Over 50 Money-Saving Vacation Items from the Dollar Tree

So you have just arrived in the area, on the way to checking into your Sevierville cabin rental. Your family will inevitably stop at the grocery and/or discount store to stock up on food and other items that you will need during your stay. Our guests run the gamut from traveling with only the will to shop, to bringing absolutely everything to avoid buying any duplicates while here. For those that fall in between, I propose a pitstop you may not have considered to save you some substantial cash to reallocate as play money.

Don’t stop reading now: please give this concept a chance. Note there are several dollar discount stores in our area to shop for your liking: Big Lots, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree. All of these chains offer discount items, with some great deals among the cheap junk. For the purposes of this blog, I chose the local Dollar Tree store, since it is conveniently located directly on the Parkway in Sevierville, which the vast majority will pass on the way into town. Also located in this center are a small Belk department store, TJ Maxx, Outback Steakhouse, Popeye’s Chicken, and a local bank ATM. By the amount of out-of-state tags that I see every time I visit TJ Maxx, it is obvious that everyone likes a great deal wherever they may roam. Another plus is that Walmart is just three more traffic lights up the Parkway, so you can stop here first. In addition, a new second location has also opened this month in Pigeon Forge at 161 East Wears Valley Road, in the Shops of Pigeon Forge center.

Map of Dollar Tree, Sevierville, TN

Map of Dollar Tree, Pigeon Forge, TN
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1. Celebration Items-So many come to our area for happy times: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, showers, family reunions, buddy trips, holidays, and more. Check out these items that will help you celebrate at $1 each or less:
greeting cards, car window markers, decorations, party favors, mylar and latex balloons (mylar inflated instore), candles, gift bags, cellophane treat bags, wrapping paper, gift tissue, ribbons, bows, table covers, tableware and serving utensils, functional and decorative glassware, specific seasonal items, and holiday items. With a little creativity on your part, your celebration will not be diminished by using items that are $1 each. Even Martha Stewart thinks quite highly of tissue paper decor. Here’s the proof:
http://www.marthastewart.com/274329/tissue-and-crepe-paper-crafts/@center/276982/craft-tools-and-projects
2. Water Play Items-If you plan to play in the local waters, inexpensive water toys are available in abundance now, and there is even a small selection year round here because of area indoor water parks. Think pool noodles, diving weights, small squirt guns, goggles, tote bags and backsacks, clear zip bags, flying discs, and flipflops (gotta love shoes for a dollar). Durability is not a major concern if you consider such toy items as “use and lose”, or pay them forward for someone else to enjoy (no packing to haul home!).
3. Kitchen items-I am certain you brought your own “can’t live without” coffee creamer from home! You can find all manner of foil pans, plastic and foil wrap, clear zip bags, picnic items, tote baskets and plastic containers available, along with many oddball kitchen gadgets that may not be standard vacation rental issue.

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4. Toys and Candy-Namely, cheap entertainment, but I’m not advocating junk toys at all. Skip them for simple pleasures like balls of all sizes, sidewalk chalk, silly string, puzzles, glow sticks and glow jewelry. Not enough? Simple crafts, poster and foamcore board, paints and markers can also satisfy a kid’s creative side. See if you can challenge them to play a different way and set aside the electronics for awhile on vacation.
Candy? Yes, really. Theater box brand-name candy is $1 or less, and usually very fresh (blog writer tested). Other candies include Tootsie Roll products, Werther’s, Dubble Bubble and other name brand favorites. Many other items are American-made by regional confection companies and of good quality. Don’t be afraid to try these treats; if you have any concerns, check the dates or ask the staff. A recent score (for school gifts) was an entire box case of small Toblerone bars for $1 each, and they were completely fresh and lovely.

