Everyone enjoys some time away from home now and then. It’s refreshing to have a change of scenery and a chance to get away from it all. Maybe your idea of the perfect getaway is rest and relaxation. Perhaps you’re the shop-till-you-drop type that also enjoys great food and entertainment. Or, you might be the kind that wants to spend your time soaking up the sun and experiencing the great outdoors. Let's follow the path of an exciting day tour of the Smoky Mountains and you'll quickly see there's something for everyone.
Starting in Gatlinburg Tennessee, near the North Carolina border, is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With over 800 miles of walking trails, you can view the stunning mountains as well as animals and plants by foot, or check out the breathtaking views as you drive along the scenic roadways. The park offers everything from wildlife to wildflowers, as it is home to a vast array of plants, trees, mammals and birds. According to the National Park Service, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the “most visited national park in the country.”
For winter sports enthusiasts, Ober Gatlinburg offers eight trails for snow skiing during winter months as well as an ice-skating rink, which is open year round. With an ice arena that's 140’ x 75’ there's plenty of room to spend a carefree day on the ice. If you’ve worked up an appetite you’re in luck! You’ll find plenty of places to eat and shop, since the rink is in the center of a mall.
Rather get wet? Gatlinburg has many outdoor centers that provide rafting. No experience is no problem, since a professional river guide will accompany you down the whitewater rapids. Many places offer tubing, canoeing and kayaking as well. If you’re a little more timid, visit Wild Bear Falls Water Park. This indoor park has an 800-foot winding river as well as a 306-foot body slide. You can also enjoy indoor/outdoor hot tubs and a video game arcade.
A little further down the road is Pigeon Forge, where you will find the ever-popular Dollywood. Here you can experience thrilling amusement park rides and travel the mountains by steam engine. Dollywood also offers numerous year-round festivals and live shows. You can shop store after store filled with handmade crafts and an endless supply of southern cooking to satisfy your hunger. Make sure you leave room for desert! The smell of ice cream, funnel cakes and pastries may be too much to resist.
After an exciting and fun-filled day you may be looking for a place to sit down and enjoy some family entertainment. Whether you’re in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, there are a variety of theaters and dinner shows available. Tap your toes to the sounds of country music, be amazed by local magicians, laugh 'til it hurts at professional comedians, or relive the music of the 50’s through the 80’s at any number of nightspots. There is truly something for everyone.
No matter what your interest, a trip to the Smoky Mountains offers exactly what you're looking for. There are numerous places to stay and many of them offer discount tickets to area shows and events. In fact, a little town called Wears Valley is situated right between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg with its own show-stopping scenery. Wears Valley is only about eight to 10 miles from popular destinations, yet offers deeper discounts than you'll likely find in better-known towns. So, pack your bags and take advantage of all this region has to offer.
Bennie McCann is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in cabins near Pigeon Forge. Visit the main website to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.