Thank you Visit Gatlinburg for sponsoring this post.
The mountains are calling! Plan your own Gatlinburg adventure today.
Growing up in southeast Tennessee, Gatlinburg was one of those places we would go to just get away for a day or two, without spending the whole day in the car driving. We make a trip up there about once a year to take in the scenery, eat amazing food, and my favorite, people watch!
Gatlinburg is a beautiful, scenic mountain town nestled in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains. We love taking trips up there because it is filled with activities for all ages and interests.
Why are they called “smoky” mountains? Read below 👇🏻
A few weeks ago we were blessed with a fun campaign to take a day trip to Gatlinburg to visit fun attractions and highlight all the goodness for you!
If you’ve never visited, or plan to go soon, read along for our favorite activities!
We drove up late on a Saturday evening and spent the night at The Greystone Lodge On The River. Located alongside the Little Pigeon River, it was the perfect location to walk to all the attractions we wanted to hit the next day. We honestly couldn’t have stayed at a better spot. We nestled ourselves into the big, cozy family suite, which included a master bedroom, bunks for the kiddos, spacious living room, 2 baths, and kitchen/dining area. The kids were in HEAVEN! The suite also had two outside balconies that opened to a view of the mountains and the Gatlinburg strip. The girls loved watching the wildlife alongside the river.
MY FAVORITE TRAVEL ITEMS
To our surprise Sunday morning, we woke up to SNOW on the mountains!!
We’d had some warm days in the Tennessee Valley weeks before our trip, but to our luck, it turned frigid the day before our travels. We were bummed that it had cooled down and we couldn’t take advantage of their amazing swimming pool. The snow sure was a beautiful sight on those mountain tops though!
After a delicious, complimentary breakfast at the lodge, we headed across the street to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Voted “Best U.S. Aquarium” in 2017, this is definitely a must-see when visiting Gatlinburg. Jason and I came here many years ago when I was pregnant with Brayden and it’s just as amazing now as it was then. From many species of shark to penguins and jellyfish, it definitely a fun place for the whole family.
We also had a lot of fun perfecting our photography skills. 😉
Next stop on our list was the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. I originally thought this would just be something for the boys but us girls LOVED it! From seeing one of the trucks from the movie Twister to seeing one of Dolly Parton’s personal cars, we had so much fun!
Brayden was in heaven because he FINALLY got to see his dream car, a Lambo.
Before heading up to Ober Gatlinburg, we stopped into Blaine’s Grill, located right on the strip. We’d never been there before but we will definitely be going back. It wasn’t crowded at all, our server was incredibly kind (and was a Boston fan ❤️) and the food was soooo tasty! I think the girls’ nachos and cheese were the best I’ve ever eaten! Y U M !
I’ve been to Gatlinburg countless times but I’d never been up to Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park & Ski Area. I had always assumed that it was just skiing, but they’ve got so much more up there and I’m so glad we decided to go this trip. We rode the Aerial Tram all the way to the top and it was the coolest thing ever! I even saw a live bear running down the mountainside! It was so fast that I couldn’t get my camera in time.
Aren’t the trees so pretty?! It almost looks like fall foliage!
When you step off the tram and into the main center, the sweet, decadent smell of fudge SMACKS you in the face and summons you over to buy a tasty treat. Man, that smell gets me EVERY TIME!
We grabbed our wristbands and made a beeline to the Wilderness Encounter to see the bears!
Cal was dying to get on the ice skating rink but they we closing it down 10 minutes after we got there to smooth the surface. Maybe next time, Cal.
After a quick ride at their amusement park, we went back inside and cozied up by the fire.
It was definitely a cold day for sightseeing and adventuring!
We shimmied back down the mountain and stopped by the Ripley’s Moving Theater and World of Illusions, before heading to The Space Needle. We LOVED the Santa movie at the moving theater and all the brain teasers at the World of Illusions. It was dark and a bit spooky in there though, so it may not be suitable for those with younger children.
The Space Needle was another “new to me” attraction. I’ve always wanted to do it but just never did.
The views were AMAZING! If it would have been a warmer day, we would have stayed up there longer! Definitely worth the trip to the top!
And you know I did me a little shopping while I was there! When you go on vacation or little getaways, do you gift yourself a little treat? I usually pick up a “You Are Here” mug from Starbucks but since Gatlinburg doesn’t have their own, I picked up a new monogrammed Charles River Apparel pullover from a little shop called U Name It. Aaannnndddd, I had to sneak by my favorite pastry shop, the Donut Friar for a coke and cinnamon/sugar donut, my fav!
MY FAVORITE TRAVEL ITEMS
No trip to Gatlinburg is complete without a trip to Fannie Farkles, the best arcade in Gatlinburg! From fun games to ginormous corn dogs, it’s a MUST!
Our last stop for the day was a brand new attraction, Anakeesta. Located right across the street from The Greystone Lodge and Ripley’s Aquarium, this amazing outdoor theme park was the perfect way to end our day. After riding the Chondola up to the top of Anakeesta Mountain, we entered Firefly Village, with quaint places to shop, eat, and play! You’ve GOT to check out Pearl’s Pie in the Sky!
The kids loved playing hide-and-seek in the Treehouse Village Playground but my favorite was the Tree Canopy Walk! Even on a cool, brisk day, it was perfect to see all the amazing sights of our beautiful state.
We ended our trip at Calhoun’s, our favorite East Tennessee restaurant. The closest one to us is in Knoxville so we don’t get to dine here very often. Jason ALWAYS gets Calhoun’s trio with baby back ribs, chicken tenders, and hickory smoked pork, with a side of onion rings. I usually snack on a little bit of his and get myself a bowl of their amazing white chicken chili. I could eat 3 bowls of this at one sitting! It’s so good!
The mountains are calling! Answer the call by visiting Visit Gatlinburg today!
The Greystone Lodge On The River
Hollywood Star Cars Museum
Gatlinburg Aerial Tram
Ripley’s Moving Theater
Gatlinburg Space Needle
World of Illusion
White Jacket – Charles River Apparel c/o // Pink pullover – Charles River Apparel c/o // Chambray button down – JCrew factory // Backpack – Lily Jade c/o // Jeans – Levis 710 // Sneakers – Nike (similar here and here) // Jenn’s pajamas – Royal Highnies TOP/BOTTOM c/o (BEST PJs EVER!!)
A huge thank you to GCVB for sending us on this wonderful trip! We are very thankful for you! 💕
Another big thank you to my girl RJ for helping me take all these photos! ✨ She’s a superstar! ✨