The Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountains. It’s the most visited national park in the US and yet, I’d never heard of it. The variety of flora and fauna in the park is exceptional and this vegetation is also the reason the area is (almost?) always covered in a blueish smoky haze.
You’ll find over 800 miles of hiking trails in the Smokies, including a part of the Appalachian Trail. Several road close during wintertime, so ask the very helpful Sugarlands Visitors Center (near Gaitlinburg) about current conditions.
Keep your eagle eyes open for black bears. We didn’t spot them unfortunately, but 1500 are living in the park so you could get lucky. Besides bears, there are plenty of deer running around and some wild turkeys (those guys are big!)
Smoky Mountains: Cades Cove
An 11-mile road takes you past historic buildings like log houses, churches and barns. They were established in the 1800’s and this drive surely offers you a glance into the past.
Gaitlinburg: a charming winter wonderland. Part of the Pigeon Forge Winterfest, this city is everything you’d imagine when hearing ‘a cozy, pituresque Chrismassy mountain village’.
Gaitlinburg is as diverse as it is snug and there’s something to find for everyone. Whether the little streets and squares, fun attractions (like minigolf, laser tag, escape rooms and many more), the outdoor stuff like tubing, ziplining or hiking, restaurants, wineries and breweries, or a good Ole Smoky Moonshine tasting interest you: you’ve got it!
So, what’s definitely fun to visit in Gaitlinburg?
Ole Smoky Moonshine
Early moonshiners, trying to turn their corn into profitable unaged whisky, distilled this alcoholic drink illegally (and therefore secretly at night). Lucky us: It’s now openly available in some parts of the Appalachian area.
My absolute favorite: buckeye.
Also good to know: for $5 you get 12 (very delicious) sample shots of Moonshine and a $5 coupon you can use at checkout!
Dick’s Last Resort – where sarcasm and dicks rule
The guy at the door was grumpy, the waitress chased me away from my table because I was apparently sitting at the wrong one (She: “Not here, THERE!” Me: “Excuse me for being alive, gosh”) and the floor was messy. I was just about to tell my travel buddy that they sure are particularly unfriendly in this place, when he got back from the bar with the message ‘Sarcasm and being a dick is their thing’. Although you gotta toughen up a little (warning: strong language), it sure makes for some laughs.
Treasure Quest Minigolf
18 holes, 1 treasure quest, glow-in-the-dark coolness and 1 terrible loss for me. Isn’t minigolf dated? Yes. A bit cheesy? Sure. Did we love it? Absolutely.
Price: about $10 per person.
New Orleans and Beignets