Road Trip 2020 | North Carolina

It’s a family thing

September 13, 2020

If you know me personally or have followed me for any given time, you know that I love to travel. While I haven’t been many places outside of the United States in my lifetime, I have done a good bit of travel within our country. Every year since 2017 I have taken my kids on a road trip. We travel all over the United States going to places like Missouri, Maryland, Indiana, and beyond. We haven’t made it out west yet, but as they get older and can travel further in the car, I plan on adding those locations as well!

Every year, we usually add a new state or two to our ones visited. We were supposed to add three new ones this year. I had originally planned this massive trip from Atlanta taking us all the way up to Kenosha, WI and back down. In between we would have stopped in Knoxville, Cincinatti, Indianapolis, Southern Michigan, Kenosha, St. Louis, Nashville, and Huntsville. It was going to be 10-11 days of epic traveling all over the place visiting train museums, the Ark/Creation Museums, and various amusement parks… then Corona hit. And we know how that impacted everything.

At the beginning of the summer, Levi and I did a weeklong camping road trip in lieu of our big trip. We had a blast going to a variety of campsites in Georgia. We kayaked, hiked, and camped out for 5 days and had a blast! I’ll backtrack later and share more pictures on that trip! I thought that might be our road trip for the summer, but as the summer wore on, I was getting the travel bug again and really wanted to do something else.

So I planned a trip that would take us to Chattanooga, Knoxville, Gaitlinburg, Bryson City, Asheville, and Charlotte. It was going to be 9 days with lots of train museums and other fun stops. But ultimately I decided to scale it down and settled on Asheville and Charlotte. We did a day trip out to Chattanooga the next week which I will include in this post and while in Asheville, drove out to Bryson City for a day, so we got most of what I wanted to do! We ended up being gone for 7 days total!

I hope you enjoy seeing our adventures as much as I love sharing them!

Stopping at the School Bus Graveyard in North Georgia on the way to Asheville

Visiting the museum at the Tallulah Gorge State Park. The city basically grew to because of the train that was started here in the 1800’s. Of course Levi loved getting to check this out!

We hiked here back in March and did the whole gorge, so this trip we just did a little bit of it and had a picnic lunch!

We stopped at the old train depot right afterwards

Abigail fell asleep in the car and I saw the tallest state park in Georgia, so we drove up the mountain and took some pictures!

Levi saw this old train museum in Rabun Gap, so we did a u-turn on the highway and turned around to check it out! We learned it was run by the boarding school across the street and was a part of the Tallulah Falls RR that we had just read about at the state park!

The next day, we went to Bryson City, NC to ride the Great Smoky Mountains RR. We had a BLAST!

After the train ride, we visited the museum and their outdoor train yard with lots of trains to look at!

We spent almost two extra hours just walking around the train yard. The kids LOVED it!

The following day we drove to the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the amazing views!

We went to Black Balsam Knob for a gorgeous 360 view of the mountains

I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. We had the best time!

In the afternoon, we went to the Craggy Mountain RR to view their train yard. The kids had a blast climbing all over the old trains.

That evening, I made an impromptu decision to drive almost 1.5 hours away to Mount Mitchell State Park to see the sunset. It’s the highest point East of the Mississippi River.

The view was worth it! I loved every second of it!

The next day, we left Asheville to head east to Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock, NC.

The kids loved the western themed park and show that went along with the train ride.

After Tweetsie, we went to THE Blowing Rock which the city is named after.

You can see Levi in the top left picture on top of The Blowing Rock. The kids loved climbing all over it!

We went south to stay with my cousin in Charlotte for the remainder of the trip. They live off of Lake Norman in Mooresville, NC. The kids LOVED their time on the lake!

We have always found a corn field on our road trips- 4 years now- and we take an annual picture now. It started as me just stopping in Missouri for a quick corn explanation to Levi when he was 3 and has now turned into an annual tradition!

We took a day trip out to Spencer, NC and the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

This was one of the best museums we have been to! They even had a scavenger hunt for the kids to search for things while we walked the museum. Because of corona, we were nearly the only ones there!

Levi loved reading about the different train signals and visiting the different buildings.

This roundhouse is now the largest one in the United States that is still intact! Oh and you can see Abigail throwing an exhausted tantrum in one of these pictures! haha

At the end of the day, they got to see an actual diesel train ride by and then roll their new toys along the rail line at the museum.

The best day!

We were supposed to head home on Monday, but we had such a fun time at the lake that we decided to stay for another day. We went hiking at a local creek that I found on the AllTrails app that recommended this spot for creek playing. The kids had a blast!

That evening, Levi and I snuck out on my cousin’s kayaks for an evening sunset on the lake.

We headed home on Tuesday and stopped in Charlotte for a trip to the light rail system. We went on a walk to the botanical garden at the UNC Charlotte campus and then got some yummy pizza!

We stopped in Sharpsburg, SC to check out the Hub City Railroad Museum. It wasn’t open, and Abigail was napping in the car, so we walked around outside and watched for trains. We headed home after that!

The next week, we went to Chattanooga for the day. We stopped at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel and had the whole area behind the hotel to ourselves!

We traveled to the Incline Railway and rode on the steepest incline railway in the world. The view on top of Lookout Mountain was amazing! We headed down to Fort Payne, AL to stay at my Dad and step-mom’s cabin for the night. They live on the other end of Lookout Mountain (which is really a long part of the Cumberland Plateau). We went swimming at Little River Canyon the next day! The kids had a blast swimming and jumping into the water!

Our last stop was at Sloppy Floyd State Park to hike before heading home. We had a great time!

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