Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gatlinburg Adventures

Yesterday we got back from our lovely vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was amazing to see fall color and feel cooler temps. (Sadly it's mid-80s here in Florida, so it was fun to have real fall for a few days.) It was a great trip and wonderful to spend time with family.

The total drive is about nine and half hours, so it made for a pretty long haul. We left last Wednesday and drove to my parents' house in Chattanooga then followed them the cabin the next day. With a small kid, I totally recommend splitting a long drive. We did it in a straight shot coming home yesterday and it.was.rough. Thankfully, we were armed multiple Curious George movies on the iPad to keep the 17-month-old entertained during the drive. Seriously, a life saver! Though I'm not sure I'll every get the "Christmas Monkey" song out of my head.


What I Wore

Before leaving for our trip, I created a five-day packing list. I stayed pretty faithful to my planned outfits, and had every intention of taking daily outfit photos, but in the end I only photographed one day. Opps. But you can see some selfie snaps here and on Instagram. It was pretty warm during the day, but my extra layers came in handy in the evenings when the temps dropped quite significantly! I'm so glad I made a packing plan, it made deciding what to wear super easy. We had to pack light since we needed most of the car space for baby stuff, and the list really helped me from over packing.


Where We Stayed

My parents rented an absolutely beautiful cabin in Gatlinburg. The view was out of this world and there was more than enough space for my brother, parents, husband and baby. My sister, her husband, and three of her four kids joined us on Saturday, and there was still plenty of room! Every morning we ate out of the deck overlooking the mountains. We saw incredible sunrises and amazing sunsets. If you're ever in Gatlinburg, I highly recommend staying at the Mountain Laurel Chalets.

What We Did

We were all pretty lazy in the mornings. Baby girl had quite a few rough nights, and we all ended up sleeping in pretty late. But, we still managed pack a lot of sight-seeing into the trip!

What we ate

Did we ever eat. There are so many good restaurants in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge! We ate at the cabin every morning, had a snack during the day, and saved ourselves for dinner. One of my favorite places we ate at was the Pledder Steakhouse, a steak joint where they carve the hunk of steak right before you eyes. The wine list is extensive and delicious. I had the filet mignon and it was ridiculously good. Blane's Bar and Grill is a great place for burgers and sandwiches and has a casual family-friendly vibe. My absolutely favorite place we ate at was at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge. Fried chicken, roast beef, mac and cheese...yum, yum, yum. Not to mention the ooey-gooey pumpkin cake. I about died it was so good. Before leaving yesterday, we all had breakfast at the Pancake Pantry. I had the cinnamon and spice pancakes and they were so freaking amazing. 


On Thursday evening we walked around the Village Shops, a cute little shopping area in downtown Gatlinburg. If you've ever been to the area, you know that it can been a little cheesy: T-shirt shops, mountain knickknacks, etc. The Village has stuff you would actually want to buy and take home, no cheese. Friday we went to the Craftsman Fair, which had handmade goods from all over the south. I got a cherry-pit pac which you warm up in the microwave and place on sore muscles. Sounds odd, but I swear it works! My favorite was the glass-blowing demonstrations. Three students from Tennessee Tech were making glass pumpkins and I bought the pumpkin they made during the demonstration. You can get one of your very own at Glass By Glass. Saturday we went to The Island in Pigeon Forge. There are lot of nice shops and a huge enclosed Ferris wheel. It was fun to the see the city from up high! The small-one's favorite was the show fountain, she was obsessed with watching the water sprays and listening to the music.

Experiencing nature

We spent a lot of time just walking around, enjoying the cool air and the beautiful fall colors. We saw some wild turkeys and a bobcat and my dad saw a bear (but thankfully I missed that one). Friday evening we drove up to Newfound Gap and watched the sunset. It was spectacular. I made sure to get my picture at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line since I've lived in both states! On Sunday my parents watched the kiddo, so my husband I took a driving tour through Roaring Fork, making sure to take plenty of stops along the way to check out the scenic bluffs, streams and abandoned cabins along the route. It's only 5.5 miles long, so you can make it as long or as short of an experience as you like. If you ever go to Gatlingburg, Roaring Fork is a must! On the drive into Gatlinburg we went through Cades Cove, which was an absolutely stunning explosion of fall color.

Final Thoughts

We had a really great trip, though traveling with a small child can definitely be difficult. I'm so grateful we had my parents along, because at some points, it was definitely four against one and I still think the kiddo won most of the time. We only scratched the surface of all the things we wanted to do. There's still Ober Gatlinburg, Dollywood, riding the sky lift and the tethered balloon ride, and I'm pretty sure I already need some more chocolate creams from the Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. We hoping to make this an annual trip, so there will be plenty to do next time!


  1. Sounds like a great trip. That cabin is amazing. I can certainly see why you love going there. It is definitely worth the long car ride!

    1. It really was! I hadn't been in about 10 years, so it was really cool to see all the changes and rediscover all the old favorites!

  2. My family has gone annually for over 45 years. I love it, but the area has become way too commercialized. Back in the old days...60's and 70's there were craftsmen on the sidewalks doing blown glass, woodworking, leather working, etc and selling their wares. Fabulous!!
    We always eat breakfast at Pancake Pantry and dinner at least one night at The Peddler. The Roaring Fork drive is a must and do it just as you said, taking in all the sights.
    Cades Cove is our favorite and we take about 6-7 hours. We always stop at the churches and cabins and hike trails, take lots of photos and stop at the ranger's store way back in the cove.
    I'm so glad you loved it, you must do it again!!

    1. I agree about the commercialization. My favorite things were the drives though the mountains and seeing nature. The Craftsman Fair was pretty great too; they were doing a lot of things you remember from the past...glass blowing, chainsaw carving, beautiful jewelry and canned goods...I can't wait to go back next fall!