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Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

chicago
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Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

I am thinking of bringing my family to the Smokeys in late March for a four day getaway. We were thinking of hiking, Titanic museum and any other family activities you would suggest. Thinking about renting a cabin. Kids are 12,14,14. What's the temp in the spring there? Any help is appreciated greatly! We would be driving from Chicago and are thinking about taking a day to spend at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky besides the 4 days in Gatlinburg/PForge. Do you have any advice re MCave? Thanks again!!

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Townsend, Tennessee
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1. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

Plan for average temps 30s to the 60s in late March at Gatlinburg elevation and 10 - 15 degrees cooler at Newfound Gap - elevation 5,000'. Those are annual averages - weather in the mountains can change quickly in the Spring so a sunny 70 degree day is also possible and so is snow. Many trails will likely be wet this time of year from either afternoon showers or snow melt, so plan accordingly - gaiters are nice to keep your boots a bit cleaner and drier but not a must plus rain jackets, and an extra layer or two of clothing to warm up or cool down depending. Stop in Sugarlands Visitor Center, see the short film on the Smokies (free), talk with a ranger about hiking plans and any current issues with trails. On the Tennessee side, Alum Cave, Abrams Falls, Middle Prong Trail (Tremont), Little River Trail (Elkmont) are all good beginner hikes. More found here: http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/

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2. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

Mammoth Cave would make a nice break in the drive home for everyone to stretch their legs. It's not worth spending the night there, but just choose from one of the various tours they have available - some long, some short.

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3. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

I would do Mammoth Cave on a different trip. It's not really on the way to the Smokies and would add at least 2 hours to your driving time.

Unless you're really into caves, I would spend all my time focusing on the Smokies. Four days is just enough of a teaser, but you can get a good feel for what GSMNP is all about.

I reccomend finding a chalet/cabin to stay in near Gatlinburg. You'll have a lot of fun..

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4. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

I agree with the above posters that by passing Mammouth Cave this trip would be wise. The caves are not along the way and like one poster said, the area really isn't worth staying overnight unless going in the summer and camping. The caves are cool to see, but might not be worth the side trip or that extra drive. If you do want to see caves, you can make a side trip to Tuckalecchee Caverns which are in Townsend, which is much closer to where you will be.

http://www.tuckaleecheecaverns.com/

I too live in the Chicago area, and usually take the route that takes me through Lexington, KY insted of the route that goes through Louisville. I have tried both, but prefer the 1st route. I usually stay overnight outside of Lexington if making the trip alone. But if your kids are interested, a stop in Louisville at the Louisville Slugger museum may be worth the other route.

As far as the National Park, there is so much to see and do, hikes, waterfalls, historical homesites, autmobile tours, and many hours of family enjoyment. Gatlinburg itself will most likely be loads of fun for the kids as they are the right age to really get out and enjoy the Strip and all it has to offer. I think once you get there you will understand why the poster stated 4 days is really just a teaser.

I have been to Mammouth Cave with my daughter when she was 14 and she enjoyed it. We did stay overnight for a couple of nights though in the Jellystone Campgrounds in one of the basic cabins. It was a great campground for families, but like I said, other than the caves themselves, there really wasn't anything else the area has to offer and the area was quite run down in my opinion. I think utilizing all the National Park has to offer, as well as Gatlinburg and Pigoen Forge areas would be more than enough for this trip.

