Taking a Family Mini-cation to the Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains is home to a wealth of family-friendly attractions, restaurants, and lodging that makes them a perfect location for tourists of all ages. My husband, three year old son, and I recently took a road trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, both located in the heart of the Smokies, and spent a few days enjoying quality time together.
The morning of our first day, we loaded up the car and headed out of Georgia and into East Tennessee.
Upon arrival, we headed into Gatlinburg to pick up our VIP Attraction passes which gives you a ton of things to do during your stay. We had a wealth of choices when it came to what we wanted to experience as a family.
We then drove back to Sevierville, located just north of Pigeon Forge, to check into our hotel, the Wilderness at the Smokies. Okay, it's more of a resort - one you could check into and never want to leave! The family-friendly atmosphere of the Wildness amazed the three of us, and we will definitely be returning. The food, water parks, and other attractions make it a worthwhile stop while on our family mini-cation.
One of our days was spent at Dollywood, taking in as many rides and shows as we could stand. The park is divided into locations, making it easier to find what you want to ride or see. Sawyer had a blast riding all of the rides his height allowed. James rode some of the more thrilling adult rides - which I plan to ride with him when I return without a bun in the oven!
Ripley's Aquarium was another fun half-day activity that we all enjoyed. Every area of the aquarium presented us with lots of marine and wildlife. Our favorite was definitely the penguins - especially because there was a new arrival to see! Getting to touch sting rays - or as my son called them, X-rays - was also an experience we will never forget. Not only is the Aquarium of the Smokies entertaining, but it's also educational - a win-win for families!
Sawyer especially enjoyed visiting the Island in Pigeon Forge. This is a new attraction which is coming in phases. The first phase is now open and features perhaps the most thrilling experience my son has had in his three years - the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. I cannot wait for more of the island to be built - the next phase is coming in Spring 2014.
Getting a few days of family time was a lot of fun for all three of us. There is so much to do in the Smokies, you can easily take the kiddos and stay a full week. I cannot wait for our pending arrival to get here, so we can go back as a family of four. Also, if you plan to do a lot of outdoor walking and activities, don't plan to go in the middle of July. We had fun, but the 90 degree weather was a little too hot for us!
For more tips on planning a family trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, check out TNVacation Guide