Have you ever been to a beach town in the mountains? I can now emphatically say “Why, yes. Yes, I have.”
Gatlinburg was one cool place! There was tons to do, and no way to squeeze it all into four days. We stomped our feet at the Dolly Parton Stampede, rode a single rail Mountain Coaster at a mountaintop park called Anakeesta, took in breathtaking views at Cade’s Cove and Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, spun around on kiddie rides at The Island (thankfully before the moonshine tastings and, yes, the bartender was wearing overalls), shouted across fried pickles over the crooning of a live country singer at Ole Red, shivered under sharks as they swam above us at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and prayed as we drove up and down the steep, narrow incline with blind curves to and from our cabin on a mountainside in Pigeon Forge. We ended the trip with a down-home breakfast at The Old Mill, and drove the six hours back to Richmond with bellyfulls of biscuits and gravy and hearts full of new favorite memories. One was Audrey asking to open my mom’s root beer and when she did shouting “Yes! That’s the first time my fingers haven’t gotten in it!” Also we saw a couple bears.
All in all, a very successful trip! Gatlinburg was way more touristy than I envisioned, but thanks to advice from friends we got places early and avoided the lines. It’s a great place for families and kids especially, but take out a second mortgage on your home if you want to stay longer than a few days because all those fun things add up!
I am so grateful we had the opportunity to spend time as a family and with my parents exploring this surprising, versatile little extravaganza of a mountain town together! Gatlinburg, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you again.