Check out our Dollywood travel video here!
Last week we packed up the car and drove a scenic and easy 3 1/2 hours west to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to meet my mom and dad and my bro and his family for a quick mountain getaway.
We arrived in time to admire the view for a bit and fire up the grill. We all grabbed a night for dinner and I chose bratwurst on the grill for our night, but put David in charge of the actual execution of course.
It was a perfect way to settle into our cabin.
Hailey and Kaitlyn wasted no time grabbing Kyla and taking off on adventures, usually trying to bring Nana everywhere they went too. They took off for a nature adventure walk and came back for some porch swinging and book reading.
Luckily the girls are getting to ages where they can just start doing activities on their own. For example, they set up playing matching games and rounds of Go Pup (and other Paw Patrol themed card games that Nana brought and which were a huge hit) while I was busy chasing my littlest niece, Lacey Mac, around and making goofy faces just so I could see her adorable squenchy smile.
The highlight of our trip was Thursday spent at Dollywood. I had never been before and honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I guess I was picturing something similar to Tweetsie Railroad, but what we experienced blew me away!
We went on Thursday, given it was also a day where intermittent rain was predicted, but there wasn’t a single line to wait in. Truly, we walked right onto any ride we wanted, and who knew (not me!) that there were so many rides to experience.
Not knowing what the weather had in store, we headed straight for the Country Fair section, which was full of rides that all our girls could ride on. The larger coasters had height requirements that didn’t accommodate us all, but the country fair was just as described- lots of fair games, a mid-sized Ferris Wheel, and plenty of little ride-on rides for all ages.
And I do mean all ages, as the grown ups didn’t hesitate to get in on the fun either.
After packing in several rides, the predicted rain did come.
It came down hard, but it perfectly coincided with lunch time. Since there weren’t many (any) crowds, we just ducked into the closet restaurant to fill our stomachs with pizza.
A leisurely lunch (no beer in the park if anyone was curious, but they have tea!) and a bathroom break later, the rain had dissipated and we were back at it.
If you would have told me Dollywood was full of serious fun for all ages, including some crazy coasters, I might not have believed you. But you guys, the coasters are insanely fun! Kris, Cara, David, and I took on as many as we could make it to and the Wild Eagle ride was definitely one of the most exciting coasters I’ve ever been on. We waited one round to be able to all sit in the front, but other than that, not a single line anywhere. I’m now forever spoiled.
When we first considered a day at Dollywood for this trip, we all thought it would be good for the kids, but I don’t think any of us pictured how much fun it would be for the whole family, but it really was.
We arrived when the park opened at 10:00am and wanted to squeeze in both a show and a train ride around the park, which kept us there until almost 6:00pm. We might have pushed it a little far for Kaitlyn…
but a quick early evening nap did her just right, allowing her to rally for dinner back at the cabin on the porch.
I love those cute little girls!
We spent 3 nights in the Great Smoky Mountains and it certainly flew by. Dollywood was a highlight for me, though I’d love to have a few more days next time to more thoroughly check out all that Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have to offer (it’s a lot!). Heck, we even saw the queen of southern cooking herself…
Oh, hey Paula! NBD. She was just hanging out at her restaurant at The Island.
All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better quick getaway with this family of mine. It’s not easy to always get all of us together, but when we do, it makes for some great memories.
Us at Smoky Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg- try the Black Bear Beer- yum!
I know a lot of you ‘grammed me with great ideas for family fun in that area. I’d love if you’d leave your suggestions in the comments below too! I want to make a list for future reference because we’ll definitely be returning!
Do you get together with extended family for vacations?
We used to do an annual trip to Bald Head with David’s side, but with older nieces and nephews, scheduling has gotten a bit more difficult. We are looking forward to seeing them all on Memorial Day though!