The Essential Guide to the Ultimate East Coast Road Trip

It’s time to buckle in and hit the road for a trip of a lifetime. Roll over the unending mountainscape and discover some of the best restaurants and attractions during your next East Coast road trip. And when you’re ready to put it in park, set your sights on our beautiful Chimney Rock inn, The Esmeralda. What are you waiting for? Get on the road today!

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How to Plan the Perfect East Coast Road Trip

Start planning your best trip yet to Western North Carolina. Take time to see the sights, hike the trails, shop like a local, and indulge in fantastic food during your next vacation. We have everything you need to know about planning the perfect East Coast road trip!

Nashville to Chimney Rock | 316 Miles

Put Music City in your rearview for the ultimate escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Travel across the Tennessee/North Carolina border for a fantastic Nashville to Chimney Rock road trip. The quickest route to Chimney Rock is via I-40 East. However, we recommend taking the more scenic route on the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway. Follow the twists and turns through mountains, rivers, and wildflowers until you reach your final destination at The Esmeralda. We have a couple stops you’ll want to see along the way. 

  • Mount Mitchell State ParkLakeside Tavern

Lakeside Tavern in Knoxville is the perfect place for a relaxing, lakeside lunch. Their menu offers a little something for everyone, from stone oven pizza to Black Angus cheeseburgers. There’s not a bad seat in the house as you overlook the alluring Fort Loudoun Lake.    

  • Mount Mitchell State Park

This stop will take you slightly off your route, but we promise it’s worth it. Mount Mitchell State Park is located just north of Asheville and is the perfect place to stretch your legs as you hike to the top of its 6,684-foot summit. Once you’ve seen the view from the top, be sure to visit the park’s museum for a lesson on the mountain’s historical significance.

Charlotte to Chimney Rock | 95 Miles

Charlotte to Chimney Rock is an ideal weekend getaway. Whether you choose to explore all of the wonderful stops along the way or simply take in the wonder of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you make your way to The Esmeralda, this is one quick road trip that doesn’t disappoint. The journey will take you just under two hours as you travel west on US-74. 

  • Foothills Farmers MarketFoothill Farmers Market

Foothills Farmers Market in Shelby, North Carolina is the perfect stop on your way home from The Esmeralda. Pick up farm-fresh eggs, produce, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and specialty items before heading back to the big city. 

  • Rankin Lake Park

Rankin Lake Park is located about 30-minutes outside of Charlotte in Gastonia. The park features lakeside picnic tables, fishing docks, horseshoe courts, an 18-hole disc golf course, and a one and a half-mile paved walking trail. Explore the beauty just outside the city at this little gem during your next Charlotte to Chimney Rock road trip!

Charleston to Chimney Rock | 246 Miles

Trade the beach for the mountains with a Charleston to Chimney Rock road trip this season. Breath in crisp peak air when you hop on I-26 and take the four-hour trip west to Charleston’s closest mountain getaway. Pack your bags and put it in drive for refreshing mountain therapy today!

  • lake lureColumbia Museum of Art

Just over an hour outside of Charleston is South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia. The city boasts some of the best museums in the state, one of which is the Columbia Museum of Art. Experience the aesthetic side of South Carolina as you stroll through their revolving exhibitions. 

  • Lake Lure

Before you arrive at The Esmeralda, you’ll want to make a pit stop at Lake Lure. Voted the Best Mountain Lake Getaway, the lake offers hiking, fishing, boating, and some of the best views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Book our Hickory Nut Gorge Package and get two tickets for a Lake Lure boat tour plus more!

Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway has long been known as “America’s Favorite Drive” because of its stunning byways and twisting mountain turns. The road stretches 250 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. Along the way, you’ll experience stunning vista views of the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains. The speed limit tops out at 45 mph, allowing drivers to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. If you have the opportunity to take this once-in-a-lifetime drive, you won’t want to miss out! 

Settle in at The Esmeralda Inn and Spa

Esmeralda Inn AccommodationsSet your GPS for The Esmeralda Inn and Spa. Our cozy bed and breakfast is the perfect escape in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Book your stay in our Premium Mountain View King Room and enjoy spectacular views of Chimney Rock. The room includes a plush king-size bed, Bose Wave Radio, Lather brand spa toiletries, microfiber plush robes, and a complimentary chef-inspired breakfast each morning of your stay. 

Explore the heart of Chimney Rock from the top of Hickory Nut Gorge. Book our Hickory Nut Gorge Adventure Package and get two tickets to Chimney Rock State Park, two tickets for a Lake Lure boat tour, a picnic lunch for two, and dinner for two at The Esmeralda Restaurant. We can’t wait to welcome you to our piece of paradise in the mountains!