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1st Time to Smokey Mountains, advice ideas for family

wwoods1

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I am finally getting my first trip with the family using our Wyndham points. We are going to be at the Great Smokies Lodge (the one with waterpark) and were curious if there are any must do's in the area. I know we had been looking at going snow tubing at Ober Gatlinburg, but that appears to have shut down for the season.

We will be there March 11 -16, Texas Spring Break, so I know that Dollywood will not be an option.

Ideas, places to eat, hike fish, etc.?
 

shagnut

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So much to do, anytime of the year. Unfortunatly, Dollywood will not be open. You will love the resort. Kelli stayed at the waterpark one whole day. They have lots of activities for the kids .

I don't know what will be open on the shows but be sure to go to Cades Cove and Roaring Fork Nature Trail. There are a couple of waterfalls to hike to at Roarking Fork. The Old Mill will be open and lots of shops. Gatlinburg is fun and of course there is Ripley's, wonderworks and the aquarium which is very good.

shaggy
 

mecllap

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If you want to take the day-trip over to Asheville to see Biltmore (biltmore.com), leave early in the morning. It takes several hours to see the "house" and estate. Anotehr day-trip: Drive thru GSNP to Cherokee, for the scenery and the Cherokee Museum (there's also a large casino). Lots of Outlet Mall shopping esp. in Pigeon Forge (including a great scrapbooking store). The Ripley's Aquarium is pretty good; heard they have a stingray experience now (unless you've had your fill of larger aquariums).
 

Twinkstarr

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We are heading back to that resort in June. I was rather surprised the boys suggested it, not for the waterpark(which they enjoyed and it's great it is included unlike my MI resort which costs $$) but for the hiking in the park!:eek:

Don't know if it is still open but we really enjoyed Clint's BBQ & Family Restaurant. Clint is a character and the BBQ was great, but I think the homemade desserts are the crown jewel.
 

jberndt10

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Depending on how adventurous you are. Whitewater rafting...yes we did it last March, Zip lining, Hike to Charlie's bunion.
 

momeason

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We also enjoyed hiking in the National park, as well as a waterfall hike in Gatlinburg. There is a pretty scenic drive in Gatlinburg, I think I remember bear sightings there.:ponder:
 

chapjim

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sfwilshire

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It's a section of US 129 with 318 curves in 11 miles.

http://www.tailofthedragon.com/

I've had so many near misses on this road in an automobile that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Even with the increased law enforcement presence in recent years, many of the motorcyclists who love it drive in a very irresponsible manner, as do some of the automobiles.

My husband and I are very familiar with driving on curvy narrow roads, so we drive approximately the speed limit. Many others drive much faster, passing you on blind curves in no passing zones. Just as examples, I've seen cyclists lean over so far while passing that it seemed their helmets were just inches away from the cars and automobiles missing us by no more than a very few inches.

I enjoy driving over the Cherahala (sp?) Skyway from Tellico and through the Tale of the Dragon back home, but I'm not sure I'll ever do it again. It's just too dangerous. The fatality rate from vehicle accidents there is much higher than in any of the other nearby areas.

Sheila
 

TUGBrian

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Just got back from a week in gatlinburg myself....what a fantastic place to visit (we stayed in a cabin on top of a mountain).

do have to say that being a florida boy, those were some of the scariest "roads" ive ever driven on in my life (we were in a large truck)...I cant fathom how there are not more accidents in that town.
 

fishingguy

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Just got back myself from a fly fishing trip. The weather was perfect and things are starting to turn green in the smokeys. Yes, it can be a bit harrowing driving in the smokies, but that's part of the experience. Just drive defensively and sensibly!

Of course, the water park at the resort will keep the younger family members occupied. Downtown Gatlinburg is a major tourist trap; countless tee-shirt shops, shows, and other stuff that we try to avoid. The traffic in downtown Gatlinburg can be chaotic; carless pedestrians, double parked cars, on-going construction (some going for 3 years now), and lots of people. But some park and walk through Gatlinburg (at least once), for the experience. Oh yeah, use the bypass around Gatlinburg to get to/from Pigeon Forge, it will save about 20 minutes travel time.

You'll want to take the drive through the park down to the loop in Cades Cove. Along the way you'll travel along the Little Pigeon and Little Rivers, Abrams Creek and other small streams. Very scenic with lots of trails and pull offs; hiking trails, overlooks, waterfalls, etc.

You might want to take the drive from Gatlinburg through the park over to Cherokee, NC. The views are spectacular near Newfoundland Gap, we saw plenty of wild life along the way and the clouds clinging to to the mountain tops are something the family will remember forever. There will be lots of opportunities to take pictures with the family.

Traffic going through Seiverville to Pigeon Forge will be heavy Friday evening on the main road; and then again on Sunday evening going the other way (people leaving the area and heading north). So we try to avoid these times if possible and stay off the major routes. When we were there last week, it seems like they finally synchronized the stop lights so traffic at least moves now; but it can still be bad at times.

Enjoy the park, it is really well kept and managed. We try to get there at least 3 times a year for the fly fishing and hiking.
 

