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Take a Family Vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains
Imagine mist rising from the tallest mountains as far as the eye can see as you peer across valleys and the tallest tree lines. That is what we woke up to daily on our vacation to Sevierville, TN. Words nor photos could truly capture the beauty there.
If you are interested in visiting and looking for trip details, you’ve come to the right place. I am going to share our trip itinerary and cabin details here. I am no traveling agent nor did we know what we were doing when booking and planning, just sharing our experience.
We stayed in Sevierville but drove into Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg each day for our adventures – the Great Smoky Mountains National Park being our most visited place. It is easy to see why the national park here is the most visited one in the United States.
Our cabin was a 1 bedroom, 2 full bath beauty. Though the cabin is only 1 actual bedroom, it sleeps 6 or more. There is a loft overlooking the mountains with 2 beds and that is where the kids slept which really was the coolest part of this cabin. The sofa pulls out to sleep 2 more and downstairs in the game room, there is space for an air mattress if more sleeping space is needed. We had 2 balconies that overlooked the mountains with a hot tub on one of the balconies. The cabin’s name is Sugar Bear Den and there was a bear hanging over the back door, which I thought was so fitting as how our last name is Beary.
It is in Sevierville, TN in Legacy Mountain Resorts. The resort also has a clubhouse that offered a large outdoor pool, sauna, gym, and café on the grounds.
Our itinerary looked like this:
- Monday: arrive
- Tuesday: National Park – Laurel Falls and Clingmans Dome
- Wednesday: Anakeesta and Old Mill for dinner
- Thursday: Porters Creek
- Friday: Cades Cove and horseback riding
- Saturday: Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, Sugar Trail in the park, and swimming at our resort.
- Sunday: wake up and leave
Anytime we go on vacation, I try to have a meal plan for dinner and place a grocery order at the closest Walmart so we aren’t taking time away from arriving at our destination. We arrived, unpacked, and jumped in the hot tub!
We woke up bright and early and headed into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I packed PBJ, trail mix, bananas, and PB-filled pretzels to eat while in the park. We stopped at the visitor center to grab maps because there is absolutely no phone service in the mountains to get you from trailhead to trailhead. If you have never been, you drive into the park to the trailhead of each trail, then get out of your vehicle to hike the trail.
While at the visitor center, we bought the kids each a National Park Passport stamp book that we stamped right there in the visitor center. Highly recommend getting these as it is such a special keepsake.
Our first stop in the park was at Laurel Falls. The trailhead was very close to the park entrance so little ones won’t get too impatient sitting in the car. The trail is paved for the most part and is a straight shot, with no turns or veer-offs so you can’t get lost. It was pretty crowded near the falls but not too bad. The trail followed a small river and near the falls, the drop made me a little nervous with small kids but otherwise, it was a very nice and fun trail for everyone.
After Laurel Falls, we headed to Clingmans Dome which has a tower that overlooks the highest point in the park. The views are incredibly beautiful, but the trail is incredibly steep! The hike is short and doable but be prepared to take rest stops if you are bringing children. Don’t let that scare you though, the views are worth it. Also, it would be a good idea but bring a light sweater on this hike. The air up there was very chilly! This trail was also busy but understandably so because the tower is so cool. I would rate this hike as my favorite of the trip.
We took a break from the National Park and visited Anakeesta. We parked in a parking garage next to Anakeesta because it was cheaper and less crowded. You buy your tickets and then board either a bus or the sky lift to the actual park. I sent my family on the sky lift and rode the bus because I was having a freak out just looking up at it. I guess I could add here that I am terrified of heights, funny about me choosing a mountain vacation, right? HA!
Strollers are okay! There are cabin options on the sky lift to fit the strollers/wheelchairs. Backpacks and snacks are allowed inside though there is a really cool café inside to grab lunch and snacks from. There are water refilling stations around the park and they give free ice so I’d recommend bringing your tumblers and keeping hydrated that way. It was extremely hot but plenty of shaded areas to break.
Pack swimsuits/extra clothes/towels because there is a small splash pad area the kids can cool off in. Most of the attractions are included in general admission besides a hand full of things but our kids were too small to ride/to them anyways. I’ll link the details here if you want more info.
We spent most of our day there and left with just enough time to freshen up and head to Old Mill for dinner. You guys, this place had grandma’s house vibes and we were here for it! Comfort food wrapped up in grandma’s house aesthetics. We sat down and I wondered why the table was so wide. Literally thought, “dang this table is freaking huge – strange.” But I instantly understood why when I saw the menu. Each entry comes with your choice of meat, 2 refillable sides, soup, salad, corn fritters, and dessert. So go there hungry! My heart and my belly were very happy leaving there. There is a little village there to shop in and walk around but we were so full we didn’t walk into many.
We entered the park again today, this time dressing prepared to get wet. We chose Porters Creek and it was our kids’ favorite hike. The water was so cold, my feet caught a brain freeze but the cold never bothered my kids anyway! This trail is gravel, so I wouldn’t recommend a stroller. The creek ran along the trail with several sports that opened to lead down to the creek to get in. The weather started to get dark so we cut this trip around noon and headed back to the cabin.
Cades Cove was next up on our list to visit. This trail was about an hour from our cabin so take that into account when planning to visit. I personally would not recommend this one for little kids. There are no hiking trails, you drive in your car down the trail and only get out at select spots to see old cabins. Our kids got bored really quickly and there was a huge traffic jam which made us sit in the car even longer. We did see several black bears and deer though which was super exciting.
After getting out of the traffic jam, we headed to Jayell Ranch to go horseback riding. It was so neat there as they offered ATV rides, zip-lining, and horseback riding, and had several spots set up for the kids to play in while we waited. There is a café there with snacks and the most delicious iced tea! Our 5 and 6-year-old were able to ride their own horses which the experience even more awesome. The horse trail was about 45 minutes long and all the kids wishes it were longer. Prepare to wait just a bit to go on your ride but like I said, plenty to do on the grounds while you wait.
Before beginning our day we fueled up at the coolest breakfast camp. We got to chat with our kids about the older ways of living and it was just so cool to sit there in the midst of it all and talk about it. Not to mention their pancakes are the thickest I have ever seen in my life and there wasn’t a single thing we ordered that wasn’t incredible. Their menus are made to resemble newspapers – I’m telling you, all the small precious details there!
There was a fire going in the most beautiful fireplace which felt really nice because the temperatures there aren’t like here- I was chilly each morning.
Being the last full day on our vacation, we headed back into the park one last time after breakfast. Old Sugar Trail was our final hike. Very easy, straight shot hike with a creek that runs along the trail. This hike is not stroller friendly as it is not paved and unleveled. There was hardly anyone on this trail which we loved because we were able to take our time and explore more. This trail too had entryways to play in the creek.
Tips / Thoughts
All of the places we visited were breathtaking in beauty and I would visit again if we go back. But truthfully there is so much to do and see in that area, that you could stay for a month and never have to do the same thing twice.
If I could change anything it would be booking a dinner show attraction when we book our cabin. We were not able to attend any because they were booked days out. We were really interested in going to the Pirate dinner show.
This website is also very helpful when planning your visits to the park.
All the trails are shaded so we never got too hot or overheated.
We all wore tennis shoes on every hike. Nothing special, hike specific needed.
Don’t forget the bug spray!
Did you pack lunch on the Laurel Falls day? I see you packed snacks.
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