We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Inspired by Micheal Rosen and Helen Oxenbury’s 1989 children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, people across the world are participating in a ‘bear hunt’ during the Coronavirus pandemic.

How does the bear hunt work? By placing teddy bears in the windows of their homes, communities and neighborhoods across the globe are creating a scavenger hunt type activity for kids. While practicing social distancing, whether taking walks or going on a drive around their neighborhood with parents, kids in participating communities are looking for bears that have been displayed in their neighbor’s windows.

If you’d like to read the story to your children before going on a hunt, you can do so here. You can also listen to the story as performed by Micheal Rosen himself by clicking here.

 

 

 

13 Pumpkin Patches to Visit in East Tennessee this Fall

13 Pumpkin Patches to Visit in East Tennessee this Fall

It’s fall, y’all! A trip to the pumpkin patch makes for a great annual family tradition. Nothing says fall like a trip to the pumpkin patch. Hayrides, petting zoos, yummy fall treats, pumpkin picking and games galore!

If you are thinking about visiting a pumpkin patch this season, I’ve compiled a list of tips to make your next visit stress and worry-free! I have also compiled a list of local pumpkin patches and corn mazes in East Tennessee.

Be sure to click on the links to each pumpkin patch or corn maze for more detailed information.

Tips for Your Next Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

It’s important to research the place you plan to visit before your trip. Visit their website to see what activities and food options are available, admission and parking fees and hours of operation. It is best to plan ahead so that you know how to dress, whether or not you need to pack snacks, how much money you will need in addition to admission and parking fees. Some places offer certain activities at an additional price and you don’t want to incur surprise costs.

Here are a few tips to consider when visiting a pumpkin patch:

  • Visit early morning or late in the day to avoid the mid-day heat.
  • Apply sunscreen. A nice fall day can still be sunny.
  • Pack appropriate medication if you have fall allergies in case of any flare-ups.
  • Bring a tote bag or a collapsible wagon for transporting pumpkins, especially if you plan to get several pumpkins.
  • Don’t forget to pack hand wipes and/or hand sanitizer, especially if you plan to eat while there.
  • Be sure to bring cash as some farms only accept cash.
  • Take lots of photos. The kids will love to look back on the memories.

 

Local Pumpkin Patches & Corn Mazes to Check Out for Family-Friendly Fun This Fall

 

Oakes Farm 
8240 Corryton Road, Corryton, TN 37721

Includes Admission to the Corn Maze, Back 40 activities, a Hayride, and the Flashlight Maze

Adults ages 11 & up: $12.95
Children ages 3 – 10: $10.95 Ages 2 and Under: FREE
Add a pumpkin for $5.50

 

Echo Valley Corn Maze
915 Bethel Church Rd, Jefferson City, TN 37760

Includes 3 Large Mazes, Kid Maze, Hayrides, Big Outdoor Playground, Zip Line, Pumpkin Cannon, Picnic Area with grills available. Refreshments, Evening Bonfires, Kids Niblet Train, Pumpkin Picking, Corn Shucking, Animal Feed (for Petting Zoo), Indoor Plumbed Restrooms, Discovery Barn (Featuring: Petting Zoo, 2 – 60 ft. Tunnel Slides, Loft Hay Play Area)

General Admission – $10 (Includes Mazes, Playground, Discovery Barn & FREE Parking)
The WORKS – $15 (Includes Mazes, Hayride w/ free pumpkin, Playground, Discovery Barn, Niblet Train, Animal Feed & FREE Parking)
2 & Under Free (Does not include Pumpkin)
* Children under age 11 MUST be accompanied by an adult.

 

Ballinger Farm
2738 Renfro Road, Jefferson City, TN 37760

$11 including tax per person – includes all we have to offer
2 and under – free with paying adult
Group rates are available.
Payment by cash or check only.

 

Myers Farm
3415 Gap Creek Rd, Bulls Gap, Tennessee 37711

Myers Farm has varied pricing. For detailed pricing and attraction information, click here.

