When people think spring break, one of the first things that comes to mind might be to visit the beach. Think outside the box this spring break and consider a good ole fashioned road trip. Here are five beautiful routes to enjoy this spring break, all within a relatively short drive from Rutherford County.
1Newfound Gap Road, Tennessee and North Carolina
One of the closest and prettiest drives is the Newfound Gap Road that runs between Tennessee and North Carolina as the lowest drivable pass through the mountains. The route is 33 miles that connect the two states through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. The road is also part of the 270 miles of roadways that cross through the Smokies, all of which is great for viewing spring flowers that only grow in the higher elevations. Another popular connection route is the seven-mile stretch of Clingmans Dome Road that’s just south of Newfound Gap. Clingmans Dome leads to the highest peak in the Smokies making for great views.
2Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, South Carolina
Just a little further is the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway in South Carolina. The Route, which is 120 miles, follows an early Native America trail that weaves through the low Piedmont Hills. As you drive through, you’ll see waterfalls, covered bridges, and brooks to view as well as peach orchards and trees that will be in full bloom if your break is in later spring. There’s also a huge water tower in the town of Gaffney that is painted to look like a colossal peach. It’s definitely a unique sight to see.
3Skyline Drive, Virginia
Just to the north of the Newfound Gap, in Virginia, is the Skyline Drive. The route is 105 miles and stretches through the Shenandoah National Park. Surrounding the drive is the Blue Ridge Mountains and more than 1300 plant species along the way. With the warm weather that spring brings, purple and yellow violets start to bloom, followed by pink azaleas through the forest, and then white flowers in the mountain laurel. If you can’t make it to Skyline Drive this spring, consider going in May, when the park hosts its annual Wildflower Weekend with special featured talks and guided nature walks.
4Ohio River Scenic Byway, Cincinnati to Louisville
West of the Virginia route is the Ohio River Scenic Byway that goes from Cincinnati, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky. Crossing three states, the 99-mile route follows the river downstream through beautiful scenery, awesome attractions, and historical spots. Check out the Derby City Old Louisville SpringFest, which is a daylong festival with a flea market, bourbon tent, and gourmet food vendors or the 21c Museum Hotel, the hottest hotel in Louisville. It has 90 rooms and a $10 million collection of artwork, photos, and video installation and a hugely popular restaurant called Proof on Main.
5Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, Arkansas and Missouri
Further west, is Crowley’s Ridge Parkway in Arkansas and Missouri. The 198-mile route cuts through northeast Arkansas and extends up into Missouri and offers a little bit of everything. The coming of spring brings flowering dogwoods, redbuds, and daffodils, while the ridge offers unique landforms and rare species of plants. The route also detours to the protected nature reserves like the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, as well as, houses the Chalk Bluff Battlefield Park, a historical spot where the Confederate forces claimed a tactical victory.
Choose to visit these places individually or work out a route that connects all of them together for the ultimate Spring Break Roadtrip!