The U.S. travel group AAA expects the upcoming Labor Day weekend to be the busiest September break since the financial crisis hit in 2008. If you plan on traveling more than 50 miles to your holiday destination, you'll be among 34.1 million individuals on the roads, tracks or skies.
But you if you want to save money and time, there are typically many quick trips that could make for a great day or overnight escape, no matter where you live. In the Tennessee Valley, you have lots of opportunities to get away without extensive travel.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Birmingham — The Birmingham Zoo is always a popular destination for my family, which includes two daughters, 6 and 8. Add history and science to your trip through the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the McWane Science Center. Birmingham is a straight shot down Interstate 65, about an hour from Huntsville.
- Gatlinburg, Tenn. — Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains are about 270 miles from Huntsville. You will find Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, whitewater rafting and more.
- Chattanooga, Tenn. — This town is similar to Huntsville in size and charm, say many visitors, with a distance of 120 miles separating the two. You will want to see the Tennessee Aquarium for sure and enjoy a riverboat cruise along the Tennessee River.
- Atlanta, Georgia — The biggest city on the list is just under 200 miles east of Huntsville (unfortunately, there is no straight shot to drive so you either have to go south on 231 and hit 20 east or go through Chattanooga and connect with 75 south). The Atlanta Botanical Garden is quite impressive; the Zoo Atlanta will delight animal lovers of all ages; Six Flags Amusement Park; and much more!
- Nashville, Tenn. — Music City is approximately 132 miles north of Huntsville. Depending on speed, you will get there in about two hours and some change. Attractions include, but are not limited to the historic Ryman Auditorium, Corsair Artisan Distellery, and B.B. King's Blues Club. Don't forget to take a stroll down Music Row.
Of the 34.1 million travelers overall, 85 percent, or 29.2 million, will travel by automobile. The largest share of travelers will depart this Friday, August 30