After 40 years of going to the Smoky Mountains with my family, I thought I was an expert. I had seen and done it all, and could tell anyone what to do and what not to do. However, this May I went with my friends instead of my family, and much of what we did I had never done before. It was also a new experience for my friends beginning with our arrival at the really cool Knoxville airport.
After driving leisurely through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, we checked into our cabin by way of Chalet Village. This time our cabin, Rainbow’s End Lodge, was located near the Arts and Crafts Community instead of Ski Mountain Road.
It was a wise decision since we started each day shopping in this eight mile loop of shops of over 100 artists and craftsmen. We greatly enjoyed the variety and quality of the art and crafts as we wandered through just about all of these shops. We bought copper napkin rings, pottery, handmade soap, wood carved ornaments, candles, carved wooden ducks, chainsaw carved bears, crocheted table runners, flavored coffees, carved slingshots, and pebble decorated salt and pepper shakers. Add in some t-shirts and candy taffy from the gift shops in Gatlinburg and our suitcases were hard to zip up! If space had not been a factor I am sure we would have bought something in every shop.
As much as we enjoyed the shopping, we also spent a lot of time in the mountains. We drove into the Smoky Mountain for some sightseeing and even a little hiking. We enjoyed the breathtaking views of the mountains as we rode the tram to the top of Ski Mountain. My friends were amazed at the
great number of chalets on
great number of chalets on
But what we loved the most was our drive through the Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail. Twisting and turning on the narrow one way road made you feel like you could reach out and touch everything. The mountain laurel was blooming. The streams and waterfalls were roaring with more water than I have ever seen before. We stopped at all the historical landmarks. It was a perfect place to spend our last afternoon in the mountains.
We tried out some new restaurants. The Wild Plum Tea Room located in the Arts and Crafts Community was the perfect place for lunch while shopping. The garden waiting area made the lengthy wait very pleasant. We really enjoyed pizza at the outdoor sitting area at the Mellow Mushroom Restaurant on the main road in Gatlinburg. The Applewood Farm House Restaurant was a favorite with its porch swing tables and apple fritters with applebutter. We enjoyed reuben sandwiches at the Hofbrauhaus Restaurant and Cheese Cupboard. Our final meal was delicious trout at the Park Grill with the best salad bar in the world. Their desserts are also really great.