My Summer vacation to the Great Smokey Mountains was the first trip I’ve ever taken by myself with my 3 daughters. You can read all about my traveling tips with kids here.
I haven’t traveled to the Great Smokies since I was a little girl, but I had fond memories of Gatlinburg, so I decided it would be fun for my daughters to experience the same thing!
If you are looking for a family friendly, fun vacation this is the perfect trip for you!
We stayed at the Great Smokies Club Wyndham Lodge in Seiverville and it was such a wonderful resort. It was easy to get to and it was close to everything that we decided to do during our trip. We had a very large 3 bedroom suite that was absolutely perfect for the 4 of us! The girls all rotated staying in one bedroom by themselves one night each. And, the other kids’ bedroom had 2 beds for them to share the room. I had my own very large master bedroom suite and bath with a jacuzzi. The girls had their own separate bathroom and we also had a washer and dryer, full kitchen and outdoor balcony.
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Since a lot of attractions require tickets to be purchased in advance, this is a trip you will want to plan out most of it before you get there. The cool thing about the Seiverville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas is that there are literally amusement parks, attractions and museums on every single street corner. We could have stayed all Summer and still not had enough time to see and do everything. It was mesmerizing for the kids as we drove down every street. They couldn’t believe all of the go-carts, putt-putting, amusement parks and cool museums.
Great Smokey Mountains Summer Vacation 2021 Recap Video
After a 7 hour drive, we arrived to our resort just in time to check in and head straight to the pool in the late afternoon. We decided to relax by the pools until the evening time. There were multiple pools, a pool for kids, a splash pad among other activities like putt-putting, billiards, golf and an arcade.
Finding Vegan food in the parts of Tennessee we traveled to was a little harder than other cities, but I was able to find some places I liked. After our day at the pool, we went to Mellow Mushroom which has great Vegan pizza options.
For our first full day, we spent it in Gatlinburg, which took us about an hour to get there with traffic. We made it back to the resort in 40 minutes. We bought tickets in advance to the Gatlinburg Skylift Park. We had to wait about 4 hours before they opened it back up due to lightning and storms in the area, so we killed time getting ice cream, walking around and shopping for souvenirs. I love getting ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s because they have such great Vegan flavors. Downtown Gatlinburg is so cute and fun to walk around!
I will admit, the Skylift Park really scared me. I was freaking out about making sure my kids sat still on the ski lift and walked slowly over the sky bridge. There was only 2 people allowed in each ski lift, so Sonoma and Cora went together and Blakesley and I went together. It was a highlight of our trip and I highly recommend buying tickets and going to this park!
When we left the Skylift Park, we stopped at the Goats on the Roof Goatcoaster on our way back. My girlfriend recommended this little park to me and said that her kids loved it. It was a crazy roller coaster in the forest with goats on the roof of the theme park. It was a coaster for all ages, because you control the speed, but it got going really fast and the girls had a blast! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified! I let Sonoma and Cora ride together and I rode with Blakesley. We just bought tickets at the door for the rollercoaster and it wasn’t crowded at all.
On the way back to the resort we stopped at The Island in Pigeon Forge, which was a really cool huge family fun center to walk around. There are shops, restaurants, a Ferris wheel, activities, a huge fountain and live music. We had dinner at the Timberwood Grill which was just okay in my opinion.
Day 2 Gatlinburg
On Day 3, we had purchased tickets in advance to Dollywood and spent the day there. I have been to many amusement parks (King’s Island, Cedar Point, Six Flags, Holiday World, Kentucky Kingdom and Disney World) and I will say that Dollywood is by far the cleanest, nicest, friendliest, least-crowded park I have ever been to! I was so impressed and recommend this place to anyone in the area! There were rides for all ages. I’ve never been to an amusement park by myself with 3 kids, so while that was a challenge itself, it ended up working out with rides. I trust Sonoma to watch Blakesley while Cora and I would ride some of the bigger coasters, and then Cora would get to go again with Sonoma while I watched Blakesley. We also took Blakesley on almost all of the big rides she was tall enough for, and unfortunately we really scared her! She kept screaming and crying about her stomach on the big drops. Hopefully she won’t be scarred for life! Blakesley enjoyed some of the smaller kids rides more than the big, scary ones.
I even found an indoor restaurant that we could go cool off at and we got some great plant-based burgers. It was the Front Porch Cafe and I recommend it if you are looking to take a break and get out of the sun. It’s at the main entrance on Show Street. They cater to all food allergies.
After riding some more rides and being totally wiped out after walking 6 miles in the theme park, we decided to have ice cream for dinner on our way back to the resort. We went to Knox Dough after hearing about their vegan ice cream and cookie dough creations. I had never had rolled ice cream before and it was SO delicious! The process is really cool to watch if you haven’t ever seen someone make it before. I highly recommend this ice cream shop!
Day 3 Dollywood
Since we packed our days full of fun, the girls slept well on this vacation. We stayed up late all 3 nights, but I also let the girls sleep in. It was worth it to have everyone well rested. On Friday I did finally wake up Blakesley at NOON, as she has never slept that late in her entire life! It was nice to not be on a strict timeline during this trip. The tickets we bought for the Skylift Park and Dollywood were good any times during the day and night, so we weren’t locked in to a specific time. Just the day.
We requested a late check-out on Sunday and spent a couple hours at the pool before the drive home.
The memories I made with my daughters on this vacation will certainly last a lifetime! It wasn’t perfect since I was flying solo with 3 kids, but I would recommend this vacation spot to any family. Make sure to read my blog about traveling with kids for some ideas to help make your trip a successful one!