Edited: 18 January 2014, 20:34
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5. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

I go to Gatlinburg at least a couple of times every year... the shortest time is normally 2 nights and that seems really really short and it is only a 3 hour drive... so I would focus all my time in the Gatlinburg area... I went to the Titanic Museum in fall 2012 and loved it... if you have watched the movie or have any interest in Titanic you will thoroughly enjoy it... it was a highlight... Cades Cove (driving through it) is always a highlight to us too... miniature golf is in abundance there too (multiple courses)... of course there is just shopping and shopping and of course just walking down the street in Gatlinburg peeking in the stores can pass the time... I am not a big hiker, but love just driving around and looking for wildlife (last year we saw a mommy bear and 4 cubs as we were driving the back roads from Cades Cove to Gatlinburg)... the tram is nice too but you can also drive to the top... enjoy

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chicago
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6. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

This was so helpful! Thanks!

chicago
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7. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

OOps..forgot to ask.. any recommendations on places to eat? We're not too picky and enjoy the typical american fare. Thanks!

chicago
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8. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

Deputy, This was really helpful info. Thank you!!! Anything fun or interesting to stop and see on the way to Kentucky/Tenn? Thanks again.

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9. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

Pancake Pantry is a must for breakfast.

Smoky Mountain Brewery is always good.

The Peddler is a great place for a really good steak..

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Pancake Pantry
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Smoky Mountain Brewery
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10. Re: Late March trip with family of 5..HELP!

Depending on which route you take there are great places to see along the way. As in my above post, if you choose the Louisville route make sure to stop at the Louisville Slugger museum. I tend to take the route that goes through Indianapolis, then through Cincinnati, and Lexington. If your teens are car buffs, maybe stop at the Indianapolis Hall of Fame Museum at the Motor Speedway. In Cincy, Newport on the Levy is great, but may not be much to enjoy during the month of March (I have only been there in the summer), although they do have a great Aquarium there. As far as Lexington, I have only spent 1 day/night there in town itself but we simply enjoyed the nightlife there. I don't know much about the area. There are some horse famrs and quite a few Distillieries as it is all about the Kentucky Bourbon in that region. I do usually stay at a hotel just off I-75, but other than going to dinner, I don't usually do much while there. Once in southern KY you will bypass Lake Cumberland, which is a beautiful area, but once again, may not be much to see/do as it is off season for the area.

While in town, there will be SOOO much to see/do it can be overwhelming. Sevierville and Pigeon Forge can cause sensory overload; minigolf, bumper cars, shops, theatres (Comedy Barn, Country Tonight, Dixie Stampede, etc), The new Islands area (appears to be a great place to stop). The Rainforest Adventure (indoor) Zoo in Sevierillve is pretty neat to see. Then you will have a peaceful 5 mile drive through The Spur area (seems as though you are headed into the National Parl), then all of a sudden, Voila! you arrive in Gatlinburg, which is a 1 mile strip of shops, hotels, as well as tons of other things to see/do; skylift, Aquarium (a must with kids), Ober Tram to the top of the Ski resort area, Space Needle, Ripleys activity places for teens, great restaurants. Then you head into the National Park itself, Once inside the Park there will be the Sugarlands Welcome Center which is a must stop for your first visit. There is a great display area as well as Park Rangers and Volunteers who can help to guide you on where to go and the must sees. There is also a great gift shop/book store there. If only a few days, check out Cades Cove, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, Laurel Falls, and maybe Clingman's Dome area if a clear day for spectacular views at the highest point in the Mountains.

If you can find the time, head over to the Arts & Crafts Loop for some great treasures to bring home.

Stop in Calhouns for dinner, and Best Italian for lunch (ask for lunch menu) in Gatlinburg. If in Pigeon Forge, go to the Old Mill or J.T Hannahs. The kids may like the Lumberjack Feud or Comedy Barn for after dinner entertainment. Like I said, both towns can be overwhleming with Oh So Many things to see/do. Just make sure to get into the National Park in order to truly appreciate being there. A cabin is a great way to go if a great location and easy to get to. Check out the Great smoky Mountain association bookstore on-lince and consider purchasing the Smokies Starter Kit, as well as the Smokies Road Guide, and possibly the Day Hikes of the Smokies books. They are a great way to learn ahead of time and to plan your days inside the National Park.

Hope that all helps a bit. I'm sure others on here will have lots of other adivce as well. Hope your family enjoys your trip.

Edited: 19 January 2014, 05:31
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