Family Fun Vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Tennessee is such a great state to live in!
There are so many fun things to do.

For Spring Break, my family and I took a trip about 
3 hours away to Gatlinburg, TN.
It was a blast!

We only stayed 2 nights and 3 days but we packed a TON in!!

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Gatlinburg is just GORGEOUS!
The weather was perfect, around 70*,
during our stay.

clarion in gatlinburg

We didn't plan ahead, at all, and that was to our detriment.
There were a TON of people in Gatlinburg 
and a few schools there with activities.
So hotels were very full.
The first night we snagged a room at the Clarion Inn and Suites.

The only room that was open was a handicap suite.
It had a fireplace, a mini fridge and a microwave.
But it did not fit our family at all.
Luckily we brought an air mattress so our big teenager had somewhere to sleep.

The bathroom, while perfect for someone in a wheel chair, 
didn't work too well for us able bodied people.

After a not so restful night, we headed out to have fun!

First stop:  Hillbilly Golf

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It is a crazy, awesome mini golf course on the side of a mountain.

You have to ride this little tram up the hill, to begin the course.

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We all loved it and thought it was the coolest place we've ever mini golfed!

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The course was so well thought out and very well designed.
I'm pretty sure I beat everyone in our golf game!  :)

Next stop:  Gatlinburg Mountain Coaster

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It's a cross between a roller coaster and an alpine slide.

You get into a little scooter that is pulled up the mountain,
to the top of the track.  
Then you can control how slow (or fast in my case)
you go.

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Our little man wasn't so sure about this ride. 
But the big kids, my husband and I LOVED it!!

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We walked around Main Street for a while.
We stopped in the shops and had a lovely time in the beautiful Spring weather.

Greystone lodge on the river in gatlinburg, tennessee

Our 2nd night, we stayed at the Greystone Lodge on the River.
This hotel was FANTASTIC!!

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We booked a family suite.
It had a bedroom with a queen bed, balcony and it's own climate control and tv.
There were 1 and 1/2 bathrooms.
It also had a little bunk room with a twin over full bed, with it's own tv.

It also had a living room with a balcony and television.

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The suite also had a kitchenette.
It was so perfect for our family!!
We had enough bedrooms and bathrooms to make this stay very comfortable!

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Our most favorite part was sitting on the balcony,
listening to the rushing water, while relaxing with a drink and a book.

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies

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The next day we went to the Aquarium in the Smokies.

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There were tons of interesting ocean creatures to look at.

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There was this cool tunnel that went through the shark tank.

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We got to see all sorts of sharks up close and personal!

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Giant, child sized fish!

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We got to pet jellyfish.
They felt weird, like silicone.

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There was a dive show that we got to watch while we ate 
lunch at the little restaurant in the aquarium.
The diver fed the fish and the giant sting rays.

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The penguins were so cute!

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We also got to pet Sting Ray's.

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My cutie loved "swimming" with the clown fish.
Coincidentally, we'd just watched Finding Nemo the night before.  :)

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We loved the Aquarium at the Smokies.
(Please excuse the photo of a photo.)


wonderworks in pigeon forge, family things to do in pigeon forge, family things to do in gatlinburg

After the Aquarium, we went to Wonderworks.  
Wonderworks is just down the street from Gatlinburg in Pigeon Forge.
The best way I can describe it is a cross between
an indoor amusement park and a children's museum.

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This isn't a great photo of the ropes course.  
But that's because it's rather dark 2-3 stories in the air.
You are harnessed into this track system and climb all over in the air.    
There are stairs to climb, ropes to cross, etc.
It's really exhilarating to be up that high.  But it feels pretty crazy to look so 
far down to see all of the people on the ground.

wonderworks, indoor amusement park, fun things to do in pigeon forge

This is my son touching a lightening bolt.

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There is even an indoor rock wall.

There is also a life size piano, a lot of 3D rides, basketball shoot, baseball throw,
a bed of nails to lay on, various art and science exhibits, video games
and a laser tag course.
One could spend the entire day there and not get bored.

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We had so much fun on our vacation to Gatlinburg!

After every trip we take, I like to evaluate what we did right 
and what we'd do different next time.

Things we did right:
*We took a small amount of food with us
- oatmeal, granola bars, drinks, and a few treats.
*We took an air mattress.
*Everyone had their own electronics, books and toys for our down time.
*We took games to play, but ended up being too tired play
after walking and exploring all day.
*We all wore shoes and socks since there was so much walking.
*I took a small purse with just the essentials so I didn't have to lug something heavy.
*We left our car parked each day in our hotel's parking garage
 so we didn't have to pay extra or look for other parking.
*We stayed at hotels with free breakfast!

Things we'd do different next time:
*Remember to bring bedding for the air mattress.  
(You'd think I would have remembered that this trip since I did not on our UT/NV trip.)
*Book the Greystone Lodge on the River for the duration of our stay.

Info about Gatlinburg:
*Every thing and every activity is very expensive!
Gatlinburg is a total tourist town.
*The traffic is completely insane.
Plan for it so you can relax and be patient.
*The pedestrians have the right of way in the crosswalks, 
and some will just walk right in front of your car.
*There are tons of restaurants everywhere.
*There is a trolley that drives up and down the main street.
It costs $.50 per person/per trip.  
Or you can buy a wrist band at the welcome center for $2.