Driving Charlotte to Nashville: 2 Great Stops Along the Way
At just over 400 miles,the drive to Music City is a long haul if you do it in one shot. Break it up with a few stops along the way and pick some apples, ride a carousel, and satisfy your sweet tooth. If you have an extra night or two to spare, stop in Pigeon Forge to ride coasters and celebrate the patron saint of Tennessee, Dolly Parton. Then put on your cowboy boots, get yourself some Nashville hot chicken, and follow the sound of live music to the nearest concert hall, honky-tonk, or dive bar.
Stop 1: Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard
170 Stepp Orchard Drive, Hendersonville
DISTANCE: Two hours
Hendersonville, also known as North Carolina’s Apple Alley, is an essential stop during apple-picking season. Head to Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, just outside historic Hendersonville, and pick more than 20 varieties of apples. The 70-acre working farm also has a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and an on-site farm market that sells local honey, bagged apples, and homemade apple cider donuts. On fall weekends you can find a jump pad, apple cannon, and wagon rides. Pack a lunch and visit the covered picnic area, and bring your camera to snap a few pictures of the kids if the sunflowers are in bloom.
Stop 2: Dollywood
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd., Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
DISTANCE: 3 hours and 40 minutes
You can get a day pass to the theme park and ride as many roller coasters, carousels, and twisty teacups as time allows. But one day isn’t enough for the full Dollywood experience. Book a room at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa and get complimentary TimeSaver passes (which let you skip the lines), early entry to the park on Saturdays, and access to a free shuttle to and from Dollywood. True Dolly fans must visit the Chasing Rainbows Museum to see costumes, awards, and other keepsakes from the Iron Butterfly’s life and career. If you come between May and September, check out Dollywood’s Splash Country, the site’s 35-acre water park.