Two weeks ago, my family (my husband/kids plus my mom, brother and sister) surprised my dad with a trip to Gatlinburg for his 70th birthday. I went to Gatlinburg when I was in 8th grade and have always wanted to go back.
We headed out after church on Sunday morning, stayed overnight at a hotel in GA (because road tripping with kids adds so many extra hours to your time – hello stopping to use the bathroom every 2 hours) and ended up in Gatlinburg on Sunday in the afternoon.
We Airbnb’d the cutest cabin in the mountains. Since I am an awesome blogger, I completely forgot to take pictures of it, but it was stunning and had a balcony with a
bacteria pool jacuzzi that overlooked the mountains.
The first day that we got there, we headed into downtown for a moonshine tasting session. We chose to go to Sugarlands Distilling Company and were treated to the most amazing tasting experience.
The set up is perfect because you pay only $5 for the chance to try 8+ types of moonshine. The store is one large open floor plan with huge barrels and bartops. The walls are lined with different types of moonshine. A large group gathers around the bar tops and a bartender pours shots of moonshine for you while giving you information about the flavors.
I decided to tap out after about 4 or 5 shots. I did not want to over do it and felt like it would be important to be able to look at my kids without seeing multiples of them. Responsible parenting at its finest.
My mom, dad and brother.
We came. We moonshined. We conquered.
After enjoying some of the downtown, which was a lot more touristy than I remember, we headed back to the cabin and relaxed for the night.
On Tuesday, we went to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. There are several different hiking trails but with the kids in tow we decided to opt for a family friendly hike to Grotto Falls. In total, it took us about 1 ½ hours to get to the end of the hike which brought us to the most amazing waterfall. It was a stunning example of God’s amazing creation.
Me, Bae & my five head.
At Grotto Falls.
Wednesday was spent at Dollywood. We were there for only a few hours before we got rained out. I am talking torrential down pour and lightening warnings. Dollywood was nice but I think for the money, it would be better to take older kids. There are things for younger kids to do but we had to skip several of the large rides due to height requirements.
Thursday was a pottery class at Fowlers Clay Work. The people at Fowlers were amazing and so accommodating of our group. My 5 year old was even able to participate and sit at the wheel. My four year old was too young (and impulsive) for the wheel but they gave him an apron and a big pile of clay to play with while we worked.
Once we finished the pottery class, we headed back to the cabin for some R&R before our scheduled ziplining at Anakeesta.
We got to Anakeesta around 4:30 PM and our ziplining was supposed to begin at 5 PM. When we got there, they told us that we were supposed to be there by 4 PM (which I was never informed to do) and that they had double booked the time slot so we would not be able to do the ziplining. Insert angry eyes. It was so frustrating and unbelievably unprofessional. They refunded us all of our money and gave us free entrance to the village. We ended up deciding to stay and did the sky lift up to the top. At the top, there is a little village of shops, a kids play area, a treetop canapy walk and a restaurant. The experience was nice but there are a lot of kinks that still need to be worked out. It has been open a little less than 1 year but there was ongoing contruction and the restaurant had just opended a few days earlier so the waiters seemed a little unsure of themselves.
We made the best of it though and enjoyed a nice dinner with beautiful views.
Dinner with a view.
Doing the treetop walk at Anakeesta.
My dad on the treetop walk.
That evening, after the kids went to bed, I spent time outside, reading, enjoying the fireflies (in love with these by the way) and just soaking in God’s goodness and mercy.
On Friday, we packed our bags and made the 4 hour trip to my mother and father in-law’s home in Murfreesboro where we stayed for another week.
It was an exhausting and amazing trip. Exhausting because doing anything with small kids is and amazing because the Smokey Mountains are gorgeous and peaceful and magic. I could definitely see our family making this trip a yearly family getaway!