Smoky MountainsWords by Jennifer Stein
When one thinks of the Smoky Mountains, they picture thick forests, babbling brooks and little wooden homes with fires burning in fireplaces. A destination where the food although simple, is homemade and everyone waves as you pass them by. A place where life’s pace slows a couple of steps and all the residents’ speak with a heavy southern drawl.
And it’s pretty much exactly like that, only extremely affordable and the little wooden homes aren’t little – they are enormous and quite luxurious.
The Smoky Mountain Area is a fantastic escape for families, so if you have lots of kids included in your destination wedding – there will be countless activities to keep them entertained. Theme parks, miniature golf, nighttime shows, Great Smoky Mountain National Park and even Zorbing (riding down a steep hill inside a giant plastic ball) will have your guests extending their stay to pack it all in.
Not only is there a ton for everyone to do, it’s extremely affordable. One way to enhance your gathering and make it intimate and cost effective for all is to rent a private home. Sounds expensive, but it’s really less than having everyone stay in separate hotel rooms. We stayed in a luxury cabin just outside of Gatlinburgwith views overlooking the Smokies and high-end amenities (such as a private home theater and Jacuzzi tubs) to rival most resort getaways, plus some homes could accommodate up to 30 people under one roof.
When it comes time to say “I Do” the choices and options are affordable, and endless. You can find everything from the drive-thru Vegas-like options, to the more intimate and exclusive such as Chapel at the Park, where your plan A option can include a garden atmosphere complete with gazebo and piped in birds chirping (plan B is their indoor chapel which is a fantastic option as well) www.chapelatthepark.com.
Hickory Mist Luxury Cabins and Lodges: Luxury accommodations ranging from one bedroom cabins to 9 bedroom lodges. Perfect for group gatherings and an affordable alternative. www.hickorymistreservations.com
Laurel Springs Lodge Bed & Breakfast: Nothing but good reviews here. Close to town with a quaint and inviting atmosphere. www.laurelspringslodge.com
The Chop House: Mouthwatering steaks and chops are major crowd pleasers. www.thechophouse.com
The Hard Rock Café Gatlinburg: Able to accommodate large groups with a predictable menu that can satisfy a range of tastes.
The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant: Yummy home-style breakfast with generous portions and take-away options as well. www.applewoodfarmhouserestaurant.com
Great Smoky Mountain National Park: Named because of its natural blue mist, this ancient Appalachian mountain chain offers a range of adventure and one thing not to miss is the tour of Cades Cove by bike, hayride or car.
Cirque de Chine: Music, color, and movement brought together to dazzle and delight you. It’s the hottest show in town. www.smokymountainpalace.com
Dollywood Theme Park: All day fun for the kids and guests. Thrilling rides and adventures, plus award-winning entertainment. www.dollywood.com
Zorb in the Smoky Mountains: Ride down a steep hill in an enormous inflatable sphere. Originated in New Zealand, the Zorb experience is the only one of its kind and the only place to experience this in the US is in the Smoky Mountains. www.zorb.com/smoky
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