Just back from a great 17 day trip through the Smoky Mountains. We were a three generation party of grandparents, parents and children aged 7 and nearly 2 - it's grandad reporting here! We flew in and out of Atlanta International - have they got the hardest entry to the US, made Miami and LA a breeze. Travelled via Chattanooga, Sevierville, Cherokee, Lake Lure, Charleston and Augusta. Had two great cabins in Cherokee and Lake Lure through VRBO. Fantastic facilities, we've never been disappointed through 10 different rentals so far and would recommend this way of doing things especially to fellow UK travellers. Admittedly it can mean a bit more travelling to and from sites to visit but ( and US readers are going to choke on this) the petrol is so cheap, it's well worth the effort.
Of the two bases, Cherokee was the more suitable for us. I had read some bad press about the area, suggesting it was a little trashy, but we loved it. The Cherokees have a number of good solid activities for the tourist, no not the casino, but the museum, village and storytelling, most of which we visited and I'll be reviewing on the places to visit entries. There's also some decent shopping to be had too behind all the Holiday Souvenirs. We also had excellent experiences at Cades Cove and Dollywood and enjoyed our visits to the Oconaluftee Visitors Centre and Farm. Our grandson loved gem mining at the Old Mill, rock climbing on Mingo Falls, paddling from Oconaluftee River Island and spotting the painted bears! By way of linking one place to another we did the journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Lake Lure was good and we thought Biltmore was excellent. Our son's family chose to do Linville Caverns, Blowing Rock and the Boone area that day. Chimney Rock was great and grandma managed to get to the top to be awarded with a pin for doing so by g'son! We did the Lake Lure Cruise tour as part of a day in the village at the beach which was very good tour. Our day to Pisgah Forest was the one day when the weather didn't do us any favours. Son slid the rock, but we nearly all horse trekked and ziplined happily locally, as well as enjoying a great family night barbecue at Cedar Creek Stables. Again all of these will be reviewed in more detail on visits pages. Our only difficulty with Lake Lure would be that it is a little further away from most activities and the mountain roads can make it quite slow to get anywhere, as I'd read in earlier reviews too.
After leaving Lake Lure we headed down to Charleston for the weekend, which of course wasn't long enough, but we saw enough to want to go back. We did a very good carriage tour with Palmetto, a reasonable harbour cruise with Harbour Cruises and an exhausting walk around the centre areas in the heat! After that we just about had time to do the canal cruise in Augusta which was a little disappointing but maybe has its strong points for certain interests - read the review to find out why! Well the reviews will gwt done over the next few weeks anyway.
Thanks Carolinas, in my mind I'll be coming back just maybe find a different way in next time!