Pigeon Forge – Wilderness at the Smokies

Pigeon Forge – Wilderness at the Smokies

Wilderness at the Smokies – A Groupon Winner!

We left this hotel feeling like we stole from them.  The Groupon deal gave us 2 nights at a gorgeous resort, passes to their indoor and outdoor waterparks, and $100 worth of gaming from the arcade.  We don’t usually book stuff like this, but this trip was about what the kids would love… and they did!

The Water Parks

Certainly the fact that this resort has its own indoor and outdoor water parks is the main reason you stay here.  But I was pleasantly surprised that the quality of the water park rides were right up there with Six Flags.  They have several multi-person tube rides, a wave pool, a surfing wave, a lazy river, and several other smaller pools and kids play areas.

The Arcade

Between the indoor and outdoor water parks, the arcade has games, rock climbing, bowling, areal obstacle course, and more.  With the credits they gave us as part of the Groupon, our kids played more games than they could dream.  They took away more prizes than their little arms could carry.  I’m not a fan of brining home junk… but it sure made our kids feel like they were on top of the world!

Knoxville – Sunsphere

Knoxville – Sunsphere

World’s Fair Park in Knoxville, TN

While driving through on a road trip we stopped to stretch our legs at World’s Fair Park in the heart of Knoxville.  What we didn’t know is that in 1982 the Sunsphere was built for the World Fair and continues to offer free admission in the observation deck for guests to view the city skyline.  So not only did we get to stroll through a beautiful par, but we also got a beautiful view from the Sunsphere.

810 W Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN 

Cummins Falls State Park

Cummins Falls State Park

Swim in a Water Fall

Cummins Falls State Park is located NorthWest of Cookeville, TN, and is about a 3 hour drive from North Atlanta.  But the drive is worth the experience!  It is a 75-foot waterfall with shallow wading and swimming pools, water cascading down shelves at different levels.  The hike in is probably about 1.5 miles, but depending on conditions, be prepared to hike through water.  This is not a difficult hike, but does require scaling boulders and wading through knee-deep areas of the stream.  We are use to paying entrance fees to GA State Parks, but they did not ask for an entrance fee here.

This is a perfect day trip if you leave early enough to get to the park.  Being early in the day will help you avoid the heat of hiking in the sun and crowds.  It is a popular place for people to visit, and you can avoid some of the crowds by not going on holiday weekends, or going earlier in the day versus later.

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Chattanooga TN

Chattanooga TN

There is so much to do and see here!

Chattanooga is a fantastic place to visit.  But you’ll have to come multiple times to do and see all it has to offer.  Here are a few of our favorite highlights from Chattanooga.

Walnut Street Bridge

This is one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world.  The bridge was built in 1890 and spans over the Tennessee River, allowing pedestrians to cross from the North Short to Coolidge Park.  The park under the bridge offers great views of the bridge, city line on the other side, and nice shady grass, splash pad, etc.

Chattanooga has a lot of great walkways and trails.  Take the bridge over from Coolidge Park to the North Shore and follow the nature trails to the river where you will find stairways of water cascading down from the City to the River area.  The kids will have a blast playing in the water.

Sunset Rock – Lookout Mountain

For a beautiful view, visit Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain.  The view is amazing!  It is a short hike from a small parking lot to the lookout.  You can see Chattanooga to the right and view miles of hilly mountains to the North.

Watching the Hang Gliders

About 8 miles further down the ridge of Lookout Mountain, there are some overlook areas you can pull over and view the valley where people hang glide.  If the weather is nice, you can watch as people get carried on the back of airplanes from the hang gliding strip below up into the sky and then released to glide down, while others jump off the mountain.  It is really cool to watch as people prepare and then jump off the cliff.

 

Cool Places to Eat

Fort Mountain State Park

Fort Mountain State Park

Camping, Hiking, Biking, Kayaking, Fishing

Fort Mountain State Park has it all for a family camping trip.  Situated in North Georgia between Elijay and Chatsworth, you can enjoy a choice between pull-in camping, cottages, or pioneer camping sites.  The lake offers swimming and playing on a sandy beach, fishing, canoeing / kayaking, and lots of great trails for biking and hiking.

 

Big Rock Nature Trail

This 3/4 mile loop takes you to a fantastic cascading water fall.  The kids had a blast playing around the falls.  It was a good trail for the family, moderate in hiking difficulty.

Fort Mountain Lake

Come prepared to cool off by the lake.  The kids will love the sandy beach and playgrounds.  We were lucky enough to have a couple kayaks on hand to enjoy the water; and although we didn’t get a chance to fish, we witness a fisherman pull a huge largemouth bass from the lake.

Biking Trails

There are plenty of fun, curvy, paved roads for biking, and also several off-road biking trails through the woods.

The View

Don’t miss out on the overlooks.  The views are amazing!

Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards

Year Round Fruit Picking

We hit up Mercier Orchards this year at the end of peach season (mid-August) and learned that apple season was just about to open.  The peaches were big, juicy, and delicious.  It was a great experience for the family… but what we didn’t know is that Mercier is open year round for fruit picking.  You can come pick apples, peaches, blue berries, strawberries, and probably other fruits depending on what is in season.