With the cool fall breeze looming in the air, (and Covid cases still rising), fall travel is here! Most people like to do a short weekend trip or a bigger trip during fall break. My husband and I usually like to travel during Labor Day weekend or Thanksgiving weekend, as our fall travel trip. I like to go somewhere in the mountains to feel the crisp cool air and hike in the beautiful scenery. What’s your typical fall trip location?
Being based in TN, the closest mountainous regions to us is either the Ozarks or the Smoky Mountains. I have yet to visit the Ozarks, but I have done a trip to the Smokey Mountains during the Spring of this year, for a friends’ birthday. There are many parts to the Smokey Mountains, but I have been to the Gatlinburg region. Its’ a beautiful scenic location filled with tons of things to do and cozy cabins to stay in. Check out more details below regarding my stay in Gatlinburg.
There are many places to stay in Gatlinburg as well as the neighboring towns such as Pigeon Forge, Dollywood, Sevierville, etc. Since Gatlinburg tends to book out quickly and there are tons of tourists there, we ended up staying in Pigeon Forge, which is about 30-45 minutes outside of Gatlinburg. The Smokey Mountains has tons of Airbnb’s and hotels that you can stay in. However, if you’re in the mountains, you want to stay in a cozy cabin.
My friend (the birthday girl) found an amazing cabin for our group (group of about 15 people) on AirBnB. It was about 10 rooms (or something like that), with a bathroom for each room, 2 hot tubs, a theatre room, a huge kitchen, etc. It even had a patio so you can enjoy the views of the Smokey Mountains.
If you go to the Smokey Mountains region, staying in a cabin is the best. It feels so cozy especially in the cold months. Plus, the cabin is where you will spend most of your time so you’ll want to have a comfortable and cozy place for you and your vacation buddies.
There are many things to do in the Gatlinburg area but since we were in Pigeon Forge, we stuck close to that location. I listed the fun thing you can do within the Pigeon Forge area below:
- Dollywood: There can’t be a list of “things to do” in the Smokies without mentioning Dollywood. Luckily, if you stay in Pigeon Forge, Dollywood might be 15-20 minutes away from where you stay and you don’t want to miss it. Dollywood is a fun amusement park created by the famous Dolly Parton. It’s a must-see attraction for anyone visiting that area.
- Downtown Pigeon Forge: Similar to downtown Gatlinburg, downtown Pigeon Forge has tons of activities to do. You can visit a Moonshine tasting shop, ride a Ferris wheel and even do some shopping! The Island at Pigeon Forge (aka downtown Pigeon Forge) had been ranked the #1 attraction in the state of Tennessee! So, it should definitely be on your things to do while in the Smokies.
- Hiking: There are endless gorgeous hiking trails in the Smokey Mountains. Some are more famous than the others. Since we had a large group and not many were experienced hikers, we stuck to a smaller hiking trail (about 30 minutes in total).
- Mountain Roller Coasters: There are tons of these crazy roller coasters located on the edges of the mountains. You can see them as you are driving around. I would suggest giving one a try. They feel scary and intimidating but are worth the experience!
For food options, our group had different items each day. Since we booked a cabin and had a full kitchen to us, breakfast and lunch were usually made in the kitchen. We bought groceries and split them, so we had tons of food for those meals. People could make anything from eggs to bagels or cereal for breakfast to having sandwiches for lunch.
Regarding dinner, our group kept it quite simple. We had dinner one night at Island at Pigeon Forge from Mellow Mushroom, which seems to be a Pigeon Forge stable. One of the nights we made our own “Mexican night” and another night we just ordered pizza from Dominoes.
From what you can gather, food is quite easy to get in the Smokies. Whether it’s’ in downtown Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, everything is easily assessable to the public.
And that’s a wrap for my Travel Diary to Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains! I hope you all enjoyed my run down of one of the dreamiest mountain locations in the US. Are you excited for some fall travel? Let me know in the comments below!