I-40 East from Tennessee
* Suggested stops
Waynesville - www.visitncsmokies.com, 1-800-334-9036
Make a stop at the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at Shelton House, where period furnishings and antiques compliment exhibits of folk art, and collections of pottery, wood carving, basketry, metalwork, weaving, quilting, marquetry and other fine crafts. A great stop is at the Waynesville Mast General Store. From its antique cabinetry to its unique mezzanine, this 1930's mercantile is packed with provisions for the entire family. Right next door, The Waynesville Candy Barrel features the old-fashioned fun of an ice cream and soda fountain, along with over 400 hard-to-find candy favorites.
Maggie Valley - www.maggievalley.org, 1-800-624-4431
The Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum houses over 300 of America's rarest and most historic classic motorcycles, with over 24 types on display, including the likes of Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Crocker, Henderson, and much more.
Cherokee - www.cherokee-nc.com, 1-800-438-1601
Just a little further southwest on Highway 19 from Maggie Valley is Cherokee, homeland of the Cherokee Indians. Experience the 11,000 year old Cherokee story through priceless ancient artifacts, computer generated imagery, artwork, life-sized figures, dioramas, and more at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Learn the ancient craftsmaking skills from the very people who have had these skills passed down from generation to generation at the Qualla Arts anf Crafts Mutual Inc. Oconaluftee Indian Village, offers an historically accurate recreation of a 1760’s Cherokee settlement, with native guides demonstrating traditional crafts and customs. Not only is Cherokee popular for the Indian culture, but it is also very well-known for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and its Paula Deen’s Kitchen.
Bryson City - www.greatsmokies.com, 1-800-867-9246
If you are in Cherokee, you may as well drive the 15 more miles to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City. All trains depart from the historic Bryson City depot. With 53 miles of track, two tunnels and 25 bridges, The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers a variety of scenic excursions that traverse the majestic valleys and breathtaking river gorges of Western North Carolina.
Asheville – www.exploreasheville.com, 1-828-258-6101
Discover new worlds of art and music, revel in breathtaking beauty, soak up bohemian culture or just relax at a sidewalk cafe. Whether seeking adventure or a place to unwind, you will discover Asheville offers more than just fantastic views of magnificent mountain peaks. Experience one of North Carolina’s best known attractions, Biltmore Estate, Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery. The North Carolina Arboretum's 434-acre campus is nestled along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393 and offers 65-acres of cultivated gardens including the Bonsai Exhibition Garden, garden tours, changing science, art and cultural history exhibits, a cafe and gift shop. Downtown Asheville’s Grove Arcade offers boutique shopping, unique dining and regional crafts in a renovated architectural wonder. The River Arts District, a shabby chic warehouse-turned-art-district, features an abundance of local art. Let Asheville inspire you once more before leaving with a stop at the Folk Art Center, headquarters of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The center showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary crafts of the Southern Appalachians and is located on “America's favorite drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hendersonville and Flat Rock – www.historichendersonville.org, 1-800-828-4244
Top off your day with dinner at a group friendly restaurant in downtown historic Hendersonville followed by a lively performance at Flat Rock Playhouse, the official North Carolina State Theatre. In these two quaint towns, visit the Western NC Air Museum, The Mineral & Lapidary Museum, Henderson County Heritage Museum, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site and St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church.
Chimney Rock – www.chimneyrockpark.com, 1-800-277-9611
Continue your adventure with a scenic drive to Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park where you can reconnect with nature. Stand atop the 315 foot Chimney Rock and see amazing 75-mile views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure and the Carolina Piedmont. Down below is the kind of scenery you’ll find in The Last of the Mohicans, including the unforgettable final scenes filmed at the edge of 404-ft Hickory Nut Falls.
Lake Lure – www.rutherfordtourism.com, 1-800-849-5998
Relax on a boat tour of Lake Lure, or on the sandy beach by the Lake Lure Inn, a restored grand hotel of the 1920s. The scenery around here also made it in the movies as the romantic backdrop for Dirty Dancing. Visit Bennett’s Classic Cars Museum or the Rutherford County Farm Museum.
Black Mountain and Swannanoa Valley – www.exploreblackmountain.com, 1-800-669-2301
The Swannanoa Valley Museum preserves and interprets the social, cultural and natural history of the Swannanoa Valley, a pathway to Western North Carolina. Stroll through the quaint streets of Black Mountain, stop in some of the shops and galleries.
Marion – www.mcdowellnc.org, 1-888-233-6111
Linville Caverns is NC's only show caverns. Entertaining & informative guided tours take visitors along a level walk to see "inside" Humpback Mountain. Another must-see is the Linville Gorge Wilderness area, the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon.
Hickory – www.hickorymetro.com, 1-800-509-2444
Take a tour of the Hickory Furniture Mart. The Mart houses over 100 factory outlets, stores and galleries, representing over 1,000 premier manufacturers, all located under one roof. Trace the roots of the furniture industry in Catawba Valley at Catawba Valley Furniture Museum. At the Catawba County Museum of History, tour the authentic reproduction of an early Catawba woodworking shop and see the collection of vintage tools and furnishings. Exhibits in this 1924 courthouse include a rare British Revolution-era red coat, a 1930s racing car and a fine collection of locally crafted furniture.
Statesville – www.visitstatesville.org, 1-877-531-1819
Get a glimpse of North Carolina’s interconnected moonshine and racing legacy on a visit to the headquarters of Bill Elliott NASCAR team (Evernham Motorsports, LLC) in Statesville, NC, at the Evernham Motorsports Museum and Gift Shop. The Museum offers a historical tour through the careers of Ray Evernham, Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne. Next visit Images at the Crossroads, another Ben Long fresco at the Statesville Civic Center in historic downtown Statesville. Learn about the 1911 Statesville Depot or shop and dine in some of NC’s most unique boutiques and restaurants.
Hiddenite – www.hiddenitecenter.com, 1-828-632-6966
Just a few miles from Statesville is Hiddenite, home to Hiddenite Gems Inc.’s Emerald Hollow Mine where visitors can search for fine gemstones in the rough. Also stop by The Hiddenite Center/Historic Lucas Mansion, a three-story Victorian mansion housing various collections and art galleries, as well as a toy and doll collection.
Mooresville – www.racecityusa.org, 1-877-661-1234
Home to many of auto racing's top programs, Mooresville is a prime destination for any race fan. Spend the day touring race shops, including Dale Earnhardt Inc., JR Motorsports, Penske Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports, many of which offer viewing rooms where you can watch crew members working on the cars, or explore the history of auto racing in one of our auto museums. In Mooresville, you can also experience the Lazy Five Ranch drive-through safari which takes you through gently sloping pastures as you watch more than 700 animals from six continents in a natural habitat.
Lake Norman – www.visitlakenorman.org, 1-704-987-3300
Not only is Lake Norman a draw for outdoor enthusiasts, it is a ideal for history buffs. Nestled on the banks of Lake Norman are the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville. A tour of Huntersville’s Latta Plantation Nature Preserve includes the historic Latta Plantation circa 1800, the Nature Center, Equestrian Center and Carolina Raptor Center. Drop by Cornelius Town Hall to visit the Heritage Hall exhibit. Based on the book “A Town by Any Other Name” by Leslie Rindoks, Heritage Hall provides a tangible overview of the town’s history. Historic Rural Hill Farm in Huntersville was the home of Major John Davidson, American patriot and signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Today the 265 acre historic plantation stands as a memorial to early American agriculture and has become a cultural center for Scottish heritage. Huntersville is only a short 15 miles North of Charlotte on I-77.