayona's this year by a fellow MRI.  We've not stayed at the Courtyard but it looks nice and is pretty central.  There are a few good walking tours that you could try ... info can be obtained from the visitors centre on Jackson Square ... the Garden District is a great tour.  You should find live music just about everywhere.

    7.  Asheville ... again, we've never visited but did stay in Gatlinburg, which is nearby.  We stayed there because it gave easy access to several Smokey Mountain walks.  We used a Fairfield Inn again ... the area was pretty stunning.  I'll be interested to hear what you think of Asheville.

    8.  Charlottesville ... again, apart from Monticello, we didn't find much of interest there.  However, there are many good vineyards in the surrounding area.  On the positive side, we did manage to catch a Bruce Springstein concert there last year ... but beware, if you do go to a show in town, watch where you park ... they are not tourist friendly and will tow you!  Monticello is a great day visit but allow a good few hours to take in the whole area.

    9.  Washington ... this is probably our favourite USA city ... so much to do and see.  We had to do the same on our last trip over and fly straight back ... are you sure that you don't want a revisit?   If/when you do go back ... check out Blues Alley in Georgetown ... we managed to catch Dr John there ... they do two shows with dinner ... the food was ok ... the music was great.

     

    We are doing Los Angeles to New Orleans in April of this year ... fortunately, we have timed it to be there for the first weekend of Jazz Fest ... the line-up looks good!

     

    If I can provide any further help, let me know ... have a great trip.

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      sandyco Silver
      Currently Being Moderated

      HI chrisf - thank you for the wealth of information. Take your point about Charlottesville as we are going there especially to see Monticello.

      We also want to go the Old Opry so your hotel tip is great! Restaurant tips appreciated too - interesting as the same ones do keep popping up - a good sign. Enjoy your trip in April.

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        sandyco,

         

        Let me support Chris' accounting of:

         

        Nashville:  I have stayed at the RI, just North of Opryland.  Having stayed at Opryland, I would visit it. but never stay there again.  The FF, and the RI South of Opryland are excellent, and inexpensive.  You will want to take at least a walk down historic Broadway.

         

        New Orleans: Having met Chris, our tastes are identical.  Would recommend a shrimp dinner at Pascal Minales.  Never had BBQ shrimp as good as that place.  Casual and reasonable priced.

         

        Birmingham: No reason to go back.

         

        Memphis, A "One nighter", with a BBQ dinner at The Rendezvous, and then on the road.

         

        Would visit Monticello, and drive to historic Williamsburg.  You can't see all the area in a short period of time, but can see enough just by driving around and there is a great RI there, that is very reasonable.  Easy drive from there to WDC.

         

        WDC, location can really help you a lot.  There are many choices and the prices vary a lot.  Pick a place that suits your budget and you will be able to see it all.  You have the Metro, walking and trolley's!

         

        Hit us with some questions and I am sure you will get some great answers.

         

        You may want to send direct messages to SSINDC (WDC) and Razorback (NO)

         

        Good luck!

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          chrisf Alumni Steward Platinum 20 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Hey jerry ... you've just added another restaurant to my list for New Orleans ... Pascal's sounds excellent ... just checked it on TripAdvisor.

           

          Sandy ... I'll be posting progress on our South States Roadtrip on a blog on this site ... if you want to hear our views of places as we go ... I'll try and post any info on NO early, so that you can check it out before you get there.  Our route etc. for the Roadtrip is already on an existing posting under Discussions ... I had a huge amount of info from US based MRIs ... really helpful.

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          • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
            jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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            Chrisf,

             

            Thanks!

             

            I have not been in many years and it was not a fancy place, just very good!  I think razorback has also been there and had good things to say about their dining experience.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          sandyco Silver
          Currently Being Moderated

          Jerrycoin - many thanks again.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          newhiltonmembr Platinum 3 Reviews
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          Pascal's Manales BBQ Shrimp!!!  Oh, it has been far too long since I've had that!

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          • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
            jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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            newhiltonmembr,

             

            BBQ shrimp (With the heads on), some French bread to dip in the sauce, and your favorite libation to wash it down! 

             

            You are making me very hungry,  I am twelve hours away, but the drive would be worth it! 

             

            Have never seen people eat crawfish, shrimp, and seafood like they do in New Orleans!

