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Family Vacation Ideas

Great Smoky Mountains
Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Tennessee

If you're looking for a Great Smoky Mountains family vacation, check out Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. There are tons of things to see and do- with lots of fun for everyone!

If you're looking for a great family vacation with something for the whole family, check out Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, both towns have lots of fun things to do. From sightseeing to go-carting, from aquariums to great food, everyone is sure to find something they'll enjoy.

Our trip began with a 550 mile drive we split over two days. Things got a little rough when we hit a major Friday afternoon traffic jam in Sevierville, TN (just north of Pigeon Forge). In our three trips to this area we've encountered traffic jams every time. If you're coming, try to arrive at an "off hour" to avoid some of the traffic.

We stayed in a beautiful log home in the mountains outside of Pigeon Forge, owned by Eden Crest Resorts. We had a mountain view, and a loft with a game room. A long porch, complete with a 4 person hot tub, wrapped around the house. There's also an indoor pool and clubhouse a couple of minutes away.

"Life is Good" was the name of our mountain cabin. [Click to enlarge]

The stingray petting pool at Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg Tennessee [Click to enlarge]Our first destination was Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg. The aquarium features several large tanks with many varieties of fish and sharks. There's also a stingray petting area that was lots of fun. The best part was the underwater walkway enclosed in a tunnel where you could see the marine life up-close and personal!

After that, we took a short drive in the mountains and explored one of the many 'quiet walkways' accessible from the main road. These are short hiking trails, great for kids, which allow you to see the scenery without getting too 'adventurous'. During our four day trip, we had a blast go-carting, shopping, and playing laser tag.

A creek we discovered while exploring one of the 'quiet walkways' in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. [Click to enlarge]

We also took the tram to Ober Gatlinburg, a small amusement park on a mountain overlooking Gatlinburg. While there, we rode a cool alpine slide!

Icy cliffs on the road to Clingman's Dome. [Click to enlarge]On the last day of our vacation, we took a drive (and hike!) to the top of Clingman's Dome, the highest mountain in the Smokeys (alt. 6,642). This is a very exciting 20 mile drive up a mountain just outside of Gatlinburg. It was 26 degrees colder at the top than it was in town!


There were lots of beautiful views along the way, and since we went in early spring, there was still snow and ice on the mountain! At the end of the road, there is a (paved) mile path that leads to a tower at the top.

The observation tower at the top of Clingman's Dome. The highest mountain in the Smokey's! [Click to enlarge]

From there, you'll see a breathtaking 360 degree view of Tennessee and North Carolina! Although it's a bit tiring, it's definitely worth the walk!

There were lots of tears on the morning we left. Nobody wanted to go home. We'll sure miss our cozy little cabin in the mountains!

A view of the living room as seen from the gameroom up in the loft [Click to enlarge]A view of the Smokys from the Gatlinburg bypass. The city of Gatlinburg is on the left. [Click to enlarge]The loft game room had a big screen HDTV, a pool table, and an arcade game machine. [Click to enlarge]











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