Camping Tips

Gatlinburg Tennessee Review

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are located in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Located about 15 minutes apart from each other, people usually visit both within the same trip. With both towns offering different types of things to do, you are sure to find fun stuff to keep you and your kids busy having fun.

In this Article, we will go over my families experience in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. We have vacationed in both places multiple times and have a good understanding of what they have to offer, what are “must does” and even the stuff to stay away from.

I firstly want to introduce my family and tell you a little about us. This way, you know what we look for in vacation.

My name is Vince and my wife and I have been married since June 1st, 2001. We have to boys, ages 14, 9 and one daughter age 4, we all love doing stuff as a family. We enjoy camping, nature and going on vacation of course. Gatlinburg Tennessee is about 6 hours from our home in Indiana near Cincinnati, Ohio.

 Gatlinburg VS. Pigeon Forge

 A quick overview of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

We have made our way back from our latest trip to Gatlinburg Tennessee and had a great time. Even though I love my in-laws, five nights was long enough (I’m sure you understand). For you that have never heard of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge it is roughly 50 minutes southeast of Knoxville. Gatlinburg has a ton of shops a sky lift and all the Ripley’s attractions among a lot more that we will go over. Pigeon Forge has all the Go Karts you can handle along with some great eats, mini golf and the daredevil rides to see if it is your time to meet our Lord.

Gatlinburg

The town of Gatlinburg is known for most of the shopping, sky lifts, smaller restaurants and indoor attractions. They do have some cool outdoor stuff that we will go over but I consider them part of the lifts. Gatlinburg is the original town that has been a staple in the Smokey Mountains for a long time. There is a lot of history here and even a lot of country sounds mentioning the town. In recent years it has turned into a tourist trap from hell, not a bad thing but more commercialized in the past 15 years.

Pigeon Forges

Is known for Dollywood, all the go-carts you can handle, more flea market type shopping, restaurants, thrill rides, etc.

Though the towns are not far from each other, traffic can be horrible at times, especially the days when people are leaving and coming to town at the same time. There is one main road in and one out.

Where to Stay

Gatlinburg cabins or hotels?

Though we did not camp we did stay in a cabin. Gatlinburg Tennessee has many of great camp grounds to choose from but to be truthful, the cabins are they way to go in my opinion.

Depending on what time of year you visit will depend one the price you pay. Gatlinburg has stuff to offer all year round, but the time of year will still have effect on what you play. We have seen rooms as low as $24 a night and around $39 for the nicer hotels during the off season when kids are in school. During the summer, you will pay much more.

If you like the outdoors, I suggest doing what we do and that is renting a cabin during your stay. There are many to choose from but most are unreachable in winter months. We usually stay in a cabin between the two towns but more toward Gatlinburg (8-10 minutes from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge). These are a little cheaper but still run around $150-$200 per night for a two bedroom. Between the pinball, arcade, Foosball, pool table and hot tub this is the way to go if you have the money. You can get from a one bedroom to a cabin that sleeps 20 people. One point to make here is to do your research, we have stayed at a dump before because we didn’t research first. But we have also stayed at some huge places that overlooked the Smokies for the same price. A google search will give you many choices.

Places to Eat

Get your eat on!

The food can be good in both towns. The main place that I recommend is the Old Mill restaurant located in Pigeon Forge. You will not be disappointed, if you order the meatloaf you will get a pound or more, and then corn chowder, mash potatoes, green beans, salad, fritters and desert. I think the cost was $18.I have heard The Alamo Steakhouse is great but I have never been, it is over my cheap budget.

Bennett’s Bar-B-Que located in Gatlinburg is good but you don’t get as much as I would expect from a BBQ place.

On the way in to Pigeon Forge from the main highways, you pass Flap Jack’s and this place is a must stop for breakfast on the way back home. We stop by on our way out every time that we are in town.

By now I’m sure you know that I like to eat, but one more stop you have to make is on the strip in Gatlinburg, it is at the video arcade and they have huge foot long corn dogs and sausages with peppers and onions. You will find it a little pricey but it is a must stop for one of your lunches.

You will also find your common chain restaurants in Pigeon Forges, but why would you eat at a place like that when you have so many local places?

There are many more local restaurants but the above mentioned places is the places we go almost (if not) every trip. Since we get a cabin in Gatlinburg, we cook most of the time to save money. We usually eat breakfast out once on our way out of town, go out to dinner once per trip and eat lunch out more often because it can be a hassle to go back to the cabin just to eat.

Things to do

Attractions of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge

There is many attractions you can visit but plan to bring some money. Like any other tourist trap, nothing is cheap. Go-Karts are huge in Pigeon Forge and the NASCAR Speedpark has a deal of I believe $30 all you can ride. Most other places charge between $5.00-$8.00 per ride of I think 8 minutes. You will find many track layouts from figure 8 to corkscrew to oval tracks. If you like to ride go-carts, you will be in heaven.

If you are looking for rides, Ober Gatlinburg is a good choice, you can either take the tram up the mountain for $10 adults, kids under 7 free or make the drive. Once you get to the top, it is $20 all you can ride. They have many rides, water slides but our favorite was the Alpine Slide. A large hill, a slide on wheels and you controlling it, what could go wrong lol…If you enjoy putt-putt, then you will have a lot of choices. You will find many themed courses around both towns. Our favorite is the Hillbilly golf course in Gatlinburg. You play going down the side of a mountain and my son swears that some of the statues are of some of our family members 🙂

Pigion Forge has many of the thrill rides on the strip but we have never rode them. I have never trusted the whole death ride next to the road thing.

