Iconic Road Trips: Blue Ridge Parkway Paradise

The Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for a reason. It’s a 469-mile stretch along the Blue Ridge, which is a mountain chain within the Appalachian Mountains. The mountains out west might be more grandeur, but I grew up in the Appalachians, so this drive has a special place in my heart. Contrast to the jagged, towering, snow-capped mountains you’ll see in the western parts of the U.S., the Blue Ridge Mountains are subtler in their majesty. You’ll see rolling hills upon rolling hills all the way into the horizon while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. The park connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the Shenandoah National Park. When you feel moved to stop and take photos of the jaw-dropping landscape, you’ll find there are plenty of places to pull over and do just that. Buy some homemade jam, salsa or an assortment of other treats when you stop. These kinds of Blue Ridge specialties are widely available along the route and unlike so many gimmicky regional foods many of these offerings are worth the price.In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park, you’ll pass through the Pisgah National Forest, Stone Mountain State Park and George Washington National Forest, among other destinations.

Make time for yoga – Road trip tip

When embarking on a road trip of a few days or more, plan ahead by finding local fitness classes you can take as you pass through a new city.

Rather than spend your time stretching at a boring rest stop, pop in for a 30 minute or 1 hour session at a yoga, pilates or fitness studio. You’ll meet locals, get a feel for the town, and get that cooped-up car-feeling out of your system. Search for businesses that accept walk-ins, and allow yourself time to get to town in case of traffic or a minor misshap.

[Photo: Flickr | fdean55]

Bring cookie sheets – Road trip tip

Cookie sheets may seem like an odd suggestion for a road trip, but they have LOTS of uses! If you’re traveling with kids, cookie sheets make great trays for snacks or on-the-go meals — the edges help catch spills!

If you flip them over, they make a great desk for coloring, card games, and other activities that are better on a flat surface. If you have really little guys traveling with you, bring along those metallic letters and numbers. They stick to the cookie sheets, for lots of fun play.

Finally, they’re a good seat divider between arguing siblings.

[Photo: Flickr | Veganbaking.net]

Bring a CB radio – Road trip tip

CB radios used to be all the rage, and a trip across country would demand one.

While CB radios are no longer en vogue, they are still a heck of a lot of fun — and a great source of back-up if you’re in trouble. Bringing a CB radio can help with many road trip problems: staying awake, fun for the kids, and even getting directions.

The best part is, CB radios are not very expensive and are very easy to install. If you’re not sold on them right away, you can choose permanent or temporary installation and see if it suits your needs.