It’s only June, but the thermometer is over 90 degrees, and we are just starting the season. I’m going to gloss over some of the more obvious cooling methods like wetting down in a swimming pool or water park, theme park water rides, boating on Douglas Lake (with lots of locals), or hanging out in the air-conditioned comfort of your Pigeon Forge rental cabin. If your Chilly Pad towel or cooling scarf is letting you down, consider these ideas to beat the heat while playing in the Smokies’ humid summertime.
We’ve already honored Mom this year with ideas for special treats. Now it’s Dad’s turn, and I tried the same survey experiment. Here are the results:
1. “Feed the carnivore within me.” Enjoy an intimate, romantic dinner at the Peddler Restaurant in Gatlinburg, where steaks are cut to order at your table side. Another option: the guys think that Longhorn Steakhouse in Sevierville has the best Angus beef locally. Or go for a barbecue fix: ribs at Calhoun’s, or a
Some of our guests like to leave their alarm off and snuggle deeper into the pillows in their Wears Valley, TN cabin rental. Others want to rise early and get a tasty start on their adventures for the day. Here are some suggestions for that most important first meal of the day, with menus and operating hours provided.
The most venerated location requires the earliest arrival, since in high season the lines extend down the street. The Pancake Pantry is a downtown Gatlinburg tradition, one of those “gotta go” places to check off your list. A broad menu of options for breakfast awaits. The first pancake restaurant in Tennessee, they have been serving up meals since 1960, and in its current location since 1975. Not really a place for a quiet meal here (unless it’s off season), since the restaurant does a high customer volume (though not rushed). They also serve lunch with good sandwiches, burgers, soups and salads. Cash only, so be prepared.
In Pigeon Forge, consider Log Cabin Pancake House at the north end of the city, just before leaving Pigeon Forge toward Gatlinburg. This family breakfast diner is another in-season busy location. Hearty Southern breakfast choices like ham, biscuits and gravy are offered, in addition to sweet options. Known for country cooking, think good food and large portions: you will not be left wanting more here. Friendly service, and also a simple country lunch buffet complements their breakfast. There is a second location in Gatlinburg, an option to Pancake Pantry when it is too crowded.
That lovely scenic view from your Smoky mountain cabin can be taken home with you, through the eyes of two talented local artists. Both Ken Jenkins and Robert Tino have devoted their careers to education and preservation, charity and faith, beyond just producing wares for sale as their livelihood.
Ken Jenkins is a nationally known and widely published wildlife photographer. In addition, he writes and speaks publicly on natural history topics and faith. His work can be found in hundreds of publications like National Geographic, Southern Living, and Audubon.
If your creative energy is spent shaping crafts of any kind, you can indulge your passion with likeminded folk while on vacation in your Pigeon Forge cabin. Sevier County is blessed with many talented artists, both homegrown and transplanted from all over the globe. Here’s a summary of some locations of interest where imagination can be found.
If you would rather see others in action with plenty of opportunity for purchasing unique items, visit the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community Trail, located off Highway 321 on Glades Road, 3 miles outside of Gatlinburg. This 8-mile loop is the largest group of independent artisans in North America, over 120 studios using all forms of media. I have blogged about this great destination in the past (see archives June 6, 2013); it is definitely worth the trip and is a great way to shop locally.
Don’t like country music? Light-hearted British humor more your style? Looking for the unusual? Here’s a list: improv, vaudeville, Monty Python-esque, sing-along, slapstick. Most of all, do you like to laugh? You have found the right place in Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre.
Are you going to be in our area for Mother’s Day? If so, Mom is probably already pleased that you’ll be enjoying a relaxing time together in a secluded Gatlinburg cabin, with or without children. I surveyed some local moms regarding what they would appreciate for their special day. Here’s the wish list that I gathered: 5 ideas that you can use verbatim, or just use the concept for your own mom-pleasing plan.
1. Do nothing but soak in the view. Just leave Mom for peace and quiet in the hot tub on the deck, while Dad and the kids go out to play. Sink a chair in the cool water of the river at Metcalf Bottoms. Read a book in a deck rocking chair while listening to birdsong.
2. Go shopping, and then shop some more. Plant Mom in the middle of well over 100 stores in one location at Tanger Outlets Five Oaks Center in Sevierville, and finish the trip with Starbucks coffee or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Explore the Village Shops, a collection of 27 interesting retail shops in a lovely setting. The Village is located in downtown Gatlinburg at 634 Parkway, but has a European small town flair that feels a world away.