You also have Dollywood that we have never been to.

I could go on forever on the attractions but go-carts, Ober Gatlinburg and Dollywood are the main selections.

Over all

Over all, this is a great family vacation spot. Up in the mountains, go-karts, good food and plenty of kid friendly stuff to do. What else can you ask for in life? Oh yea, there is a large number of chapels in case you want to tie the knot in the mountains. We have been a large number of times and will continue to go back.

Gatlinburg Poll – Tell us why you like or do not like Gatlinburn below the poll in the comment section!

10 Must Have Items When Out On The Water Fishing

How many times have you been out on the water just to discover that you don’t have something you could really use? It happens, right? Everyone has been there along with myself. Today, I’m going to share my must have items to have while out on the water fishing.

Must Have Items While Fishing

Extra Gear/Lures

So, I’m sure you are not going to forget your gear. But let’s think about it in a different light. How many times have you been out on the water and have you gear fail on you, your reel backlash or you forgot to reload your favorite plastics?

Caring an extra rod and reel (or two) with you can save you a boatload of time if something happens to your gear while out on the water. In place of needing to spend time untangling the line you just back-lashed, you can work on it later.

It is always smart to carry extra of your favorite lures, but do you have an assortment? What if your favorite Fluke just isn’t working? No one likes carrying around a large tackle box, but it just may save your trip out.

 

Hat/Glasses

Smallmouth bass fishing wearing Sombriolet Sun Hat

Far too many people forget one or the other while out on the water. A hat and sunglasses are both important and play different roles.

Hat

Many wear baseball caps while out on the water which works but doesn’t give you full protection from the sun. Using a Sombriolet Sun Hat is a smarter choice. It will protect your face and the back of your neck from the sun. How many times have you come home with a burnt up neck…

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a no brainier but if you have ever been out on the boat and didn’t bring any, I’m sure you remember going forward. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun’s rays, they will also help you from getting that ridiculous headache from squinting all day. Everyone needs a good pair of fishing sunglasses. They don’t have to be expensive, just make sure they are polarized and keep them in your tackle box.

Sun Block

While we are on the subject of the sun, don’t forget to take some sunblock. If your going to be out all day, protect yourself.

Phone

Fishing app on phone

Photo Credit: navico

You may think this is pretty obvious, but it is worth mentioning. Besides being your way to communicate if you are in trouble or stuck out on the water for some reason, your phone is a great tool for other fishing related tasks. Here is a list of things you may have not thought about using it for:

  • Camera to snap shots of your catches
  • Maps or GPS to navigate the waters
  • Marking good fishing or potential fishing spots
  • Marking underwater structures you find
  • Fishing and weather apps

Measuring Stick

Bass being measured

Depending on what your fishing for and/or if you are keeping your fish, keeping a measuring stick on you comes in handy a lot. Maybe not really needed if your bass fishing for catch and release, but it could come in handy if your in a tournament. It is also smart to have a measuring stick close by if your keeping your catch. The DNR is strict on size limits and you do not want to have that conversation with an officer on why your catch in an inch short. You will be ticketed.

Tip: Look up length limits on what you fish for per your state regulations. Make your marks on the measuring stick so they are permanent. That way, you are always prepared.

Scale

I know, I know, you are a great judge when it comes to guessing weight. But if your in a tournament, you are going to want to check the right fish to keep for weighing and which to send on his marry way back to the water. A scale is not as important as measuring stick but they are nice to have on hand.

Snacks/Drinks

There is nothing worse than being out on the water all day baking in the sun without having energy. You get sick, dehydrated and it could turn dangerous. I have personally been with a friend that passed out because he was not drinking enough (water, he was drinking plenty of beer). Here are a couple ideas for quick energy:

For food

  • Jerky
  • Nuts or trail mix
  • Sausage sticks
  • Snickers (if you can keep cool)
  • Fruit (apple, banana)

For Drinks

  • Water (of course)
  • Gatorade
  • Apple Juice
  • Jug of tea
  • flavor packs for your water

Stay away from carbonated drinks

Friend/Kid

Dad and son fishing

Some hit the waters on their own. Maybe you have the day off, maybe your retired, some people do fish alone and there is nothing wrong with that. But lets’s think about it from a safety standpoint. You always want someone with you in case something happens.

Let’s take it a step further, why not take someone that may not have the opportunity to fish from a boat much. Spread the love of fishing and take a kid. It could be your own , a niece/nephew, a neighbor kid that is looking for the father figure, etc. Even if it someone from work, that person is going to be very thankful they were invited.

Fishing from a boat may be something you don’t think twice about. But for many, that is a huge treat and they will be grateful. People like this help grow the sport on to the next generation.

Safety Gear

Don’t be lazy or cheap. Have your safety gear on-board at all times. It’s not only smart but some of it is law. You do not want to be boarded by t he coastguard and not have your life jackets and fire extinguisher. Here are a couple other things that may come in handy:

  • Whistle (if your stuck out at night with no power so they can find you)
  • First aide kit
  • Small mirror
  • Air horn (may be law)
  • Extra rope (towing or needing to tie off)

Find your state’s boat safety requirements.

Rain Gear

When out on the water, you never know whats going to happen. I have been on the water many of time with sunny skies, and having a storm blow through. It’s always smart to keep some on the boat. Frogg Toggs are light weight and easy to stuff in someplace tight. I actually keep a set on the boat, in the camper, garage, etc. I’m never without. You can check out what I think about Frogg Toggs on a post I wrote a while back.