Over 20 Places You Should Visit in Sevierville

In our tourist area, most regulars are very familiar with all the attractions in Gatlinburg, and things to do in Pigeon Forge. But we find that many are far less familiar with our county seat city, Sevierville, Tennessee. Home to many locals, it is a destination in its own right. Here is just a starter list of locations to shop, eat, explore, and play in Sevierville.

Once you have rested in your Smokies cabin rental, it’s time to go forth and shop! Have you forgotten anything? All the necessary suburban sprawl chains are available for your needs: grocery stores, Walmart, Lowe’s/Home Depot, Bass ProShops, Orvis, Party City, and more are close by, with several being added quite recently.
For fun time shopping, start first by choosing from the 100+ brands located at Tanger Five Oaks Outlet Center. You can get your entire fix in one location!
For non-chain experiences, consider the Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store for gifts, home items, souvenirs, bakery goods and ice cream treats, just for starters. Smoky Mountain Knifeworks is also a worthy, interesting stop.

After power buying, you must be hungry. Three local eateries downtown serve both locals and tourists alike. Courthouse Donuts is a half block from the Dolly Parton statue anyway, so indulge in their delicious homemade custom orbs, and pick up lunch while you are there too.
Healthy Balance is two blocks away if you desire freshly prepared fare that is both tasty and nutritious. They can even provide prepared meals that you can tote back to your Sevierville rental cabin for a made from scratch solution to dinner.
If you prefer laid back, comfortable place for a nice dinner, try the Southern fare at Bistro 109. They will take good care of you.

Explore and have fun learning at these three locations: Tennessee Museum of Aviation is a great spot for those who enjoy airplanes and military history. Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum is the ultimate place to reminisce about revving those engines with a private collection of 90 vehicles. You can even go down under at Forbidden Caverns, an always cool, 58 degree place to take a guided cave tour in the midst of a steamy summer day. Add these three together, and it is guaranteed you will learn and see some things you have never encountered.

Now let’s play! If you want to relax and watch a great game, get in on the season at Tennessee Smokies Baseball Stadium, just off exit 407 at Interstate I-40. The Smokies are a minor league farm team for the Chicago Cubs. Always a great evening out, the games even finish with fireworks on Friday nights.
Burn off some boundless child energy, or even test your own athleticism at Sevier Air Trampoline and Ninja Warrior Park. This almost 40,000 square foot adventure park has ninja warrior courses to climb and hang from, in addition to the traditional trampoline and dodgeball venues. Determine the true warriors in your crowd.
Want to get on the water? Douglas Lake is a 30,000 acre recreation area just a couple of miles off our main thoroughfares. Rent a boat at Douglas Lake Marina, or just lay on the public swim beach at Douglas Dam Headwater Campground. Visit the Douglas Dam Scenic Overlook for an unmatched mountain vista over the water. Douglas Dam was constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority as part of their watershed for hydroelectric production. You can also walk right up to the dam and observe the underwater turbines in action when water is being spilled into the French Broad River below.

I have only scratched the surface of Sevierville with some ideas to get you started. Do not overlook these opportunities to add more shopping, eating, exploring, and play to your next visit to Volunteer Cabin Rentals. Let us help you find places you have never been!

Don’t Miss these Transportation Museums! Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Enjoying a Smoky Mountains vacation in your Sevierville cabin rental affords you time to indulge in pastimes that you can’t stop for in your daily routine. Don’t miss these two transportation museums in Sevierville. Full disclosure: trains will be the next blog, this writing takes a spin past the airplanes and automobiles.


