3 Easy-Access Family Photo Opportunities in the Smokies

Many people use a special family picture to document each year, often as the family photo Christmas card. Of course, you will create some vivid memories while your family vacations in a Gatlinburg luxury cabin. With many scenic spots throughout the county, I am certain you will find several favorites to call your own. Though you cannot build a sand snowman here, and you may have already done the “all jump” candid (hopefully not in matching shirts!), extraordinary local Smokies images don’t have to require lots of driving or a major hike.

I chose a single landmark in each town, all of which require little effort for a photograph opportunity. First, the Dolly Parton statue in Sevierville. Located on the front lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse (itself architecturally interesting), the statue is just one block off the Parkway in the center of downtown. The bronze statue was sculpted by local artist Jim Gray, and was dedicated to the county’s most famous native in 1987. Our generous and beloved local icon, this venue is the easiest way to get your own photo with Dolly. Turn left at traffic light #15.5 on West Bruce Street, and left again on Court Avenue.

It is safe to say that the Old Mill waterwheel in Pigeon Forge has been photographed millions of times throughout the years. It is an historic structure, dating back to the 1800’s. Though the mill is located literally in the center of town, it is a simple task to stand at the handrail with a picturesque background of the rustic mill and the Little Pigeon River cascading beside it. The Old Mill Square complex should truly be a part of your visit here anyway. Multiple restaurants and shops offer excellent food, unique merchandise, souvenirs, and treats. Turn at traffic light number 7 on Old Mill Avenue, and learn more of what is available at www.old-mill.com/about/visit-old-mill

Try the Space Needle Observation Tower for the most expansive view of downtown Gatlinburg and the surrounding mountains. For a fee ($8.50 adults, $5 seniors, $4 children 5-12, free children 4 and under), all can ride the glass elevator to the standing platform over 400 feet above street level. Located at traffic light #8 on Historic Nature Trail, the Needle is a fantastic spot for viewing changing of seasons in the daytime, or for a selfie shot with the downtown city lights as an evening backdrop. www.gatlinburgspaceneedle.com/theView.html

None of these locations are new, or for that matter, particularly trendy. Yet all are easily recognizable as classic Smoky Mountain originals. Please come visit us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals soon. We love sharing our Smoky Mountain home with you, and will do everything we can to make your stay with us “picture perfect”.

Dollywood to “Dolly’s World”

Most guests to Wears Valley cabin rentals plan to visit several attractions while on vacation in our area. The largest and most well-known attraction in Pigeon Forge is the Dollywood theme park. This week Dolly Parton announces a monumental change to the concept of Dollywood. The park attraction will now become a resort destination with the planned addition of a 300-room hotel. Dolly has named it “DreamMore” with a reference to the Biltmore, the grand Vanderbilt estate in nearby Asheville, North Carolina. The luxury resort facility will present a comfortable opportunity “for families to unplug and connect with each other”, says Dolly. To be completed by summer 2015, the hotel property will have multiple amenities and is indicated to be the first of more to come. This alludes to the Disney-type destination experience, which provides lodging, dining, and entertainment all within the boundaries of resort properties.

The newest FireChaser Express coaster ride at Dollywood was also debuted, expected to open next March for the 2014 season. The Express is billed as a family coaster, so everyone can ride together. Minimum height requirement is 39″, which will allow 4-year olds to ride along, as the dual-launch coaster runs both forward and backward for a little less than a winding half mile each direction. This indicates a milder ride than the popular Wild Eagle wing coaster, which is located adjacent to the new Express ride. The Express also renews the firefighter theme, also found in the nearby small vintage indoor coaster, the Blazing Fury.

Dolly Parton has truly given back to her hometown, through her unique and beloved properties of Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country Waterpark, and Dixie Stampede Dinner Theater. All of us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals are glad that Dolly continues to “dream more” for the future of our shared Tennessee mountain home. Come visit us all soon!