 

 

 

Deep Well Farm
9567 Highway 11 E, Lenoir City, Tennessee 37772

Deep Well Farm has a variety of packages available. For detailed pricing and attraction information, click here.

 

 

Hyde Farms
7545 Highway 411 S, Greenback, Tennessee 37742

$10 Admission: Includes maze, hayride, and all ground activities.
Pick your own pumpkin, only $5.00

 

 


Maple Lane Farms
1126 Maple Ln, Greenback, TN 37742

Maple Lane Farms has varied pricing. For detailed pricing and attraction information, click here. For anyone interested, they also have a haunted corn maze.

 

Narramore Farms
199 Laurel Bluff Road, Kingston, Tennessee 37763

Admission: $7 (4 years and older)
3 years and under: FREE
All Pumpkins: $5

Over 20 activities for kids and adults of all ages. Wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, a corn maze, onsite grown popcorn, hand made food and treats.

 

Kyker Farms
938 Alder Branch Rd, Sevierville Tn 37876

Ages 6 & up: $14.50
Ages 3-5: $7
Ages 2 & under: Free

Kyker Farms Corn Maze has 5 mazes to keep you Kornfused, but that’s not all.  Kyker Farms is stock full of family fun for all ages including: Hayrides, Pumpkin Patch, Tunnel Slides, Straw Crawl, Corn Tub, Swings, Corn Cob Swing, Corn Hole, Kyker’s Kritter and Educational Barn, Kyker’s Korn Hopper (bouncing pillow),  Bee Line (zip line), Trike Track, Farm Facts Maze, Haunted Trail, Zombie Blasterz (Zombie Paintball Adventure),  Bonfire sites, Concessions.

 

Old McDonald Farm
16705 Coulterville Road, Sale Creek, TN 37373

Admission: $12.50 per person; children 3-years-old and younger are admitted free of charge. $11 per person for groups of 25 people or more. Also offering Military, Police, Firefighters, & Paramedics special admission price of $11.00 per person

Visit the corn maze, pet farm animals at the Critter Barn, mine for gems, enjoy a hayride through a real, working farm, and much more.

 

Guthrie Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze
490 County Road 67, Riceville, TN 37370

Adults: (Ages 13+) $10
Children: (Ages 3-12) $8
Ages 2 and Under: Free
Military Discount: $2 for the service person (ID required).

Admission to farm includes: Corn maze, hayride to the pumpkin field, animal petting barn, Obstacle Course, Hippity Hop Track, Tricycles (adult and child), Duck races, Tractor dig, and Redneck horseshoes. Pumpkins sold separately 50 Cents per pound.

 

The River Maze
1371 Hwy 64, Ocoee, TN  37361

Ages 3 and older- $11.90 plus tax: This price includes all 5 mazes, hayride, animal area, CornHole, corn box, CornBall, JumpPad, Raccoon Rollers, Farm Chore Frenzy course, horsey tire swings, “The Fairy Tale Trail” and more. You must purchase tokens for the Cow Train, Face Painting, Pumpkin Painting & Corn Cannon. Pumpkins are also available for purchase!

If you want to only come and pick your own pumpkin out of the field, price is $5+ tax for your hayride plus the price of your pumpkins!

Group rates: 15-34 people-$11.00 plus tax, 35+ people-$10.50 plus tax

 

Autumn Acres
1096 Baier Rd, Crossville, TN 38571
General Admission: $12.00 (includes tax)  (Adults & Children ages 3 and up)
Children ages 2 & under: Free
VIP Admission:  $17.00 (includes tax)

General Admission includes: 10 Acres of Corn Mazes that includes 3 mazes (Farm Tracks Maze, FSI Maze, Trivia/Biblical Maze), Unlimited time on the Mega, Bouncing Pillow, Hayride around the farm with a stop at the Pumpkin Patch (Pumpkin Priced Separately), Country Critters Petting Zoo, 3 Little Pigs House, The Chicken Coop, Goat Walk Attraction, The Kids Corral (Slides, Tunnels, Hay Mountain, & More!), Corn Crib, Tire Tower, Rope Mountain, Life Size Game Arena, Pirate Ship Playground, Mega Tunnel Slides, Animal/Horse Swings, Swings Set, Charlotte’s Web, Use of the Picnic Shelter, Use of the public fire pit, and Steer Roping.

