Good morning! I finally have the 2nd part recap of my travels with my family to the Smoky Mountains. Last travel post, I showed you the Best of the Smoky Mountains. I showed you all the picture perfect gorgeous scenery that the Smoky Mountains offers during the fall season. If you missed it, you want to check it out here. It will put you in such a happy and relaxed mood right away. Read more today on things to do in the Smoky Mountains. If you haven’t visited the Smoky Mountains yet, this is sure to be soon on your bucket list.
Where We Stayed:
My family and I stayed both times (3rd week of October this time (better time) and last year 2015 the last week of October) directly in the Smoky Mountain National Park. We used a company that rents out cabins called Timbercreek Cabins. This is truly the only way to go. Honestly, staying in a hotel defeats the purpose of seeing the Smoky Mountains. The cabins that Timbercreek Cabins provides are full loaded with a kitchen with a stove, oven, dishwasher, and full appliances. Lot of the cabins have a spa tub, pool table, fireplace etc. In the end you save a lot because you are right there within walking distance or a short driving distance up the mountains. You also save tons of money not having to eat out all the time. There are stores to buy food and whatever you need at the base of the mountain. It was so nice to cook everything fresh in the cabin right there. You really get the whole feel of the Smoky Mountains staying in a cabin (the pictures above are views right outside the cabin) plus if you book with them a 2nd time, they give you a discount. No one paid me or collaborated with me to write this review lol. Check out the different options whether it’s party of 2 or a family trip with Timbercreek Cabins out here. FYI: My parents and I stayed in Paw Prints the 1st time and Seminole Wind the 2nd time (this one was better).
There are tons of trails you can hike in the Great Smokies and we only did 2. We were total rookies but we just asked natives when we got there. Where we stayed in our cabins, we went to the left side of the mountains to hike one path to Laurel Falls , which are the 3 pictures above. Laurel Falls is a natural falls in the mountains. It is about half a day to hike up in there and see all the views. My best advice would be to plan a day for this side of the mountain and a few days for the other side of the mountain, which you will see what I mean next paragraph. I also have tips and safety measures for hiking in the Smoky Mountains in this post here.
Cades Cove is everything. I repeat Cades Cove is everything, for those who want to see the best views and the coolest things in the Smoky Mountains. It is for those who love American history and the old prairie times. It stole our hearts. We heard about it last time from the natives and they told us that it takes 3 days to really see everything. They were not lying. Cades Cove is the main reason we went back to the Smoky Mountains. Cades Cove is a community now preserved by the government, where American families settled during the 1800’s. The pictures above were these people’s homes and churches from way back then. The history is so rich there with lots of cabins and farms still standing all these years. It is a village frozen in time. It is breathtaking. The history addict in me went crazy. Even if you do not do anything else there in the Smokies, you have to visit Cades Cove. It took us 2 half days to go through all the cabins and the village. It would be another day to hike another natural Falls they have on that Cades Cove side. I don’t remember the name of it but it’s a long hike they told us.
Great Smoky Mountain Railroad:
The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad (click it is linked) is another must activity to do. It is actually based in North Carolina. We did a road trip over there. There are two main tours you can take in the fall. We went on the Nantahala Gorge Excursion. We did the steam engine option. It is one of the only 2 operating steam engine trains in America. It is amazing to ride on the steam engine train just like the old days. It is truly a once in a lifetime experience. They have different packages but we did the Open Air Gondola because you get an open view of the train and the outside views. The other options would be crowed and seeing the sights through a window. No thanks lol. So the cheapest option is actually best for the views. They also stopped for a layover right there at the Nantahala River, which is stunning as you can see in the picture above. Here is a literal lifesaving tip. There was a 9am and 2pm tour. Get up super early and do the 9am one. Here is why. Driving back after the 2pm tour which ended like 6:30pm, it is pitch black and you have to drive all the way back through the Smoky Mountains, that has no lights and wild animals. We drove back that way and it was the longest ride ever like a scene out of a horror film. We made it but would never do that option again. Do not do the 2pm tour unless you stay in a hotel there overnight to leave the next morning. There are no lights driving back. Also GPS will tell you only an hour and a half to drive there. That is a lie. Their version of a highway is literally driving on the longest road through the Smoky Mountains at sometimes 25 MPH. It is more of a 3 hour trip and add on an extra 30 for some breathtaking scenic stops along the way (oh yeah and bathroom break lol). It was a fun train ride but these are super important tips.
Other Things to Do In the Smokies
Picture 1 above is the Scenic Chairlift that is a chairlift up in the Smoky Mountains. It is super peaceful. It is not fast or scary. My mom doesn’t do heights and she was totally fine with it. It is located within a mini amusement park type of deal. They have fun rides, games, ice skating, and yummy food. It is not too far of a drive from where we stayed. Click here for more info. Picture 2 is the Ariel Tram at the same park. It is a ride that takes you over the mountains. In the picture you will see the little tram. It is super relaxing and so cool to take video riding over the mountains. Picture 3 is an excursion outside the Smoky Mountains. The first time we went last year, we did a layover route through Chattanooga. it is more expensive to flight straight to Knoxville , which is close to the Smoky Mountains National park. It is worth the extra money. Anyways, we rode on a river boat on the Tennessee River. It so happen to rain that day but the picture gives you an idea of how peaceful the ride is. They feed you good food lol and the crew will love you to death. Check out the ride here.
There is so much to do in the Smoky Mountains. We plan on going again in the future. I know they have zip-lining, Dollyworld, and the Island (which is Las Vegas and Disney combined). Crazy was to describe it but we drove by it and that’s how it seemed lol. There is enough fun places to visit for both adults and children. Finally, we only made food in our cabin but we did eat at one restaurant on the way in from the airport. It was called Trailhead Steak and Trout House. I had the best burger there that I couldn’t finish all at once. That is extremely unusual for this foodie. They have garlic fries and fresh homemade cinnamon butter with rolls. Such good food and service. Lastly, below is some more pictures just driving at the base of the mountain. It is gorgeous there.
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Love, Naomi Noel