             

            BTW have you ever dined at K Paul's?  Don't know if it is even still there, but the "Blackened Red Fish" was the best I ever had!

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            • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
              eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              I have been looking for blackened redfish like I tasted in Corpus Christi, TX while at a PTA convention forever, well, since about 1978 or 1979.  The president of the Ft. Worth PTA gave me a bite since I'd never even heard of it.  Her husband was a corporate lawyer, so they really knew their way around.  Sophisticated, beautiful, smart and the sweetest person.  :-)   

               

              I think it was invented in NO by Paul Prudhomme.  That would be it!!!  Most blackened fish just have spices on them that I can find.  His has the thick, black, crust.  I didn't know where his restaurant was.

               

              K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen - Chef Paul Prudhomme

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            • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
              newhiltonmembr Platinum 3 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              Yes, Jerry, I have eaten the blackened red fish at K Pauls in the French Quarter!  Another wonderful NO restaurant.

               

              There are so many great restaurants in NO.

               

              We had a separate thread a year or two ago on all the recommended NO restaurants. 

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              • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
                Currently Being Moderated

                That is another one of the special places to dine in N.O.!

                 

                Do you know that hotel that is famous for inventing the "Sezerac"  That was a great hotel in N.O., at least for a famous drink!

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                • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                  newhiltonmembr Platinum 3 Reviews
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                  Jerry, you must be referring to the Fairmont Hotel... seems to be the Roosevelt Hotel these days.

                   

                  From NewOrleansOnline:

                   

                  Is it any surprise that America's first cocktail, the Sazerac, was created in New Orleans, the city that loves to party?

                   

                  Back in the early 1800's, Antoine Peychaud created the drink in a French Quarter bar and named it for his favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. In 1870, the drink was changed when American Rye whiskey was substituted for cognac, and a dash of absinthe was added by bartender Leon Lamothe, and today he is now regarded as the Father of the Sazerac. In 1912, absinthe was banned, so Peychaud substituted his special bitters in its place.

                   

                  In 1893 the Grunewald Hotel was built in the city, and at this time the hotel earned the rights to Ramos Gin Fizz and the Sazerac. In 1965 the hotel was renamed the Fairmont Hotel.

                   

                  Today, the Sazerac is best enjoyed in many of New Orleans' finest restaurants and bars, most notably the Sazerac Bar in the Fairmont Hotel, where celebrities, locals, and tourists enjoy the drink.

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                  • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                    jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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                    newhiltonmembr,

                     

                    That's it!

                     

                    Thanks so much, and I really recommend going to this historic bar!  Before Marriott, I used to stay there!  Saw Terry Bradshaw in that bar prior to a Steelers Game in the early 80's.

                     

                    It is worth a visit by walking from a local Marriott!

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                    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                      newhiltonmembr Platinum 3 Reviews
                      Currently Being Moderated

                      Jerry,

                       

                      Small world.... I met Terry Bradshaw and his lawyer/friend in a bar-restaurant in Tampa Bay a night before a game back in the mid 80's.  The place was supposedly owned by George Steinbrenner. 

                       

                      Guess they must have been playing the Bucs that weekend.  All the Bucs and wives were staying at the hotel/condo complex where I stayed.

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                      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                        jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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                        nhm,

                         

                        I really doubt if you would encounter celeb's today like you used to in the past.

                         

                        If I was one, I would avoid it, but in the past there were so many who really enjoyed meeting people.

                         

                        One of the nicest ones I ever met was Andy Williams at Tony Rest in St Louis, A "Prince" of a man!

                         

                        (I will get in trouble for not starting a new thread, sorry)

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                        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                          eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
                          Currently Being Moderated

                          My middle son was doing a DJ job for my brother-in-law in Dallas several years ago that Troy Aikman was attending.  My son got a miniature, autographed football for my mother because she was such a huge Cowboy fan.  She was so proud of that.

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            • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
              tryt53 Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              Jerry,

              I just finished eating, and you still made me hungry.  All that talk of the great things like Blackened Redfish, and Crawdads (crawfish), soft-shelled crabs.... For Crawfish, you have to do like the die hard locals do, and that is to suck the heads after you pull them off.  That is where all the flavor and spices end up.  Several beers may be required first, depending how strong stomached you are   They really are pretty good, I think.  I had so many good southern meals, and developed a real love of food with rich seasonings, when I was down in the southern states for many years.  I really love good cajun food, more that any other cuisine I can think of.

