Unfortunately, between a touch of altitude sickness after the mountain driving, being so stiff and sore from driving, and just mentally exhausted after the past month, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the area and stuck mostly to the towns. WOW what a tourist trap!! It was tough to find a place to eat or things to do that didn’t involve events or compounds. I had some great food here, don’t get me wrong, but wow. If I came back, it would be to totally avoid Gatlinburg proper and spend all my time out in the mountains or on the river.
What did I enjoy?
1. Scenic helicopter tour – This is more of a conquering my fear of heights more than a relaxing time up in the sky. But the staff were wonderful and the helicopter was comfortable. They put me in the front with the pilot, which not sure that was a good idea? There was open glass under my feet and I was so scare to touch anything! So I just gripped my seat and hung on. Sadly, it is a bit expensive, between the equipment, location and insurance I am not surprised. I did an “extended” tour and it lasted about 10 minutes and covered about 16 miles. The pilot was very helpful and calming and I am glad I went. I now have 4 helicopter flights under my belt, this was by-far the largest helicopter so far.
2. Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
For my second day out I went to the Smoky Mountain Welcome Center and hopped on a trolley to go into Gatlinburg. Do NOT drive into Gatlinburg! The traffic is horrible and it is packed tourists, plus you will likely have to pay to park. Riding the trolley is free! The museum was fun, I love his museums so no surprise here. Gatlinburg is all about Ripley’s!
I also meandered down the streets after the museum, including a stop at Paula Deen’s store. Gatlinburg is a cute city, lots of fun shops, distilleries, and restaurants to check out, as well as a beautiful creek flowing through the town. To wrap up my day I had a really good dinner at a Mexican restaurant next to Ripley’s Aquarium (Jose’s).
I was thinking about going back into town for my last day here, perhaps to try out one of the ski lifts up the mountain, but decided I really just needed to rest today before pushing home. So I settled on some ice cream instead. 🙂 I asked about getting a massage close by but the hotel said they weren’t aware of anywhere reliable to recommend. So sad.
Bon soir, mon ami!