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Smoky Mountain Day Trips

Posted by Leif Palmer in Things to Do

Let's say you're planning to stay for several days or maybe even a full week at one of our cabins in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley or Sevierville. There's no doubt that there's so much to do in each of those towns that you could easily fill up several years' worth of vacation calendars and not experience the same day twice.

But sometimes, you might want to just break things up a little bit and spend a day away from your main Smoky Mountains destination. A change of scenery and a small road trip can add a little bit more zip and excitement to your vacation, which is why this week, we've got several suggestions for small day trips you can easily make from anywhere in the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge-Sevierville area.

None of these places are more than a couple hours away by car, and they have lots of things to see and do while you're there. The best part is that by the end of the day, you can be back here at Timbercreek cabins, ready to continue exploring the rest of the Smokies the next day.

Cherokee, North Carolina

First of all, it's a beautiful drive if you take U.S. 441 from the south end of Gatlinburg to the Cherokee side of the national park. Along the way, the curvy roads will take you by huge mountain peaks and sweeping valley vistas. Of course, the North Carolina side of the park has plenty of trails and historic sites of its own. Once you're in Cherokee, attractions like Harrah's Cherokee Casino draw a lot of visitors, but we recommend focusing on the more cultural offerings that pertain to the area's Native American history. These include Oconaluftee Indian Village, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama, the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery and the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville has gained a reputation in recent years for being a hip place to hang out and enjoy the Smokies, although the town's main attraction, Biltmore Estate, offers insights into the opulence of early 20th•century American aristocrats. Sitting on 8,000 forested acres, this 250-room French Renaissance chateau was the private residence of millionaire George Vanderbilt and his wife Edith. Today, tours welcome nearly a million visitors annually and include the house, gardens and a variety of cottage industries that have sprung up on this self-sustaining estate. Other points of interest in Asheville include the Folk Art Center and Grove Park Inn.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Don't forget about the city that's in the Smokies' own backyard. Knoxville has many points of interest, especially in the fall, when you can catch at least six Tennessee Volunteer home games during football season. Other attractions include the Sunsphere (there's a restaurant at the top now), the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Knoxville Zoo, McClung Museum of Natural History, the Knoxville Museum of Art and a couple of historic theaters that host frequent live events, including the Bijou Theatre and the Tennessee Theatre. Knoxville's burgeoning downtown is also known for its great collections of shops, nightspots and restaurants. You'll find these in areas such as the Old City, Market Square and downtown's main street, Gay Street.

Leif Palmer - Smokies blogger

About Leif Palmer

Leif Palmer loves residing in the Smoky Mountains. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.


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