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              • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
                Currently Being Moderated

                Well, if you're talkin' crawdads or crawfish, you might also want to check out - while you're up near/around DC - a relatively recent addition in Northern Virginia (very conveniently located just off Route 66) called Chasin Tails - Chasin Tails Crawfish Seafood and Bar - how can you not like a place whose slogan is NO PLATES. NO FORKS. NO RULES??? If you do go, make sure you get some of the sausage in one or more of your seafood bags - they're family favorites. We like the shellfish boiled and soaked (and hot and spicy) rather than fried, but to each his/her own...  Then finish up with the Beignets....  Messy, yummy, fun... 

                 

                Apologies if we've now veered off topic....

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              • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
                Currently Being Moderated

                tryt53,

                 

                As I watch, one of my favorite shows, "Restraunt Impossiblle"  I agree with you!

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                • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
                  sandyco Silver
                  Currently Being Moderated

                  HI to Jerrycoin and all you guys!

                  I was out of action for a bit this week as I had a bad cold and you all made me laugh so much with your banter. Thanks for that.

                  I booked the RI Biltmore in Asheville last night and checked out the Woolworth Soda Fountain and Galleries - looks like fun and worth a visit. Seems like you could stay in Asheville for a week easily but I think we will only have about 4 days to cram everything in - it was supposed to be a restful break! Oh well - we'll rest when we're dead as they say.

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            • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
              GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              One of my favorite places is Acme Oyster House which is a local restaurant in the French quarter that has become a local restaurant chain (much the way Clydes in WDC has).  If you want real local food in a local setting at reasonable prices, nothing beats a couple dozen oysters on the half shel with local abita beer. There are also beer tastings, and brewery tours.

               

              http://www.acmeoyster.com/menu_fq

              http://abita.com/learn/brewery_tour

               

              Another local favorite, a little more upscale is Commander's Palace Sunday Brunch. While its always been well-known in New Orleans, two well-known chefs also had there start there, Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. Emeril's 1st restarunt named, "Emeril's" in the Warehouse District.  The food was fabulous, but the high warehouse style ceilings made the restaurant very noisy.

               

              http://www.commanderspalace.com/mou

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      alrenaissance Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Wow Chris.

       

      Nice commentary. Sounds like you have some extensive miles under your belt in this region.

       

      I hope you can give me this kind of info for my next trip. You make me want to head down that ways!

       

      There is certainly some useful information on that post. I may have to do a print out  or "at least a book mark" for safe keeping!

       

      -Al


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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I have to agree with Chrisf on the Atlanta Airport....I try to avoid it as its difficult to navigate.

       

      also, Washington DC is still my favorite city in the US.  I lived there for many years, and when I return I am constantly discovering new things.  In my opinion it has the best there is in the world available without going far.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
    ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    It's good to see you're already getting good advice.... With so many suggestions (and not enough time), so let me just throw a few out there (alas, without any clear organization):

    • Washington DC - there's lots of great content on this website on hotels, sights, and dining - spend some time with it:
    • Charlottesville - yes, you have to visit Monticello, and check out Edgar Allen Poe's room on the UVA campus, but don't underestimate Charlottesville as a dining destination, and consider some of the wineries up in nearby Ivy... 
      • Whether it's the classic Boar's Head Inn or the wonderful C&O or Bluelight Grille downtown, or whether you want to try Duner's (out near Ivy, the best kept secret around), that's just the tip of the iceberg - the town is full of excellent restaurants
        • the locals also love the hole in the wall Crozet Pizza (up in Crozet, past Ivy - it's a nice scenic drive)....
      • I happen to like the Residence Inn up near the North Grounds (close to the law school and business school) - the staff there does a great job - MR: Random Electronic Notices, Musings, etc., but the Courtyard over by the Hospital is, arguably, a better location for a tourist - and, if you not worried about Marriott points, consider some of the bed & breakfasts...
    • Spend some time on the slow roads, and be sure to get up onto Skyline Drive
    • If you're coming North on 81 rather than 95, check out Luray Caverns - Luray Caverns > Home.  Truly remarkable.
      • if you go that route, consider a detour not far from Harrisonburg, VA and head out Route 33 to Hank's - Hanks Southern Cuisine and Barbeque - Home Page - OK, I concede that we've even gone to Hank's for their Thanksgiving buffet, and my boys and I still consider that one of our favorite Thanksgiving Days ever....
    • I guess since I've already suggested some high end options, let me also recommend - if you have interest in the Civil War (in addition to Civil Rights) - a brief expansion of your trip to include historic Frederick, Maryland:
      • foodies rave about Volt (IF YOU CAN GET A RESERVATION) - Volt Restaurant - but there are many excellent restaurants up there, and
      • while there is a Residence Inn and a Courtyard up there, consider instead staying at the B&B downtown - Hill House Bed and Breakfast
    • Oh, and in Atlanta, I really like the Residence Inn Downtown - but there are plenty of good properties...
    • OK, that's a start...