My point is to consider saving all you can on the functional stuff of trip life, to have more of your hard-earned dollars to spend on fun. I am assuming your innate capability to discern the foreign-made junk from the great gems that you can mine for your own shopping needs. I think you will find more than you expected, with a pleasant ending cash register total, as opposed to the typical tourist town sticker shock. For those already in the know, I am certain you have far more additional creative ideas than I could ever list here.
Enjoy your stocking pitstop, and we look forward to your arrival at Volunteer Cabin Rentals very soon!

Burning with Desire: More than 7 Things to Do When It’s Hot…Really Hot Outside

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.

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1. Get into the river. Mountain springs make our river water icy cold and refreshing year round. Go tubing (that’s floating via inner tube for the uninitiated) on the Little River in Townsend. Try Smoky Mountain River Rat in Wears Valley to get you floating downstream in style. For a little more adventure, try whitewater rafting. Smoky Mountain Outdoors is one company that can provide this service, on both the upper and lower Little Pigeon River. Plan this as a daytrip, since the outpost is about 30 miles out of Gatlinburg near Hartford, TN, for the closest whitewater trips in our area.
2&3. Find a cool and shady forest spot. The easiest place with lots of options for not much effort is definitely Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I have written in detail about this gem location in the past (check out July 18, 2013). Drive a winding 6-mile loop past rushing streams of water, and historic buildings to explore. Also along this drive are the trailheads for both Rainbow and Grotto Falls. Which leads me to number 3. Hike to a waterfall, and get in. Grotto Falls is particularly nice for this, as you can step behind the falls and also get into the eddy pool at the bottom (both with caution, I might add).
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4. Hide in a local theater. There are plenty of choices, from the Forge Cinema for current movies, to a variety of music theaters with various styles of tunes. Also try vaudeville, murder mystery and magic. You can also choose a dinner theater, and eat a meal in comfort while being entertained. Try Lumberjack Feud, Dixie Stampede, or Hatfield & McCoy.
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5. Put yourself on ice. Go ice skating at Ober Gatlinburg’s Olympic size ice rink at the summit of Ski Mountain. Guaranteed that it won’t be as crowded as midwinter, and skating in shorts is perfectly cool.
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6. Go down under. Many people overlook the unique experience of the Forbidden Caverns tour, which can give you a completely different perspective on the Smokies. It’s 58 degrees there all year long, so take a jacket.
7. Take your cool within. Frozen treats are never too difficult to find in our area. There are multiple chain locations for ice cream like Baskin-Robbins, Marble Slab, and Ben & Jerry’s. Other good locations are Mayfield Dairy Bar, Russell Stover, and local spots like Kilwin’s, Apple Valley Creamery, and Island Yogurt, and the newly opened Tara Jean’s Ice Cream and Bakery. Our family favorite is Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt in Pigeon Forge: interesting flavors that rotate by season and lots of everything to add on top, along with really tasty sugar-free options.
Whatever the weather outside, we will always do our best here at Volunteer Cabin Rentals to greet you with a warm smile, and assist as much as we can in making your vacation stay with us all you want it to be. Please call us and make your reservation today!

Smoky Mountain Father’s Day: 5 Part Wish List from a Local Dads’ Survey

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:

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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

 picnic 10-pack from Buddy’s.
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2. “Let me walk on the wild side.” Punch it to top speed at Xtreme Racing. Scream with the kids upside down on the meanest roller coasters at Dollywood. Take a family whitewater rafting trip adventure at Smoky Mountain Outdoors.
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3. “Sweet treats are always appreciated.” When the orange neon sign is on at Krispy Kreme Donuts, apparently hearts beat faster for those hot, gooey doughnuts straight off the production line. Indulge at Smoky Mountain Cheesecake Cafe for a slice of sweet richness after an authentic Cuban sandwich. Pop open a mega box of caramel corn from Karmelkorn Gatlinburg, and chase it with fudge from Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen. The most creative idea was to plan a progressive dessert trip (can you say sugar overload?).
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4. “Get me out the door with my clubs and my best foursome.” There are plenty of challenging golfing options to choose from in our area. Check out the blog archive on April 16, 2014 for details on the best choice for his game.
5. “Set the alarm for a 3-hour nap.” Leave him on the couch at the cabin rental in Sevierville, as Mom takes the kids out for fun. Let Dad relax with some rare alone time…and no honey-do list!
I had to laugh, because the mens’ responses were overwhelmingly skewed toward gastronomic fulfillment. Whatever Dad might desire to eat, you can find it locally. We hope you enjoy your Father’s Day weekend in our beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.

