From Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains and Jefferson’s Monticello to Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, this Appalachian adventure will introduce you to the natural wonders of this lush mountain region at the height of fall foliage.
DAY 1—WELCOME TO KNOXVILLE!
Our Blue Ridge Country adventure begins during a welcome dinner at our hotel in Knoxville, home to the University of Tennessee. D
DAY 2—BUC-EE’S/BIRTHPLACE OF COUNTRY MUSIC
This morning, stop at the iconic Buc-ee’s convenience store and see how co-owners Arch (“Beaver”) Aplin and Don Wasek set out to make their travel stops the best in the world. See their largest store to date! Continue across the border into Virginia for the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and explore the history of recordings at this Smithsonian affiliate. We then travel to Damascus, a popular stop on the Appalachian Trail for thru-hikers. See the Trail Center and have a delicious lunch at the Old Mill Inn as you hear adventures from hikers who’ve done the trail. B, L, D
DAY 3—NATURAL BRIDGE/WOODROW WILSON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY
Today experience Natural Bridge State Park, where a short stroll brings you to a 215-foothigh natural arch with a span of 90 feet. Then we’re off to Staunton, named one of the top 10 mountain towns by Southern Living. We’ll tour the sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church, featuring more than a dozen Tiffany stained glass windows. Then visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum to experience the history of the 28th President’s tumultuous term that included the Spanish Flu pandemic and the first World War. B, L
DAY 4—VIRGINIA QUILT MUSEUM/LURAY CAVERNS/SKYLAND RESORT
Spend this morning at the Virginia Quilt Museum to learn the painstaking process for preservation of historical quilts. Then it’s off to Luray Caverns, the largest cavern in the eastern U.S.! We’ll explore this magnificent wonder and hear the Great Stalacpipe Organ, which is the world’s largest musical instrument. Afterwards, ride “up” mountain for beautiful views as we continue to Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park. B, L, D
DAY 5—SKYLINE DRIVE/JEFFERSON’S MONTICELLO/APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE
This morning, drive portions of one of America’s most scenic routes, Skyline Drive, on our way to Big Meadows Visitors Center. Then it’s off to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence. Monticello was a working plantation and we’ll learn about the people, enslaved and free, who lived and worked on the mountaintop. This afternoon, enjoy a true southern lunch at Michie Tavern. Then we’ll visit Appomattox Court House to learn more about Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant in 1865. B, L
DAY 6—BILTMORE ESTATE
Today we travel to North Carolina and spend the afternoon at George and Edith Vanderbilt’s extraordinary Biltmore Estate. Take a self-guided visit inside the luxurious family home and stroll their famous gardens designed by America’s foremost landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Afterwards, have a tasty lunch at the Stable Café located on the grounds of the estate. B, L
DAY 7—GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
We continue our tour to Bryson City, where it’s “all aboard” our thrilling rail excursion along the beautiful Nantahala River. Then, relish a breathtaking ride through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, named for the bluish mist that clings to the mountainsides. B, L
DAY 8—RED SKELTON SHOW/FAREWELL
This morning, re-live the great memories of the “Golden Age of Television” at the Red Skelton Tribute Show before we head home, filled with appreciation of Blue Ridge Country. B
Night 1: Hilton Airport, Knoxville, TN
Night 2: Natural Bridge Hotel, Natural Bridge, VA
Night 3: Hotel 24 South, Staunton, VA
Night 4: Skyland Resort, Shenandoah National Park, VA
Night 5: Comfort Inn, Danville, VA
Night 6: Best Western Plus River Escape Inn & Suites, Dillsboro, NC
Night 7: Inn on the River, Pigeon Forge, TN
Oct 8-15, 2024
Price Per Person:
Pre Tour Hotel:
Free airport shuttle or hotel parking
Welcome Dinner and meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Fees and tips for included attractions and meals
Luggage handling at most hotels
Free bottled water on coach
24-hour emergency call service
Our Welcome Dinner on Day 1 is at our hotel, Hilton Knoxville Airport, starting at 6:30 p.m. We recommend scheduling your flight to arrive by 4:00 p.m.
Schedule your flight home to depart McGhee Tyson Airport any time after 2:45 p.m. on Day 8.
Our starting hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to/from the McGhee Tyson Airport. There is also a covered walkway for those who choose to walk.
Due to the Hilton Knoxville Airport hotel’s location, they do not have long term parking available on site for our travelers. If you are driving to our starting hotel you can park in the hotel’s parking for the first night of the tour. For the duration of the tour, we request that you park in the Airport Economy parking lot B (closest to the hotel), pay for your parking and please send the receipt to our office after the tour and we will reimburse your parking fees.
Moderate walking is required to fully enjoy this tour. Some walking will also be on uneven paths. While walking canes are allowed, we are unable to accommodate travelers using other mobility devices, including walkers and wheelchairs.
May – high of 77°, low of 56°
October – high of 70°, low of 49°
Each hotel has a hair dryer, iron, ironing boards, and a coffee maker. Hilton Knoxville Airport has free wi-fi, an indoor pool, fitness center and an on-site restaurant. Hotel 24 South in Staunton has free wi-fi, an indoor pool, fitness center and an on-site Lounge. The Skyland Lodge does not have elevators, and cell phone service will depend on your carrier. The Inn on the River in Pigeon Forge has free wi-fi, indoor & outdoor pools, hot tub, on-site laundry and is located on the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.
A total of three mailings are sent to assist you in preparing for your tour, including information sent upon receipt of your reservation.
Dress on tour is casual.
Please note that elevations do reach up to 3,680 feet on this tour. If you are prone to altitude sickness, you may want to book a pre-night stay to fully acclimate. Cooler weather can also prevail at higher elevations (such as at Skyland).
Travel Protection Available?
Yes, see CountryTravelDiscoveries.com/TravelProtectionPlan.