TUGBrian

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did cades cove and cherokee as well, both spectacular views along the way!
 

Talent312

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Drive thru the Park to Bryson City, NC, and do an excursion on the Great Smoky Mountains RR to the Nantahalia Outdoor Center for lunch. See: http://www.gsmr.com/

I concur with Cades Cove. Stop at the entrance and get a brouchure.
Stop at a visitor center and get a brouchure on day hikes. Hike to a waterfall.

One hike I'd pass on: The lookout tower on top of Clingman's Dome...
Folks feel they must see the highest spot in the Smokies. To me, its an uninspiring asphalt walk nearly straight up to a concrete lookout tower.
 

laura1957

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We are staying at Gatlinburg Town Square starting June 8th - last year we stayed at Gatlinburg Village the same week.

My husband wasnt well last year so we didnt do much in the park, just drove through and looked around, so I am really looking forward to Cades Cove and being able to do some hikes/trails this year. Never made it to Dollywood - which was my husbands reason for wanting to go to Gatlinburg - so we will do that this year.

Gatlinburg itself I absolutely love - tourist trap or not:) I spent HOURS (everyday) walking around downtown by myself last year, and then would walk back with him each afternoon/evening. Casino in Cherokee was good, the "Unto the Hills" play I really enjoyed, we have always liked the Aquarium.

The live entertainment is wonderful - we really enjoyed Monroeville at the Smoky Mountain Distillery, Troy at the Shamrock Lounge, Dave in town...

Great Smoky Mountains RR/Nantahalia Outdoor Center for lunch and Biltmore both sound great - we just might have to try to fit them in too!!
 

TUGBrian

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biggest problem I had with gatlinburg was the food....nearly every place we went to was absolutely HORRID.

some pancake place on the main drag....miserable
smokey mountain brewery....horrid...dont ever order a burger
on and on...just terrible food.

then someone suggested peddlers....ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. I could eat those appetizer rolls for days =)

we even ate there twice it was so good (that and we were afraid to go to another new joint and get terrible food again)
 

retailman

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Hey Brian,

You have not seen scary, you need to try rattle snake lane going into the
back way to Tree Tops in Gatlinburg. A true white knuckle ride that you
do not have to pay for. Unless you go off the road.
 

tombo

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Eat at the Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge. EVERYTHING is great. The meals come with wonderful corn chowder, corn fritters, and dessert. I can honestly say that their Pecan Pie is the best pecan pie I have eaten anywhere in my life. They sell whole pecan pies so you can take one home to share with family and friends that didn't make the trip. The prices are reasonable and the portions are huge. You will leave full and happy. I NEVER go to Gatlinburg without eating at the Old Mill at least once. There will be a line, but give them your name and shop the various shops while you wait. They have speakers in the shops to call your name when your table is ready. Brian you missed a treat.

http://oldmillsquare.com/restaurant.htm

http://oldmillsquare.com/PDF/old-mill_dinner.pdf

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...d_Mill_Restaurant-Pigeon_Forge_Tennessee.html

For Breakfast we like the log cabin pancake house in Gatlinburg. It is a hug log cabin with high ceilings. The breakfast are great. Not a fan of this place for lunch, but for breakfast it is wonderful. We eat at least one breakfast here every time we visit the area.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...Cabin_Pancake_House-Gatlinburg_Tennessee.html

We also like the Cherokee Grill in Gatlinburg, The Apple Barn in Sevierville, Smokey Mountain brewery for beer and pretty good Pizza, Calhouns in Gatlinburg for the ribs and catfish, Applewood Farmhouse Grill, Texas Roadhouse for steaks (it is a chain), and Alamo Steakhouse for steaks.
 
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TUGBrian

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oh yea, some of my group ate brunch at apple barn on our last day, they also said it was fantastic.

the stupid amount of traffic between gatlinburg and pigeon forge made regular trips there pretty much not worth the hassle to me.
 

tombo

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The traffic in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is often is a pain. I expect it when I am not in the National Park and I try not to let it get to me. There is a bypass from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge which saves time, but no way to avoid the traffic in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. Even though traffic is bad in the area I would much rather spend 30 to 45 minutes sitting in my air-conditioned/heated car with radio and comfy seats while fighting traffic on the way to see shows/eat/explore in the Gatlinburg area than stand outdoors (often in the sun) in an Orlando line for an hour or more in 96 degree heat with 98% humidity to ride a 3 minute ride.
 
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Kozman

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The traffic in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge is often is a pain. I expect it when I am not in the National Park and I try not to let it get to me. There is a bypass from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge which saves time, but no way to avoid the traffic in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. Even though traffic is bad in the area I would much rather spend 30 to 45 minutes sitting in my air-conditioned/heated car with radio and comfy seats while fighting traffic on the way to see shows/eat/explore in the Gatlinburg area than stand outdoors (often in the sun) in an Orlando line for an hour or more in 96 degree heat with 98% humidity to ride a 3 minute ride.

There are two roads to by-pass a good portion of Pigeon Forge:

Veterans and Teaster.
 
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