3. Try a “wild side” adventure. Ziplining! Check out Smoky Mountain Ziplines for an adrenaline rush above the treetops. What about a helicopter ride? Scenic Helicopter Tours offers trips at all price points. Satisfy her need for speed at the Xtreme Racing Center, the fastest gokarts in Pigeon Forge, by a mile.
4. Enjoy a special meal together. Choose from a multitude of breakfast options (pancakes, waffles, French toast, crepes) at the Pancake Pantry (adjacent to the Village Shops, by the way). For a more intimate environment, savor a cheesy dinner meal at the Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant.
5. Just ask! Let Mom choose what she wants to do to spend family time together. Usually she sacrifices her own preferences for the needs and desires of others.
In whatever form, the options to treat Mom are numerous. I’m sure you’ll make a great choice. Most of all, Mom treasures the love and appreciation of those who matter most to her.
Have a blessed Mother’s Day from all of us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals.
We take family time away from work too, and understand that vacations are expensive. That’s why here at Volunteer Cabin Rentals, we offer regular specials to help keep your lodging costs reasonable. Once you arrive and are settled in, consider these ways to enjoy our area that don’t cost anything (except maybe the gas to get you there).
1. Stroll the sidewalks of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. You can encounter so much on foot that is missed just driving by. Explore little nooks leisurely, hear live music, see crafts being made, or watch candy making demonstrations like taffy, fudge, and caramel apples. Consider the attractions available with a close-up inspection. Strike up a conversation with a friendly local for places to visit. Even better, take a spot on a bench and people watch. I guarantee it won’t be boring.
2. Vist the Smokies area city parks. Walk the dog around a greenway track. Feed the ducks on the river. Let the kids release a little energy on the playground. Play a round of disc golf; shoot a few hoops; toss a ball, go stream fishing, or have a picnic. View last week’s blog for more details on what our area’s six municipal parks have to offer. It’s much more than you might expect!
3. Take a mental break at the King Family Library. Sevierville has a lovely, modern facility (opened 2010) that can be an enjoyable, relaxing pitstop for all. Check the events calendar for free children’s programs, which are offered year round, and are open for all to attend. There are also smaller branch libraries throughout the county, for a quiet place to read. What better location for the ultimate reference resources on this area?
4. Learn more than you ever thought possible about knives. Quirky, yes. But interesting, too. The Smoky Mountain Knife Works complex not only sells all sorts of functional and collectible implements, but it also is “home of the largest knife collection showplace” and has an extensive taxidermy collection, to view without spending even a thin dime. If you like Bass Pro Shops just up the road, you will want to also make time to visit the Knife Works. I file it under the category of “Who knew?”
5. Ham it up for a photo opp at the Dolly Parton Statue. Dolly herself says of all her many accolades and awards, this bronze replica of her likeness is what she is most proud of, because it came from her hometown people that truly know and love her. It is located on the picturesque Sevier County Courthouse lawn in Sevierville, just one block off the main Parkway. I can’t think of a better area celebrity selfie shot than this!
6. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Please. For free! It is the only National Park in the nation without an entrance fee. I cannot imagine coming to Sevier County, and not soaking up even just a bit of the majesty and history that is our mountain legacy. To make plans specific to your family’s desires, start at the Sugarlands Vistior Center at the park entrance. There is a free movie with park information and an interesting natural history exhibit. Rangers can assist you on choosing the best nature walk, hike, or drive for you to explore the Park at your own pace. Our family has a deep, personal love for the therapeutic powers of such beautiful nature. Find a rock in the middle of some rushing stream water, and just rest awhile. See if you don’t agree.
There is so much more to see, touch, hear and taste. Spend your “good times” budget however you choose, but start by stepping out for a little “free time” first. You just might make a memory. Total cost value? Priceless.
Of course, one of the criteria for your secluded Smoky Mountain cabin is that it has an inspiring view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To extol the history, the splendor, and the amenities of the National Park could take days. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful resource literally at our back door! But what if all you need is a place for a cranky kid to let loose? Or you want to get in a quick jog or walk, without hiking shoes? A shady place to plant for a picnic? Need a large pavilion to rent for a family function? Need to exercise the pets? We always enjoy meeting smart tourists at the city parks that we frequent throughout the county. Here’s a map plotting the locations and a reference list with features.
If you found room in your vehicle for a bag of clubs and some spikeless shoes, it’s important to have a summary at hand to make the best choice for your foursome (twosome or self) to have a beautiful day of par-knocking. Here’s a summary for those adults with skills surpassing last week’s mini-golf primer.