Looking For Free or Low-Cost Activities in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Looking For Free or Low-Cost Activities in the Great Smoky Mountains?

 

Looking for free or low-cost activities in the Great Smoky Mountains? Are you visiting the Smoky Mountains on a budget or trying to save money on your next trip? The following locations offer a ton of fun for free or very low cost.

The following locations offer a ton of fun for free or very low cost. If you know of an activity or attraction that is not listed below, please email me.

National Park

Visitor Centers

Pigeon Forge

The Island at Pigeon Forge

Gatlinburg

Sevierville

Townsend

Wears Valley

Looking to take a day trip? Here are a few attractions within a 2 hour (or less) drive from the Great Smoky Mountains.

 

Jefferson County

BUSH’S® Visitor Center – Free
bushbeans.com
The BUSH’S® Visitor Center is located at 3901 US-411 in Dandridge, TN. You can trace the values and events that made BUSH’S BEST® what it is today. And it’s all housed in the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, founded in 1897. Open year-round, Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sundays and major holidays*. Hours vary depending on the season, so please call 865-509-3077 to find out the current schedule.

Monroe County

The Lost Sea Adventure – Homeschool Discount
www.thelostsea.com
Located just 7 Miles off I-75 at 140 Lost Sea Road in Sweetwater, TN. Every Monday, August through May, you may bring your home school students to the Lost Sea, regardless of the number in your group,  and receive the educational rate. Just bring a homeschool ID, letter of intent or attendance record to the Lost Sea ticket desk to purchase your tickets at the special Home School Days rate. If you are bringing a group of 15 or more please call 423-337-6616 Pricing: Students (K-12th Grade) $10.00 Adult $18.95

McMinn County

Mayfield Dairy Farms 
www.mayfielddairy.com

Visit the Athens, TN dairy to see for yourself how your favorite Mayfield products are made with a fun and educational behind-the-scenes tour! While you’re there, browse the Mayfield gift shop and purchase a generous scoop of your favorite ice cream at their old-fashioned ice cream parlor. It’s fun for the family or a perfect field trip for schools, church groups, or any other organization.

Knox County

Muse at the Mall
www.themuseknoxville.org

The Muse Knoxville is a non-profit children’s S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) museum with educational exhibits and play spaces.

Ijams Nature Center 
www.ijams.org
Ijams Nature Center is a nonprofit, 315-acre educational nature center for all ages, abilities and walks of life. Ijams’ mission is to encourage stewardship of the natural world by providing an urban greenspace for people to learn about and enjoy the outdoors through engaging experiences.

Do you homeschool? I’ve got the perfect post just for you. Check out the list of homeschool discounts in the Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding area.

The Ultimate List of Mom Hacks for Your Next Trip to Dollywood

The Ultimate List of Mom Hacks for Your Next Trip to Dollywood

According to the urban dictionary, mom hacks are defined as a tool or technique that makes some aspect of a mom’s life easier or more efficient. As a mom of four under the age of ten years old, I will take all of the #momhacks I can get. Who’s with me? There are SO many things I wish I had known when we started taking trips to Dollywood with the kids. I have compiled a list of money and time-saving mom hacks that I have learned over the years.

Mom Hacks for Services and Facilities

Download the Dollywood App

Did you know that Dollywood has an app? Go to the app store on your mobile device and download the free Dollywood app before your next trip. From the app, you can view park hours, information on tickets and passes, wait times for rides, show schedules, list of eateries, list of crafts and list of shops. Each section also shows the location in the park.  There is also an interactive park map. Another neat feature is a section to make a list of all the things you want to see and do at the park.

