My 39th birthday started out with a trip to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. What better way to spend your birthday than in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. The kids thought we were going to eat breakfast and take a day trip to Pigeon Forge, TN. Little did they know, an awesome adventure was on the horizon.
Let me rewind a bit.
The original plans for my birthday weekend included going to a friend’s wedding in Virginia and spending a few days in Washington, D.C. However, the hubby couldn’t get enough days off work in order for us to make the trip happen. The nine year old had been looking forward to this trip. He was super sad (as was I) that we weren’t going to be able to make it. We ended up planning a last minute trip to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and told him about it. He wanted to keep it a secret from his sister and brothers, which he successfully accomplished!
Adventures in the Smoky Mountains: Day One
We headed to Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville, TN after breakfast. They had an iron throne display as it was close to the premiere of the 8th and final season of Game of Thrones. The kids couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a photo op.
No trip to the Smoky Mountains is complete without a trip to Smoky Mountain Knife Works. The kids love stopping at SMKW for their collection of Ty plushes. They love to collect them. And of course the hubby loves to stop there for their collection of knives. Me? I love hanging out in their kitchen section. I’m always bound to find something new for the kitchen. Helpful hint! Grab coupon books at local restaurants and/or gas stations and look for the $5 off coupon from Smoky Mountain Knife Works. Who doesn’t love to save $5?
After the trip to Smoky Mountain Knife Works, we drove through Sevierville to Pigeon Forge. We couldn’t decide what to do in Pigeon Forge so we ended up driving on into Gatlinburg. We stopped at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center for a pit stop. I love stopping at the welcome centers in the area because you can learn more about the history of the Smoky Mountains. The kids enjoyed looking at all of the different things inside the welcome center. Make sure to read the info on the bear while you’re there.
Time to Eat!
After our stop, we drove through Gatlinburg and took the road into Townsend. Bellies were grumbling and longing for food. We were trying to decide where to eat lunch. I suggested Burger Master since I’d heard great things about it. We stopped there upon our arrival in Townsend. However, it was at the end of April and still a bit chilly and windy outside. Burger Master only has outdoor seating. We opted to wait until the end of the trip to eat there, hoping for warmer weather and less wind.
Now what? The hubby suggested that we hop in the van and drive until we found somewhere to eat that everyone could agree on. (The unplanned meals usually end up being the best ones!) We didn’t have to drive far as he spotted Riverstone Restaurant just down the road from Burger Master. I am SO glad that he suggested it because it is one of the best home-cooked meals that I’ve had in a long time. You should eat there at least once in your lifetime if you get the chance!
I had the Country-Fried Steak topped with gravy and onions, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and toast. The lettuce, tomato and onion that you see on the plate are courtesy of the picky three year old’s hamburger. The kids had either hamburgers or cheeseburgers with fries (they couldn’t stop raving about how delicious the fries were) and the hubby had the Mesquite-Grilled Chicken.
We headed back to Pigeon Forge via Wears Valley after our yummy lunch. We stopped at Walden’s Landing to do a bit of shopping and savor a few treats.
Welcome to Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort!
The next stop after Walden’s Landing was none other than Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort for a two night stay! Check in at the hotel was at 4:00 pm. It was around 3:30 by the time they finished their ice cream so we decided to head to the resort. They were playing on tablets and oblivious as to where we were going….until we pulled into the entrance. The look of shock, excitement and pure joy made it all worthwhile!
Staying at DreamMore comes with some pretty awesome perks!
- DreamMore Resort guests that have Dollywood tickets receive a complimentary TimeSaver pass (a $35 value) to enjoy expedited entrance to ten different TimeSaver attractions
- Convenient and free resort shuttle from DreamMore Resort to Dollywood parks
- DreamMore Resort guests can experience a select ride or attraction early each Saturday morning at Dollywood (visit the Dollywood website for a schedule)
- Enjoy the DreamMore Resort guests-only entrance at Dollywood
- In-room delivery at DreamMore Resort for Dollywood parks’ shopping purchases
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Complimentary self-parking is available at the resort. Valet parking is available for an added fee.
