How to Plan a Couples Getaway in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Last week my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and spend some time together kid-free. It was so restful, and we enjoyed having the opportunity to talk and get to know one another as best friends again rather than just a parenting team.
Gatlinburg is such a great location for anyone living in the southeast when you need an easily accessible place for a quick getaway, so I thought I would share all about our trip to give you some ideas for spending your time there!
Where to stay
We were blessed by the kind folks at Gatlinburg Falls Resort, who were willing to partner with us by providing a place to stay so that I could tell you all about it! We actually stayed there last year with our kids and had a positive experience, so I'm glad we were able to go back again!
Would you like to take a tour of our cabin? Take a peek inside in the video below!
We arrived in Gatlinburg well before check-in time, so I called the office to see if there was any possibility of checking in early. The girl at the front desk was super nice and helpful. She put our cabin in as priority to be cleaned so that it would be one of the first ones done. Their policy says that check-in time begins at 4 pm, and that each cabin may not actually be ready right away since they have so many cabins to prepare for guests. Ours was one of the first ones done and we were able to get in right at 4:00. I felt like we were rushing them because my husband had a migraine and I was hoping he could go lie down. While we sat around in the office, the clerk contacted the crew several times to see if they were done yet.
As soon as we got into the cabin, we got a knock at the door from a maintenance man. Evidently we had rushed them too much and there were a couple more jobs that needed to be taken care of. The hot tub needed to be checked, the beds did not have their comforters on them yet, and a broken towel bar needed to be re-hung in the bathroom. He was very apologetic and did his best to work without disturbing us.
Everything in the cabin was very clean. I get grossed out easily, so it was nice to be able to enjoy my stay without feeling like I couldn't touch anything.
We had everything we needed for an enjoyable stay – TV's, internet, washer and dryer, dishwasher, jetted showers, game room, porch with rocking chairs, and of course, no relaxing getaway could possibly be complete without a hot tub!
I've checked out the prices on the website for Gatlinburg Falls Resort several times, and I think they are quite reasonable. If you follow them on social media, you'll find that they often have last-minute 50% off specials, which is a fabulous deal! Follow them here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
What to do
We spent a good portion of our time just hanging out at the cabin, relaxing in the hot tub, cooking nice meals together, and catching up on about 5 years worth of sleep. 🙂
I was excited to find out that the Elkmont fireflies would still be in season while we were there. There is an area about 7 miles from our cabin where there are thousands of fireflies. They all light up at the same time and then they all go dark at the same time. It is a spectacular show and Elkmont is only one of 2 places in the world where this happens, from what I understand. We hiked a good ways up the Little River Trail right before dark and then just sat in the woods until dark. Once it got dark the show began, and it was fantastic! We tried to video, but with our unprofessional equipment, the video did not turn out. However, here is a professional video of the experience. Since we went a week after the predicted “peak season”, there were only a few people out on the trail, but the show was still good!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
If you like to get out in nature and enjoy a hike or just drive through the beautiful scenery, you're only minutes away from doing so when you stay at Gatlinburg Falls Resort. Here is a directory of hikes rated by how easy or hard they are. (I had to stick to the easy ones! 🙂 )
We took our kids last year, and it was nothing short of stressful! There were so many people, and it was hard to keep track of all the kids in the crowd. Going as a couple was so much more fun! We leisurely browsed all the gift shops and just enjoyed each other's company. This year, instead of spending money on parking, we took the Gatlinburg Trolley. We parked for free at city hall, which was just down the hill from our cabin. Then we rode the Trolley into downtown for the whopping cost of 50 cents each. (Parking downtown is around $8 – $10, so we saved ourselves a heap of money, plus we got the pleasant experience of riding the trolley.)
If you like to play miniature golf, go to Hillbilly Golf! We've always looked at it when we have gone to Gatlinburg, but this trip was the first time we have gone. We will be back! Not only was it a unique experience playing mini golf on the side of a mountain, the course itself was challenging, which always makes it more fun! The owners were super friendly too!
There we are in the middle seat:
They pull you up the mountain in this little car and then you play golf on the side of the mountain!
No trip to Gatlinburg would be complete without heading over to Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop that you drive around. You're almost guaranteed to see wildlife along the way. Stop at the little pavilion right before you enter the loop road and pay a dollar for the little map/guide thingy. There are houses and churches spread throughout the cove, and knowing the history of them makes the drive more interesting. You can also get out and walk around the buildings, and there are some short hikes you can take as well.
If you're not into driving around bumper to bumper with dozens of other cars, and long for a bit of peace and quiet, you can pull off Rich Mountain Road about a third of the way through the cove. Be sure that's what you want to do since it's a one way road and you won't be able to re-enter the cove. Instead you'll travel a windy 12 mile gravel road up to the top of the mountain and wind back down again where you come out in Townsend, TN. There's not much of a view other than the forest and the switchbacks below you as you make your way up the mountain. But you'll have the pleasure of being alone, and you'll get to enjoy two beautiful overlooks.
What to eat
The benefit of staying in a cabin is that you have a kitchen. By eating most of our meals at the cabin, we save a lot of money on food. We can eat a lot healthier than we would if we were eating out too, which makes us feel better, which means our getaway is more enjoyable! Plus, my husband and I enjoy cooking nice meals together when we are by ourselves. There's something relaxing about cooking when you don't have a bunch of people to clean up after! But of course, it's fun to eat out once in a while too. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of healthy options in Gatlinburg when it comes to restaurants. Here's where we ate:
Whole Earth Grocery
This was a little health food store tucked away up on a side street in Gatlinburg. They have a cafe inside that serves healthy lunch options. I had a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad. They serve salads and sandwiches there with potato salad, pasta salad, or organic blue corn chips as the side. You can grab a bottle of kombucha out of the fridge for a drink if that's your thing. 🙂
I did not care for the atmosphere inside of this restaurant. It seemed like the bar was the main focus, which we didn't even realize until after we ate and went inside to pay. They had tables outside, and we enjoyed people-watching while we ate. 🙂 The food was amazing! My husband had a reuben sandwich, and I had a burger. It was huge!
The first words my husband said when he took a bite of his sandwich were, “Oh wow.” Since he's not easily impressed, I'd say he enjoyed his sandwich as much as I enjoyed my burger. (Or maybe he was saying “Oh wow” at the sight of me trying to stuff that whole burger into my mouth! 🙂 )
Other things to do
You can certainly find much more to do in Gatlinburg than we did. You can visit the Ripley's Aquarium, go up in the space needle, or ride the skylift to Ober Gatlinburg. You can visit the arts and crafts district. You can go ziplining or horseback riding or whitewater rafting.
Whatever types of things you enjoy, they are probably there. For us, we were more than satisfied with hanging out at the cabin, spending time in the woods, and getting a small dose of the gift shops.
If you are in need of a relaxing time away with your spouse, I highly recommend slipping away to Gatlinburg for a few days!
Don't forget to follow Gatlinburg Falls Resort on social media so you can take advantage of one of their specials!