I went on a weekend getaway with my girls Alicia and Lacey to Pigeon Forge for a girl’s weekend. It had been a couple months since I'd seen my girls and it was so nice to catch up with them while doing some fun things in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. We traveled in the winter, during Sevier County’s Winterfest that lasts through February. If you travel in the winter, you’ll experience less crowds and the same Smoky Mountain fun with Christmas-y magic still going strong. Read along on what we did while we were there.
Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant: Did you even visit Sevierville if you didn't stop at Applewood Farmhouse? This restaurant has cozy southern decor and food to match. We were there for lunch and feasted on fried chicken, grilled cheese, apple fritters, mashed potatoes, mac n’ cheese and collard greens. Don't forget the sweet tea! Applewood doesn't take reservations for small groups. If there's a wait you can kill time by sitting on the porch in a rocking chair or walk around the property.
Timberwood Grill: Timberwood Grill in The Island at Pigeon Forge brings the genuine taste of the mountains right to your table. Inspired by the legendary hospitality of the people who have called the mountains their home for generations, this lodge-themed dining experience is one to have. We all ordered so much food, we were so stuffed by the time we were done!
Loco Burro: Located off the main parkway in Gatlinburg, we feasted on chips, queso and margaritas! This is a great place to stop and refuel while seeing all the sights in Gatlinburg. If you're feeling brave, strap on a sombrero and ride the Bucking Burro!
Have A Toast
The best part about a girl's weekend in the Smokies? Moonshine and wineries.
While at The Island, stop by Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery. A tasting is $5 and you get to try all their moonshines. I've never had moonshine before, but my favorite was the coffee java flavor. A little in your coffee at dessert is a nice treat! And if you go, get your tasting with Bubba. He was a hoot and had us in stitches the entire time! Ole Smoky has locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
On our last day, we went into Gatlinburg and did a few wine tastings with
Tennessee Homemade Wine. These wines are made in Gatlinburg and are located right off the main parkway. All of the wines are made with local fruit and you can stop in for a free tasting every day. They also have a wine club you can join!
Sugarland Cellars: Located at the Gatlinburg entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, their wines are made from regionally-grown grapes in the foothills of the Smokies and their team members are mostly East Tennessee natives. Sugarland Cellars offers tours and complimentary limited wine tastings every day.
Bootleggers Homemade Wines: Bootleggers uses all natural ingredients for a superior product. The winery began with two sisters and they make the wines with items you'd find in a southern kitchen. They also bottle each batch by hand! They offer complimentary tastings every day.
What's a girl's weekend without a little outlet shopping? We hit up Tanger Outlet Center in Sevierville early on a Saturday morning. While it was busy, it wasn't overcrowded and we got in some good shopping. Lacey found some great things at Aerie while I had better luck at the Converse and Adidas stores. View a full list of stores and a map here.
The Old Mill Shops: The Old Mill Shops are not typical stores you'd find at an outlet mall. Here you'll find quaint places like The Old Mill Creamery, Pigeon River Pottery, The Old Mill General Store, a candy kitchen, Sassafrass and do tastings at the Old Forge Distillery. You can browse for hours or have a quick look based on your schedule. Have lunch at the Old Mill and see the blacksmith making beautiful ironwork.
Where to Explore
The Island in Pigeon Forge: The Island in Pigeon Forge is a shopping center attraction in the center of Pigeon Forge. There's so much to do there and you don't have to be a kid to enjoy it. A few activities include:
- Island Show Fountain
- Island Ropes Course
- Alcatraz East Crime Museum
- Island Miner's Gems
- Island Mirror Maze
- 7D Dark Ride Adventure
- Arcade City
- Escape Game
- Flying Horse Carousel
- The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel
If you're a grown up or with your girls, I recommend the Escape Game, Smoky Mountain Wheel and Flying Horse Carousel, where we had a fun and quick photoshoot. We also had a ball blasting music and enjoying the views on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
There's also a bunch of different food options like Margaritaville, Mellow Mushroom, The Island Creamery, The Fudgery, and more.
Laurel Falls: We really wanted to see the beautiful waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but the day was filled with rain. The roundtrip distance to the waterfall is 2.6 miles and the hike is considered moderate in difficulty. It will take you about 2 hours to hike to the waterfall and back should you decide to spend a day in nature.
Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies: No matter what age you are the aquarium is always fun! We went to the aquarium on a rainy Sunday and it was the perfect way to spend the morning. Here, you can see the Coral Reef, Stingray Bay, Penguin Playhouse, Shark Lagoon and so much more! Not going to lie, I'm obsessed with penguins and had so much fun watching them.
Anakeesta: Why wouldn't you want to go to a theme park in the mountains?! Anakeesta is a Cherokee word referring to high ground, literally meaning “the place of the balsams.” There's so much to do and see at Anakeesta. If you want activities you can ride the scenic Chondola, walk in the tree canopy, race on a dueling zipline and, coming this spring, a mountain coaster! If you're hungry, you can treat yourself to a pie at Pearl's Pie in the Sky or BBQ at the Anakeesta Smokehouse. Make sure you also take some time to enjoy the incredible view.
Rest Your Eyes
Stay at the Dollywood DreamMore Resort, it’s such a treat! You walk into a beautiful lobby with huge windows letting in natural light, showcasing mountain views. There are butterflies and inspirational quotes everywhere as well as photos of the queen of country, Dolly Parton.
If you stay you don't have to go far for anything. There's the DM Pantry on the 2nd floor with pizza, hot sandwiches, ice cream and coffee. You can have breakfast here every day since it’s so easy to grab a pastry and latte on the go. On the ground floor there's a restaurant called Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery. Song & Hearth is open to both Dollywood's DreamMore Resort guests and non-resort guests. Complimentary self-parking is available. Valet service is also available for a fee.
Song & Hearth is buffet style with some amazing southern cooking. You can eat your fill of fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, rolls and apple pie. Once dinner is finished, head outside for s'mores hour. Once s'mores hour is over, go back inside for story time. Someone sits by the fire on the 2nd floor and reads bedtime stories to kids. It's so adorable!
If you need a nightcap after a bedtime story, head back down to the first floor and have a drink or bottle of wine at The Lounge. With a unique Mason jar mural and benches made from repurposed Ford pickup trucks, The Lounge offers a place for guests to immerse themselves in Southern ambiance. It brings the outdoors inside with a reclaimed barn wood ceiling and hanging lights made to look like captured fireflies. The Lounge provides guests with a way to enjoy the fine cuisine of the Song & Hearth in an atmosphere perfect for unwinding.
What's a girl's weekend without some pampering? Have a pedicure, manicure, massage or a facial. When you walk in, you're ushered to a side room where you’re served cucumber water, are invited to slip on a robe and begin to decompress. The staff is so incredibly friendly. For the pedicure, the staff use a natural caramel coffee scrub on your legs and feet, leaving you smelling and feeling amazing with smooth skin. The spa sells many of the products they use which is lucky for you since you’ll love the products the staff uses in each treatment. The spa offers different messages, facial, body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and cuts and colors. DreamMore's spa is open Sunday-Monday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Knoxville, Tennessee is full of delicious food choices, beautiful outdoor scenery and cultural offerings sure to make you want to visit again and again.