Oh, summer road trips, is there anything more All-American? Nothing is better than having the car packed and everyones' hearts filled with excitement to see what the journey has in store.
Today is Part Two of our road trip vacation this summer, where I'm sharing our best experiences in Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina.
Ironically, Brooke and my families were both in Tennessee simultaneously; however, it was by accident. Cam and I had planned on visiting the Ark in Kentucky; however, we changed our minds at the last minute. We quickly learned that decision was a big mistake, and Brooke's family and my family had two completely different experiences, which I will share more in this post.
Before we get started on our trip, let's chat about the beautiful Smoky Mountains. According to the National Park Service, Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most attended park in the National Park System, and now I know why. The mountains and land are stunning and also a kid's dream! You will not be disappointed if you make the trip.
Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg
When we drove into Pigeon Forge, I have to be honest; I was in shock. I thought the town would be similar to Breckenridge, CO. Small, quaint, with travelers and locals all in the mix. Well, within a few seconds, I quickly realized that was not the case!
Pigeon Forge is geared entirely to tourism. Putt-putt golf courses, ropes courses, dinner and show venues, go-cart trails, museums, and theme parks aligned the streets. Unless you rent a cabin in the mountains, be prepared for flashing lights and lots of people.
Brooke's family stayed in Pigeon Forge at the Courtyard by Marriott, which had a lazy river that the kids loved. They enjoyed their visit and room. They also prepurchased tickets and planned their stay, including Dollywood, a Pirate Voyage Dinner and Show, the Aquarium, and the Titanic Museum.
Gable and Emmy's favorite activity was the Pirate dinner and show. It was interactive and fun for the entire family.
Brooke's personal favorite was the Titanic Museum because of its history and attractions.
My family visited Gatlinburg, which is only a few minutes away. We stayed at a hotel called Greystone Lodge on the River. This hotel was the sweetest and has been family-owned for over 50 years. We rented a suite that included two bathrooms, a bunk room, living room, master bedroom, and kitchenette. It was the perfect size for us.
(This is the owner, Mr. Miller. He visits with the travelers every morning during breakfast.
Isn't he precious!)
I don't know if I could claim the hotel as ultra-luxurious; however, it had an excellent location, was very clean, and was extremely family-friendly. Perfect for our short stay. Oh, and the big bathrooms were a major plus for this mom!
Because Cam and I made this last-minute course change, we did not get as lucky as Brooke and Zach. Everything was sold out! Yes, that's right, SOLD OUT. A coffee shop employee was conversing with Cam and said that they had never seen Gatlinburg that busy!
We could not go to a show because they were sold out; we couldn't go to Dollywood or even the Titanic museum, which I was the most heartbroken about due to ticket availability. So all this to say, if you plan on visiting Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg at a busy time, make sure to plan and prepurchase tickets before you leave.
We were, however, able to find a few things that the boys loved. First up was a super fun putt-putt golf course.
(This picture was after 3 holes in one!)
Next, we rode mountain coasters which were a blast and a rush of adrenaline.
Rope courses and laser tag were a big hit with the boys as well.
And finally, riding ATVs in the mountains was good too! Caden loved it; Coop was sad. He had to be twelve to drive a four-wheeler, so this was not the happiest part of our trip.
We also took a day to explore the unbeaten path of Cade's Cove, where we saw a bear and several of her cubs. Finally, we enjoyed lunch at a hole-in-the-wall burger stand on the side of the road when going to Cades Cove. It was a relaxing and enjoyable trip. I especially liked it because we were away from all the lights and people.
Our stay was short and sweet, and we learned a lot!!! Make sure to plan ahead if you go to the Smoky Mountains!!
What I Wore:
Dress comfortably. Shorts, tights, tanks with a light jacket, and tennis shoes were perfect.
After a few days, we hopped in the car and headed to Asheville to visit the Biltmore Estate.
I would rank the Biltmore as one of my favorite vacation stops. It's a complete experience that included shops, eating, and coffee. You can also add horseback riding, biking, hiking, wineries, and a hotel stay if you wish.
We only stayed for a day; however, I would like to visit again with just Cameron. The Biltmore has a romantic feel, and I can't imagine how beautiful it is during the fall and Christmas. So, if you are looking for a weekend get-a-way, I suggest looking into the Biltmore activities and accommodations.
What I Wore:
A flowy white dress with my Treton tennis shoes. I also brought a crossover purse. I wanted to dress a little nicer, but you will walk a lot so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. It also rained so pack a small umbrella just to be on the safe side.
Have a blessed and beautiful day, friend,