|Subject: What's great about the Great Smokies?|
I live in the Northwest area of NC and in some ways, yes there are those areas where full size pickup trucks with gun racks and confederate flags driven by Billy Bob and Bubba. But also a lot of beautiful scenery and wonderful people. May I suggest you stop off of I-81 in Abingdon? Spend the night at the Martha Washington hotel, a very nice and historic place with a great restaurant. Get tickets for the Barter Theater which is only across the street for the evening or afternoon matinee. Also visit the Dixie Pottery, Arts Depot and Cave House Crafts. Many other things to do if depending upon your interests.
Townsend is a nice place to stay in lieu of Gatlinburg which is only about 20-30 minutes away. Not much there as far as a town, but beautiful and peaceful.
Will you be following the Blue Ridge Parkway? Great mill and restaurant right on the parkway just north of the NC State line. Note that the parkway is closed around the Deep Gap area.
Another wonderful little town is Blowing Rock, NC which is a couple of miles southeast of Boone. Several nice places to eat, my favorite is Vinters in Blowing Rock. Town is great to stroll around with all the flowers blooming, cottages and parks.
Don't forget Asheville, NC. A day at the Biltmore Estates is a must (house, gardens and winery). Also the Folk Arts Center off of I-40 and a half day trip on the Great Smoky Mountains Railway might be fun. If you stay in Asheville, choose either near the Biltmore Estates or to the revamped downtown area with lots of little shops, galleries and variety of places to dine.
Hope this was helpful, if you have some specific interests, would be happy to help.
Debbie in NC