Our Southern States Road Trip: Part II
Atlanta, Smoky Mountains & Nashville
For those following my Instagram account, you will have seen that Adam and I recently returned from a two week road trip across the southern states of America. We previously visited Charleston, South Carolina in 2019 and loved it so much we decided to return there for the starting point of our road trip. From Charleston we crossed the State border and spent a few days in Atlanta, Georgia and Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains before ending our trip in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the second of a two-part blog mini-series covering our road trip, with this post featuring Atlanta, the Smoky Mountains and Nashville. Click here to view the first part featuring Charleston.
Whilst we were in Atlanta it was Adam’s birthday, so I wanted to find something special for us to do to celebrate the occasion. Before we left, I found Prestige Helicopters offering flights over the city and booked us a sunset flight. I’m so glad I did; it was our highlight of the holiday and the views were jaw-droppingly beautiful against the sunset.
Another highlight of our stay in Atlanta was a trip out to a nearby town called Covington, or ‘Mystic Falls’ as it may be better known as. Yes, I dragged Adam along for a Vampire Stalkers trolley tour of the town where the show Vampire Diaries was set! Did you know that the Mystic Grill is a fully-functioning restaurant and bar!? Needless to say, we stopped by for a burger and a drink in Damon and Alaric’s favourite spot at the bar.
At every new place we explore in the USA, if there is an Old Town Trolley Tour operating at that location we’ll book it. We’ve found them to be a great way to explore the local area whilst learning about its history and all the best places to eat and drink. We hopped on the trolley on our first full day in Atlanta, which included the below pictured stop at the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr.
Following the trolley tour, we visited one of Atlanta’s best known attractions, the Georgia Aquarium which was spectacular! We then finished the day with a low-key meal at Fox Bro’s BBQ.
After leaving Atlanta, we travelled to the Smoky Mountains where we spent a couple of nights in a log cabin owned by Dolly Parton’s resort Dollywood. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise that Dollywood was only open a few days a week and were unable to visit. However we made the most of what Pigeon Forge – a town nestled in the mountains – had to offer, namely stunning views, a toboggan ride, the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine distillery and Stages West, aka the biggest and best darn western fashion store you’ll ever lay eyes on! It has rows upon rows of cowboy boots, real-deal cowboys shaping hats and stretching boots, and every western fashion brand you could think of. We overheard a couple saying they had driven 3 hours just to visit this store!
Just under a four-hour drive from Pigeon Forge, we finally made it to the home of country music! This was my first time visiting Nashville and with its bright lit Honky Tonk-lined streets and abundance of western apparel shops, it didn’t disappoint. We were fortunate to stay at the Thompson Nashville, a modern hotel located in the trendy Gulch neighbourhood within a ten minute walk of Broadway.
Before unpacking, we decided to go for a walk to stretch our legs following the drive, only to return about midnight that night! We ventured towards Broadway, popping into stores on the way there and along Broadway itself, including Boot Barn, and once again ended up buying far too much. With adrenaline raised from the shopping, I then spotted Miranda Lambert’s bar ‘Casa Rosa‘ and couldn’t resist. We popped in for a cocktail…
One thing led to another and before we knew it we’d had drinks at Blake Shelton’s ‘Ole Red‘, gone back to Boot Barn to buy more bits (shops nestled among bars are dangerous) and watched a full live set at Dierks Bentley’s honky tonk ‘Whisky Row‘. Impromptu decisions always turn out the best!
The next morning I decided to pop on a dress, hat and wedges and we started the day with brunch at our hotel’s restaurant ‘Marsh House‘.
We then hopped on a trolley for an Old Town Trolley Tour of Nashville and learnt about Nashville’s many country music attractions and historic sites. Following the trolley tour, we grabbed the DSLR camera and explored the city’s best photo spots, including the ‘What Lifts You‘ wings mural, the Bridgestone Arena (home of the Nashville Predators hockey team), Broadway and the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge – one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world at over 1/2 mile long.
On our final day, we visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and it’s incredible collection of country music memorabilia from its birth to present day. They had everything, from Taylor Swift’s guitars to Elvis Presley’s gold-plated Cadillac!