With Savannah checked off the Road Trip itinerary we were off to Gatlinburg, TN. We made it through FOUR States in just one day! This might not seem like a big deal but it’s pretty huge for a Floridian who rarely drives out of the state since it takes a good 6-7 hours to get OUT of Florida.
We didn’t get to stop for the Tennessee sign because the weather was a bit rainy and we were on a winding mountainside – so we settled for the obligatory “National Park” sign to represent Tennessee.
The drive from Savannah to Gatlinburg should’ve taken somewhere around 6 hours according to Googlemaps – but took us a little over 7 hours as demanded by tiny human bladders. We made it into Gatlinburg through the Foothills Highway and to say it was absolutely incredible was an UNDERSTATEMENT. There were a few pull off scenic viewing areas and so we stopped and stretched our legs – and Alex’s scooter came out for some quick scoot scoots.
Once we got into the Hotel, we hung around for a bit because it was getting dark and we all needed a shower and some chill time.
The next day our REAL Gatlinburg adventure began. Thunderstorms rolled in by 10am and our wilderness adventures were put on hold to enjoy the INCREDIBLE indoor pool at our hotel. The Park Vista in Gatlinburg was EVERYTHING we didn’t realize we needed.
I didn’t really pay attention to the pool, or any of the hotel amenities when booking – we really booked it because it was affordable and the views from the rooms were extraordinary. Not only were there two waterslides – but a kiddie pool where Alex and Milena could play comfortably without actually ‘swimming’.
We spent our morning at the pool and Mimi totally needed a good nap – so Alex and I sat downstairs in the lobby watching the rain and chatting about what being six is going to be like. She’s got big goals this year… love this kid.
The rain let up, and we were able to get out of the hotel and surprise Alex with the whole reason we went to Gatlinburg – Alexandria’s first time riding a horse!! I found Sugarland Stables online and found the reviews much more favorable than others in the Gatlinburg Area. The big selling point was that it was located up in the Smoky Mountains National Park. One thing that I loved was that Alex was able to ride by herself – a little risky but at 6, in a National Park, with Guides and Horses that do this every day, I felt a little better about it. Mimi couldn’t ride because they don’t allow riders under 5, so she and I stayed back and explored the stable area and listened to some songs in the car while we waited for Chech and Papi to get back from their one hour ride through the mountains. Papi video’d some of their ride so after the trip is over I’ll be compiling all of our video clips from our trip into one big family movie and you’ll be able to see more of their ride then!
Even though Mimi couldn’t go on the trail, the stable attendants were nice enough to let her ride around the front of the property and she was ECSTATIC. Mimi’s horse’s name was Buttermilk and next time you see her ask her about it – the way she says Buttermilk is SO CUTE!
After our horseback riding adventure, we decided to take a little walk through the Gatlinburg Trail where we found some really awesome rocks & trees along the river bed. The girls had a BLAST climbing through everything and feeling the mossy trees and smooth river stones. Throwing rocks and climbing over fallen trees & tree roots is definitely a new favorite thing to do for these littles. Definitely NOT normal South Florida stuff!
She felt so accomplished she climbed out onto the river rocks all by herself – look at that little face of accomplishment.
We drove through the National Park and stumbled across the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and OH MAN was that an awesome accident. I asked Javy to pull in just to see what it was, and after reading the sign that it would take about an hour to drive through the ‘narrow steep trail’ I begged him to turn around. In the 6 seconds it took to read the sign 3 cars lined up behind us and we were forced to embark on this unplanned adventure on a one-way road.
Gatlinburg was SO amazing – from the drive in to ending the night in the lobby playing boardgames with the crew.
I think Gatlinburg is one stop that we’ll be coming back to again someday. We woke up, packed up and headed out to our next sleep stop, Charlottesville Virginia! We stopped at one of the Scenic views on the Skyline Drive along the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains so Alex could ‘scoot scoot’ and we could take in the incredible views.