Millions of people visit the area known as ‘the Smokies’ each year. My own family has visited the area that borders the Smoky Mountain National Park more than a handful of times. Yet, we are still drawn to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg time and again.
When Mobile Brochure invited my family to visit for a Great Smoky Mountains vacation, my kids were excited but as the days pressed on, closer to our departure from home, they weren’t sure that this getaway would be much different than the other getaways we’ve experienced in the area. We’ve visited the Smokies more than any other destination and they weren’t interested in visiting to do something we’ve done before. This time, my kids wanted a totally different experience. And that’s exactly what they got!
Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster offers Surprise Thrills
The newest attraction to open in Gatlinburg is the Mountain Coaster and my family wanted to ride it. Since my kids are fans of Cedar Point Amusement Park, it’s only natural that they would be intrigued to hear about a mountain coaster. Riders can brave the track alone as a single rider, or double up to share the experience with a friend or family member. The mountain coaster was a thumbs up from my family and set the tone for the rest of the weekend which was full of thrills.
Zip through the Trees at Foxfire
A trip to Foxfire Mountain is a highlight for adrenaline junkies. Home of the longest zip line in the South, this attraction got my families blood pumping through their veins as they set off on a 2-hour long Canopy Tour. As my family was treated to a unique view of the Smokies, I enjoyed the small on-site museum and walk in the woods via the longest swinging bridge in the U.S.
XTreme Racing Center an Unexpected Surprise
I’ll admit, my family wasn’t thrilled to visit XTreme Racing Center, even though it boasts the fastest go carts in the Pigeon Forge area. Their opinion changed after they were fitted for their helmets, buckled themselves into their go carts, and sped forward around the track. In their opinion, the only thing that would have made this attraction better was if they were able to physically race each other and pass each other up on the track. I can envision how that could turn badly quickly at speeds of up to 40 mph.
After you’ve sped around the track in a sporty GT-5 and RT-8 with a Honda GX270 engine, you can play some games in the arcade while you cool off.
Step into the Past at Dollywood
Our strategy for Dollywood was divide and conquer. My husband and I weren’t interested in the roller coasters and rides and my kids weren’t interested in the craft demonstrations and shows that we wanted to see. So we set off in different directions with a meeting plan in place several hours later. Dollywood has several festivals during the year and our visit corresponded with the National Southern Gospel & Harvest Festival. The park was beautifully decorated and I loved hearing the performances. With all the skilled artisans and craft demonstrations, a trip to Dollywood would have been a great homeschool field trip when my kids were younger. And I loved that from the tram driver who shuttled us from the parking lot, to the train conductor, to the show performers and bathroom attendants, everyone we encountered who work at Dollywood were incredible.
Dixie Stampede offers Foot-Stomping Family Fun
Dixie Stampede is touted as one of the area’s best dinner theaters. I admit my 18 and 19-year old weren’t thrilled with the pre-show, but my music loving 21-year old, who was most apprehensive about attending, really enjoyed it, as did my husband and I. Following the pre-show, we moved into the main show arena and I was relieved to notice that it did not smell like horses or animals. The show was great. It was fun, it was interactive and the food was so good that I almost didn’t mind eating with my fingers. My family agrees that the Dixie Stampede is the best dinner show we’ve seen so far.
Ripley’s Attractions Highlight the Weird and Unusual to Captivate Audiences of all Ages
On our last visit, we had a great time visiting many of the Ripley’s attractions. The Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is always a favorite stop when we’re in Gatlinburg, my family loves viewing the various collections of sea life that we’re not likely to find elsewhere. But we underestimated how much we would enjoy the other Ripley’s attractions in Gatlinburg. Ripley’s Mirror Maze, Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Mini-Golf and Guinness World Records are great for tweens and teens and offer families an opportunity to view some of the world’s most unique and unusual collections, with a little bit of creepy thrown in, right smack in downtown Gatlinburg.
Eat Your Fill at Johnson Family Restaurants
I’d read that the Alamo Steakhouse provided great food and service, but I was a bit apprehensive about visiting because the prices were a bit higher than we typically spend when we eat out. Yet, with children that are young adults, part of the travel experience that they look forward to is trying new restaurants. Stepping inside the restaurant I overheard several exiting customers praise the food and knew we’d made the right choice. Our server was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever had a friendlier or more attentive waitress- she won over the entire family and my husband never had to ask for a refill on his drink. Our food was delicious and served in generous portions- which were needed after the energy my family had exerted on the zip line course. We’ll definitely eat at the Alamo Steakhouse on future visits to the Smokies.
Since it’s become custom to try different pizza places when we travel, and we had a good experience at the Alamo, we decided to try another establishment owned by the Johnson Family of Restaurants, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria. Big Daddy’s is minutes from Dollywood and offers wood fired, brick oven pizzas. We tried a regular pepperoni pizza and a Margarita Pizza with zesty marinara, fresh mozzarella, basil and Roma tomatoes. The Honey-Garlic Butter crust topper was especially yummy. Both pizzas were a hit, but after an action packed day, not as filling as my kids had hoped. In retrospect, I should have added a salad or wings to my order.
Enjoy the Panoramic Views at Bella Yani, one of Cabin Fever Vacations Properties
Cabin Fever Vacations provide luxurious cabin accommodations throughout the area. Our cabin, Bella Yani, featured two bedrooms on three levels with room to sleep twelve. Vacation rentals are definitely the way to go once your kids are older. They provide us the ability to cook our own meals and spread out and have some space of our own after a full day of busy sightseeing. The added space is literally the difference between an okay vacation with fighting kids and a great vacation where everyone gets along.
The Bella Yani is a beautiful property that provides stunning mountain views from all three decks located on the back of the property. With TV’s on each level, there was no fighting over what channel to watch and the game room on the lower level offered a foosball and pool tables. The rockers, porch swings, outdoor hot tub and ensuite Jacuzzi tub offer the ultimate in relaxation. A stay at the cabin is like a vacation destination in itself.
Whether you are new to the Smokies, or like my family, you’ve visited many times before, Mobile Brochure can help you plan a vacation to blow your socks off. Mobile Brochure is part of Brochure Distribution Services, with over 700 rack locations in the Smoky Mountain area to help visitors find quality entertainment, attractions, and accommodations.
Are you planning a trip to the Smokies? What would be the top of your list to see and do?
Visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Family Fun at Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dolly Parton Statue: a Roadside Attraction
Affordable Large Family Accommodations in Gatlinburg
10 Tips to Keeping the Peace when Traveling with Teens
Thank you to Mobile Brochure and the above attractions and accommodations for hosting my family during our visit to the Smokies.
© 2014 – 2016, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.