On the way home from Hilton Head in June, we detoured through Knoxville and headed into the Smoky Mtns. Our destination: Gatlinburg, TN.
I have been to Gatlinburg many times, due to its close proximity to my hometown of Chattanooga. Driving to Gatlinburg takes less than 2 hours and there's a lot to do there so it's a popular spot for vacations.
Last April, I took my husband there for the first time.
This year, it was time to take the kids.
There are 2 places that make up the area where the tourists flock into... Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Pigeon Forge is at the foot of the mountain, the entrance to the Smoky Mtns. National Park.
Gatlinburg is 5 miles up into the mountains.
There is a ton to do in both places.
Pigeon Forge has the outlet stores, bungee jumping, go cart tracks, shopping, restaurants, motels, water parks, music halls, variety shows, Wonderworks, and Dollywood.
You could easily spend a few days there and never do the same thing twice.
Gatlinburg is where we usually stay. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is there and it's a great aquarium. (Eventually, I'll have the pics from the aquarium on here and you can see the shark tunnel which is awesome. I'm getting to them.)
Gatlinburg has shops, restaurants, putt putt, Ripley's Believe or Not, Guinness Museum, a car museum, a chair lift that goes up the mtn, and candy shops. Oh, the candy shops.
I can get my favorite, a chocolate caramel covered apple at Aunt Mahalia's. I love them.
And the best foot long corn dogs, Ogle Dogs. Oh, heaven.
If you ever get to Gatlinburg, stop by the Atrium Pancake House and get your breakfast on. It's open until 2pm each day and they have such wonderful food.
But if you drive right up the parkway in Gatlinburg, you can drive right up the mountain (all the way up) and you can come back down in North Carolina. And the views are just beautiful.
The photos above were all taken at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains. And it's beautiful.
Also, it's about 10-15 degrees cooler on any given day. The day we were up there, it was right around 82 in Pigeon Forge, 79 in Gatlinburg, and 65 up at the Dome. It felt wonderful.
Back in Gatlinburg, there is a fun place for movie/car buffs.
The Hollywood Star Cars Museum was a little more fun for the adults since our kids haven't seen most of the movies that have a car in the museum. But they still liked it.
In the middle: My husband being a dork in the Flintstone's car
Cars from top left, then clockwise:
Button in the Flintstone car, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Charlie's Angels, Batman, Jurassic Park, Peanut in the Flintstone car, Knight Rider, Twister, Beverly Hillbillies, Smokey and the Bandit, and The Munsters Dragula.
I LOVED Knight Rider when I was a kid. And the movies are favorites of mine, too.
There are more cars at the museum, including a cars that belonged to MJ, Elvis, and Dolly. Also, I think there was a Bond car.
Back in Pigeon Forge, we took the kids to Wonderworks. That place is crazy. You could spend an entire day in there and not do everything. There are more than 100 exhibits to try out. Also, when it's hot outside, that air conditioner feels like heaven.
Top left: The outside of the building
Top right: The ceiling in the entrance
Middle right: Button playing with large bubbles
Bottom right: Space Walk
Bottom middle: The kids loved this. You stand in front of a screen and press different buttons on the wall that distort your body.
Bottom left: Peanut trying to make a big bubble
Last but never least.....
There are no Krispy Kreme doughnut places in MN.
(I know, it's a tragic thing.)
But in the south? Oh yeah.
The kids had never had what is basically heaven sent doughnuts so we had to fix that.
And of course, we made sure the Hot Doughtnuts now sign was flashing.
Here are the kids and their reactions to the deliciousness:
Peanut gives them a thumbs up!
Button looks like she may pass out from happiness.
And now all I can think about is food.