Upon arrival, attendants take your luggage for you while you are checking in. They bring your luggage directly to your room. I think this was one of my favorite perks!
A Tour of the Resort
After we checked in and headed to our room, I decided to take a solo tour of the property (you know, in order to give a proper tour for the rest of the family at a later time).
My first stop was in the main lobby. Whether you’re looking to prop up your feet (like I did), watch a show or two, read a book by the fire, or play checkers, there’s something for everyone to take a few moments to relax.
After the short break, I headed outside to the back of the resort to view the outdoor amenities which include:
- Fire pits
- Floral gardens
- Outdoor Swimming Pool
- Splash Pad
Once back inside, it was on to the Dolly section of the resort. There’s an entire hallway on the way to the indoor pool, arcade and camp DW that is filled with Dolly album covers, photos from Dolly’s movies, etc. I call it, “The Dolly Hall”.
I headed back to the room to grab the rest of the family and give them a tour after I concluded my solo tour.
This is a beautiful butterfly made from flowers along with a Dolly quote. It is located at the back of the resort. The seven year old loved reading the Dolly quotes that were spread throughout the resort.
After a quick tour of the outdoor area, we headed back inside. Of course the kids had to take photos every chance they got.
Indoor amenities include:
- Gift shop
- Lounge Bar
- Camp DW
- Indoor Pool
- Fitness Room
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
How on earth was the day almost over? The saying is certainly true. Time DOES fly when you’re having fun. It was time for dinner once we concluded our tour of the property. We grabbed a bite to eat from the pantry before pajama story time at Camp DW.
A quick stop at the fire pit was in order as we made our way back to the room after pajama story time.
We booked a Junior Suite for our stay. Junior Suites include a king bed, two twin bunk beds and a sleeper sofa. This room features a full-size bath with tub and a working desk with multiple charging stations.
Each room includes:
- 42″ flat screen TV
- Cable channels
- Daily maid service
- In-room safe
- Coffee maker with coffee/tea
- Clock radio with alarm
- Hair dryer
- Iron & ironing board available upon request
- Portable cribs are available upon request
A full day of fun was had by all and it was off to bed to catch some shut eye before the busy day ahead.
Adventures in the Smoky Mountains: Day Two
Day two was packed full of as much as fun as day one was! We started the day at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg on Sunday morning. I highly recommend getting there when they open. We didn’t have to wait to be seated!
After breakfast at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, we headed back to the resort to relax until Dollywood opened.
It was time to put our resort perks to use as we headed to Dollywood for the day. Complimentary shuttle, TimeSaver Passes and resort guests only entrance. Makes one feel like a VIP!
We rode a few rides before stopping for lunch.
No trip to Dollywood is complete without eating at Red’s Diner. My mom and I used to go to Dollywood several times per month and we’d always eat at Red’s. Love that it’s still there! The kids enjoyed it too!
A Trip to the Pool & More Resort Fun
After a fun-filled day at Dollywood, it was time to head back to the resort for some fun in the sun at the pool.
You can’t stay at DreamMore and not try the Pink Lemonade in the lobby! Of course they had to partake…
And you can’t miss the photo in front of the DreamMore sign.
The arcade was also tons of fun, not only for the kids, but for mom and dad as well.
Dolly’s love of butterflies can be seen throughout the property, even on the carpet in the hallways outside of the rooms. I couldn’t resist snapping this photo as we headed back to our room after a visit to the arcade. We ate dinner and enjoyed some down time in the room before bed. Everyone was sad that our 3 day/2 night trip was already coming to an end. Time flies when you’re having fun!
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye
We decided to make one more round of the property before checking out and heading home on the final morning of our stay. I was able to capture these gorgeous photos of the property.
As you can tell by the look on their faces, they were not happy to be leaving as they waited for daddy to get the car after checking out of the resort. They were already asking when we’d be returning. Soon, I told them. Soon.
I am so blessed to live at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains! I loved being able to spend time there while growing up and now I get to share these beautiful mountains with my children. They love spending time there and making memories. Each trip ends with the same question. “When are we going to visit the Smoky Mountains again?”
If you took the time to read about our adventure, I hope you enjoyed it! Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer them. Until the next adventure…