Day 1- We stopped at Five Oaks Outlet Center on the way in. There was quite a few nicer stores.We bought just a few things there before heading to lunch at Chick Fil A.
We then checked in to the MountainLoft Resort. It was decent. Friends of ours have a time share, and we purchase the days from them. The kitchen, bedroom and living space was pretty nice, but the floors in the kitchen and the entire bathroom area needed to be redone- okay, but not great. The views from the 5th floor balcony were fantastic though! It was great to have the washer and dryer. We did more laundry than I thought we would.
Once we got checked in to the resort, we headed to Laurel Falls to do an early evening hike up to the waterfall. Although the parking lot at the trail entrance was almost full, we found a spot and headed up with my 4 year old in her stroller. It was a bit tough pushing her stroller up and she had to get out and walk in a couple of spots, but doable. We saw a bear as we were coming down the trail- scary, but cool.
We ate dinner at The Hard Rock Café, which was good. Then we walked up and down the strip for a bit and bought some fudge for a bedtime snack.
Day 2- Drove to Cades Cove. It was a nice drive up to Cades Cove and around the loop. We hoped to see at least one bear, but didn’t see any, probably due at least partly to the fact that it was mid afternoon as we drove the loop. After that, we ate at Guarino’s pizza- it was very good pizza and breadsticks. Then we headed to Smoky Mountain Outdoors to go white water rafting on the Lower Pigeon River, which was a lot of fun- we would do that again. 4 year old loved it, as did 8 year old. He thought it was a bit boring, but I think the Upper River would have been too scary for him.
We then had a late dinner at No Way Jose’s Cantina in Gatlinburg. It was pretty good, not great though. After that, we played golf at Hillbilly Golf, which was a good time.
Day 3- This was a busy day, as we got up early to drive to Firefox Mountain to go zip lining. That was probably the best part of the trip- we zip lined on seven different lines. While we took turns ziplining, 4 year old played on a swingset, played some corn hole, and probably her favorite part- hung out with the four dogs and other animals on the property. Really nice property and friendly people. Great experience. 8 year old and husband were in a group with a 71 year old woman and 4 others. I was in a group with 2 couples. We liked this so much we considered doing it again, but decided not to because of the price.
After that, we had Olive Garden for lunch, and then went back to the resort for some swimming and relaxing in the hot tub.
We tried to use coupon for rock wall at NOC’s, but we were told it was only open on Fri and Sat. We went to dinner at the Blue Moose. Their wings were excellent.
Day 4- We went to Log Cabin Pancake House for breakfast, which was excellent! Then we went to Ober Gatlinburg- good time, but overpriced. Would not do on next trip.
That night, we tried Blaine’s for dinner. It was okay and the kids meals were overpriced- $7 for spaghetti and drink and another $7 for corndog and chocolate milk. They didn’t have Blue Moon on their beer list, but we found out as we were leaving that they did indeed have it. Fajitas were just okay. Would not eat there again.
The kids and I went to went to Ripley’s Aquarium, while husband went to Star Cars. The aquarium was great. We spent three hours there, popping up in the middle of the penguins, petting sting rays and crabs, and seeing all kinds of cool aquatic life. Husband liked the Stars Cars, too.
Day 5- After checking out of the resort, we headed to the Roaring Fork Motor Trail- beautiful drive, but didn’t see any bears. We made some stops along the way. That didn’t take long, so we then drove towards Townsend/Cades Cove. We drove as far as the split for Cades Cove and Townsend. There we stopped at a neat swimming hole with lots of rapids and rocks to cross. There was a group of people climbing the rocks above the river and jumping into the water below- not something we were going to try, but fun to watch. We went to the Cabin Café for lunch, which was a bit off the beaten path in Gatlinburg. We wanted to give it a try since it was rated as the #1 restaurant in Gatlinburg according to Trip Advisor. It was a quaint little cabin with only 6 tables. The sandwiches were very good.
Next, we drove to the NOC Outpost with the intention of letting the kids try the rock climbing wall. It was again closed; a worker informed us that it was open on Saturdays and Sundays. So again, we left and moved on.
We then went to the Ripley’s Mirror Maze- somewhat fun, but not worth the $23.00 that we payed…..but after the disappointment of no rock wall, we did this instead. Got some fudge before heading home.