Your First and Last Stop in the Smokies: Russell Stover Candies

Whether you are on your way to your cabin rental in Pigeon Forge, or are finishing up your trip to the Smoky Mountains, here’s a suggestion for an indulgent pit stop. Any vacation calls for activities that differ from everyday routine. Satisfying your sweet tooth with a treat should be part of that experience! Don’t overlook the Russell Stover Candies store as a source of immediate gratification.

Located at 3375 Winfield Dunn Parkway (Highway 66) about a block from the I-40/exit 407 interchange, this retail outlet is much more than just boxed candy. Choose a generous scoop dipped from 32 flavors of Blue Bell ice cream. Munch freshly-made cookies or savor a slice of homemade fudge. The glass candy case also offers chocolate covered strawberries, gourmet caramel apples, and the ability to customize an entire box of candy to just your favorite selections. Other items like coffee, espresso, and Jelly Belly beans are also available for enjoyment.

The boxed candies selection includes a various assortment of chocolate brands. These include Russell Stover, Whitmans, Pangburns and Weight Watchers. A large sugar-free section offers a broad variety to complement the standard items available. The merchandise is very fresh, since the store is often a bus tour agenda pitstop, and inventory is supplied directly from several manufacturing locations throughout the United States.

Perhaps most tempting is the unofficial “bloopers room” located at the rear of the store. Production overages and not-quite-perfect candies are available in bulk for a discounted price. We know from experience that the taste is certainly never second-best! So for a personal indulgence to savor while on vacation, visit on your way into town. Or as a practical and well-received gift for others from your Smokies visit, don’t pass by the Russell Stover store on your way home. As one of my favorite movie characters said, “Life is like a box of chocolates.”

I never know which one I am going to choose next. What a sweet dilemma.

For a map, store hours, and contact information, click here.

Try the Downhill Rush of the New Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster

Just go now! You must experience the newest adrenaline opportunity in our area. The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is now open for a smooth ride that your whole family can enjoy. The attraction is located 1.5 miles from Pigeon Forge at 867 Wears Valley Road, and definitely should be an item on your bucket list before you finish your vacation.
Think of an open sled car on a coaster track that provides a customized personal ride. Handbrakes grant the opportunity to control the speed of descent to equal the courage of the rider. The view is lovely at all velocities. The track length is more than a mile, and the ride up the hill is somewhat like a chairlift trip. Cables pull the cars to the top of the venue, and then the cars are released down the hillside. Including the towline to the top and running full speed to the bottom, the complete ride is a little over 7 minutes long, with a 300 foot drop in elevation along the way. Call 865-365-5000 for more information, and check the Facebook page hereĀ www.facebook.com/SmokyMountainAlpineCoaster

Choose to stay with us for cabins in Pigeon Forge. We at Volunteer Cabin Rentals hope you enjoy relaxing in our comfortable accommodations after experiencing this unique thrill ride, one of many our area offers. Know that one trip down the hillside may not be enough!

Professional Baseball from the Tennessee Smokies

Regardless of the final score, choosing to visit a professional baseball game at the Smokies Stadium is a home run event for vacationing sports fans. This clean, modern stadium of 6000 plus seat capacity provides an intimate experience in a comfortable environment. Easy access and plentiful parking make it an uncomplicated pleasure to attend. Adjacent to Exit 407 at Interstate 40 and Highway 66 in Sevierville/Kodak, the location is close to all parts of Sevier County.

Our Tennessee Smokies ball team is the minor league Double-A affiliate of the the MLB Chicago Cubs. The team moniker refers to the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains. Also located in the stadium is the Smoky Mountain Visitor Center. Choose to make a stop here for complete information on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along with extensive information regarding other vacation opportunities in our area.

Also surrounding the Tennessee Smokies Stadium are several hotels, restaurants, and the Bass Pro Shops sporting complex. Visiting pro ball teams frequent the Hampton Inn & Suites adjacent to the stadium.

For more details regarding season schedule, children’s activities, large group amenities, and other special events, visit www.smokiesbaseball.com

So when you make your reservation for your Sevierville rental cabin, plan to “take yourself out to the ballgame”. It is satisfying recreation at its finest.