Indianapolis to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Trip Guide


When you are looking to take a long weekend break with the family, one cost-effective way to do this is by taking a road trip in your own self contained mobile home. If you start in Indianapolis and run through to the Smoky Mountains then you are assured of some great places to visit along the way that will provide plenty of fun and entertainment for the whole family.

Indy, as it is commonly known, is an abbreviation that stems from the word for land of the Indians. Famous for its road race, the Indy 500, it also has plenty of other things to explore. Home to the world’s largest kid’s museum and the most war memorials outside of Washington, you won’t be short of things to do before kicking off your road trip experience.

Along the way, you will have the opportunity to visit a butterfly farm, an amazing aquarium and taste some of that famed Blue Grass Country music as you pass through Nashville before heading into the Great Smoky Mountains.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 2-3 days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: family

Point of Interest

Washington Park

Less than two hours' drive from Indy brings you to Cincinnati. Here you have a few choices that will entertain the kids and help them let off a bit of steam before visiting other attractions. This eight-acre park right in the center of Cincinnati provides an ideal way to end a drive. It contains a 7000 square foot water park with plenty of interactive features for both the young and young at heart. There are 130 water jets that pop up unexpectedly in time to music to test your reaction time. There is also a fenced 18 000 square foot playground with enough activities to keep the kids occupied while you catch your breath.

For a more sedate interlude, wander through the magnificent gardens, visit the bad stand or visit the canal boat.

By now a visit to Graeter's Ice Cream is probably called for. Founded in 1870, this is the only ice cream maker in the world that uses the French pot freezer. The technique limits the quantity that can be hand-produced but makes up for it by delivering a rich and dense ice cream that has made Graeter’s into an institution. In addition to the thirty flavors of ice cream, there is also a pastry section and they produce a wide selection of signature sundaes.


The Krohn Conservatory was the first indoor butterfly sanctuary to be established in the country. It was completed in 1933 in the Art Deco style of architecture which was very fashionable at that time and has gone on to become so famous.

Here you can walk through a series of glasshouses, all representing different climatic conditions and housing the plants from those regions. Along the way, you will be accompanied by thousands of free-flying butterflies in a brilliant and colorful living parade.

The Newport Aquarium is another option that you can either combine with the butterfly conservatory or save for another time. Here you will see fish and other marine life as you have never seen it before. There are seventy exhibits and fourteen galleries, all reached by transparent tunnels that make you feel you are swimming among the underwater inhabitants. The exhibits cover all underwater regions including oceans, lakes, and rivers and provide an educational insight into the life beneath the watery surface.

It will take a couple of hours to complete this visit and here you are confronted with another choice. You can hop back in your mobile home and in just twenty minutes find yourself at the River Pines RV resort, or you can opt to grab your sleeping bags and pajamas and overnight right in the museum with sharks and rays swimming overhead.

Adventure Science Center

From Cincinnati, you can head toward your next escapade which is the Adventure Science Center in Nashville. This is a four hour drive so to break up the journey, you might want to consider a short pit stop at the Kentucky Horse Park. Kentucky is famed for producing some of the best racehorses in the world and at the Horse Park, you will be able to learn something about breeding thoroughbreds. This is a twelve hundred acre working horse stud farm where you learn about both breeding and training. After that, you can ride some of their horses and ponies or simply pet them.

From Kentucky, head to the Science Center which is going to expose you to the mysterious world of science. The center occupies 44 000 square feet spread over three floors and it covers everything from earth science to deep space simulation. With 175 hands-on simulations and experiments, there is enough here to keep even the most ardent amateur scientist happy for hours. To add to the experience you can visit the 63-ft domed planetarium where you can learn about the world above us. The center first opened in 1945 and has evolved continually over the years to keep up with all that science teaches us.

A nearby RV park is the Two Rivers RV Park and that will allow easy access to Nashville using the nearby bus service.


On the last day of your adventure, you can visit Nashville which is renowned for being the capital of country music. Printers Alley provides an unusual way to kick off the day with a gastronomic brunch.

Found in the downtown area, this alley assures you of a wide selection of foods; most notably, southern cuisine. Here you can enjoy fried chicken, cornbread, black-eyed peas and mashed potatoes all on one plate. If you are brave enough you could follow that with one of the regional pies such as peach pecan or pumpkin. Traditionally, this should all be washed down with sweet tea.

Blue Grass or country music will surround you in bars, restaurants and from musicians playing in the street.

To help digest your meal, take a stroll around Centennial Park which is just ten minutes away. You should divert slightly to catch a view of the famed AT&T building. This thirty-three story high building is the tallest in the state of Tennessee though your kids will be much more appreciative of the fact that it looks like the mask of Batman. The park itself covers 132 acres and houses a life-size replica of the Parthenon in Athens.


The final leg of your road trip will take three more hours. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park offers spectacular views and ridge upon ridge of a mountain range that forms the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. This is the most visited national park in America and offers a diverse range of plants and wildlife to see. Here you will enter a very different world that will provide a wonderful note on which to end your motor home adventure.

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