Insider Tip: You must have location services enabled on your mobile device in order to view wait times for the rides and also to help you find your way to your next destination on the interactive map.

Centralized Measuring Station

If your child is under 48 inches in height, take them to the Centralized Measuring Station as soon as you enter the park. The measuring station is located next to the Dollywood Emporium across from the Southern Gospel Hall of fame as you enter the park. Your child’s height will be measured and they will receive a color-coded wristband. The color-coded wristbands correspond to the color-coded information on the signs for each ride. This saves time because the ride attendants will not have to check your child’s height each time they enter a ride.

Strollers

There is a lot of walking involved at Dollywood. Strollers are permitted at the park. Please note that if you bring your own stroller and ride the tram into Dollywood, the strollers must be folded up and placed in the front of the tram near the driver. There are signs throughout the park for designated stroller parking for each ride or show.  Did you forget the stroller at home or at the hotel/cabin? You can rent a single or double stroller if you forgot to bring one. Strollers are available at the Rental Services building next to the Centralized Measuring Station. The strollers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis so be sure to check availability on them as soon as you enter the park. The rental fee is $13 for a single stroller or $16 for a double.

Insider Tip: If you have a Gold Pass, you can use it for your stroller rental. It will save you a few dollars!

Lockers

Don’t want to carry your items around with you all day? Lockers are available for rent at the Rental Services building as well. Locker rentals are also on a first-come, first-served basis. The rental fees for front gate lockers are $9 for regular-sized lockers or $12 for family-sized lockers. There are also floating ride lockers available. Ride to ride locker rentals are available at the following rides: Wild Eagle, Mystery Mine, FireChaser Express, Daredevil Falls, Barnstormer, River Rampage, Tennessee Tornado, Country Fair, & Lightning Rod. Ride lockers are a one time fee of $7 (only available in regular size) for a floating locker. This allows you to rent and float from locker to locker without having to pay for each new locker.

Sundries

Did you forget to pack something? Items such as OTC medications, band-aids, sunscreen, etc can be purchased in a few locations throughout the park. The Dollywood Emporium, Gazebo Gifts, Mine Shaft, Ranger Supplies, Temple’s Mercantile and Hillside General Store have these items available for purchase.

First Aid

It’s always good to familiarize yourself with the locations of the First Aid Offices inside Dollywood, especially when visiting the park with kids. There are three offices located throughout the park. One is located in Jukebox Junction near the Pines Theater, one is located in Wilderness Pass near River Battle and one is located in The Village near the train crossing. Medical personnel is on duty during park hours.

Lost & Found

Did you lose an item in the park? You can visit the Lost & Found window located inside Dollywood adjacent to Guest Services at the front gate ticket plaza to see if someone turned it in.  If you realize that you left an item behind after you leave the park, you can call 865-428-9838 or fill out the form here.

I remember losing a hot pink fanny pack (don’t laugh, it was a school field trip many moons ago). Thankfully, someone turned it in to Lost & Found and I was able to get it back!

Calming Room

Did you know that Dollywood has a calming room for those with special needs who may have a sensory overload during their trip to Dollywood?  The room has sensory items such as a weighted blanket, fiber optic strands and a teepee.  To learn more about this room, you can call 1-800-Dollywood (1-800-365-5996) before your trip or you can visit the Ride Accessibility Center upon your arrival to the park.  The Ride Accessibility Center is located adjacent to the Dollywood Emporium.

Family Restrooms

Family restrooms featuring their own private entrance are located in the following sections: Country Fair, Owens Farm, Wilderness Pass, and Showstreet. These restrooms are super helpful when you have several kids. I highly recommend taking advantage of them if you can!

Nursing and Changing Facilities

Restrooms with vending facilities are located in Rivertown Junction, Craftsman’s Valley, Country Fair, and Jukebox Junction. Restrooms with nursing stations are found in Country Fair, Jukebox Junction, Market Square, The Village, and Craftsman’s Valley.

