Have I mentioned lately how much I love living close to the Smoky Mountains? This week my family and I took advantage to this enormous playground and decided to have an impromptu midweek staycation. We didn’t really have any set plans when we left the house. We just packed up the car with our tent, sleeping bags, swim suits and a change of clothes. It seems like every time we go to the mountains we always wish we had brought our stuff so we could stay the night. Well this time we did!
Even though it was an overcast day with a chance of rain we decided to drive up to one of our favorite spots, Clingman’s Dome. The last time we went up there we walked up the half mile paved path along with the majority of the people to get the to observation tower. Even though the trail is paved it is all uphill and pretty strenuous. We decided to do something different this day and hike along the Appalachian Trail that starts right next to the parking lot. In my opinion, the Appalachian Trail is the best and now my only way to get to the observation tower of Clingman’s Dome. The uphill hike is a little more gradual so it isn’t quite as strenuous as the paved trail and it’s not as crowded. It’s makes for a much more peaceful hike through the forest. We loved listening to the birds around us, seeing the views and checking out all of the vegetation around us. When we got to the top of the observation tower we didn’t have quite the view we did last time we were there. It was overcast and getting ready to rain. Even though we couldn’t see for miles like we could last time it was still pretty amazing being at the highest point in Tennessee. We walked back down the half mile paved path just in time to get out of the downpour of rain. As we made our way back into Pigeon Forge we decided to see how much it would cost for us to stay overnight. With it being the middle of the week there were tons of hotel vacancies. We were able to stay at Americana Inns and Suites for around $63 (about the cost of a video game was my husband’s justification). The hotel room itself was well equipped and nice with 2 queen beds, mini fridge, microwave and towels. Our room was right next to the pool so we were able to take a swim. The pool was huge, but needed some minor maintenance (cracked tiles in places and the hot tub was empty). My main complaint about the hotel was the complimentary breakfast. The breakfast included frozen biscuits that we had to heat up, gravy in a crock pot that hadn’t heated up yet, mini donuts, frosted flakes, blueberry waffles coffee and orange flavored drink. We were not impressed at all. During our evening stay we walked next door and spent some time playing arcade games at Rockin’ Raceway Arcade. We had a ton of fun playing and the kids had their daily video game fix satisfied. After our video game fix we went to have dinner at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria. Our half wing it and half cheese pizza was awesome. Our daughter who often complains about us eating too much pizza loved this pizza. The dough is homemade right there in the pizzeria and the pizzas are baked in a wood fired brick oven. Talk about yummy!! After dinner we did what everyone eventually has to do while visiting Pigeon Forge - ride go karts! This was both of the kids first time riding go karts. The 3 year old was eager to jump into the go kart with daddy, while our cautious 8 year old was a little more hesitant about the ride with me. (I’m not that bad of a driver!) We all ended up having a blast on our ride even if we were rear ended a few times. The kids left excited for their next real life Mario Kart ride. We can’t wait for our next staycation adventure. Hopefully next time it won’t storm so we’ll actually be able to use our camping gear that’s still packed away in my trunk!