FIRST FLIGHT OUT
When I hear someone mention Tennessee, the first thing that comes to mind is Nashville and its barbeque food. We weren’t going to Nashville, though. This is something that is on my list of places I want to visit. My husband and I celebrated our birthdays in February and planned a couple’s getaway with a group for Valentine’s weekend. I traveled on a few road trips out of state with no issues due to COVID regulations. I have been safe with social distancing, wearing my mask faithfully, and sanitizing.
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This would be the first time since I prefer to say “C,” that I would be entering an airport to board a plane. I took my second test this year, and the results came back negative. We had to submit our results before going. This was a requirement for the hotel and events we were attending.
When we arrived at the airport, it looked like everyone had the same idea we had. To get away for the weekend for the President’s Day holiday. I was shocked the airport was crowded. There were even flights that had a list for people on standby. The airport was extremely strict with you wearing your masks, and there were sanitizing stations everywhere.
We had to take two short flights, a little over an hour from New Jersey to Tennessee. We landed in Knoxville and rented a car to drive out to Pigeon Forge. I usually get nervous when driving in another state that I’m not familiar with, but it was a smooth drive.
Knoxville Tennesse Attractions
Knoxville, Tennessee, offers some fun things to do when you are in town. There are many budget places to visit if you want to save and see some sights. Here’s a list of some awesome adventures to add to your list:
Ijams Nature Center is located at 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920/(865) 577-4717. Admission is FREE! If you love nature and hiking, this is a place for you. With 300 acres and 10 miles of trails, an educational center, biking, and paddling, you will have a day full of activities.
Knoxville Museum of Art 1050 Worlds Fair Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916/ (865) 525-6101 Admission is FREE! The museum is closed on major holidays; please check their website before you visit. This is a wonderful visit to see beautiful paintings, sculptures, and the largest steel and glass exhibits.
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum 2743 Wimpole Ave #B, Knoxville, TN 37914/ (865) 862-8717 Admission is FREE! I love botanical gardens, and whenever I visit somewhere, I check to see if there’s one for me to visit. This 47-acre garden has walking trails, stone walls, and buildings that will have you taking beautiful photos of the latest flowers in bloom. Something you can check the website for too. The garden is open all year round.
PIGEON FORGE TENNESSEE
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at 308 Henderson Chapel Road, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee 37863. The room was clean and had a nice towel decoration on the bed. Breakfast is served daily, with many options to choose from.
My only complaint is that the bathroom lighting in our room was very dull. I could have used a magnifying mirror with light for someone who wears contacts. The customer service was great, from checking in to checking out. There were pamphlets of great places to visit in the area. Our hotel was in the middle of all the attractions.
We were hungry and Googled food near us to eat. There are many options within walking distance for food, and it was hard to decide each day. Pigeon Forge is a long strip with attractions within walking distance of each other.
Just some of the food we ate while there: Smokey Mountain Burritos Mexican Grill, Texas Roadhouse, Bullfish Grill, and Corky’s Ribs and Barbeque. There are so many places, from pancakes, Mexican, BBQ, ice cream, and candy shops. There is something for everyone. Just writing about this makes me want to go back and visit those candy shops.
PIGEON FORGE ATTRACTIONS
We didn’t have time to visit any attractions during our visit because we had prior things scheduled. My husband and I decided to return on a road trip with the kids to enjoy our time. I would recommend staying for a least a three-day weekend to enjoy all the fun things to do. I recommend visiting the Smoky Mountain Navigator site to get discounts on food and attractions.
If you love miniature golf, arcades, wax museums, go-carts, aquariums, food, and fun rides. You will have a great time. Plenty of attractions, from the Hollywood Wax Museum, Castle of Chaos, Dollywood, Titanic Museum Attraction, The Island of Pigeon Forge, and Alcatraz East Crime Museum, will keep you busy. These are to name a few!
The weather was cold and rainy. I wish the visibility were better, but the fog overpowered the day. We still headed out. I can only imagine the beautiful views on a clear day before I get to our day. I first want to say that I, well, we were scared to death driving through the mountain in Gatlinburg.
There were barely any rails, and the fog was heavy. If you aren’t careful, you can drive off the cliff. This is a warning to be extremely careful and drive the speed limit.
Please visit the following site of Dangerous Photo Spots in the Smokey Mountains: https://www.mysmokymountainpark.com/.amp/photos/bad-selfies
After driving through the mountains and bad weather, we didn’t make it to the Gatlinburg Skybridge. The fog was coming in heavy, and I was too scared to drive through the mountain in the dark. We decided only to visit Anakeesta Adventure Park. Leaving out early in the morning is best. I suggest visiting Gatlinburg and Anakeesta during clear weather conditions. The parking lots were full, and we drove to three different lots before getting one.
Ensure you have your license plate number (we had a rental). Most parking meters will require it. Parking was $15 all day. Purchasing theme park tickets online is the best to avoid lines.
I am not afraid of heights, but something about going on a ski lift makes me nervous. The line went fast due to us purchasing our tickets online. Again, the best time to visit is in clear skies. Anakeesta has so much to do for all ages, from ziplining, treetop sky bridge, rail runner mountain coaster, treehouse village, the Anavista Tower, and so much more. There are beautiful outdoor and indoor eateries. But with a view like this overlooking the Smoky Mountains, you will want to eat outdoors.
Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, are great places to visit all year round and fun for all ages. There is also an RV campground for trailers for people taking road trips. We enjoyed our visit and will definitely be back to enjoy all the great sites.
THE SMOKEY MOUNTAINS HISTORY
The Smokey Mountains are not only known for their hiking trails up the mountains overlooking Tennessee or for places to fish. There is a history with Cherokee and other Native Americans who once inhabited the area. The Native American tribes who lived here had their alphabet and political system. In the 1830s, the United States forcibly removed them from the area, and many of them relocated to Oklahoma.
Africans were brought to the region as enslaved people. No one wants to tell the history, but it’s my duty as an African American woman who was not allowed at once to walk freely in this area. White settlers began bringing enslaved people into the Smokies region around 1790. This data is from slave schedules, which list people as property by the U.S. Census Bureau.
There are cemeteries in the current-day park, including five African American cemeteries like Enloe – a family of slave owners that dates back 200 years. Africans were forced to work, tend to farms, and mills, fish, log forests, do masonry work, and make moonshine. When slavery ended, the Smokies were a racist area. Black workers were not welcome to eat or sleep in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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