Breakfast Options Both Sweet and Savory

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.br1

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.

7 am-4 pm June-October, 7 am-3 pm November-May, 7 days

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.

7 am-2 pm, 7 days
Frank Allen’s Market and Grill in Sevierville is a local hangout diner that is also a gas station. Clean and basic, grab a stool at the counter and enjoy a fresh meal from the griddle. Sausage and egg biscuit? Yum. If you need local endorsement, Dolly Parton really likes to eat here too. If you slept into lunchtime, Frank Allen’s is also known for pretty great burgers too: voted best burgers in the area for several years straight.
9 am-5 pm Mon-Sat, 10 am-4 pm Sun, 7 days
My few comments regarding these establishments: they are all straightforward basic eats, certainly not gourmet (unless you consider crepes highbrow). All are family-owned, with food made-to-order. If you want chain restaurant pricing and quality, go to the chains: there are plenty in the area. I think it’s unfair to compare family restaurants to chain establishments, especially regarding service. If pricing is a concern, check the menu prior to visiting. Please tip generously for friendly, efficient service. Servers make the majority of their income from tips, just like in your hometown.
So don’t eat at dining places you can find at home while on vacation. Experience our local Southern cooking: it’s a treat, even for us locals. Bon appetit…y’all!

 

Camera Lenses and Paintbrushes: 2 Local Artists of Note

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. 

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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.

Ken’s work over a 30-year span captures amazing imagery that elevates photography to pure, lovely art. Don’t miss his galleries, Beneath the Smoke and Heaven’s Eyes, which are located at 467 Parkway in Gatlinburg, at the Highway 321 junction. Many beautiful images are reasonably priced. Photos of all sizes, sold unframed, or matted and framed ready to display. Books of nature, fine gifts, along with items for camping, hiking, and photography are all available for purchase.
Ken is also founder of Wilderness Wildlife Week (WWW), a Winterfest educational event that occurs annually in January. 2015 marks its 25th year, and the events take place mostly at Leconte Center in Pigeon Forge. WWW has a huge following with over 20,000 attendees. The week features workshops, expert seminars, hikes and field trips, and all sorts of classes for both young and old, open to anyone wanting to attend. It is a great place to learn about so many topics: please plan to visit and be both entertained and educated by this event. I summarized the 2014 WWW earlier this year, which can give you a flavor for what is to come in 2015 (see blog archive for Jan 15, 2014).
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Robert Tino has been painting since he was a student in the 1980’s, and has a broad and devoted following of collectors for his creations of Smoky mountain landscapes. Local mountain scenery, animals, floral depictions, holiday images, and other striking subjects are featured. His use of color is much appreciated for its depth and variation that beautifully captures the nuances of our countryside. Never ordinary, each piece deserves study for its detail and long-term enjoyment of ownership. Various editions and collections are available for purchase, in many configurations. Professional matting and framing services are also provided at this local art gallery.
Even the Tino gallery itself is a showplace. The antebellum farm homestead is listed on the Tennessee Register of Historic Places, and has been in the Denton family for generations (Robert’s wife is Mary John Denton Tino). Thousands of art lovers have enjoyed this charming place to visit. A full complement of artwork, along with fine gifts and regional pottery are offered for purchase. Robert says he tries to preserve the region’s heritage as a storyteller through his watercolors and oils.
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In addition, celebrate our local heritage every October as the Tino gallery hosts the Smoky Mountain Homecoming, now in its 22nd year. A family event with a large, happy following, we locals also enjoy this fun heritage celebration every year. Bluegrass music, storytelling, crafts, food, games, antiques, farm skill demonstrations, wagon rides, and more are a part of the festivities, along with Robert’s new art releases available for viewing, signing, and purchase. Check the blog archive for Sept 25, 2013 for a more detailed summary.
There are many area artists worthy of your attention. Start with these two fine gentlemen to increase your art appreciation. Come stay with us at Volunteer Cabin Rentals soon!