Baby Care Center

The baby care center is located in Showstreet. It offers a private nursing area with six gliders and footstools. It is also climate-controlled. Two baby changing statins and a restroom are located inside the baby center as well.

Warming Bottles

All park restaurants can assist you with warming a bottle. This does not include any snack or vendor stands. Simply ask a host or server to assist you.

Package Pickup

Did you know Dollywood offers a complimentary Package Pickup service? All items purchased inside merchandise shops throughout the park will be located at the Dollywood Emporium for convenient pickup as you exit the park. How does this work? When purchasing your items, let the cashier know that you want to use the Package Pickup service. You will receive a card with the time(s) your pickup will be available. When you arrive at the emporium on your way out of the park, head to the Package Pickup counter where your items will be waiting for you. Note that package pickup is available on purchases made prior to two hours before the park closes. Package Pickup will remain open for your pickup until park closing.

Rainchecks

Was your trip cut short because of rain? You can visit the Ticket Annex, Guest Services and any of the one-day ticket windows and ask for a rain check. Rain checks are valid until the end of the season and are NOT available for season pass holders.

 

Mom Hacks for the Best Park Experience

Put It In Reverse

We love to explore the park ‘backward’. Generally speaking, those who enter the park head to their right after entering the gates. We love to head left and begin at Timber Canyon. Our journey usually goes a little something like this: Timber Canyon, Wildwood Grove, Wilderness Pass, Craftsman’s Valley, Owen’s Farm, The Village, Country Fair, Rivertown Junction, Jukebox Junction, Adventures in Imagination and Showstreet. This is the path we usually take unless we have a specific thing in mind that has to be completed at a certain time, such as watching a show or eating at a certain restaurant.

Country Fair & Wildwood Grove

Both Country Fair and Wildwood Grove are designed for kids. These two sections are where we spend most of our days. There are also several eateries located inside both sections.

 

Attractions inside Country Fair include Busy Bees, Demolition Derby, Dizzy Disk, Games, Lemon Twist, Lucky Ducky, Piggy Parade, Shooting Star, Sky Rider, The Amazing Flying Elephants, The Scrambler and Waltzing Swinger.

Attractions inside Wildwood Grove include Black Bear Trail, Dragonflier, Frogs & Fireflies, Great Tree Swing, Hidden Hollow, The Mad Mockingbird, The Wildwood Tree, Treetop Tower, and Wildwood Creek.

Parent Swap

Oh my goodness, y’all….I wish I had known about this magical thing the first time my husband and I rode Lightning Rod. The wait time was roughly 30 minutes. He rode first while I entertained the kids with dipping dots at the base of the ride. I’m not sure what he did to entertain them while I waited 30 minutes for my turn to ride. I wish I’d have known about the parent swap so we could have saved a TON of time. What exactly is parent swap? The entire group enters the ride through the regular line. Once you arrive at the front of the line, you will let the ride attendant know that you wish to do a parent swap. One adult waits with the children in a secure area (the ride attendant will direct you to this location) while the rest of the group rides the attraction. Once the group returns, the adults will swap places with each other. After the parent swap concludes, guests will exit with other riders.

Kids’ Meals

The following eateries offer meals for kids: Aunt Granny’s, Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse and Fried Chicken, Hickory House BBQ, Grandstand Café, Red’s Diner and Victoria’s Pizza. (We are partial to Red’s Diner and Victoria’s Pizza).

The portions of the adult meals are usually large enough to share between two people. This is very useful for our kids because they typically don’t eat a lot when we are in the park. They’re too excited for their next adventure. Splitting meals between them helps us to not waste food as well. We usually buy two meals to split between them.

Insider Tip: If you eat a place that does not offer kids’ meals, split orders.

Purchase Refillable Mugs and Popcorn Buckets

If you plan on making more than one trip to Dollywood in the calendar year, I highly recommend purchasing refillable mugs and/or popcorn buckets. Use these mugs to save on unlimited beverage purchases of $.99 fountain drink refills and $1.99 refills on all hot or frozen beverages throughout the entire 2019 season. Popcorn refills are also $.99.

