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We have never been to TN and my dh wants to get away (with the kids:14, 11, 6) next weekend. We would drive up on Thurs. and drive home on Sunday (so the little one can trick or treat.) Where do we want to go/do/stay/eat??? I know it's not a long trip, but we want it to be fun for the kids. They're only going to appreciate the beauty of the mountains and changing leaves for 5 minutes, and then they're going to want to DO something. There is a possibility we could leave on Wed. but right now, we're going to assume not. Please help. I don't know where to begin planning something like this on such short notice!!

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We spent a fabulous week this summer in Townsend TN. It is near enough to Gatlinburg to enjoy all the activities OberGatlinburg and the downtown attractions. But, it is far enough away to enjoy the peace and quiet, biking, hiking, horse riding and some museums, etc. Wonderful place!!

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we are not touristy people..so remember that, as you read this. Gatlinburg is good if you like shopping and tourist type attractions...also the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is nearby.

 

However, I prefer to take in some of the TN state parks. My favorite is Standing Stone State Park. Many of the state parks have cabins available much cheaper than a hotel. These parks usually have hiking trails, playgrounds, and good fishing.

 

http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/

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Thanks so far to all who've posted...

 

We will be driving up from the Coast, about a 9 hr. drive. I guess we are more touristy.. my kids want to be doing something. My dh wants great restaurants, and maybe a nice cabin. We'd like to do the fishing/horseback riding thing, but we'd also like to have some shopping and touristy things nearby too. Clear as mud???

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Emma, We are in the Chattanooga area and it is really beautiful right now. Coming up from the coast you will either have a straight shot into Knoxville or Chattanooga. Knoxville is near Gatlinburg (very touristy) and Cherokee NC which is nice because it is a Native reservation. BUT, if you come into Chattanooga area you will see the Nina and Pinta (Columbus' boats) as they are docked at River Park right now. Near Chattanooga there are several state parks. Our favorite is Red Clay State Park which is where the Natives held their last meeting before heading out on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. If Native American history is of your interest, there are Indian Mounds just off interstate 75 in a state park in GA. If you take that route you can stop at rest areas just north of Atlanta and ask for info OR google it and you will find the info. Chattanooga also has Lookout Mountain. There is a lot of Civil War History here. Good luck with your planning :)

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You'll really need to narrow down what part of the state your going to. (Which coast are you driving from--Gulf or Atlantic??)

 

Remember it's a 7 hr drive from Memphis to Knoxville--big difference in landscape (River to Mountains) and time.

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Google Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chattanooga. Those are the ones I'm familiar with. I'll list what I have done at each.

 

Gatlinburg\Pigeon Forge - shopping, hiking, horseback riding, cabins, good food, never tried to fish so can't say about that. Dollywood is in Pigeon Forge.

 

Chattanooga - Lookout Mountain and Rock City (beautiful this time of year...lots of walking), Incline Railway, Riverboat excursion, Tennessee Aquarium (very cool), lots of great food (Big River Bar and Grill right next to the aquarium), I-max, Creative Discovery Museum. I'm pretty sure you can book cabins here although we never did.

 

If your wanting more of an outdoorsey vacation I would pick the first option.

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Driving up from the Gulf Coast.

 

This is why we always, ALWAYS, go to Florida. I don't even know where to begin with something like this. I don't know where we want to go.. other than dh said, "the mountains." Planning is left up to me and if everyone is miserable.. guess who's fault it will be!!?

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I vote Chattanooga. It is a wonderful area. We did Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, the aquarium, the children's museum (probably too young for the older kids in the group). We ate pretty good at a local pizza place (sorry no clue on the name at this point), a BBQ place, and the hotel we stayed at had a pretty good restaurant in it as well. Just remember all those touristy things cost money and with that many people in the family, it could get expensive, so unless you narrow it down, you might want to pick somewhere else.

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Okay, I've got a little more time now. We spent 2 days in Gatlinburg hotel before moving over to a cabin in Townsend.

 

In Gatlinburg, we went to the aquarium. We took the tram to OberGatlinburg and ice skated, did the tiny zoo, and ate dinner there. We did not do the ski lift and alpine slope thing.

 

In Townsend, we visited the Heritage Museum, did some shopping at "country stores", road horses, hiked, and swam in cold mountain streams. We did not do the ziplines or tubing. The best fudge I've ever had in my life is from a small country store near the park entrance. The park rangers gave talks and guided hikes too.

 

Somewhere between the 2 towns, we went to some wonderful craft stores where local artisans displayed their talent.

 

I personally did not like Pigeon Forge. It was amazingly crowded and very touristy. But, there is a ton of stuff to do there. DollyWood is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Emma, We are in the Chattanooga area and it is really beautiful right now. Coming up from the coast you will either have a straight shot into Knoxville or Chattanooga. Knoxville is near Gatlinburg (very touristy) and Cherokee NC which is nice because it is a Native reservation. BUT, if you come into Chattanooga area you will see the Nina and Pinta (Columbus' boats) as they are docked at River Park right now. Near Chattanooga there are several state parks. Our favorite is Red Clay State Park which is where the Natives held their last meeting before heading out on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. If Native American history is of your interest, there are Indian Mounds just off interstate 75 in a state park in GA. If you take that route you can stop at rest areas just north of Atlanta and ask for info OR google it and you will find the info. Chattanooga also has Lookout Mountain. There is a lot of Civil War History here. Good luck with your planning :)

 

I vote Chattanooga....I LOVE Chattanooga (partly because I lived there in early childhood) There is TONS to do there. Lots of Civil War History, Lookout Mountain is So much fun and downtown Chattanooga has a lot to do and an awesome aquarium.

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Guest mrsjamiesouth
I vote Chattanooga. It is a wonderful area. We did Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, the aquarium, the children's museum (probably too young for the older kids in the group). We ate pretty good at a local pizza place (sorry no clue on the name at this point), a BBQ place, and the hotel we stayed at had a pretty good restaurant in it as well. Just remember all those touristy things cost money and with that many people in the family, it could get expensive, so unless you narrow it down, you might want to pick somewhere else.

 

The Aquarium is a really good one! My kids like doing Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain, but they require lots of walking, heights, and being underground.

 

I have to vote for Gatlinburg area.

We also love Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. We do day trips to here all the time. There is a bunch of fun Ripley's Believe or not museums. The Ripley's Aquarium is really neat too.

Instead of a hotel, I highly recommend renting a Chalet.

In Pigeon Forge/Sevierville there is a great restaraunt called the Apple Barn, we always stop and eat there. There is a large outlet mall a little down from there. Dollywood is fun! There are tons of Carnival Type attractions up and down the row in Pigeon Forge.

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Well, which way are you coming from (so what part of TN will you be entering)? Our neighbors just got back form Gatlinburg and they said that the leaves were just falling off the trees rather than changing because of the drought. That's starting to happen here this week, too.

 

I like the Gatlinburg/Sevierville area. I love Asheville, NC, too (and like to drive the Blueridge Parkway from Gatlinburg over there).

 

I like Chattanooga and Signal Mountain, too. I like the aquarium there....

 

I went to school in Knoxville and like that area, although I can't tell you specifically what a tourist would do there....

 

Western TN is very different and not mountainous, so I'm assuming you're not coming from that direction.

 

I like the area of the Cumberland Mountains and Cumberland Plateau in the middle of TN (which is where I grew up). There's a National Park there called Big South Fork that covers land I've always loved. There's a nearby state park called Pickett State Park that is also a little gem.

 

Sights to see would depend on which area of the state you'd be visiting, though....

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