Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gatlinburg: 10 Years Later

Last weekend Mr. SS and I enjoyed a wonderful, long weekend getaway to the Smokey Mountains in East Tennessee to celebrate our 10 year anniversary!  We honeymooned in Gatlinburg and had not been back in 10 years so it was quite a treat to see just how the more things change, the more they stay the same :)

Since our trip was planned at the last minute, we stayed at a nice hotel in Pigeon Forge.  Our hotel even had a fireplace, which you would find odd in the middle of July but we were experiencing a polar vortex that weekend and actually had to turn the thing on once or twice!


In the interest of keeping it real - I gotta tell you - the traffic in this part of the state is HORRIBLE.  As we were coming in town we got held up so badly that we had to cancel our dinner reservation for that evening because an hour prior we had not even made it to our hotel to check in.  We ended up having a nice dinner at another restaurant closer to our hotel and we saw the South's largest Christmas shop across the street and knew we needed to make a pit stop.


Nothing like a little Christmas in July to brighten your spirits after a long day of traveling!

Friday we headed to the Tanger Outlets in Seviervile; we were pleasantly surprised to see more shops that we were interested in than we had seen 10 years ago and spent most of the day wandering around the open air mall.  For dinner, though, we headed into Gatlinburg to eat at the very restaurant that we had eaten at 10 years ago that night - No Way Jose's.

Our view while waiting on our table

Even though we had planned to return to Gatlinburg the next day to walk the main strip, we decided to walk down a ways after a really filling dinner and came across Sugarlands.


This fun establishment was not here 10 years ago!  And yes, those jars are filled with moonshine - the legal kind, of course :)  I had never tried moonshine and they were offering taste testing (you had to show you were of age before you were allowed to try any) so I decided to give it a try.  I can honestly say I am not a fan of the 100-proof stuff but the apple pie flavor was to DIE for!  Their moonshine is processed 6 times to make it smoother and for this flavor in particular, they use grannie smith apples and caramel, which is not your usual combination for an apple pie flavor but it was SO good I had to buy a jar.

Or two.  Don't judge.

The next day we headed back into Gatlinburg for adventures walking the main strip.  The traffic was exceptionally bad that day and we were stuck in the Smokey Mountains National Park area for about an hour.


It was terrible - let me tell ya ;)

There is a place to the side of the road where you can stop and take in the scenery - we knew this because we stopped at the exact same spot 10 years prior.  And we figured since we weren't really going anywhere fast that we would take a few pics, like we had on our honeymoon.

Me in the Smokey Mountains National Park

Let's go to Gatlinburg - but first - #letmetakeaselfie

Compared to 10 years ago...

Me in the Smokey Mountains National Park in 2004

Let's go to Gatlinburg on our honeymoon - but first - #letmetakeaselfie

I know what you're thinking and I agree - yes, I age well.  LOL

It was really fun revisiting the main strip in Gatlinburg - there were a lot of new places but a lot of our favorites were still there.  


I took this picture while Owen was inside this shop - the Dayhiker.  10 years ago he bought a shirt here so in keeping with tradition, he had to buy another one.  We even had lunch at Blaine's, a bar and grill on the main strip that we had had lunch at on our honeymoon.

Heading back towards Pigeon Forge I couldn't resist snapping this pic of the aquarium area - we did not go this time because tickets are kinda pricey but I just love how green the area looks.


One of our favorite meals on our honeymoon was actually at the Hard Rock Cafe, so imagine our surprise when we came upon the place where the Hard Rock had been only to find a Denny's.

Whomp whomp.

Good news was they had only relocated to a much larger facility in Pigeon Forge, so for our last night we headed there for dinner and were very impressed with the new building!

The OC Choppers Hard Rock bike - pretty cool!!

The new restaurant was big enough that they had a stage and live music - AND, since we were sans children, we sat around for a little while after we ate dinner and listened to a few songs!


And then, as quickly as it had begun, our anniversary trip ended as we woke up Sunday morning and headed back home.  It was nice to get away with just the hubs for a trip down memory lane to celebrate our anniversary!  I hope we can go back soon - and maybe next time we'll take the kids along :)