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Oh, and I forgot, the Renaissance New Orleans Arts Hotel - great hotel, great restaurant - we REALLY like that one!

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        I really enjoyed The Renaissance N.O. Arts Hotel as well. 

         

        Close enough to walk to The French Quarter and Cafe Du Monde as well!

         

        Thanks for bringing back some great memories!

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
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        ssindc,

         

        Yes, I thought this was a "Hidden Gem"!

         

        The JW sounds great, but I have never stayed there!

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      sandyco Silver
      Currently Being Moderated

      ssindc - wow you are spoiling me with great ideas! I love it - thank you.

      Luray Caverns was on our list as a maybe but you just made it a definite.

      Our Marriott hotel choices will be on the modest side for this holiday as it's quite a long break for us but we will also look at B & Bs as we won't have enough Marriott points for all our nights anyway.

      We are also planning to split our timeshare week via Interval Internanional and attempt to use that for some nights too. Does anyone have any tips for that? I'm told that I can't make any requests of Interval Int until 59 days before our proposed stay.

      We are defintely planning our route North via the Parkway and Skyline Drive and have given ourselves a week to do that.

      Thanks again.

      Sandyco

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        If you like German food, we always try to stop at the Eidelweiss in Staunton, VA.  We were never even that crazy about German food until we ate at a German restaurant in Stone Mountain, GA once while visiting there.

         

        Edelweiss Restaurant, Staunton - Restaurant Reviews - TripAdvisor

         

        Edelweiss Restaurant - Staunton, VA

         

        BTW, Stone Mountain, GA is a really nice place for tourism.  It has carvings on the bald, quartz mountain of a Civil War scene by the same sculptor who did Mt. Rushmore.  At night, there is a laser light show on the sides of the mountain that's really nice and there's a park and ski lift going to the top. 

         

        Pictures from Stone Mtn. National Park.

         

        https://www.google.com/search?q=stone+mountain&hl=en&client=firefox-a&tbo=u&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=fflb&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ZEUAUbFKlJ7yBMCegaAC&ved=0CFsQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=670

         

        https://www.google.com/search?q=stone+mountain&hl=en&client=firefox-a&tbo=u&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=fflb&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ZEUAUbFKlJ7yBMCegaAC&ved=0CFsQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=670

         

        Being that close to Atlanta, if you have the time, you might consider Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN.

         

        Rock City - Chattanooga - Reviews of Rock City - TripAdvisor

         

        I just remembered that in 2005, I flew back from LV, NV via the Delta hub in Indiana.  It was early morning and there was a group of German business people on the plane with me en route to Birmingham, AL and they were going on to their destination in Atlanta, GA.  They had already been there earlier that morning but there were no customs in Atlanta, so they had to be diverted to Indianapolis to go through customs, then sent back to Atlanta via Birmingham.  It seems really strange that they would have international flights but with no customs.  You might want to check on that situation now.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          sandyco Silver
          Currently Being Moderated

          eb5147 Many thanks for all your ideas. I like the sound of Stone Mountain and the laser light show - great.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          When we lived in DC we use to love a weekend trip out to Skyline Drive, and one of our favorite places to stop for dinner was the Inn at Little Washington.

           

          http://www.theinnatlittlewashington.com/

           

          Excellent food!

           

          You will not be disappointed.

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          • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
            sandyco Silver
            Currently Being Moderated

            Thank you for the suggestion - it looks great but too expensive for us to stay there I think. But a definite maybe for a meal.

