Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Vacation Recommendations

It has become a family tradition of sorts to venture off east of home to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee at least once a year. Some of the family have been doing this for decades and have strong opinions on their favorite restaurants, things to do, places to shop, and more. Parking places are all important in Gatlinburg as well. I have decided to share some vacation photographs and reveal some of the family recommendations.

Family Fun

Chimneys Picnic Area – Great Smokey Mountains National Park – We like to take KFC to the park for lunch and climb around the moutain stream. Our picnic table was right up against the creek bed. There hadn't been a lot of rain so there wasn't as much water flowing as in previous years but it was still pretty.

Roaring Fork Motor Trail – Great Smokey Mountains National Park – Got people in the group who can’t exactly go hiking? This trail lets you ride in your car. Many historic cabins, historical markers, some foot trails you can take to waterfalls, and more.

Dollywood – Pigeon Forge – Theme park with kid’s rides, thrill rides, water rides, carnival games, shows, arts & crafts, steam engine train, food, etc. Bigger and nicer than you think. One of the best wooden roller coasters around!

Dollywood’s Splash Country Water Adventure Park – Pigeon Forge – Water park associated with Dollywood. Water slides, lazy river, wave pool, and other excuses to get wet.

Davy Crocket Mini Golf - Gatlinburg - A well maintained mini golf course popular with youngsters.

Favorite Places for Breakfast

Pancake Pantry – Gatlinburg - A must for breakfast at least one morning each trip. Very extensive breakfast menu with almost every flavor of pancake you can think of. (i.e. lemon-apricott, pecan, blueberry, M&Ms, buckwheat, and more)

The Old Mill – Pigeon Forge – Also great for breakfast and has a historic grist mill next door on the river. Massive wood beam architecture inside. See my picture of the mill.

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant – Pigeon Forge (more commonly called “The Apple Barn” in my family) – Country style cooking in country style building with apple orchard behind it. Homemade apple fritters. Has several gift shops, candy stores, etc. next door.

Favorite Places for Lunch and Dinner

The Peddler – Gatlinburg – Great steaks and huge salad bar. Waiter brings around steaks for you to look at before you order.

The Park Grill – Gatlinburg – Interesting assortment of menu items and an absolutely beautiful building made of massive wood construction also worth seeing.

The Brass Lantern – Gatlinburg – My family always shares a “tureen and skillet” (soup and a skillet of corn bread) any maybe several of them.

Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant – Pigeon Forge (more commonly called “The Apple Barn” in my family) – Country style cooking in country style building with apple orchard behind it. Homemade apple fritters. Has several gift shops, candy stores, etc. next door. There is now one open in Gatlinburg too but I’ve never been to that one.

Best Italian Cafe and Pizzaria – Gatlinburg – We love the pizza and the wonderful garlic rolls. Can’t see it from the main drag. You have to turn in a driveway into the Elks Plaza Shopping Center. Not a lot of parking places but we always seem to get one somehow. There is often free bluegrass music in the Elks Plaza in the evening.

The Wild Plum Tea Room – We always stop here for lunch when driving through the Great Smokey Arts & Crafts Community.

Favorite Places to Shop

The Village Shoppes of Gatlinburg – Gatlinburg – Right on the main drag. Many smaller botique-type shops and a few eateries for desserts, coffe, donuts, etc. Behind the Pancake Pantry mentioned earlier. You generally have to pay to park, however.

Here's the entrance to The Village Shoppes from across the street from my parking secret at the bottom of this post.

Tanger Outlet Center – Sevierville, TN – Many upscale outlets. Sevierville is adjacent to Pigeon Forge.

Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community – An 8-mile loop where local artisans, demonstrate and sell their arts and crafts. Stop by the Wild Plum Tea Room for lunch. I aways poke my head into watch the glass blower on the far left of this stretch of shops.

I saw some beautiful handmade rocking chairs on the front porch of this shop for $275, though I didn't buy one. They had a similarly beautiful handmade porch swing.

Ely’s Mill – Antique shop at the end of the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. The Roaring Fork stream is behind the mill with lots of green moss-covered rocks. See the picture.

Gatlinburg Parking Secret

Phi Beta Phi Elementary School on Cherokee Orchard Road – The school charges $5 to park in their parking lot during the summer. If you leave and come back you have to pay again. Within easy walking distance of The Village Shoppes of Gatlinburg and the Pancake Pantry. Earlier in this post is a photograph of the flower-lined back entrance to The Village which is just across the street from the school parking lot.


Carol Eberhardt said...

I highly recommend basing a visit to this beautiful area on Phil's recommendations. We followed his suggestions and drove through Roaring Fork, stopping at some cabins there, also visited Dollywood where we heard some of the best live music ever. The Pancake Pantry was wonderful for breakfast and the Apple Barn too. We did most of our shopping at Dollywood and the Apple Barn for gifts and souveniers. We also enjoyed the Dixie Stampede; when those jackets lit up and the Doves of Peace went flying through the air there was not a dry eye in the house. It was our 1st visit ot he area and we also liked the riverboat ride, near the Apple Barn. And also took a hike in the mountains to the summit where we had one foot in NC and one foot in TN. Terrific vacation ! thanks Phil form Carol

Donny Prater said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! I love Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Been there a bunch of times and looking at your pictures makes me want to go back.

My favorite attractions are Hillbilly Golf and Indoor Skydiving. There used to be a great restaurant in Gatlinburg called Waldo Peppers but I don't think it's still there. Anyway, enjoyed the post Bro!

Anonymous said...

man, i go all the time and you have tons of things i've never done. my favorite "bleed 'em till they're broke" place is nascar speed park. 2 great miniature golf courses, tons of go cart tracks, and motorized splash boats. inside gatlinburg i like log cabin restaurant, it's been around for years.