Attire for Water Rides

Plan ahead for water rides (and the splash pad located inside Wildwood Grove) by wearing clothes that dry quickly. My boys and hubby usually wear their swimming trunks with an athletic or thin cotton shirt. My daughter and I wear swimsuits with an athletic shirt and shorts over the swimsuits. I recommend wearing comfortable waterproof sandals. Our favorite place to purchase waterproof sandals is in a quaint little shop inside The Village in downtown Gatlinburg.

Insider Tip: Renting a locker is a great way to store dry clothing if you prefer to change clothes at some point during the day.

Play Away

Did you know that there are playgrounds and play areas located throughout the park? Granny’s Garden and Lil’ Pilots Playground are located in Owen’s Farm. Firehouse Fun Yard is located in Wilderness Pass and has water features. Lumberjack Jam Band, located in Timber Canyon, is an area with large musical features in which you can make sounds.  There is also an area with large musical features next to the Wildwood Creek Splash Pad inside Wildwood Grove. Hidden Hollow is an indoor play area that is located in Wildwood Grove as well. We love to use these play areas because there are times when not all of us will be riding a ride. These keep the kids entertained while waiting.

Insider Tip: Utilize the play areas while other members of your group are on rides.

I sincerely hope that you have found this list to be helpful and will be able to use this information while planning your next visit to Dollywood.

If you enjoyed reading this post, be sure to check out a recent post about our first stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort!

Do you have any mom hacks for Dollywood that you would love to share? I’d love to hear them. Comment below with your favorites!

Wastin’ Away Again in Margaritaville. Searchin’ For My Lost Shaker of Salt.

Wastin’ Away Again in Margaritaville. Searchin’ For My Lost Shaker of Salt.

Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville. Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.

Not really, but it sure was fun to sing the song while staying at the Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg, TN for the hubby’s 39th birthday.

I was informed about a week or so before his birthday that he’d requested to take off work on the day before and the day of his birthday. His birthday fell on a Tuesday which was perfect for a short three day/two night getaway to the mountains.

Operation Last Minute Hotel Search was a go.

Do you know how hard it is to find accommodations for six people last minute? Very hard, I assure you. Very hard.

I searched for hours trying to find the best deals and came across Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg. I was so glad to see that the resort had vacancies! After checking out all of the photos and resort amenities, I quickly booked the resort and couldn’t wait to surprise the hubby. I spent the afternoon doing laundry and packing (with the help of the kids) while he was out for the afternoon and evening.

He came home to packed suitcases and knew we were going away for a few days but didn’t have any idea where we were going.

Let the Adventure Begin

We woke up on Sunday morning and ate breakfast, loaded the car and headed out. We drove to Pigeon Forge and stopped for lunch before heading to do a little shopping at Tanger Outlet.

Check in time for the resort was at 4:00 pm. We had finished our shopping around 2:30 and I called the resort to ask if we were able to check in early and she said they had a room ready. We headed to the resort in Gatlinburg and checked in. We didn’t leave the hotel until breakfast the next day.

We booked a Double Queen Family Suite which is a one bedroom suite with two queen beds, children’s room with a queen sleeper sofa, dinette, bathroom with rain shower and tub and a porthole window instead of balcony.

Room amenities include:

  • 50” LCD Smart TVs
  • Refrigerator & Microwave
  • Keurig Coffee Makers
  • Complimentary WIFI
  • In-Room Safe

Resort Tour

The hubby went on a solo tour first this time since it was his birthday celebration. If you read the post about my 39th birthday, you’ll know that I took the opportunity to tour DreamMore Resort alone before taking the rest of the family on a tour.

He came back to the room to grab the rest of the family and take us on a tour.

After our family tour concluded, he took the kids back up to the room while I walked around the resort to take photos.

