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Wanna See My Vacation Slides?

July 28, 2006

No? Okay, I’ll leave off the slides, but still bore you with a few of the highlights of the trip, mention the attractions we visited, mention some good places to eat . . . and probably still slip in a photo or eight.

I call it the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg trip, because we stayed in a cabin in Pigeon Forge but we spent most days in Gatlinburg. The cabin was only about a year old and very nice, but the location was basically a subdivision of near-identical cabins. No mountain vistas spread out before you from these windows, just more cabins and some trees.

The big thing to know prior to visiting Gatlinburg is the walking. The tourist stretch is long, and has for-pay parking available and even if you sleep late (like we did) and get there around noon (like we did), we always found parking. It’s about $6/day or part thereof (i.e., six bucks for eight minutes or eight hours), and getting from one end of the stretch to the other is a fairly long haul. There are trolleys at fifty cents per ride, with free parking at the visitors center which is a trolley stop. We tried that once and found walking preferable. I think after the one ride (two, counting coming back), we’d have taken a root canal over another trolley ride.

Of the food, we ate dinner at the Cherokee Grill, the Greenbrier Restaurant, the Best Italian Cafe and Pizzeria, The Smoky Mountain Brewery, and Calhoun’s Restaurant. The only knock I have is with the Greenbrier Restaurant; while it was pretty good, it’s priced as if it should be exceptional. Yet it didn’t have exceptional food, service, or atmosphere. Of the other places, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you to try, and if I could only pick one it would be the Cherokee Grill.

Lunch was at the Wild Plum Tea Room, Blain’s Grill, and the Applewood Restaurant. The Wild Plum Tea Room is in a small craft village section of Gatlinburg, away from the main drag. The (clickable) photo here is from the parking lot, and the attached room you see is part of the covered porch dining room. We had three choices of entrees, and we chose a medley that consisted of potato soup, tossed salad, and chicken salad, and found all tasty — well, with one exception; Number One Son wasn’t particularly fond of fruit in his chicken salad, but otherwise we all enjoyed it. As much as for the food, you should try it for the atmosphere. Quiet, off the downtown path (way off), under the trees; it had an inside dining room, a screened porch dining room, and a deck dining area. We ate on the screened porch; lace tablecloths, eclectic dinnerware, a nice, relaxing meal. Blain’s was more along the line’s of an Applebee’s or similar; the prime rib sandwich was better than the prime rib I had at Greenbrier’s. Though I think there was an Applewood Restaurant in Gatlinburg, we stopped between Pigeon Forge and Sevierville on the day we left. It was great, home-style cooking, and we bought a few things from their (separate building) gift shop there as well. I’d send you to any one of them in a heartbeat, though I’d have to give you directions to the Wild Plum. We also had lunch while hitting Obergatlinburg; your basic hamburger, fries, and coke, and I was surprised — given you are a near-captive audience — at how reasonable the price was for a pretty big, pretty tasty hamburger.

While we mostly ate breakfast in the cabin, we did have breakfast one day at the Pancake Pantry, which was pretty good. Be warned, though, that the Pancake Pantry only takes cash. They have an ATM inside, but I’d not be willing to give them an extra fee on top of my meal price just because they don’t want to accept the same card (Visa check card) through the Visa credit card system (where they pay a fee), but maybe that’s just me. Luckily, though, we had the cash to cover it (about sixty for the four of us); this avoided my making us leave for breakfast elsewhere and my kids throwing butter pats at me whenever my back was turned.

The attractions we visited included the aforementioned Obergatlinburg, Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, Ripley’s Motion Theater, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Ozarks, horseback riding, and the Sweet Fanny Adams Theater. Of the Ripley’s branded attractions, the Aquarium was worth a visit, I suppose the Believe it or Not museum is worth seeing once, but the Motion Theater can be skipped. There are lots of places to go horseback riding, and I’d suggest if interested you leave the Smoky Mountain Riding Stables off your list of choices. Unimpressive locale, unimpressive staff, and to my untrained eye the horses looked pathetic. We left and found another place outside of Pigeon Forge, though the name escapes me at the moment.

But to wrap up my little vacation post, of all the attractions we visited the most fun was the one show we did take in. Having done the Dixie Stampede and not being particularly interested in the “kids and/or country music” flavored shows, we bought tickets to The Sweet Fanny Adams Theater. I bought the tickets a week in advance and we had second row, aisle seats though the theater is small enough that there are no bad seats. The Sweet Fanny Adams Theater doesn’t have your typical Gatlinburg/Branson musical show. I’ve included some photos, and you can click any of them for a larger picture. In trying to classify the Sweet Fanny Adams theater shows, I guess you could call it “Monty Python meets vaudeville in a farcical adventure.” Their website calls it “1890s style theatre are a combination of Old English music hall, American vaudeville, Monty Python, and Broadway musical comedy.” Whatever you call it, we had a blast.

While there were parts the younger kids would enjoy, other shows would be much more fun for children. Our kids, being older, enjoyed this much more than they would have the other shows in Gatlinburg. Lots of laugh out loud stuff, some corny (audible groans permitted) by design, and lots of fun.

There are two shows that alternate from night to night, and we saw the show titled A Knight’s Tale and Other Acts of Superficial Foolishness. I wish we would have had time to take in the other show as well. We must have liked the one we saw, as we bought the DVD (of that night’s show – ain’t technology wonderful). The show includes songs, dancing, skits, audience participation (particularly the sing along), and various pieces and parts of hilarity. The Knight’s Tale was the longest piece of the show and was a funny take on the traditional medieval story of the heroic knight — though a heroic knight was central. I keep stopping myself from telling you bits and pieces of it, because if you get the chance it needs to come at you fresh. It is loads of fun.

I will mention that there are some parts to which some of the most conservative of Christians might take offense (I know this, because my parents are some of the more conservative of Christians, and would probably have taken offense a time or two) but it’s less suggestive than any night of prime time television you pick. Much less. So go, see, and enjoy the Sweet Fanny Adams Theater.

Overall we enjoyed our visit to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area and will probably be back.

From → Ramblings

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