With four kids, it’s hard to get quality alone time with your spouse. Am I right? The hubby and I try to plan at least one overnight trip (usually to the Great Smoky Mountains) per year. We tend to stay at different hotels, eat at different restaurants and plan activities that we haven’t previously done. We planned this year’s trip for the weekend of October 19-20 a few months in advance.
We woke up early on Saturday morning in order to get the kids situated for the weekend. The oldest and the youngest stayed home with my mom and the two middles went to my sister’s house for the weekend. We like to divide them up so that one person isn’t watching all four at the same time.
The trip began as we headed to Cherokee, NC via Deals Gap (complete with 318 curves in 11 miles) on Saturday morning. We made a pit stop at Fontana Village before entering the Tail of the Dragon. The hubby owns a Nissan 350Z and loves driving this stretch of road.
Once we arrived in Cherokee, we made a quick stop at the Cherokee Welcome Center before heading to Granny’s Kitchen Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is a buffet. There is no menu for ordering food. I had heard great things about the restaurant from several Smoky Mountain area Facebook groups and knew that I wanted to give it a try. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to get in because the parking lot was almost completely full when we arrived. However, we were seated immediately and the server came and asked for our drink order and told us we could go to the buffet. It is hands down one of the best home-cooked meals that I’ve ever had.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I can’t pass up a good salad bar! They had every salad topping that I love (and more) on their salad bar. I had lettuce, tomatoes, cauliflower, onions, shredded cheese, hard-boiled eggs, diced ham, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, and croutons and topped with ranch dressing. So good! I would’ve finished the entire plate (only had a bit left) but needed to save room for the main meal.
On the lunch buffet was: Homemade Beef Stew, Fried Chicken, Fresh Steamed Cabbage, Stewed Fresh Potatoes, Green Beans, Spiced Apples, Black-eyed Peas, and Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
Want to know what’s on the menu before you visit? You can view their daily menu by visiting the website and clicking on the ‘Daily Buffet Menu’ tab. Choose the day of the week that you plan to visit and you can see the entire day’s buffet menu.
The sweet tea was perfectly sweet as well! I ate so much that I couldn’t even finish the food on my plate. I can’t wait to go back again. The food, atmosphere, and service were outstanding! We will definitely be stopping in again the next time we are in Cherokee.
We made a quick stop at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino just to see what it looked like on the inside. The inside was HUGE and easy to get lost in if you don’t pay attention to where you are going. Not that we’d know or anything. Haha! We did a lot of people watching (which was quite entertaining) before heading back to the car to make the drive from Cherokee to Gatlinburg.
If you are visiting Cherokee between mid-September and late October, you might be able to spot an elk or two! We happened upon a field of elks just outside of downtown Cherokee.
There was a lot of traffic between Cherokee and Gatlinburg so it took longer than expected to arrive in Gatlinburg. Traffic into Gatlinburg from Cherokee slowed to 10-15 MPH at least two miles outside of Gatlinburg. Since our hotel was at the entrance of Gatlinburg (at the other end of town), we decided to take the bypass to Pigeon Forge. I’m sure that saved a lot of time!
We arrived at The Appy Lodge shortly after 4 pm. We had booked a King Fireplace Suite at the beginning of October. The staff was attentive, friendly and prompt. Check-in was a breeze! We headed up to the room with our luggage before heading back out for the evening. Be sure to check the blog soon for a full review of our stay at The Appy.
The next stop on our trip was Anakeesta! We had a blast. The only bad part about it was the fact that it rained and we didn’t get to experience The Legend of Hallow Mountain (an after-dark journey through Hallow Mountain Graveyard) due to inclement weather. I’ll have a full review of our Anakeesta experience posted shortly so be sure to check back for that as well! Until then, here are a few photos from our visit.
We headed back to the hotel after leaving Anakeesta. We settled in for the evening with pizza from Papa Johns and little UT vs AL football. We timed our pizza delivery just right, as it arrived right when the game started. I call that a win!
We woke up on Sunday morning and walked next door to Flapjacks for breakfast. If you’ll recall, this was also the restaurant of choice both mornings in July when we took a short trip to Gatlinburg for hubby’s birthday.
He ordered the same meal as last time which was the Wonderland Egg Breakfast. It consisted of t
I decided to try something different this time. I had the Townsend Skillet which was two eggs with choice of bacon and served over skillet potatoes. The meal was served in an iron skillet.
Both meals were cooked to perfection!
After breakfast, we went back to the hotel to pack up and check out. We decided to spend the morning in Gatlinburg so we parked the car in a parking lot about midway of the strip and walked to several different shops in order to find souvenirs to bring home for the kids.
We also decided to check out the Red Rocket Retro Arcade which was full of vintage arcade games and pinball machines, alongside newer games.
For $20, we played SEVERAL games! I highly recommend a stop if you are into this kind of thing. We had a ton of fun!
After we left the arcade, we decided to stop at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair (which is open daily until October 27) at the Gatlinburg Convention center with over 180 craftspeople from all over the United States. It was definitely worth the stop. So much talent in one place!
After leaving the Craftsmen’s Fair, we drove to Pigeon Forge for lunch before hitting the Foothills Parkway to head home. We stopped by a few shops in the Old Mill District and wanted to eat at either the Old Mill restaurant or Pottery House Cafe but quickly realized there would be a long wait because it was on a Sunday evening after church. Which equals LONG wait times. So, that was a no go.
We hopped back in the car and drove down the parkway before stopping at Geno’s Pizza. I had the Philly Cheesesteak and the hubby had the Sausage/Pepperoni Calzone. Both were delicious!
It was time to head home after our late lunch. We took Wears Valley Road to Foothills Parkway on our way home. The leaves on the main road of the parkway were gorgeous hues of reds, yellows, and oranges in higher elevations. The scenic pull-offs were not quite filled with fall colors as they were at a lower elevation, but it was still a gorgeous drive.
All in all, it was a great trip! Be sure to check back soon for the full review of our stay at The Appy Lodge and our visit to Anakeesta!