            Sandy

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        chrisf Alumni Steward Platinum 20 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Sandy, it is worth checking out Fairfield Inns (FFI) and Springhill Suites (SHS) from Marriott in slightly off-beat places for us Brits.  I have found these locations to be reasonably priced and very good value.  We rarely use points at FFI or SHS.  On our trip across the Southern States we are using quite a few ... e.g. in Santa Fe the rate is about $98 per night ... inc. free parking and complimentary breakfast.  We've tried a few B&Bs but been disappointed in the main ... they've tended to be in not-so-nice areas if they are cheap.

         

        We've got some MVCI time share weeks ... is yours MVCI too?  If so, we've found the option of using Vacation Club Points has worked well when we want to use part week stays.  I haven't checked recently but I think that they could be swapped for hotel stays.  We have only ever used Interval for full week swaps ... the experience was ok but no better.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          sandyco Silver
          Currently Being Moderated

          HI chrisf. Yes our week is MCVI - we thought we'd try the Gold Interval membership so that we could split our week. Will let you know how we get on. We paid for 3 years but was told we could get a refund for 2 years if we wanted to so if we are not satisfied that's what we'll do.

          During my research I have also found that the B & Bs I like most are usually pretty expensive. Thanks again.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Great recommendation Chrisf,

           

          I have had really good experiences at FFI, and they are so reasonably priced.  I just stayed at one in Manhattan for $98/nite.  And the one in NH I use to stay there for about $40 nite. Really helps the budget, and leaves more money for touring.

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      jerrycoin Alumni Steward Platinum 60 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      ssindc,

       

      That is "One Heck of a wonderful report"!

       

      Sandyco, "Could I ride along"? (Just kidding!), but this really sounds like a great trip!

       

      Don't forget to make those "Hard to get" dining reservations and your hotel's booked, ASAP. (Especially if you are using points!)

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      We weren't that crazy about Hank's Bar B Cue.

       

      For a time share vacation in that area, I do recommend Massanutten, VA; not that far from McGaheysville, VA and Harrisonburg, VA, however.  There are also 2 indoor water parks there.  Make sure it's in Woodstone units, though.

       

      Massanutten Resort: A Four Season Resort Located in the Beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        EB5147 - sorry you didn't have a good experience at Hank's - that's a shame!

         

        I'm a big fan of Massanutten too - my boys learned to ski and snowboard there.

        • Agreed that - if you're trading timeshares - dig in your heels for Woodstone - they're the newer units - they're down lower, and they're far less convenient during ski season, but they're perfect in the summer.
        • In the summer, we are big fans of hiking the ridge trail - some terrific views in both directions - start at the "scenic overlook" and hike the ridge all the way to the radio towers at the top of the black ski runs - then walk down either black run to the bunny slope, which spits you out not far from the go-kart track.
        • We like the water park at Massanutten, but if you're going to spend a day or more in Williamsburg, try Water Country USA - now THAT'S a water park!!!
        • If you're golfers, try the upper golf course - it's nice and surprisingly challenging (since EVERYTHING rolls downhill); the lower course is fun too, but it's more of an executive course.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          eb5147 Alumni Steward Platinum 7 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Thanks, but bar-b-cue can be pretty much a regional variation and taste acquisition.  SC has mustard bar-b-cue, which I've never gotten a taste for.  NC also has vinegar bar-b-cue in some areas, which also isn't one of my favorites.  Chili, and I guess most a lot of other foods, are the same way.  We went to a chili cook-off in Gatlinburg, TN and didn't like too many of the entrants we tasted.

           

          We love Pancho's Mexican Buffet, which is a chain west of the Mississippi, because of their sopapillas and egg batter covered chili rellenos with cheese sauce rather than the tomato sauce used so often.  A lot of people might not like Pancho's, though. 

           

              Cooks.com - Recipe - Sopapillas (Little Pillows)

           

          For an easy guacamole, I just mash a Haas avocado or 2 and add picante sauce, which has all the ingredients in it most recipes call for.

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          • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
            GemPrincess Alumni Steward Platinum 17 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            I think you are right about barbaque being a local taste.

             

            My Texan friends don't like anything but Texan barbaque.

             

            We had a very good place near us here in NJ, and anyone from another state would just complain and then toute the barbaque places in their state.

             

            I think every one gets use to a receipe and have a hard time adapting.

             

            Might be an interesting road trip, trying barbaque in different states and comparing it.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          sandyco Silver
          Currently Being Moderated

          SSindc and eb5147 Thanks for the timeshare suggestion.