First, take flight mentally by visiting the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, located adjacent to the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport, at 135 Air Museum Way. You don’t have to be a veteran to appreciate and learn more details about our military aviation history and the heroes who worked with these aircraft. The museum is based in a heat-controlled aircraft hangar, and features Warbirds that have been restored or are in progress. The air-conditioned gallery also contains a treasure trove of interesting and educational exhibits of memorabilia that make the history of our brave airmen come to life. Parts of the gallery have been featured on cable television, and many school and youth organizations visit regularly for field trips.
The museum has both permanent and rotating/visiting exhibits, and has special events and demonstration shows held throughout the year. Our son first had his interest in these planes piqued during a local preschool soccer game. The museum was hosting an aerial demonstration show, and the flight path of the planes passes over the local playing fields. With each pass, players’ attention to the game completely ceased, as the boys on field turned their gaze skyward to see the warbird beauties pass overhead! All ages can enjoy visiting this proud piece of our aviation history. For more information regarding operating hours, admission, and current events, visit the museum website:  http://tnairmuseum.com
If classic cars are more your speed, consider Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum, also located in Sevierville at 320 Winfield Dunn Parkway. This venue features a collection of almost 100 cars, and has been featured in multiple television shows and car enthusiast magazines.
Anyone that can appreciate the automobile culture of the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s can see both the preserved vehicles and a plethora of memorabilia in this comprehensive specialty museum. Each item has been carefully acquired, and is maintained in showroom condition, with many rare models on display. There are classic hot rod models, actual racing cars, and muscle vehicle with serious horsepower under the hood. Mr. Garrett himself is also often present, and always willing to share his aficionado knowledge regarding any specific vehicle in his collection. Take home a souvenir from the gift shop that any car lover would enjoy. Christmas gifts, anyone?
Whether you are just beginning to learn about the technology of muscle manufacturing or taking a trip down memory lane, Floyd Garrett’s museum offers an interesting array of exhibits that are a pleasure to view. So don’t hesitate to bring that man who still misses the sportscar he traded in for the minivan of fatherhood. Also bring that little child who loved the Disney movie Cars and would like to see the real thing! Check out the details at: http://www.musclecarmuseum.com/index.shtml
It’s your loss if you overlook the Tennessee Museum of Aviation and Floyd Garrett’s Muscle Car Museum. There’s so much history contained in these two locations. Who knew that such amazing collections of airplanes and vehicles were so easily accessible? Choose to visit one or both on this trip to the mountains. You’ll be glad you did!

Let Others Prepare Your Vacation Food

chicken-enchiladasLast time, I discussed finding celebration treats for your vacation get togethers. Although many families enjoy cooking together, some would rather take a hiatus from food preparation and go out to eat. Better yet, how about staying in for some serious relaxing, and having someone else do all the cooking?
Consider Healthy Balance Meals, located at 313 Court Avenue in Sevierville. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-2, and Sunday closed. You can purchase quick, made fresh takeout food. Order some single meals that can be microwaved and/or frozen. Assemble complete catering for your group function, and have all the details handled professionally.  This family-owned restaurant is a good choice to meet any of your vacation culinary needs.
All menu items are hand prepared, just as you would at home. The meals are made from fresh ingredients, not frozen or processed components. A nice menu variety allows options for all types of tastes. The food is delicious, flavorful, and created with care.
Ok, might as well mention that, yes, it’s also healthy! Serving sizes are portion controlled (but not meager), and no additives like MSG are used. So the meals provided are not only tasty, but also nutritious!
Group and quantity discounts are offered, and delivery is also available. So order in advance, or stop by on your way to your Sevierville cabin rental. Your first night’s meal can be ready and waiting for you! You can also stock up for your stay, or take the stress out of that large event gathering. Everything we have eaten is quite tasty: you’ll be satisfied with the ease of eating healthy too. 
Check out Healthy Balance Meals and their menu at this link. Heat. Eat. Enjoy!

One Last Summer Adventure: The Treetops Ropes Course

16Here’s hoping that you and your family are savoring these last few days of summer together in a Sevierville, TN cabin rental. Soak up all the free time and sunshine possible, before your school year routine kicks in again! How about one last kid adventure? Sevierville’s Adventure Park complex has newly added just this season a series of Treetops Ropes Course to their lineup of outdoor experiences. Here is that “something different” fun that doesn’t take all day-or all your cash.

There are both adult and junior’s courses offered. Ground school instruction is thorough, and safety emphasis is a priority. I recently took our tall 6-year old for his personal test run. Although young kids are allowed, minimum height is 45″, and recommended age is 8-11. Most school-age kids can easily master the clamp safety instructions and be off and running rather quickly, after some learning curve experimentation. As long as they can listen and follow simple instructions, frustration will be minimized.

The children’s event is located among the trees, in dappled shade under the canopy. There are 15 platforms, with events in between each, such as floating stairs, ropes bridges, tunnels, etc. There is relatively little danger involved, though a child may get pinched by a harness or some such small discomfort. It is almost impossible to fall from the course: one would have to make a concerted effort to do so, since you are always connected by at least one cable.

The child junior course is relatively compact, and adjacent to the adult layout, which logically offers more challenges. Don’t hesitate to try your skill at this new amenity: no previous experience is required. Please don’t miss this opportunity to make a family moment (or two!) before this summer is just a memory. This Sevierville location also offers horseback riding and ziplining, so packages are available for multiple activities. Please try the Treetops Ropes Course at Adventure Park today, to do some seriously fun “hanging around”.
For more information, view this video and website links:

Apple Barn Cider Mill and Village: Savor the Gifts of Autumn

When fall arrives in the Smoky Mountains, I always want to mark the season with the smells and tastes of autumn. In one pleasant stop, you can find immediate sensory gratification for yourself, and also harvest some quality items for your friends and family back home.

The Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store anchors a scenic complex, which is tucked between the Little Pigeon River and its hillside orchards. It is the perfect location to find all things apple, with quality souvenirs and gifts at reasonable prices. Most anyone would enjoy receiving a pottery apple baker dish with a bag of fresh apples, as an example. Cider made onsite and hand pies for immediate consumption also provide the energy needed to keep exploring the adjacent stores, which offer homemade ice cream, candy, and more. Jumpstart your gift ideas by seeing a portion of the merchandise available at www.applebarncidermill.com

Two restaurants on the property also deserve your attention: Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and the Applewood Farmhouse Grill. Both are country cooking tasty, one serving family-style meals and the other an a la carte menu. Browse the menus for both locations at this link: www.applewoodfarmhouserestaurant.com/menu/

So after checking in to your Sevierville, Tennessee cabin rental, please don’t miss visiting this shopping and restaurant experience when you are here. Located just off the Parkway at traffic light 12.6, the Apple Barn Village is worth your attention as a truly delicious diversion. Enjoy!

Smoky Mountain Homecoming Festival-A Local Tradition

What is your tradition to mark the change of season to autumn? Carving a pumpkin with the family? Enjoying a rental cabin in Gatlinburg? Taking a drive to view the changing fall landscape? Our family returns every year to a small local festival that is celebrating its twenty-first season: the Robert A Tino Smoky Mountain Homecoming.

Robert Tino is a talented local artist, whose gallery is located in an historic farmhouse homestead, adjacent to Winfield Dunn Parkway (Highway 66) in Sevierville. It is here on the farm that a sweet slice of homemade Appalachian culture is served annually the first weekend in October. There are festival activities for the entire family: antique merchandise for sale, mountain skills demonstrations, vintage children’s games, wagon rides, pumpkins and pottery to decorate, country BBQ and sweet treats. The event always has a background accompaniment of bluegrass music and old-fashioned storytelling.

You can even get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping, as Robert’s newest prints and special art sale values are displayed for purchase. His artwork has depth of texture and use of color that are unique to his personal style and are a pleasure to own. Robert Tino’s pieces large and small are lovely for gifts: for others or for yourself!

We mark every fall with our tradition of attending Smoky Mountain Homecoming. Admission is free, and the memories are as picturesque as a Tino painting-enjoy!

October 5-6, 2013, 10 am to 5 pm.


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.

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.

Bloomin’ BBQ and Bluegrass Festival-You Be the Judge!

Our favorite street festival is in full swing this weekend in Sevierville, May 17-18, with music, food, crafts, kid activities and more.

Choose the food! Wet sauce or dry rub? Sweet tomato or spicy mustard? Taste and decide your favorite from this award-winning competition. Over forty cook teams smoke their best efforts to win the barbecue title. Even judging among the team names is an amusing activity.

Choose the music! An impressive slate of bluegrass talent provides free live music variety on multiple stages throughout the venue. If you are new to bluegrass, it’s a great crash course in music culture. Back again is the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition, where contestants select a Dolly Parton song (over 3000 of them!) to sing in any style. Select your winners.

Choose to come again! If you miss it this year, make plans to attend in 2014: the 10-year anniversary celebration promises to be even bigger. Come relax with us in a Sevierville cabin rental at Volunteer Cabin Rentals, and soak it up at this delicious event in the Smokies. We’ll be there, and hope you will too. www.bloominbbq.com

A Smoky Mountain Homecoming

This weekend, visitors to the Smokies will have a chance to experience authentic local history and culture at its best. The 20th Annual Robert A. Tino Smoky Mountain Homecoming offers two days of old-fashioned family fun in the shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains. The event takes place October 6 and 7 at the noted artist’s Sunset View Farm in Sevierville. Daily hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Appalachian heritage will be celebrated all weekend long thanks to regional craftsmen, dressed in period attire, who will be demonstrating their time-honored arts and crafts. Craft vendors will be on hand to sell handmade wares such as jewelry, baskets, pottery and fine art pieces.

Meanwhile the sounds of bluegrass music will fill the air thanks to live acts such as Jimbo Whaley and Greenbrier and The South Of The River Boys. Or you might consider listening to a tall tale courtesy of a local storyteller.

There will be plenty of food on hand, including tasty barbecue, which you might want to enjoy during a tasty picnic lunch under a shade tree. You’ll also find funnel cakes, kettle corn, fresh lemonade, ice cream and other old-time treats. Other event highlights include the state’s largest antique tractor and engine show and an old-fashioned Sunday morning church service under the old oak trees.

If you happen to be staying with us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals this weekend, you’ll be happy to know that our cabins in Wears Valley, TN, are a short drive from Sevierville and the Smoky Mountain Homecoming event.