Blue Ridge Parkway roadside attractions

road trip biltmore house
Biltmore is a lavish, Gilded Age estate designed for a Vanderbilt

The Blue Ridge cleaves the heart of Appalachia. Old timey and bluegrass music came out of these hills. The Blue Ridge Music Center, right beside the parkway near Galax, Va., celebrates that history. The center holds free concerts every afternoon during travel season.

Biltmore, a Gilded-Age Vanderbilt estate that features the U.S.'s largest private home, is just outside of Asheville. You can take a tour of the estate and learn about the history of the land.

At Mystery Hill, near Blowing Rock, N.C., the laws of gravity and physics don't apply. Water flows uphill and balls roll up inclines; bodies shrink or grow when they change places. It's cheesy fun for all.

Nearly every road trip has its own oddball site, like the Indian Death Tiki of Awesomeness in Maggie Valley, N.C. This is a 16-foot-tall, wooden advertising statue for a local motorcycle repair shop. Head-dressed, saber-toothed and skull-faced, it's little more than a photo-op -- but an awesome one.

Where to stay. There are several towns at good intervals for overnight stays. Mount Airy, which is about mid-route, offers about a dozen hotels and inns with rooms ranging from about $55 to $160 a night. Its main claim to fame is as the hometown of Andy Griffith and it holds an annual Mayberry celebration.

First published May 19, 2015: 11:41 AM ET

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