This year for spring break we decided to head to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The past few years, a ton of people from Michigan were vacationing there so it peaked my interest. When I was looking into it, I realized how much stuff there was to do there – especially for families/kids! The Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area is basically a huge tourist trap (but a fun one!). Amusement parks, hiking trails, caves, mountain coasters, shopping.. seriously so many things to do. Not to mention it’s absolutely beautiful!!!
We really wanted to be in the mountains, away from all the tourist areas. I found a cabin on Air BnB that looked perfect! I HIGHLY suggest booking a cabin far in advance during the spring break time. They go fast! We booked ours in December.
BUT before I even get started with all things vacation… lets talk about the ROADS. We drove from Michigan, which is roughly a 10 hour drive. Here in the mitten we have flat, straight roads. Once you hit Tennessee, be prepared for all that to change. We are talking STEEP, CURVY AS HELL, NO RAILINGS… its insane. Looking at some peoples driveways… I don’t think I would even attempt to go up or down them in a vehicle, that is how steep they were. To get to our cabin we were pretty far up a mountain. It took about 10 minutes to go 3 miles. I didn’t think our poor van was going to make it at times.
The reason I bring that up is because if your kids get car sick, be prepared! Even on days that we drove into town from the cabin, I would have to give my kids Dramamine because they would get sick. Here are some of things we used and they did seem to help. The puke bags to keep in the car were a life saver!
Okay, I got a ton of requests for the link to our cabin. —> HERE IT IS!!
The pictures on the website don’t do it justice. I was so shocked how much nicer it was in person. The view and wrap-around porch was my absolute favorite thing about it. It also doesn’t have a huge steep driveway like a lot of the other cabins, which I appreciated. The hot tub was a hit with the kids and us when the kids went to bed. It has a full kitchen with everything you’d need. We bought groceries for the week and made a lot of meals there, which saved us money. We couldn’t find any where that would deliver food though. You really felt secluded and away from the world here. Oh – and they had an Alexa! I thought that was a nice touch. We had Tennessee Whisky playing on repeat. 😉
I’m pretty sure this cabin is booked through the rest of the year, so if you want it for next year.. get on it!
On our first full day we headed to the Tuckaleechee Caverns. This was way cooler than I was expecting! If your kids get scared of the dark or would have issues walking up and down steep stairs, I don’t recommend. It was about an hour long tour and ended up being one of my favorite things we did on this trip. I don’t think the kids really understood how far underground we were!
We then headed back to Pigeon Forge for lunch at The Old Mill. This was one of the top suggested restaurants to eat at when I was looking into this trip. It didn’t disappoint! It’s more homestyle food rather than the typical restaurant foods.
After lunch we went to Rocky Top Mountain Coaster. This is the longest coaster in TN I believe (10 minutes long!). The kids LOVED IT! I think this was their favorite thing we did. Of course I forgot to take pictures of it!
We headed back to the cabin for the rest of the day and enjoyed the hot tub and relaxation! I should also mention the cabin came with a ton of board games and even a Wii! The kids loved that.
On this day we met up with my brother’s family! They live in Georgia so we don’t get to see them often. We all went to Anakeesta in Gatlinburg. This place was PACKED. Keep in mind we went during spring break so we were expecting long lines/wait times. I suggest NOT going during spring break – haha! This place was fun because you have to take a sky lift to even get to it, since it sits at the top of the mountain. If you’re too scared to take the sky lift, they offer a truck or gondola too. Once you get to the top, they have AMAZING views, restaurants, shopping, mountain coaster, zip-lines, tree-top bridges, and bunch of little kids play areas.
It was very hot this day and crowded. After we left here we decided to go back to my brother’s condo for swimming instead of our original plan of walking around Gatlinburg. Afterwards we stopped to one of those cheesy tourist stores and bought the kids some trip shirts (shark store).
One of our favorite days of the trip was DOLLYWOOD DAY! I was telling Cody that we are always chasing turnstiles because usually we only vacation to Disney/Universal. Of course we would find an amusement park in the mountains too. Again, this day was super busy because of spring break. I would definitely suggest two days for Dollywood. We weren’t expecting it to be as big as it was, so we didn’t get to ride everything. Harper and Mason were big enough for a lot of the rides which makes it even more fun! Our favorite ride was Blazing Fury – don’t skip that one!
We left with two loaves of cinnamon bread too. Apparently Dollywood is known for it! So yummy!! This was an all day situation so we just went back to the cabin and relaxed afterwards.
We took most of the morning to just hang out at the cabin. My favorite part of each day was drinking my coffee on that porch. Ugh!! TAKE ME BACK!!
We wanted to walk around and explore the Island in Pigeon Forge. This is a cute little area full of shops and even some rides for kids! All the kids did the ropes coarse and we went on the huge Ferris wheel. We shopped a bit and ate lunch at Margaritaville. If you’re kid-free, I suggest going to Ole Smoky Moonshine for a moonshine tasting! I was wishing we could have done that. We did end up buying a few things from there though!
GOING HOME DAY 🙁
The saddest day of any trip. We didn’t do much besides pack up the car and head out.
We had a great trip and loved getting to spend time with my brother and family. I will miss this amazing cabin and will 100% book it again when we come back.
Here’s a list of other recommendations I got but didn’t have the chance to see:
- Gatlinburg Sky Bridge
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not
- Ripley’s Believe it or Not Aquarium
- Titanic Museum – THIS WAS BOOKED EVERY DAY!!!! I was super sad about missing this one because I’m a huge Titanic nerd.
- Beyond the Lens
- Pancake Pantry Restaurant
- Pirates Voyage Show/Restaurant