Resort amenities include:

  • Indoor Pool
  • Hot Tub
  • Outdoor Pool Area with Waterslide
  • Covered Terrace with Fireplace
  • St. Somewhere Spa (Full-Service Spa)
  • Changes in Latitudes Lobby Bar, LandShark Bar & Grill, Joe Merchant’s Coffee & Provisions, In-Room Dining
  • 24-Hour Fitness Center
  • Guest Laundry
  • Gift Shop

Fun in the Sun

The kids couldn’t wait to take advantage of the pool area so we headed down to check out the pool with a slide, kiddie pool and hot tub.

After much needed fun in the sun, we headed back to the room and ate dinner. Helpful tip! We learned our lesson from the trip to DreamMore in which we spent entirely too much money on food. This time we planned ahead and brought bottled water, chips, bread and items for making sandwiches. We had two meals in the room and saved money by doing so!

Night Night, Sleep Tight

The kids took some time to wind down before going to sleep in the oh so comfy beds!

Wake up! It’s time to play!

Can’t start the day without a cup of coffee. Thanks to the Keurig Coffee Maker in the room, it’s simple and easy.

We headed to Flapjacks in Gatlinburg for breakfast before taking advantage of the empty pool at the resort.  The kids had pancakes while the hubby and I opted for eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and toast.

After breakfast, we headed back to the resort and to the pool. We had much fun being the only ones at the pool. It was nice to have the entire pool area to ourselves for a while.

We headed back to the room for a bit of relaxation time. We had made plans the night before to walk around downtown Gatlinburg. We went to the Mountain Mall and to The Village before grabbing lunch at Best Italian.

After lunch we headed back to the resort to rest before our evening trip to Dollywood. We purposely waited until later in the day to go so that we could stay for the fireworks at closing (and wait for the temperature to cool down a bit).

We made a stop at Rocky Top Mountain Coaster on the way to Dollywood. The hubby has tried to get me to ride one on previous trips to the mountains. I politely declined each time he mentioned it. I figured that the seven year old would go with him this time (and I was right) so I suggested that he stop at one while we were in town. They had a blast riding the mountain coaster. This particular coaster was close to Dollywood so it was a perfect time to stop.

Dollywood Fun

We left the coaster and headed to Dollywood. The hubby dropped us off at the gate and found a parking space in section B. It didn’t take him long to catch up to us once inside the park.

The lines for rides weren’t long at all and the crowd size was great. The kids were super excited to check out Wildwood Grove, the newest and largest expansion to Dollywood. They got to ride several rides in both Wildwood Grove and Country Fair. They especially enjoyed the Dragonflier, Great Tree Swing, Blackbear Trail and Frogs & Fireflies.

During the Summer Celebration at Dollywood (June 22 – August 04), there is a nightly fireworks show called Dolly’s Nights of Many Colors. The fireworks are launched from the new Wildwood Grove area at 9:40 each night. The fireworks last approximately 10 minutes.

We headed back to the hotel after we left Dollywood. But not before making a 10 pm run to Krispy Kreme in Pigeon Forge on the way back to Gatlinburg. I mean, who can resist Krispy Kreme?

Everyone took showers and headed to bed after we arrived back at the resort. It didn’t take long for everyone to fall asleep. I imagine they were worn out after an action packed day.

It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later

We woke up and decided to go back to Flapjacks for breakfast. We had the same breakfast as the day before. Why mess with a good thing, right?

After we had breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out. I couldn’t believe the trip was already over. As I stated earlier, time files when you’re having fun!

The trip was not complete without stopping at … you guessed it … Smoky Mountain Knife Works on the way home.

Until next time, Smoky Mountains, until next time…

Smoky Mountains and Celebrations: A Match Made in Heaven

Smoky Mountains and Celebrations: A Match Made in Heaven

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:

  • Playground
  • Fire pits
  • Floral gardens
  • Barn
  • Cornhole
  • 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
  • Arcade
  • Restaurant
  • Pantry
  • 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
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • 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.

Dollywood Fun

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.

Butterflies…Butterflies Everywhere!

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…