I love holiday weekends! But I dread staying home for them. I see a holiday weekend as an opportunity for a mini vacay. You see, the drawback to staying home for a holiday weekend is that maybe the friends are available to socialize, or maybe they’ve made plans to be out of town. It seems a number of our friends are of the spontaneous variety and can’t make a plan until the last minute. It’s a crapshoot trying to figure out who will really be around for an impromptu BBQ or a trip to the local winery and who won’t. I once bought 10 lbs of burgers to grill only to have 3 friends show up. That’s a lot of leftovers.
With Memorial weekend coming up, on a whim, we’ve decided to head to the Smoky Mountains! I know, I know, I’m usually more of a warm weather, beach kind of girl. My husband? He’s an expert of all-inclusive resort swim-up bars. So why the Smoky Mountains? I saw some pictures of waterfalls and thought they looked inviting. I priced out the trip, and felt it was of good value. My husband? Well, I had to promise we would stay at a place called Margaritaville Island Hotel (think Jimmy Buffett and frozen concoctions) and he was sold on the idea. There will actually be a Frozen Concoction Maker in our room!
Since the holiday is right around the corner, I’m currently in planning mode. I have my file of a map of the area marked and highlighted with everything I’d like to explore. We will fly in to Knoxville, TN, and drive down to Pigeon Forge. Beyond that, I’m overwhelmed with the variety of options. I know we won’t be able to check out everything in the 3 days that we’ll be there, so I have to narrow down the list in order to maximize our time there.
Just in “The Island” complex where our hotel is located, I’ve developed a list of where we want to be sure to eat/drink/shop. First, we are on the schedule for a couple’s massage upon arrival (another promise to hubby who has become quite fond of massages). No better way to unwind from the flight there, right? From there, I plan to indulge at Paula Deen’s Kitchen. I’ve seen what she can whip up on TV and I intend to try it and I know I’ll like it. Also on the list for eats is a place called Dick’s Last Resort–it sounds like a funny place where the wait staff “inflict humor upon their guests”. Shopping will include in no certain order, the Beef Jerky Outlet (they say they have kangaroo jerky), Ole Smoky Moonshine, The Pepper Palace, and The Village Idiot. Changes in Latitude Bar sounds like a good place to cool off and imbibe.
Beyond the confines of our resort complex, I’ve drummed up lots of activities which will include hiking, which is NOT my husband’s favorite activity. Some places we are planning to check out are Cade’s Cove–which can be a scenic drive or hike, Clingman’s Dome–the second highest point in the Smoky Mountains which I’ve been dying to see since I saw a post about it on FaceBook, and Grotto Falls–this is the waterfall who’s pictures spurred this trip in the first place. You can actually walk behind the waterfall. Also, a must-see will be Laurel Falls–the laurels should be in full bloom in May–and Indian Creek Falls.
Between the Smoky’s and our resort in Pigeon Forge, there’s Gatlinburg. Seems we may need to stop through on our way home each evening and catch a dinner show such as The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show or check out the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum. I don’t know why that place has caught my attention, but sounds like a must-see to me.
After all this hiking, we may need to just head back to Margaritaville Island for another massage and Changes In Latitude.