My family took many great vacations as I was growing up. My mother was a teacher and had summers off. She and my dad love to travel. Once a year they would pick a destination, plan the whole trip, pack us kids up in our newly washed, waxed and fixed up minivan and off we’d go on an adventure. My favorite vacation of all time was to Gatlinburg, TN. We all loved it so much we vacationed there three times. If you’ve never heard of Gatlinburg allow me to tell you a little bit more about it and why I think everyone should visit there.
Gatlinburg Tennessee is about a 4-hour drive east of Nashville, TN. It is a mountain resort city located on the edge the beautiful Smokey Mountains National Park. Everywhere you look are the majestic Smokey Mountains. In the winter, it has the only ski resort in TN. If you visit in the fall foliage is just stunning. In the spring and summer is a scenery is just as picturesque and peaceful as any cathedral.
One of my family’s favorite memories of one of trips was renting a log cabin for the week. It was a nice sized cabin with four bedrooms and four baths. It had a huge bay window in the living room that was the first thing you saw as you walked into the house. The view of the mountains from the window is something I will never forget. It was breathtaking mountains as far as the eye could see. We loved watching the sunset over the mountains and the stars sparkle like diamonds every night from that window. The cabin had a play room downstairs with a pool table, couch and big tv with VHS player. Yes a VHS player…that’ll date me. We had a pool tournament every night we were there, and my dad won most nights. The cabin had a nice kitchen and dining room, plus dinning on the huge wrap around porch. We cooked most of our meals in the cabin because we liked eating together at the end of the day and it helped my parents save money. The cabin was named “A slice of Heaven,” and that is exactly what is was.
Gatlinburg has many activities available such as horseback riding, white water rafting, sightseeing tours, museums, shopping, theme parks and so much more. One thing my family really liked doing was hiking to waterfalls in the National parks. It was a free activity which appealed most to my parents. My brother and sister loved it because it got them out of the house and doing something. There are many different trails you can take at several difficulty levels. A hike in the Great Smokey mountains is always magnificent, but making it to the thundering waterfalls (of which there like seven different ones) is such an impressive sight. Also, as you hike you have to keep an eye out for wildlife like rabbits, deer’s, and bears…oh my!
If you’re looking for a tourist trap with even more shopping, shows and amusement parks such as Dollywood you can take a short 20-minute drive north over to Pigeon Forge for even more to do. There is a little bit of everything there. It’s basically East TN version of the Las Vegas strip. One of the more interesting is the Titanic museum. You can’t miss it because the building is in the shape of the Titanic ship itself.
My favorite activity was shopping is the craft area with my mom and sister. There is a quaint little craft community off the main road in Gatlinburg. There are all kinds of different shops but my favorite shop was a jewelry shop. I am not a big jewelry wearing but I loved this shop because it literally was a Ma and Papa store. An elder man and women owned the place and they asked us to call them Ma and Pop. They made all their own jewelry it is was gorgeous yet affordable stuff. Ma explained to us that she designed the pieces and Pop made them. The shop wasn’t any bigger than this room and smelled of cigar smoke and melting metal. As you walked in the door there was three counters full of exquisitely crafted pieces of jewelry. The shop was just behind those counters and you could watch Pop work. I bought several things from them throughout the year. My most cherished is the pair of earrings my husband bought for me 12 years ago on my Honeymoon. That’s right! I love Gatlinburg so much that I talked my husband into going there for our Honeymoon. We rented a cabin for a week in the mountains, and I got to show him around my favorite places in all the United States. We both loved it and hope to go back one day.
The thing I love most about Gatlinburg is that a vacation there can be as busy or as lazy as you want to make it. There are plenty of activities to do, but if you want to just sit on your wrap around porch and enjoy the beauty around you that is fine. A vacation there is whatever you want it to be. So, next time you’re thinking of taking a vacation to the mountains consider visiting Gatlinburg Tennessee.