When we decided to go to Dollywood, we drove close to four hours from the piedmont of North Carolina to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. It was a nice (curvy) ride. The view was spectacular as the mountain range appears in front of you.
We stayed at the Willow Brook Lodge in Pigeon Forge. The room was clean, the beds were comfortable, and they have an indoor and outdoor pool. Our daughter loved this place since we were able to use the pool and the jacuzzi at night, before bed. They also have complimentary continental breakfast every morning, which was nice.
On our way there, we passed the town of Gatlinburg, about ten minutes outside Pigeon Forge. The main road looks like a typical beach strip...but in the mountains. You see bargain souvenir stores and lots of mini-golf places everywhere. There are numerous restaurants, shops, arcades, and family friendly places. MagiQuest ads and Dixie Stampede billboards are everywhere luring people to get tickets. The atmosphere is relaxed and safe.
We chose to play "putt putt" at Hillbilly golf.
This mini-golf course is arranged down a huge hill, and you are transported to the top by riding a rail cart 300 feet up. Once at the top, you descend the hill playing 18 holes through all sorts of machinery, and mountaineer equipment. The course is one of the most unusual mini-golfs I've seen. It was lots of fun for us, especially when I made three holes-in-one and hubby only got one. (insert smiley-mischievous face here ).
At dinner time, we were recommended to go to the Old Mill Restaurant and eat some good old-fashion southern cooking.
This place was very neat. The restaurant looked like an old cabin on stilts from the outside, overlooking a creek. There was a wait for dinner, but it was worth our while. They bring you corn frites, with a sweet butter with a maple-ish flavor. We ordered the corn chowder, fried chicken (which came with mash potatoes and green beans), and hubby ordered the chicken and dumplings which were exquisite. The dessert was my favorite part. Blackberry cobbler with homemade vanilla icecream. I honestly have no words to describe it, since it was so fresh and so overwhelmingly delicious. Everything was included in the price; appetizer, main course, and dessert. You can't beat all that food for a very reasonable amount.
Needless to say, we came back the next day for breakfast. Again, the price included eggs, a stack of pancakes, bacon, corn grits, and potatoes. They provide you with fresh orange juice and your choice of an alternative drink. I got coffee, of course, which was perfectly brewed.
The Old Mill area included a few shops around the restaurant. Their own general store, a pottery store, farmhouse kitchen store, a creamery, and a candy store (where I got lots of candy). This was a great place to spend a few hours browsing around, eating and admiring the beautiful landscape.
Overall, Pigeon Forge as well as Gatlinburg, are very family oriented places to spend a good ol' weekend; even if you don't end up going to Dollywood park, you can still find a million things to do around town.
For more pictures of Pigeon Forge and Dollywood check out our Pics tab.
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