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    • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
      sandyco Silver
      Currently Being Moderated

      I think you may have provided us with our final nights stay at Frederick. Then we'll have an easy ride to the airpoirt to go home the next day. Thank you again.

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      • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
        erc Platinum
        Currently Being Moderated

        WARNING: I haven't followed this entire thread, but I do remember reading earlier about Volt. As pleasant as Volt is, there is no such animal as an 'easy' ride from Frederick, Md to either of the DC (Reagan, Dulles) airports, except possibly Sunday morning 6 am to Dulles via Rt. 15. So be very, very careful in your departure planning; we have one of America's worse rush hours (it's very long in duration and distance) and I-270 is a mess in the morning. You're 50 plus miles away with terrible traffic, so allow plenty of time for your international departure.

         

        Just a heads up; so you can avoid a rough ending to a terrific trip.

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        • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
          alrenaissance Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          IN REGARDS TO ERC'S WARNING:  Heed this advice with the seriousness that he has expressed!

           

          I must humbly admit that I have been a victim of the I-270 "belt" or "loop" and if you start heading the wrong direction, not only is it very difficult to realize you have done so, it is equally as hard to find an exit to start heading the right direction, and then the traffic just further compounds the issue.

          I was coming back from Virginia Beach, stopped off for gas, somehow started heading the wrong direction, (too many south, south-east, etc., etc. and the same road may have 3 designations sometimes, ouch!) and the next thing I know daylight has become night, and here comes the Pentagon again (meanwhile by this time I should be in another state) and not even realized it was the Penatagon ( except for the marveous night view) and that I had been circling around for the last 3 hours. Had to stop for gas again!  But I was in the same place!   - (I hate it when that happens!)-

           

          Somewhat like the run-on sentence I just wrote! Lasts forever, and goes in circles! :!  SORRY!

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          • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
            ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            OK - two separate issues here:

            • Yes - 270 - the highway (spur) that connects the DC-area "beltway" with Interstate 70 (near Frederick) can be a traffic nightmare - timing is everything - make sure you plan accordingly...  with no traffic, 270, which is MANY, many, lanes wide, moves fast & freely... during rush hour and quirky times, it can be a parking lot... the two worst choke points are the areas near where 270 and 495 meet and, closer to Frederick, where 270 merges down to only 2 lanes...  BOTTOM LINE: ask at the hotel, plan accordingly - you'll be fine;
            • as for Interstate 95, 495, 395 and the various iterations of the "Capital Beltway" - yes, it's confusing:
              • 95 runs up an down the East Coast (New England to Florida) - in Virginia and in Maryland, it's the road that intersects with the Beltway south (Virginia) and north (Maryland) of the beltway, which is 495;
              • 495 - the beltway - circles (bypasses) DC in Virginia and Maryland;
                • on the radio, during traffic reports, they refer to the
                  • inner loop - which runs clockwise; and the
                  • outer loop - which runs counter-clockwise
                • it's a beltway - both go North, South, East, and West at different points...
              • 395 and 295 cut through the Beltway (basically diagonally, but it's not quite that simple)....
            • Which reminds me - if you have TWO people in the car, you can typically qualify for HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes IN VIRGINIA, but NOT IN MARYLAND (and NOT ON 270, which is HOV-3, not HOV-2)!!!
            • The Virginia stretch of 495 recently launched a flex-fare toll system for the HOV lanes - more traffic on the main part of the road, higher tolls to use the fast lanes (and vice-versa)....
            • Assuming you're using Dulles (IAD) not Reagan-National (DCA), you'll use the DULLES TOLL ROAD, but, if you're going to the airport, there's no charge - yeah, it's a little confusing (there is a parallel toll road, but it's an expressway to and from the airport), but the signage from the beltway - the big airport signs - is quite good....

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            • Re: Deep South &  Blue Ridge Parkway Up to Washington
              alrenaissance Alumni Steward Platinum 5 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              Thank you ssindc

               

              EXHIBIT A, see, I told you it is a real melee there!

               

              I finally just figured out that ssindc MEANS "ss - in - dc".  He is there!

               

              I was hoping that beltway was not just my personal nemisis, but is as bad as I thought.

               

              I appreciate your clarification (still sounds pretty darn confusing!)


              - Al Be Lost In DC Again

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