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At this point you already know that taking a Smoky Mountain vacation can help you live longer, however there are still a few things you will want to avoid while you are here. To help our visitors get the most out of their Smoky Mountain vacations, we at Visit My Smokies have put together a list of the top 7 things you should avoid while visiting the area.
Don’t Feed the Bears
Not feeding the bears is probably the most important thing you and your family should try to avoid during your Smoky Mountain vacation. This not only protects your family’s safety by not allowing them to get too close to these wild animals, but it is also to protect the safety of the bears.
One of the biggest things that National Park Service staff try to keep to a minimum is the amount of human interaction that each of the bears in the national park have. The reason behind this is that they do not want the animals to become de-sensitized to humans, and thus begin coming closer to the areas that our guests visit. Examples of these areas include campgrounds, hiking trails, Visitor Centers, and more.
Vacationers are more than welcome to take as many pictures of the bears as they would like, but we only ask that you do so at a safe distance.
Don’t Constantly Check Your Email
In a previous blog post, we explained how cell phones are ruining families’ Smoky Mountain vacations. This included constantly checking email, social media, texting friends back home, and whatever else keeps your attention locked into your mobile device and not on relaxing and unwinding while you are out of town for a few days.
We understand that in this day and age it is nearly impossible to completely disconnect from technology. However, if you are taking a vacation to get away from your daily life for a few days, it’s kind of hard to accomplish this if you are constantly connected to it through your phone.
Don’t Forget to Plan For Down Time
There are so many fun things to do in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville that it is impossible to fit it all in one vacation. However, do not fill your vacation itinerary so full that you do not have any time to just sit down and relax for a couple of hours.
Not only will this lead to a couple of grumpy attitudes if you are traveling with kids, but it will also ensure that you will return from vacation probably even more worn out than you were when you left home.
Pack your family’s favorite board game, pick up a new book, impose a quiet hour before bedtime, whatever you do just remember that your Smoky Mountain vacation is meant for you chill out for a little bit.
Don’t Spend all day in your Smoky Mountain Cabin Rental
Yes, your Smoky Mountain cabin rental is just what you were looking for. The secluded feel and scenic views are so relaxing you just can’t find a reason to leave. However, along the same lines as to why you don’t want to spend your whole Smoky Mountain vacation on your cell phone, by spending the entire trip tucked away in your cabin you will miss out on a lot of the fun things to do in the area.
The trick to enjoying a successful vacation in the Smokies is to find the perfect balance of down time and adventure. A few of our favorite attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge we think every vacationer should visit include:
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
- Memorial Day-Labor Day: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday
- Labor Day-New Year’s Day: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday
- Tickets: Adults $26.99, Children 6-11 $15.99, Children 2-5 $7.00
- Dixie Stampede dinner theater in Pigeon Forge
- Hours: Varies by showtime.
- Preferred: Adults $55.62, Children $30.24
- Regular: Adults $50.11, Children $24.72
- Hours: Varies by showtime.
- Dollywood’s amusement park in Pigeon Forge
- Hours: Varies by season.
- Tickets: Adults 12-59 $58, Children 4-11 $46, Seniors 60+ $53
Don’t Go Hiking in the Smokies Alone
When hiking in the Smokies, it is always important to have a buddy with you. Though unlikely, you never know if something might happen, and you will want that person there to aid in finding help quickly. Besides, it is always nice to have someone to talk to while on the trails, or at least to take that profile picture worthy shot once you reach the top of the mountain.
If you absolutely cannot find someone to go hiking with you during your Smoky Mountain vacation, at least let someone know where and when you will be on the trails. Tell this person when you are leaving and what time you expect to return.
This way, if for some reason you do not check back in with your friend or family member, they will have an idea of where you might be.
For more tips on how to prepare for your hiking trip, read our blog on everything you need to know before hiking in the Smokies this fall.
Don’t Forget to Take Pictures
There is no doubt that you and your family are going to create tons of new and long-lasting memories during your next Smoky Mountain vacation, so do yourself a favor and back a camera. Even though the camera on your phone probably takes decent pictures, we suggest bringing one that you can bring back up batteries for. The last thing you want is to experience the perfect photo opportunity with a dead camera battery.
Click here to learn more about the best places to take pictures in the Smoky Mountains.
Don’t Eat at a Restaurant Chain
Similar to the point we made about how important it is to shop locally, you and your family will really regret not being able to experience a delicious meal at one of the many locally owned restaurants in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.
A few of our favorite local restaurants include:
- Mama’s Farmhouse
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
- Dining style: Southern, family style
- Phone number: (865) 908-4646
- Website: www.mamasfarmhouse.com/
- Applewood Farmhouse
- Hours: 8 a.m.- 9 p.m., daily
- Dining Style: Breakfast, Southern
- Phone number: (865) 428-1222
- Website: www.applewoodfarmhouserestaurant.com/
- Park Grill
- Hours: Sunday-Friday opens at 5 p.m.; Saturdays opens at 4:30 p.m.
- Dining Style: American
- Phone number: (865) 436-2300
- Website: www.parkgrillgatlinburg.com
- Elvira’s Cafe
- Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-8 p.m.; Sundays 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; closed Mondays
- Dining Style: American, Creperie, Breakfast
- Phone number: (865) 366-2263
- Website: www.elvirascafe.net
Feel free to use this map for driving directions to several delicious local Smoky Mountain restaurants:
Do you have a Smoky Mountain vacation tip that you think we left out? Let us know in the comments below!