Not too long ago, I surprised my boyfriend with a trip to the Smokies. He's a huge nature person, as am I, so we were excited to get out of Nashville for a weekend and experience what the outside world has to offer.
The drive to and fro is approximately three and a half hours, which can easily turn into four if you like to stop as much as I do. I have a really hard time sitting still, as well as an irrational fear of running out of food- this means lots of stops at gas stations, mini marts, and fast food restaurants. Hey, at least we didn't go hungry!
We decided to stay in an Airbnb, which we LOVED. The one we found was super cheap, close to the mountains, and very cozy/cute if you're looking for an authentic cabin-in-the-woods experience. Our host was extremely hospitable and helped us navigate our surroundings like pros. We even got discounted massages at the end of our stay!
Here's a little run through of our weekend, as well as some input on what I would recommend if you're planning a trip to the Smokies!
HIKE: Hiking in the Smokies is the best, even in the winter. We found a really random path for our first hike, but there are infinite possibilities within the park. Just drive until you find something! We ended up climbing up a hill off the beaten path to see the top of a very tiny waterfall. Being that it was early and we were both ravenous, the climb could have gone better. But oh well, it was fun!
GRANDMOTHER'S KITCHEN: I highly recommend this spot for breakfast if you're looking for a place where all the locals go. I enjoyed a delicious omelet, but the star of the meal was the chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy. It is truly not for the faint of heart. Note: this restaurant is cash only!
CADES COVE LOOP ROAD: This is where we had an up close and personal encounter with deer. And when I say close, I mean within feet- I was RIGHT THERE. It was a true dream come true, and I strongly believe that it was the most magical moment of my life. The drive itself was really scenic, especially as we were going along the river. You get great views of the mountains as well!
PICNIC: We happened upon the most amazing picnic spot on the river as we were driving. I don't want to reveal its exact location, because I want to keep it a secret! But there are plenty of beautiful spots along the river to eat, and I couldn't recommend the picnic plan enough. We got some food from the general store, crossed the river (I got soaked in the process- Paul did not), and parked our butts on a beautiful rock. It was heavenly.
GATLINBURG: Gatlinburg is more touristy than I can put into words. I don't think either of us were expecting what we found when we pulled in. However, they have a great spot for mini golf, and I happened to love the Old Smokey Moonshine Distillery, where they offered free moonshine tastings. I got a cool shirt out of the experience, as well as some apple pie moonshine, which we enjoyed that night with our takeout Mellow Mushroom pizza. Note to travelers: don't plan a fancy dinner out after your day in the Smokies. Trust me- you'll want to relax!
Honestly, this day was pretty boring, and the place we went to for breakfast was meh. All I will say is that I highly recommend getting in touch with your creative side while you're in the mountains. I was able to write for the first time in months, which gave me the inspiration to get back into blogging. And we both read all morning sitting on our porch and gazing out at the mountains. It was as heavenly as it sounds- that is, if you like to read.
It's safe to say that this was one of the better vacations of my life. I can't wait to go back in the summer! :)