Fall in the Smoky Mountains are a popular time of year with people coming to view the gold and red leafy splendor. But this area has much more going for it than pretty fall foliage. Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain Parkway can be clogged with traffic jams so it’s a perfect time to discover the more laid-back adjoining towns of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.
Wilderness at the Smokies
This huge indoor/outdoor waterpark is the largest in Tennessee and is a kid’s haven. Adults can have fun too and the best thing is that entrance to the water park is free if you stay at the resort and is only available to resort guests. There’s also a bar area overlooking the indoor waterpark so parents can kick back and relax while the kids run around. Room options can accommodate any sized family with some having full kitchens and adjoining rooms with bunk beds. In addition to the two outdoor and one indoor waterparks, the resort also has laser tag, bowling, mini golf, a rock climbing wall, ropes course and arcade. The indoor waterpark has a wave pool, surf rider, huge hot tub, pool area and a few slides. Whew- and that’s just the attractions! There are also three restaurants onsite and two retail shops. You really don’t ever need to leave the resort except that there are a lot more things to do in Sevierville.
You definitely need to like roller coasters for this 150-acre amusement park. Dollywood is considered one of the world’s best theme parks and has over forty rides and attractions. The most recent addition is the Wild Eagle, the first wing roller coaster in the United States. The park also has live entertainment and daily demonstrations by master craftsmen to offer a glimpse into the artistry of the area’s rich history. It’s southern country at its best and it’s easy to spend the day walking around as there is a lot of shade and the food is reasonably priced for a park. Don’t miss the bald eagle sanctuary and if you happen to be there on a day when the queen herself is visiting, you will see why Dolly Parton maintains her celebrity status, with crowds of fans calling out her name as she parades by.
With over twenty-six acres, this racecar park has many different tracks available depending on height requirements so it’s fun for both kids and adults. I didn’t think getting into a small racecar and driving in circles would be that much fun until I did it. The Smoky Mountain Speedway track is their premier course and is a quarter-mile where you can drive a 3/8 scale version of an actual Sprint Cup car. Of course for this one, you must have a valid driver’s license but there are several other tracks where smaller family members can drive or ride and get their own NASCAR experience. The park also has a small roller coaster, miniature golf course, rock climbing wall and good-sized arcade.
For a local option, tucked just off the parkway and away from the plethora of chain restaurants, Applewood Farms is a destination unto itself. Situated on what used to be the main road between Sevierville and Gatlinburg, you can still see the faint tracks where horse-drawn wagons forded the Little Pigeon River.
In 1972, the Bon Hicks family and the Bill Kilpatrick family bought the 65 acre property from Roger Mullendore and operated it as a beef cattle and burley tobacco farm until 1976-1978 when they started to put it into apple orchards. In 1986, the Hicks and the Kilpatricks called upon Stokely Hospitality Enterprises to create Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant by expanding the original 1921 farmhouse.
Celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, Applewood has two large restaurants, a creamery, winery, Candy Apple and Chocolate Factory and several other retail shops. The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant is in what was the family home and is worth bringing your appetite to. Here they serve home cooking with an apple theme. You get homemade Applewood apple fitters with apple butter and an Applewood julep with your Sunday dinner.
Titanic Pigeon Forge
I was pleasantly surprised when visiting this attraction for the first time earlier this year. This isn’t your typical tourist trap like so many in this area. The displays are amazing and it’s easy to lose yourself in 1912 and Titanic’s splendor.
As the world’s most famous luxury liner, the Titanic Museum Attraction continues to open the door to the past in its one-of-a-kind way – letting “passengers” experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic. The museum features more than 400 artifacts directly from the ship and its passengers. You’ll also be able to touch a real iceberg to see what 28-degree water feels like, stand on sloping decks as the Titanic was sinking and walk on the Grand Staircase which is recreated from the original plans complete with iron scrollwork, oak carvings and cherub statue.
Information for when you go:Wilderness at the Smokies 1424 Old Knoxville Highway Sevierville, TN 37876 Phone: 877-325-9453 Website: www.wildernessatthesmokies.com Dollywood 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Phone: 800-365-5996 Website: www.dollywood.com NASCAR Speedpark 1545 Parkway Sevierville, TN 37862 Phone: 865-908-5500 Website: www.nascarspeedpark.com Applewood Farms 240 Apple Valley Road Sevierville, TN 37862 Phone: 865-428-1222 Website: www.applewoodrestaurant.com Titanic Pigeon Forge
2134 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Phone: 800-381-7670