We decided to visit Pigeon Forge, TN and Gatlinburg, TN for our family vacation. We drove from Raleigh, NC and traveled with our kids, ages 2 and 6. This post is intended to help families plan their trip.
Our first stop was at the rest area in Davis county, marker 177. We had lunch at a shaded picnic table. Seemed to be plenty of picnic tables.
Did another gas stop at Exxon at exit 103.
Exit 80 has another rest area. We could start seeing the mountains!
Our first stop was the NC Arboretum. I would rate the experience a 7/10. It was a great place to stretch the legs and take in some initial mountain scenery.
- The admission was reasonable (you pay $14 per car)
- Nice scenery and gardens
- Exhibits and buildings close early.
- There is an outdoor model train exhibit. However, it closes at 4
- Everything else closed at 5
- Kids playing woods was not up to par for toddlers… Better for 3 to 4 … hard to find4Everything else closed at 5Kids playing woods was not up to par for toddlers… Better for 3 to 4 … hard to find
- Education center has a small exhibit of animals downstairs.
- Great views in the back of the building.
I had a hankering for Indian, so we visited Mela Indian Cuisine. It was good. They had a kids menu and didn’t seem to mind our sometimes messy and loud children.
Parking could be a potential problem…we found street parking. Free on weekends after 6, per http://www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/parking/default.htm.
After dinner, we decided to walk to find the French Broad Chocolate Factory, which we visited on a previous tour. Here is the route we took:
This brought us to a nice place to take some picture, next to the Zebulon Vance statue. Closeby was the French Broad Lounge. The line to get in was quite large. Luckily, I spotted a side door a littleways down <insert streetname here>. This side door opened to a shop that offered a limited selection of French Broad chocolates and ice cream. No wait? Perfect for kids. Grabbed some desert, hung around the benches to take in the view, and then headed back to the car.
We opted to do a AirBnB in a camper. Please do be careful when navigating some of the sidestreets – there can be many blind turns and narrow streets. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. The kids enjoyed it, but for the adults, it was a bit of a pain to get around. The bathroom offered very little privacy – so bare that in mind. I was also a little worried about the fire protection (or lack thereof).
More to follow…