1. Where should we eat?
A. Quaint local spot
B. Chain restaurant
C. Picnic in the park
Well, if you know us at all, then the obvious answer is A!
Candace likes to use TripAdvisor when deciding where to eat. There’s a convenient feature where you can typically also read the menu for the restaurant. Some of the highest rated places were either not open or served more of a deli style meal￼. We firmly believe you should eat the local cuisine when you are traveling as much as possible. This log cabin looked promising, and it certainly did not disappoint!￼
Be sure to ask for the specials. The shrimp and grits was simply phenomenal. One of the best we’ve ever had. At first, we thought the bacon on our breakfast dish looked burnt, but we were definitely wrong. It is a maple glazed bacon which was chewy and perfectly delicious. We are now on a hunt to find more of this style bacon.￼ The atmosphere in this small restaurant was a special part of the experience. If you go, we recommend sitting in the loft.
Helpful tip: the restaurant only takes cash although there is an ATM inside. There is a three dollar fee. All in all, we highly recommend Timbers Log Cabin restaurant.￼
While answer C sounds great, we were ready for a meal at a restaurant. If you ever choose answer B, we just can’t be friends.￼
2. What should we do in the national park?
A. Check out the visitor center
B. Enjoy some short hikes
C. Drive to one of the high points
Our answer was A and B this time!
Unfortunately, Travis wasn’t feeling well. However, it was still an amazing day in the park. ￼ we always recommend going to the visitor center when visiting a national park. It is not only important for your safety that you know about any closures or other important announcements, but there is always information to be gleaned from the knowledgeable Park Rangers as well as park volunteers.
Another of Candace’s favorite things to do is to watch the National Park video played on a loop at visitor centers in every national park. You will always get a great overview of the area, some important regional history, and an idea of things you might want to do while in the park.
Immediately inside the park, there are numerous trails of varying difficult and very near Sugarlands Visitor Center. You can even take a trail all the way back into the city center of Gatlinburg only a couple of miles away.
Be sure to check out the informational signs about the various flora and fauna. The boys loved seeing a “gum tree.”
3. Which of the famous gravity coasters should we ride?
A. Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster
B. Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster
C. Whatever is cheapest!
Our pre-trip research meant we planned ahead for option B!
While there were several other options for an adventure including other gravity coasters, we did our research. TripAdvisor highly recommended specifically Gatlinburg mountain coaster. The reviews were very good. However, prices are definitely cheaper for other options. If you mention competitor prices, they will offer you a 10% discount.
It was pretty expensive, but Travis was not feeling well and this was high on his priority list. We simply had to go for it. We were glad we did! It went much faster than expected and felt like a theme park roller coaster. It went faster than we expected!￼
4. Should we try the Tennessee moonshine?
A. Yes, of course
B. No, we don’t like it
While moonshine isn’t our thing – it’s Tennessee! Answer A, of course!
We didn’t have the time, or honestly the inclination, to do one of the famous moonshine tours where you travel to multiple different distilleries. So, we opted for a popular option in downtown Gatlinburg, which also allowed us to check out the incredible Christmas spirit of the town.
The sampling at Sugarlands Distillery was a memorable experience! Your $5 wristband allows you to taste 10 different selections, but then the five dollars can be used towards any purchase at the location.￼ The city has tight regulations on the industry, and we were glad that they were very serious about checking everyone’s ID and not allowing people to share the alcohol. Even though it was extremely busy, there was virtually no wait as their process was efficient and well organized￼.
You can ask for a half portion of a sample, but actually each sample is already quite small. Neither of us enjoy sweet flavors, so we were worried that this would not be enjoyable as almost everything was quite sweet. However, it was still a great experience, and we were surprised that we did like several of the options.￼ A good sized bottle is $25, but there are also various specials if you want to take away multiples. We opted for the root beer moonshine to take back to our neighborhood poker friends. We also really liked the ones you could add to coffee, but it just isn’t our thing. There is also a first responder and military discount of 20%!
5. Where should we go to see the best Christmas lights?
A. Along the country roads
B. In the city center
C. Down the main road
D. Absolutely anywhere in Gatlinburg
The answer was clear – D! Gatlinburg had the best Christmas decorations for an entire city that we have ever seen!
Around every corner, down every street, and in every shop you will see an unforgettable dedication to the Christmas spirit. From large scale lighting structures to huge Christmas trees on every street corner, you will be surrounded with holiday cheer.￼￼￼
￼During the day, every shop has its own celebration of the Christmas holidays, but the real magic is at night. The entire city is committed to the festivities of the season.￼
6. Where should we stay?
A. Hotel in the city center
B. Lodge in the mountains
C. RV AirBNB
D. Camping in a tent
While all of those options sound good, we opted to bring the travel trailer! Answer C
Candace researched several different options, and she decided on another great Air BNB spot. The location allowed very quick access into the national park, and it was just a couple of miles into the city￼.￼￼ The best part, however, was the ambience!
If you are interested, here is the link: https://abnb.me/alcW1ugsR2
We were directly on a gorgeous and quick flowing creek. The sounds of the water rushing over the rocks filled the air with the music of nature.￼￼
Having this creek just steps out our door was the perfect way to spend our time in the Great Smoky Mountains!￼