Tennessee was always one of my favorite states after the first time I visited Nashville back in 2013. I loved everything about the city the few times I had visited, but I never got the chance to make it out East by The Great Smoky Mountains. Staying in a cabin away from everyone is something I wanted to do for a while, so I figured what’s a better time than now when social distancing is encouraged?! (Note: We did go to two attractions in town, but we spent the majority of our time away from everyone.)
Where To Stay:
To get the full experience, you’ll want to stay in a cabin somewhere outside the crowded towns. There are many hotels in downtown Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but you would be missing out on the view and the quietness in the middle of the mountains.
We found our cabin on Airbnb, but there are many sites that offer different listings as well. (I just always use Airbnb when traveling. I find it easier and more beneficial.) We stayed outside of Pigeon Forge near Townsend. The view from our cabin was absolutely beautiful! The sunsets were breathtaking and the colors were so vibrant each evening. I think I saw some of my favorite sunsets here, hands down! (We even got to see a black bear one evening outside our cabin!)
I also brought my fur baby, Salem with me on his first road trip, so I wanted to make sure he had enough space and a comfortable place for him to stay.
What To Do:
There are an endless amount of activities to do between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Many of them are in town near the crowds, but there are also numerous things you can do away from everyone. There are a few scenic drives that are gorgeous and you can stop along the way to take pictures or hike a trail. I love this idea, especially for social distancing!
I listed these locations below, along with the two other attractions we went to.
The Titanic Museum was awesome and had so much history to share! If you’re a Titanic fan, I would definitely recommend stopping here. We went early in the morning so we could beat the crowds! Unfortunately, photos are not allowed besides the Lego Titanic replica and Wallace Hartley’s Violin. (Worth 1.7 million dollars; the highest price ever paid for a Titanic artifact!)
The most obvious thing to do when visiting The Great Smoky Mountains is to go hiking! They have so many waterfalls you can hike to with different experience levels, so even if you’re a beginner, you will make it.
Laurel Falls is one of the popular trails, so I would suggest hiking early in the morning. We made it a little after sunrise and there were still a good amount of people on the trail already, but still enough space to keep distance. Some of the best waterfalls to check out are as follows:
Where To Eat:
Another good reason to stay in a cabin (or Airbnb in general) is cooking at your location! Ours came with a grill, so we were able to grill out on the back deck and make food without a problem, but of course no one wants to go on vacation and be stuck cooking half the time. We checked out a few restaurants, but always got our food to go. Some places I would recommend are:
- Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen
- Smoky Mountain Brewery
- Timberwood Grill
- Blue Moose Burgers & Wings
- Gigi’s Cupcakes
**I WOULD NOT recommend Calhoun’s! I found a bug in my food (first time in my life) and their curbside pickup was the absolute worst!
After my trip to The Great Smoky Mountains, I’m convinced Tennessee is one of the most beautiful states in the South! If you haven’t been yet, I would suggest booking a cabin and checking it out for yourself. I honestly think any season would be a great time for a visit!