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Trip Report Long Weekend Great Smoky Mountains, March 2014, Gatlinburg

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My husband and I spent a long weekend in Gatlinburg and had a wonderful time. We love the outdoors but we stayed right in Gatlinburg so we got a good dose of the tacky fun available there and Pigeon Forge. We already live in a rural place so being in town was a change of pace for us.

We stayed at the Days Inn Gatlinburg on the River because it was cheap. It met my expectations in that it was clean and safe though very run down in many ways. I'd stay there again, though. It is just outside the main drag of town which was an advantage because it meant we didn't have to deal with traffic to get to our motel and we were close enough to walk to town in the evenings (we are big walkers, but there is also a trolly stop just outside the place if you aren't). There's a fridge and microwave in the room and the provided breakfast is limited (no fruit or yogurt) so you might appreciate having a place to store stuff you want for breakfast or dinner leftovers.

Activities

Hiking: Brushy Mountain and Abram Falls

We wanted to do Ramsey's Cascade but it is closed until the end of April to repair a handrail on one of the log bridges. We opted instead for Brushy Mountain and had a beautiful hike of about 12 miles all to ourselves. We loved it. It took us 5 hours with of stops for pics, looking at squirrels (they are different from ours!) and a picnic at the top.

We did Abram Falls the day we drove the Cades Cove loop road and we got started just before 9 a.m. on a chilly Monday morning. The hike is only about 5 miles and easy, plus it ends at the falls so it is very popular. Still, we had the falls to ourselves for about 15 min when we got there. Then there was one small group of 4 who arrived. Once we headed back we could see that it was going to get crowded because the trail had many more people on it.

Dolly's Dixie Stampede Dinner Show www.dixiestampede.com/‎
You can't escape these brochures and we figured we should do something Dolly-related while in the area and chose this. We opted for the premium seats for an extra $5/ticket and felt it was worth it because our seats were terrific. The meal is nothing exciting but they did have a vegetarian pasta, which was nice for me. We were entertained and felt the ticket price was worth it. The trick riding was incredible and we fully embraced the fun of the show and enjoyed ourselves.

Parrot Mountain http://www.parrotmountainandgardens.com/
I went to this because I read about it in another Fodorite's trip report and it sounded like our kind of activity. It was fun to see all the beautiful parrots, and also to feed and hold some. Definitely spring for the cup of nectar to feed the loris--they are really fun and swoop right over to drink from the little cup.

Davy Crockett's Miniature Golf
This is run by Ripley's and it is nothing more than putt-putt golf. We had fun on the slightly more difficult course. I actually won a free game that we didn't use so if someone's heading there soon, top this and maybe we can coordinate me sending you the ticket in the mail or something so it doesn't go to waste.

Artist's Loop http://www.gatlinburgcrafts.com/
Not my favorite. We tried to visit some of these shops on Saturday after our hike. It was well before 5 p.m. when we started and I'd say only about 1/3 of the shops were open. And what there was wasn't particularly appealing. We like local crafts and art but none of these really struck us. And it's annoying to keep getting in and out of the car to browse only to find places closed. We also really wanted to go to Glade's Soda Fountain and it was closed every time we tried. That's the downside of visiting before the tourist season is really in full swing.

Moonshine/Whiskey Tasting http://olesmoky.com/ http://davycrocketts.com/ http://www.sugarlandsdistilling.com/
There are three places to taste in Gatlinburg and we tried all of them, Davy Crockett's Whiskey, Ole Smoky Moonshine, and Sugarlands. Ole Smoky had the best music going in their central area where there were rocking chairs. But the tasting area was too crowded to really enjoy. We liked the atmosphere and taste of Sugarlands best and went back there to do our buying and learned that they just had their store grand opening Friday in Gatlinburg. Davy Crockett's was fine. There are limited tasting/selling hours on Sunday (and actually Sugarlands was entirely closed when we went by there that evening) so check before you go on a Sunday.

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