Last week my family went on vacation to Gatlinburg, TN. I had never been before so I was very excited. I have heard many great things about it before, so I was interested to see it for myself!
We hit the road Monday morning and arrived in Sevierville, which is just outside of Gatlinburg, around lunch time. And I’ll bet you $5 you won’t guess where we ate (unless you follow me on snap, that doesn’t count.) CICI’S PIZZA!!!! That’s right the wonderful pizza buffet of my childhood or anybody who went to Clays Mill Elementary for that matter. Our school had fundraising nights at CiCi’s, so we were there quite a bit. But sadly, they closed their doors in Lex and there aren’t any other locations nearby, so finding this gem was enough to make anyone’s day. And it was just as wonderful as I had remembered.
We then drove to the cabin where we were staying, which was really nice!! It had a full kitchen so we cooked several of our meals there to save money. We also each had our own king sized bed on separate floors with our own bathrooms. I had never slept in a bed that big and it was v magical. Oh, and there was a hot tub! The only “bad” thing about it was that it was literally on the mountain so you basically had to drive up a 60 degree incline (I know, I’m exaggerating) with lots of twists and turns, so that gave me a minor heart attack every time we went back to the cabin.
We cooked spaghetti for dinner and spent some time in the hot tub. It was a nice way to unwind after a long day of being on the road.
On Tuesday we drove through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The route we took was an 11-mile loop with little tons of inlets you could pullover and take pictures if you wanted. It was so beautiful and green. However, you actually could still see the effects from the wildfire they experienced last summer. There were spots where trees were charred or completely bare. The city is still rebuilding, but there are plenty of things to do! Most of the “touristy” places are up and running but you could definitely tell that a lot of what used to be cabin rentals were still completely burned to the ground. I think ours was one of the few ones that were untouched. Seeing the effects of the wildfire reminded me of the regrowth we experience after we have “wildfires” in our life. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. “This too shall pass.” – King Solomon. Here are some of the pictures we took from the park.
My brother took the photos below with his camera.
We even saw both a deer and black bear! Unfortunately though, my brother accidentally deleted the bear picture of the camera (sad face), but we have the one of the deer! There were actually two of them that ran right beside our van, it was really cool!
Later that evening, we explored some of the stores along the strip. (By the way, I forgot to mention it was raining the entire time. Even with ponchos and umbrellas we were thoroughly soaked by the end of our escapade.) There was a really cute store called Thistle Dew Nicely, which had lots of farmhouse style and Christian decor items. I didn’t buy anything from there though because I was saving my money for the Vintage Market that was on Saturday! If you missed my post about that, you can find it here.
I ended up buying this cute mug (which was the last one I needed to complete my DIY mug holder!) and an adorable UK shirt (of all things I could buy in Gatlinburg.)
We didn’t get to see everything on the strip because it was dinner time, so we went back to the cabin, cooked BBQ sandwiches and retired for the night.
On Wednesday, we went on another driving tour through the mountains, it was much shorter than the one we went on the day before and there wasn’t much to see that we hadn’t already seen, so we took to the strip one more time. We went to a place where you could do six different activities for one price. We did an indoor blacklight mini golf (because it was raining) and a laser maze (like in those spy movies where they have to avoid the laser field.) That was fun, but challenging. During this time it was literally down pouring. Rain was coming down in sheets off of the mountain and at one point you could not even see the mountain. (See picture below) The power even went out for a split second when my mom was doing the laser maze, so all the lasers disappeared, haha.
Apparently only the laser maze was not working, so we did another activity called Atomic Rush, which is like Waca-mole but with colors. We then went to an indoor mall that had a sign for “Peddlers World” on the front, which I was interested in. However, we went to the level that the directory said it was located on and it was nowhere to be found, which was slightly disappointing. But we continued exploring and took a quick lunch break at Zaxby’s. By the time we were finished with lunch, it had stopped raining (yay!)
There was an arts and crafts village that I was interested in going to and on the map that we had, it didn’t look too far away. So we decided to walk there. However, we went the wrong way and so we just said forget it, we’ll drive there tomorrow.
We then stopped at Ben and Jerry’s to get some sugar in our system, because that walk wore us out. I got the mint chocolate chip, which I had never seen not green before, but apparently it’s because they don’t put artificial coloring in their ice cream. It tasted the exact same, but to be honest I like my mint chocolate chip to be green, haha.
Since it had stopped raining, we did the outdoor putt putt at the game place. I’ll tell you what, I’m no good at mini golf. I still had a lot of fun though because I wasn’t at work and I was with my family. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment and I encourage you to do the same. It will make you appreciate the little things in life more.
By this time, we were all pretty pooped. We decided to go back to the cabin and rest for a little bit and then go back out for dinner. We had heard that Gatlinburg had a lot of really good pancake places so we set out to find one. We had thought we saw one that was down near the end of strip so we walked all the way down and it was nowhere to be found. We eventually google mapped in and it was on the complete other end (🙄) So we chuckled a little bit and walked back the way we came. We FINALLY found it and guess what? IT WAS CLOSED. That’s right, we went through all that trouble to find out it was closed. At this point we were getting a little hangry so we just walked to the nearest food place and parked it.
This happened to be a place called The Best Italian. They were a little short staffed and our waitress was new and very apologetic, but she did a great job. Ever since I started working in the food industry, it gave me a new appreciate for others who do too. Especially when things that can’t be helped like being short staffed happen. The meals were a little overpriced in my opinion, but the food was still good (on par with Olive Garden.)
We then set out back to the game place and did one more round of outdoor mini golf. We also played laser tag (I thought I was doing really well and when it was finished I only had 100 points, um what lol.) My brother and I did the laser maze again (since the power went out earlier, they gave us two more free tokens) and the whole family played the atomic rush game for our last activity. We did the “hard” level which was completely random and you had to run all over the room to find your color and it was so fun.
Apparently we hadn’t had our fill of games because we went back to the cabin and had a game night with some board games we had brought from home. We played Sequence, Banagrams and Ticket to Ride. I think I played my worst game of Ticket to Ride, but I did much better at Banagrams. Overall, it was a great day full of fun and family.
Thursday was our last day so we packed up the van, stopped at Starbucks to get our caffeine fill (funny story, my dad gave my brother and I his phone to use the Starbucks app to pay with, but their power was out so they could only accept cash, so we had to call him to drive back around to get cash) and drove out to the arts and crafts village that we had tried to walk to the day before. I’ll tell you something that map we were looking at before was not accurate at all. It literally took us a solid 15 minutes to drive there. There was no way we could have walked to it.
Once we arrived I got a map that listed all of the stores and circled the ones I was interested in. So we drove around to find them and literally all of them but one were not even in business anymore. We asked the one store owner why that was the case and he said that after the wildfires last summer, a lot of stored went out of business, which was unfortunate, but understandable.
We were determined to get our pancake fill before we left so we found a pancake restaurant for lunch. I got the mixed berry pancakes and chocolate milk, yummy.
Our last event before we hit the road was go karting! It was very chilly and windy so we found a place that had an indoor track, but as luck would have it, they were only running the outdoor one. Great, right. So we braved the chilly wind and my brother and I did 3 different races. It was pretty fun, but boy, was I sore the next day.
After we had our fill of thrill and pancakes for the day, we set out for home.
Overall, we had a great vacation and I would definitely recommend Gatlinburg as a fun vacation spot! It would be beautiful to go during the fall to see the leaves changing on the mountain. I can’t wait to go back!