Crisp mountain air and bursts of color from more than 1,500 flowering fauna are reminders of why the Smoky Mountains are considered a rare jewel. In springtime, the mountains come alive with nature, making them a prime destination for spring—right on time for spring break travel plans.
For families seeking a peaceful escape, The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains in the Townsend, Tennessee area is a tranquil locale with an abundance of activities for all ages—and it’s affordable.
You can find activities in the Smokies provide the best cost savings, including many free options like its array of outdoor adventures. At Abrams Falls, a fun two-mile hike leads to a stunning waterfall. Hikers can cross a footbridge and enjoy a picturesque beach area at the base of the falls. The trailhead for Abrams Falls is located off Cades Cove Loop Road, another free activity. The road is an 11-mile loop through the tranquil valley of Cades Cove stretching between 5,000-foot mountain peaks. A quiet experience for bicyclists, pedestrians or adventurers on horseback, Cades Cove has an array of historic buildings. An inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet is available at the entrance.
Known as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” Tuckaleechee Caverns is a 20-minute drive from Cades Cove. One of the interesting features of the caverns is the huge rooms, with the Big Room cavern reaching more than a football field in length. The formations in the caverns are awe-inspiring, and Silver Falls, a spectacular waterfall located inside the caverns, is a must-see. This natural wonder is $7 for children, $15 for adults and no charge for children 4 years old or younger. The Caverns open for the season on March 15.
With all the adventure, you’ll be hungry. Packing a picnic basket or cooler and enjoying a serene picnic area is a thrifty option. Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers charcoal grills and swimming holes where kids can play nearby. With plentiful parking and conveniently located restrooms, it’s a prime place for a meal.
If your sweet tooth is singing, a great spot to recharge with lunch or a snack is Apple Valley Cafe in Townsend. Known for its famous apple fried pies and homemade fudge, the smoked pulled barbecue and breakfast fare are also delectable. Kids can use their allowance money towards one of their many flavors of ice cream or a souvenir at the mercantile next door.
Visitors to the Smokies can choose from an array of accommodations to fit different budgets from campgrounds to cabins to hotels to resorts.
For those seeking a level of luxury at various budgets, Dancing Bear Lodge offers hotel-like amenities and a rejuvenating experience. The cottages and cabins are stocked with supplies and full kitchens with cooking and dinner ware.
Wake up to a gourmet continental breakfast with items like house-made granola and fresh fruit, but the Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro is one of the highlights of the lodge. Offering unique farm-to-table culinary cuisine by Executive Chef Shelley Cooper, the southern-inspired dining experience is memorable.
Between meals, relax by an outdoor fire, enjoy the twisting paths of hiking trails, fish in the nearby river or try one of the area adventures like tubing the Little River, touring the countryside on horseback or braving a mountain zip line.
If you prefer shopping over nature, you’ll find Townsend offers many antique shops or the Antique Outlet Mall. You can even find treasures at one of the country stores. Little River Trading Company has outdoor gear and apparel to outfit your family for adventures.
Travel to The Peaceful Side of the Smoky Mountains is easy with a regional airport located 20 minutes from Townsend. Major highways I-40 and I-75 provide convenience for those traveling by vehicle.
This spring, consider a trip that’s tranquil—a break from hectic life where scenery and fresh air are plentiful and activities are endless. The many budget-friendly options in the Smoky Mountains provide an ideal travel destination fit for the whole family.
*This post originally published by Sarah Merrell , Mary Beth West Communications, LLC