The Great Smoky Mountains

 The Great Smoky Mountains are a breathtaking place to visit! Of course, I had to lump Pigeon Forge into this category as well!

November 2016 our beloved Smokey Mountains were struck by a massive fire. Killing an destroying everything in its path. Despite the devastation, this place has come together and rebuilt. It takes a real community to band together and fixes such a large disaster. While, things will never be the same, like a phoenix, Gatlinburg has risen from the ashes.

the great smoky mountains

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Lodging

Finding a great vacation rental is so easy here. Whether you would prefer to be close to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge or right downtown off the strip in Gatlinburg there is something for everyone. We usually spring for a cabin which allows us privacy as a family. This may be a good option for those who don’t want to be in the hustle and bustle of the city. A lot of cabins there are very reasonable and have all the amenities of a condo (if they are in a resort community most have pools, gyms, and outdoor activities).

Condos are also amazing options we personally like to stay at Baskins Creek Condos. It is just off the strip but walking distance at the same time. It is very convenient for small children due to the layouts of the units. Oh, and of course they have a workout room and a pool. Which, let me tell you that pool will be a saving grace during the hot mountain days!

the great smoky mountains

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Another option is to be smack downtown. We have stayed at the Days Inn downtown and it was quite pleasant. Different in respects to not having a full kitchen and the amenities of a house or condo. Having said that, being at a hotel downtown has perks like not having to drive.

Food

This is a true tourist destination and finding good places to eat (not cliche chains) can be a task. After all of the years of visiting, I think we have compiled our list of favorites!

The Peddler

It is no secret we love The Peddler! Talk about good steaks! They even cut them tableside. The salad bar is my favorite aspect of this beautiful little steakhouse. Everything is always super fresh! Ask for a riverside view table and you will definitely not be disappointed. Parents, you know how we go out to eat and spend a majority of our time cutting up our little one’s food? Well, here they actually do it at the table for you so you can enjoy your nice hot meal along with your children.

the great smoky mountains

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Joe’s Crab Shack

Okay, this is the big chain restaurant that we just have to hit. I just love their seafood pots and the kids like being able to run around their fenced-in playground. It is a win/win!

The Apple Barn

This is a must-see. Not only is it a classic farm style restaurant it is also an amazing attraction and cider mill to visit!. Get fresh cider from the cider bar or heck grab some homemade ice cream from the ice cream shop! The view of the river is also gorgeous from this orchard! You should ask to sit at one of the tables with porch swings! It is just so much fun! The food is also amazing!

 

The Old Mill

This restaurant not only has amazing food it also has an amazing view. When you walk in you are greeted by the glow of wood everywhere. This place truly exudes mountain and old-time living. It looks the same inside today as it did when I was little (30-some years ago *wink). After you eat check out the store and walk to all the fun little shops on the block. There is even a moonshine distillery less than a block away!

What To Do in The Smokey Mountains?

There is so much to do here! Whether you are a nature lover or just someone who likes to go explore fun museums and shops there is something for you here!

Dollywood

I love this park. We usually go to the mountains for 10-15 days. During the first couple of days, we buy Dollywood season passes (keep in mind little ones under 4 are free!) and then go for a full day. After that, we utilize our passes to spend the evenings at the park. At about 3 pm every day it seems like the morning crowd would leave and the park would be pleasantly unpopulated. That meant 5 minute wait times on even the new rides! We got lucky and this year we were there during the Summer Celebration. The park is usually open from 10-8 but on these days they stayed open till ten. We absolutely get our monies worth out of a season pass here! Also, have one person obtain a gold season pass because there are several advantages to it. One is the fact that you will not have to pay for parking and another is you will get 20 percent off most if not all of your purchases within the park. It comes in handy! If you have smaller children they will be as entertained as the older ones.

Explore Nature

The mountains are gorgeous. I just can’t explain the feeling you get when you experience the Smokey Mountains. It is peaceful. Take the ride over the mountain to Cherokee, NC and soak in the sights! Go for a hike to one of the waterfalls. For those with children, there is even a paved path to a beautiful waterfall that you can safely enjoy! Everywhere you look you will see beauty. Get out and enjoy it.

The Strip and Stuff

Okay, so I’m lumping all of these places together because there are just so many! Go check out Wonder Works or the Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge. Also, the Island is a must see. You can spend a whole day there meandering in and out of shops while the kids do the ropes course and go on rides. The Gatlinburg strip is fun for everyone too! Ride the skylifts and play Hillbilly Golf!

Or, if you are of age, go moonshine and wine tasting. I stopped by Sugarlands this go around and Angela was amazing at keeping every involved while tasting tons of their unique moonshine! My daughters have gotten to the point where they love to go into every little store and there are so many unique ones tucked in the nooks and crannies of the downtown area definitely look everywhere because you never know what you will find.

Go-Karts and Kiddie Parks

These amusement parks are almost on every corner! Go-Karts are a staple in almost every tourist spot down south. We always have to go here. If you are majorly into racing (or the kids are) check out Nascar! So much fun for the whole family and it provides hours of entertainment. Most also have an arcade attached. So, hey if it is raining spend your time winning tickets at one of these fun places.

Shows

One thing that is a must do on every trip for us is a dinner show. The Smokey’s have so many great shows to choose from! It doesn’t have to be a dinner show either. Check out the comedy barn or try a magic show downtown! The Hatfields and McCoys are the all-time favorite show with our girls. Mainly because they have animatronic bears. This goes around we checked out Dolly’s Celebration. The food was awesome and the entertainment was on point. I love how nice and accommodating everyone at all the shows have been.

The Smoky Mountains are the ultimate family destination! With things that will be fun for everyone. The fires may have burned down the trees and houses but they could not destroy the pride and love of this community.

My heart will always lie in the Smokey Mountains.

 

 

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