Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel....
The Southeast: Where Travel is a Natural
With so many natural assets, its easy to see why the Southeast has always been a natural with travelers. From the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, this regions is very nice for Mother Nature (and those who enjoy her).
If youre looking for a drive that features Mother Nature at her best on and off the road, the Blue Ridge Parkway (www.blueridgeparkway.org) makes for the ideal road trip. The 469-mile scenic drive runs from Virginia through North Carolina and almost to Tennessee, with plenty to see and do along the way in all three states.
Situated just down the road from the Parkway and near I-81, its easy to experience the charm and beauty of the Roanoke Valley (www.visitroanokeva.com). Highlights include outdoor recreation, museums, attractions, festivals, the performing arts, farmers markets in both Roanoke and Salem, and varied accommodations and restaurants.
Back up on the Parkway, Virginias Explore Park (www.explorepark.org) defines family fun. Located right at Milepost 116, Explore Park offers miles of mountain biking and hiking trails, as well as fishing, canoeing, and many other outdoors options.
Down in Wytheville (www.visitwytheville.com), outdoor recreation opportunities abound from spring to late fall. Hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, picnicking, and more can all be enjoyed on some of the areas most scenic lands, as well as arranged excursions.
Located at Milepost 189 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Doe Run Lodge (www.doerunlodge.com) features chalet lodging, a restaurant and bar, meeting facilities, and more. Visitors will enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, tennis, and nearby golf, horseback riding, and the famed New River Trail.
Virginias Abingdon (www.abingdon.com/tourism) is a perfect example of small town tourism near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Home of the Barter Theatre (the State Theatre of Virginia), the William King Regional Arts Center, the Virginia Highlands Festival, the Virginia Creeper Trail, and great dining and shopping, Abingdon is worth the diversion.
Summer is an ideal time to head to mountain towns like North Carolinas Boone (www.visitboonnc.com). Its always 10 to 15 degrees cooler around Boone, which is in the Heart of the High Country. Visitors will find wild to mild rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, and more--as well as simply relaxation!
The mountain treasures of McDowell County (www.mountaintreasures.net) include pristine streams, thundering waterfalls, bottomless caverns, sparkling lakes, vast expanses of forest, wilderness trails, orchards, gem and gold mines, crafts, museums, inns, campgrounds, and golf courses. Best of all--its all along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory (www.hickorymetro.com) abounds with nearby outdoors opportunities, historic and cultural opportunities, popular shopping at factory shops, outlets, and furniture galleries. Varied accommodations and restaurants make it a great base.
For those who think Mother Nature is all wet, the paddle sports Mecca of Nantahala Outdoor Center (www.noc.com) has no equal. The famed North Carolina company, located near Bryson City, features raft trips on six rivers (from family-friendly to high adventure), as well as Rapid Progressions(TM), a novice whitewater instruction course that guarantees success!
Situated close to many Great Smoky Mountains attractions, Tennessees Brookside Resort (www.brooksideresort.com) offers deluxe streamside rooms with fireplaces, refrigerators, wetbars, and whirlpool tubs. The resort also offers cabins, apartments, suites, kitchens, and budget-friendly rooms, as well as a large outdoor pool and playground.
In Tennessee (www.tnvacation.com/budgettravel) in general, adventure awaits! From the Mississippi River to the Smoky Mountains and more than 500 miles of beautiful country in between, the state features Mother Nature at her finest. Horse-drawn carriages and historic town squares take visitors back to the presidents, adventurers, and musicians who first discovered the magic of Tennessee. Today, it just takes a pair of hiking boots.
Over on Georgias southeast coast, nature lovers will love Brunswick & the Golden Isles (www.bgicvb.com)--St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Jekyll Island. Visitors will discover unspoiled beauty amidst vast marshlands, winding rivers, and ribbon-smooth beaches. Highlights can include nature tours and programs, birding, fascinating museums and historic sites, 234 holes of golf, biking, fishing, and watersports. The glorious year-round weather is accompanied by accommodations for every budget and incredible convenience to I-95.
Embracing the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the Tennessee River Valley, North Alabama (www.northalabama.org) is fine-tuned to back-to-nature visitors. Rugged mountains offer wooded trails, rustic cabins and chalets, campgrounds, waterfalls, and wildflowers, while the river valley presents eight sporting lakes, cathedral-sized caverns, six state parks, golf, a wildlife refuge, and the Bankhead National Forest. Highlights of the Cullman (www.visitcullman.com) area include the Clarkson Covered Bridge, Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, and great outdoors opportunities.
Finally, down on Floridas Gulf Coast, the anticipation of summers pleasures beckon visitors to Pensacola (www.visitpensacola.com/af). A visit will take you worlds away, allowing you to soothe your senses amidst the areas timeless coastal beauty. In addition, visitors can experience festivals, explore history, and take part in traditions that make Pensacola a great destination. Of course, theres also the hospitality that remains true to the areas famed southern roots.
With its 27 miles of sugar-white beaches and emerald-green waters, Panama City Beach (www.800pcbeach.com) is simply breathtaking. From sunbathing and swimming to watersports and dolphin spotting, this is a beach to be enjoyed by the entire family. Other highlights include scuba diving and snorkeling, fishing, golf, St. Andrews State Recreation Area, Shell Island, and so much more.
The Gulf Coast also features Sterling Resorts (www.sterlingresorts.com), a Destin-based company that owns and operates three luxury vacation properties in Destin and a fourth in Panama City Beach that just opened in April! All resorts feature one-, two-, and three-bedroom units furnished with fully equipped kitchens, a king-size bed, washer and dry, refrigerator, cable TV and VCR, and private balcony. Whichever one youre choose, Sterling offers a great base for Gulf Coast exploration.
Thus, from Virginia down to Florida and everywhere in between, the Southeast is definitely a natural for outdoors travel!