 

 

 

The Glory of the Arts: Create, Appreciate, and Take them Home with You!

“If art has a purpose, it is to interpret life; reproduce it in fresh visions.” Catherine Dinken Bowen

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.

 

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Want to improve your own creative skills? Try a new medium and enhance your personal artistry? Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is located in downtown Gatlinburg, and hosts visiting artists throughout the year at various functions. Five artist galleries and the artist-in-residence studios are open to viewing by the public. Evening presentation events and the library and resource center are also accessible. Visit the campus store for uncommon pieces and other items of interest. Arrowmont’s website is full of great information, so plan ahead and take a class!

 

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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.

Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair brings the craftsmen to the public twice annually in the summer and fall. This year’s dates are July 18-27, 2014, and October 9-26, 2014. If you are visiting during these dates, take advantage of this trade show-style event with both local and visiting artisans from all over the country. Don’t miss these hugely popular events, located at the downtown Gatlinburg Convention Center.
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In Pigeon Forge, Dollywood’s Craftsmans Valley is actually a great location for daily artist demonstrations. See traditional crafts like wood carving, glass painting, candle making, and even more. Hot skills from master crafters like glass blowing and blacksmithing are also fascinating to watch, if you can pull the kids away from that next rollercoaster ride for a few moments.
In addition, the fall Harvest Celebration adds dozens of Celebration Crafters in booths throughout the park displaying a wide variety of skilled crafts. It’s actually my favorite time to visit Dollywood: beautiful natural countryside in all its autumn splendor, with hand-crafted beauty also on display.
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For the kids, and also the kid in you, why not paint your own souvenir from your vacation? Visit the Ceramic Art Studio in Sevierville, located at 728 Parkway. Absolutely everyone can be an artist here. Choose your own piece from a broad selection of ceramic wares. All materials to paint and finish it are provided, along with basic instruction to get you started. The pieces are glazed and fired onsite, and can be picked up or shipped to your home address–no breakage worries! Group activities are also available. Consider a girls night out, a team building corporate activity, or a kid’s party. Independently owned by friendly folk, they will gladly work with you to even bring a class to your group event location. For more information, check out this link: http://ceramicartstudio.com
So think about some art exploration while visiting this area of Tennessee. With a little planning, you can create your own one-of-a-kind piece, and maybe discover a talent you didn’t know that you had. Take home an elegant memento of your visit. Even get a jump on Christmas shopping with “can’t find it elsewhere” selections. Just another reason to love to return again to the Smokies: there’s nowhere else quite like it. Reserve your stay with us today at Volunteer Cabin Rentals, and get your creative juices flowing soon!

Silly, Sweet and Slightly Naughty: Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre 38th Season

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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.

 The venue’s founding owners, Don and Pat MacPherson, met as performers in Las Vegas in the 1960’s, and later married. Their extensive arts background resumes (like London’s Royal Ballet and Boston Conservatory of Music), lent professional underpinnings that have supported the long run of successful shows that have made the theatre a Gatlinburg institution. This family-owned stage show now includes the next generation of family performers. The audience also includes second generation members, as fans return each season, and now bring their own children to enjoy the productions.
Since 1977, this Gatlinburg home has premiered over 30 original musical comedies. Each year two original title shows are offered. This season presents:
“The Son of the Musketeers”, a 3-part musical with a comedic play, sing-along and musical revue and “Malarky”, a vaudeville-style musical revue with songs, sketches, and audience participation.
The historic theatre is small and intimate (under 200 seats), and the company bills its style as “1890’s music hall”. This is not a place where you can go incognito: there’s always a risk of being called out if you are not participating when required. My personal tip: Show No Fear, or you will be found. They can smell it.
On the flip side, should you really desire to be selected for onstage, choose an aisle seat or the first few rows of seats (ask when making reservations). Be aware that any laughter at your expense is light-hearted fun, not insulting barbs.
Even after all these years, the Paper Dance can still make me snort laughing. So, after enjoying the scenic views from the deck of your Gatlinburg rental cabin, choose to be a part of the comic mayhem scene occurring nightly at Sweet Fanny Adams. Enjoy!

