I was a Tennessee girl long before I became a metro Atlantan. We would frequently drive to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for a day trip to shop and have a little bit of family fun.
Two years ago, I took my own family on a weekend trip to Gatlinburg. It was exciting because we spent a couple nights there. Since it was only a 90-minute drive from my hometown, we never stopped to stay. So for a long Mother's Day weekend in 2012, my husband and I rented a cabin, visited Dollywood, ran around the Gatlinburg downtown shops, and drove through Cades Cove as a long way home. Amelia was a little girl and baby Andrew, of course, was not even a thought in our minds.
Quick tips for a great Gatlinburg visit
(from a girl who practically grew up there!)
#1 -- find great food. Tennessee isn't the healthiest state by any means, so set aside the calorie concerns for just a couple days and enjoy some of the best cooking in the USA.
Breakfast at the Pancake Pantry - do not get fooled by any of the copycat pancake places around. Go to THE Pancake Pantry, in the middle of Gatlinburg. Not Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg. Pancake Pantry... Gatlinburg... got it? Be prepared to wait, the line often goes out the door. But they pack the place full and the wait isn't usually too terrible.
Lunch or dinner at The Apple Barn - okay, so this is in Sevierville, but if you are staying in Gatlinburg, enjoy the drive down the Pigeon Forge Parkway with all the tacky buildings, go carts, and souvenir shops you could ever want. Arrive at The Apple Barn with a very empty stomach. Here you can choose from a full menu of fantastic southern cooking, with soup, apple fritters and apple butter, and your choice of delicious veggies on the side. While there, visit the shop and take some apple butter home with you!
#2 -- take the drive through Cades Cove, a gorgeous mountain valley with historic charm and roaming wildlife. We saw four bears and several deer that day. And even though it was rainy, we enjoyed wandering around the old homestead and grist mill. We had a picnic lunch packed, so we ate it in the car, listening to the patter of raindrops.
#3 -- get away from it all, and get a hot tub! I highly recommend renting a cabin. There are many hotels along the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge excitement, but at the end of the day, a cabin is the best place to relax and take in the quiet of the mountain woods. There are probably hundreds of cabins to choose from, via several rental agencies. Choose a cabin with a hot tub!
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Linked up to Really, Are You Serious for another Mommy and Me Monday!