This past weekend I went on a fall getaway to The Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee with a few close friends (15, to be exact). The mountain range is breathtaking and the surrounding land is gorgeous. The local attractions are a little kitschy & campy, but that’s just part of the charm. Wanted to share my experience today in the hopes that you’ll check out this beautiful area sometime!
Who to go with: Our huge gaggle of friends numbered in the teens had SO much fun. A lot of the cabins can accommodate huge groups for great prices so it’s easy & inexpensive to go with a group. I would also love to come back just with Jake as a romantic getaway so we could do some of the more solo excursions, like hiking. It’s definitely a really family-friendly area as well.
What to do: Our pilgrimage was centered around a desire to visit Dollywood, and it did NOT disappoint. The theme park was full of fun rides, food, and charming facades. The downtowns of Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg also have a lot to do. Unfortunately we could not go hiking this trip since I have a pulled groin muscle, so I’ll need to come back for that. I also want to come back to do the Cades Cove historic drive.
When to go/book: Fall is objectively the best time of year with the chilly, coziness-inducing temperatures and changing leaves. We booked the trip at least 3 months in advance, but had to do so quickly as affordable, nice cabins were getting snatched up left & right. We stayed for a 3-day weekend but I wish we could have stayed longer to do more of the local activities.
Where to stay: We booked a gorgeous wood cabin through Vacasa Rentals and Airbnb. The hillsides throughout the Smokies are dotted with authentic mountain homes, and they often come decked out with hot tubs, deer heads, and large balconies to take in the air & views. Our cabin was in Wear Valley, kind of a midpoint between Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, with its own attractions (like a corn maze).
Where to eat, drink & shop: Skip the franchises like Margaritaville and try some of the roadside country kitchen cabins and moonshine distilleries. They’re all tourist traps really, but at least the latter are more authentic.
How to get there: The Great Smoky Mountains was a relatively easy drive from Nashville, about 3.5 hours. The area is also very close to Knoxville, where one can fly into.
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