Smoky Mountains Mother’s Day: 5-Part Wish List from a Local Moms’ Survey

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.

 

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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.
http://www.tangeroutlet.com/sevierville/
http://www.thevillageshops.com

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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.
http://www.smokymountainziplines.com
http://scenichelicoptertours.com
http://xtremeracingcenterpigeonforge.com

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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.
http://www.pancakepantry.com
http://www.meltingpot.com/gatlinburg/welcome

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.

Free is Good! 6 No-Cost Things to Do in the Smokies

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).

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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?
http://www.sevierlibrary.org/default.aspx

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?”

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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.
http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm#CP_JUMP_48430

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.

The City Parks of Sevier County: Hidden Gems for All to Discover

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.

 

Gatlinburg has three city parks: Mills Park, Herbert Holt Park, and Mynatt Park.

 

1. Mills Park is the largest and is located off Highway 321 on Mills Park Road. It has a Disc Golf course with 9 holes, a skate park,  a playground, 400 meter track, basketball, softball, and football fields;  picnic area with grills, and more.

 

2. Herbert Holt Park is directly off the Parkway on the right as you enter into Gatlinburg from the Spur, after passing through Pigeon Forge. Though the smallest of the three, it has a  playground and plenty of shade for picnicking. Fishing for children (also with wheelchair access) is allowed in the adjacent stream. A trout rearing facility is also located here.

 

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3. Mynatt Park is the most scenic, and literally at the National Park border. It is located on Asbury Lane off Historic Nature Trail in the heart of Gatlinburg, just before the entrance to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Soothing and peaceful, a stocked stream runs alongside the shady picnic area, a lovely place to wade, with a footbridge and child fishing available. There are clean restrooms, a basketball court, and a ball field. An ample playground area and tennis courts are located a half-block up the street. Mynatt Park is our long-term family favorite for a relaxation spot after the hubbub of downtown Gatlinburg.

 

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Pigeon Forge has two municipal park locations.
4. Patriot Park is located on Old Mill Avenue, just past the Old Mill complex in the heart of Pigeon Forge. It is the centerpiece of all special event festivals held in the city, from Independence Day fireworks to the Winterfest “turn on the lights” kickoff. It shares its parking lot with the city Funtime trolley system, and has a walking track that runs beside the Pigeon River (a good place to feed the resident ducks). The park is named to honor service veterans and has appropriate memorabilia. Large, flat and open, it is also a good spot to throw any sort of sports ball around or to enjoy field play with your pet.

 

5. Wear Farm City Park is virtually brand new, completed in spring 2013. It replaces the former city park that was absorbed with the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. It is located on Wears Valley Road, just out of the city on the left, and borders Waldens Creek at its backside. This is sports field central: football, basketball, and 5 baseball fields. There are also two ADA all-access playgrounds, and shelter areas for gathering. Tournaments are often played here, and it’s a good place for jocks to get their energy out and game on.

 

 

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6. Sevierville City Park has a renovated, modern public pool with splash pad and slide, a diving board and very reasonable entrance fees ($5 adult, $4 child/senior, under 4 years free, spectator $2.50). In addition, there is a shady picnic area with pavilions next to a stream, ballfields, renovated tennis courts, a playground, and a walking greenway.

 

As you can see, the variety of activities available is surprising, and most are free or just a nominal fee. So come be outside with us, and join the locals at some of our favorite places to play.