I just got back from my mini-vacay and I had a blast! If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg, I strongly suggest you consider it for your next trip. For those who like a picturesque view with loads of outdoorsy activities (skiing, zip-lining, horseback riding, plus a National Park), you’ve got it. If you want to plan a not-too-expensive trip for your family, packed with lots of things to do and places to see that the kids’ll enjoy, you’ve got it. If neither of those reasons appeals to you and all you want to do is snuggle up in front of a fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa, or relax in an outdoor jacuzzi with the Smoky Mountains as your backdrop, then this is the place for you.
Read on for more highlights from my own trip, if you so desire…
“A Bear Affair”
We stayed in a FANTASTIC vacation property, nestled deep in the mountains, called “A Bear Affair” which we booked via Cabins USA. After a relatively short drive from the cute little airport in Knoxville (about 35 minutes)—which did include some white-knuckle sharp turns on very narrow roads with steep drop-offs on our sides and NO guardrails—we pulled up to our cabin. From the outside it seemed small, even quaint. Upon entry, we realized the place is much larger than it appeared to be from the outside, with stunning views of the surrounding woods and the mountains in the distance.
Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort
Though the main purpose of my trip was to go skiing, it ended up not being the main thing we did while in Gatlinburg. Also, I have no photos of myself actually skiing (I was too busy trying to keep my limbs intact), but stay tuned for some shots we took on the slopes after we were done. Here’s what I learned about skiiing:
- Rented ski boots are extremely uncomfortable.
- Your body is sore for 2 days afterwards (minimum).
- Falling is inevitable—don’t think for a second you’ll be able to avoid it.
- Skiing is soooooooooooo expensive.
Those might all sound like negatives, but it was still TONS of fun to get out there and laugh at myself falling for a couple hours. Skiing: get ready, because I’m not done with you yet!
And yes—my hair looks a HOT MESS in these photos. I’d been wearing a ski helmet all morning, and these were taken post-skiing. But I love the view, and the colors are to die for. I had to share. Do you see the sacrifices I make for this blog?
Oh, this also happened:
Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes!
Okay, I have a question for the Gatlinburg chamber of commerce or whatever. What is the reason for the INSANE number of Pancake houses in this town?! I mean… it’s not a big city! It’s a small, quaint little town, but I swear we counted at least one pancake house every 1/2 mile of the main strip from Sevierville to Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg. Why?!? Is that all you people eat down there?! Breakfast?!?! (Side note: I love breakfast and would eat it for every meal if I could. This rant is completely necessary—because seriously, what gives on the number of pancake houses—but also completely harmless. So, breakfast on every corner? That’s my kind of town!) Anyway, here are a few pancake house shots I was able to grab during our travels:
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
If you don’t remember anything else about me, remember this: I absolutely love aquariums. Especially good ones. Since I’m from Baltimore, which in my opinion boasts a pretty darn good aquarium (which by the way is a GREAT place to go on a date—more on that later), I most certainly have a leg to stand on. So that said, I was pleasantly surprised at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. It’s not huge, but it’s adequate for the size of the town and it’s a lot nicer than I expected (voted #1 aquarium in America by TripAdvisor—according to the website), with some fun surprises along the way.
The best part? We got to see a wedding take place (we arrived just when the bride and groom kissed)! I got a photo but it’s pretty fuzzy:
A few of my other favorite moments from the aquarium:
For some reason I’ve always been a sucker for what I like to call a “cute little downtown.” It probably all started with Ellicott City, MD—the coolest historic downtown area within a 20-minute drive from where I grew up. Fast-forward a few *ahem* years, and you’ve got a grown woman who squeals with glee every time any kind of historic (read: cramped and/or dusty) building in America comes into view. Something about those houses-turned-boutiques/restaurants gets me every time.
Forgive the poor quality of these photos but I was too enamored with the Bavarian-style village that lay before me, to trifle with photo quality or composition. Also, enjoy the awesome bonus of tacky tourist attire in almost every shot.
So, there you have it—hope it was as fun reading as it was recalling the highlights of my trip!
Have you ever been to Gatlinburg? I’d love to hear your take on it!