Gail and I would both love to travel more, but our health issues don’t make that easy. She is primarily wheelchair-bound with chronic pain, and I can’t walk very far before my sciatic pain levels me. In addition, my rosacea will flare up if I’m outside for very long, so our activities are pretty limited.
With that in mind, I occasionally look for things we can do and places we can go that would fit nicely into our abilities. Road trips sometimes qualify, depending upon how long they are. More than likely, most travel of any sort will be a little difficult, especially for Gail, but I think the road trip I’ve planned here might be doable. And if so, we would LOVE it.
So what’s the plan? This will sound silly, but hear me out. This is a road trip from Greenville, SC to Asheville, NC. If we were to just drive straight through, the trip would only last a little over an hour. That sounds like a really lame road trip, but my version would be approximately a week long! There are so many incredible places between those two cities that we’d want to stop and enjoy them each day, spend the night somewhere, and then continue the next.
One more bit of information before we get into the specifics. I’ve never been to ANY of the places on this list. But about a year or so ago, I was thinking about moving to someplace that would tick off all the boxes for me. Plans changed, and I’m super happy where I am now, but my research uncovered a city that – in another lifetime, perhaps – I would want to live and work in. That city is Greenville, SC, and that’s where this road trip begins.
Falls Park on the Reedy in Greenville, SC
This would be like a dream city for me. All the amenities and fun that a city has to offer, with incredible, eye-popping nature built right into the city! My vision of a great city includes a really interesting, walkable downtown, with plenty to do, plenty to eat, and plenty to see. Greenville really hits all those notes. Honestly, all you have to do is check out Falls Park on the Reedy to really understand why I think this place is so special. Look at this!
This is right in the heart of downtown Greenville’s historic West End. A suspension bridge crosses this waterfall area so walkers can take it all in from above. Greenville has won numerous awards for its pedestrian-friendly downtown, wide sidewalks, outdoor dining, cultural artwork, and public spaces. This is a city’s downtown, done right. Since we don’t live anywhere near South Carolina, we’ll have already driven a long, long time to get here, so I’d want to spend the night here, and take in the area’s nightlife. (That simply means a nice stroll around the area, stopping to eat, and then heading back to the hotel. No dancing or partying for us, LOL).
Hollywild Animal Park in Wellford, SC
The next stop on our trip would be the Hollywild Animal Park. We’d choose the Drive Through Safari package, where you drive your own car through the park, and the animals come right up to your car for a snack. For a small cost of $9/person, and either a $5 or $10 bucket of animal feed, this would be super fun. We both love animals, and the ability to be up close to feed them is just irresistible.
Campbell’s Covered Bridge in Landrum, SC
After the tour, we’d continue on, passing through Landrum, SC to check out Campbell’s Covered Bridge, which is the only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina. It’s a quaint old bridge over Beaverdam Creek.Upstateherd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This would just be a quick stop to take in the scenery and snap a few photos.
Pointsett Bridge in Landrum, SC
While we’re checking out cool old bridges, we’d stop to admire the Pointsett Bridge. This photo was obviously taken during winter, so we likely wouldn’t see snow while there, but the whole gothic feel and surrounding area looks really cool. Like the covered bridge, we would probably just stop for a short time. Possibly, we’d hang around for a bit and enjoy a light lunch while taking in the sights.Jeffersondavis, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons
Wildcat Branch Falls in Cleveland, SC
I didn’t mention this earlier, but one of the main reasons for wanting to experience this area is because it’s loaded with waterfalls. Of course, waterfalls are often inaccessible to disabled folks, so I specifically looked for falls that we could see from our car. Wildcat Branch Falls makes the cut. I believe there are several, and perhaps only one is viewable from the car, but there is at least one. From what I understand, it’s the lower section that is visible from Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11). I gather the falls are fairly light unless it’s recently rained, so it may not be all that impressive. Still, I’d like to check it out.Fredlyfish4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Looking Glass Falls in Brevard, NC
From there, we’d head over to view Looking Glass Falls. At 60 feet high, the water freezes on its sides in the winter. When the sunlight shines on it, it looks like a mirror, or “looking glass”. There are steps leading down to the falls, but there are areas along the road where we can pull the car over to view the falls and take photos.
Jump Off Rock Overlook in Laurel Park, near Hendersonville, NC
We’d probably end up driving to Hendersonville and spending the night there. Depending upon the time we arrive, we’d either squeeze in Jump Off Rock Overlook that evening, or first thing the next day. Jump Off Rock is basically just a great spot to look out over the Blue Ridge and Pisgah mountain ranges. I think it would be a great end or beginning to a day.
Elijah Mountain Gem Mine in Hendersonville, NC
Here is the spot for each of us to let out our inner child! One of our favorite things to do at our local Renaissance Faire is to spend time in the gem mining booth, mining for gems. Of course, it’s all made to be super easy. You buy a bucket of dirt, sand, and rocks, sift it through a sifter in a running stream, and search for the gemstones purposely included in each bucket. I get a ridiculous amount of enjoyment out of this. But wait, there’s more! The Elijah Mountain Gem Mine also includes a petting zoo with goats – OMG I can’t tell you how happy that would make me – as well as a peacock habitat! I imagine Gail and I would spend most of the day here. And to top it off, there are over 250 waterfall cascades within a few miles of each other and a few minutes drive from the gem mine. I don’t know if any of them would be viewable from the car, but out of 250, there must be at least one, right? I’d ask someone at the gem mining place. I’m sure they have all the info. Once again, we’d probably spend the night in Hendersonville.
Lake Lure Flowering Bridge in Lake Lure, NC
This would be one of the real highlights of our trip, I believe. Gail and I both love flowers and gardens. She is more of the “plant them and care for them” type, and I’m more of the “gaze upon them lovingly” type. In any case, this flower-covered bridge looks like it would be absolutely stunning. The vast majority of the area is wheelchair accessible, so this would be a wonderful place to explore.
From the bridge, we can also view the Chimney Rock, as well as the river that flows into Lake Lure, all surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills.
I would probably want to hang around in this little slice of heaven all day, and then possibly stay at The Lodge at Lake Lure that night. Parts of the movie, Dirty Dancing, were filmed there, and there is supposedly a friendly ghost that occasionally haunts the lodge. Either way, the views of the lake look amazing, so I think this would be a great place to spend the night.
The Biltmore Estate Gardens in Asheville, NC
We’re getting close to the end of our journey, and the Biltmore seems a natural place to visit. Not all of the Biltmore House is handicap accessible because it is a historic property, but the Walled Garden and Conservatory are both ADA Accessible. Some of the formal and informal gardens are not accessible, but I’m sure we would enjoy the parts that are. The Antler Hill Village is also fully accessible.
River Arts District, Asheville, NC
Finally, our last stop of the trip would end at the River Arts District in Asheville. Gail is an artist so she and I would both enjoy this part of the journey. The district is a mile of artist studios, and I imagine we would need to plan what we want to see, so there is as little walking as possible. Apparently, it’s also best to contact artists that interest you, to see if they’ll be around the day of your visit.
Like Greenville, Asheville is one of those cities that would be high on my list to live in, if I were young again, and starting over. The downtown seems fun and exciting, and the creative spirit here sings to my soul. It’s also extremely LGBT-friendly, so that earns it a gold star from me too.
Once we’d exhausted ourselves exploring the River Arts District, I’d like to spend a day or two (or more), just exploring Asheville, soaking up the ambiance, listening to performers busking on street corners, and enjoying the cafes.
So that’s my dream road trip in a nutshell. It may never happen for us, but it’s fun to plan and imagine.