Now that we’ve lived in Tennessee for nearly six years, we finally got around to doing something we’ve been wanting to do since we first saw those gorgeous Smoky Mountains rising on the horizon: stay in a cabin in the thick of those mountains.
For our ten year wedding anniversary, we rented a cabin with gorgeous views, a pool table, a hot tub, and did I mention the gorgeous views?
We had a really lovely time, from relaxing and enjoying the view to taking in a night on the town. But we were kind of unprepared for what to expect or look for in a cabin, since it was our first time renting one (though I did have the wonderful opportunity to stay in a Dollywood cabin previously and loved it, I didn’t have to choose that one so I didn’t know what all went into it!). Here’s what we learned- I hope it helps you plan your trip to the Smoky Mountains!
Things to Consider
Mountain Views often equal a zigzag drive up a mountain. This means every time you want to go to town, or you find yourself needing something (like when I got a headache and realized I didn’t have any medicine for that), you have to zig zag back down the mountain. The views are absolutely worth it to us, but I would’ve packed more had I realized how much of an ordeal getting to and from the cabin would be. If you know your cabin is high up, you may want to pack a first aid kit with medicine, snacks, meal supplies, and double check your packing list so you don’t have to make a midnight run for a contacts case or toothpaste. There’s no lobby desk just downstairs for any forgotten essentials, so if you’re driving it may be better to overpack than under pack.
If you’re going mostly for the in town attractions, choosing a cabin lower on the mountain with less mountain view and more forest view may be a good idea. You don’t want to spend all of your time in the car! You want to be near what you want to do. If you’re planning on going to museums, the aquarium, Dollywood, Anakeesta, and see a dinner show all within a few days, you’ll want a conveniently located cabin. Since ours was higher up for the view we wanted, we spent at least twenty minutes each way for every car trip. We also went in winter, and the rain and fog created low visibility while driving.
Think about your plans when choosing a cabin. If you want to relax and hang around the cabin, check the listing to make sure it has wifi if that’s something you’ll want (many we looked at mentioned being ‘unplugged’, but we needed to be in good cell service and have wifi as a backup since we were leaving our kids with grandparents overnight for the first time). If it lists a DVD player as an amenity, bring a beloved movie (our cabin had a player but no discs). We loved that our cabin had a hot tub and pool table. We played a lot of pool and it was a super fun perk we didn’t expect we’d use as much as we actually did. So if you’re planning on having a cabin day, make sure you pick one with amenities you’ll use. We’ve seen some advertised that have indoor pools (in the cabin!), movie theaters, air hockey, arcade games; all sorts of options abound, so read the listings carefully.
We stayed at a cabin in Sevierville, as most of what we wanted to do was in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. We saw the Hatfield and McCoy dinner feud, which was a laugh. We also went to dinner at Song & Hearth in the Dollywood DreamMore Resort and Spa. We mostly just wanted to spend time together though, so we had a cabin day one day. We hung out in the hot tub, played tons of pool, watched a few The Office episodes, read, and just relaxed. It was thoroughly enjoyable to sit in front of the fire, reading, and watching a cloud encapsulate our cabin. It was a peaceful and quiet location, and we can’t wait to go back.
What I’ll Pack Next Time
We had a wonderful time at our cabin, and we look forward to taking the kids one day. Next time we go, I’ll want to take:
- Lunch supplies. We ordered Door Dash because it was raining and we were having a lazy cabin day, but the wait is long and the options limited. Having simple lunch supplies on and would be convenient and helpful.
- Medicine for random ailments like headaches and trouble sleeping.
- Our Roku or Apple TV so we have access to our streaming services to binge watch whatever we want.
- Cards/Board games to play with kids.
- Binoculars to view to wildlife from the balcony.
- Dinner supplies. While I enjoyed eating out, the idea of holing up in a cabin for a few days sounds so lovely. If we bring everything we need, from muffins for breakfast to lunch supplies to easy to assemble dinners (hello, Costco lasagna), we could just hang out and not have to stress about taking the kids to a restaurant (and it would be more cost efficient for a vacation, too).
We really enjoyed our time at the cabin, and highly recommend it. It was fun and relaxing, all set against a gorgeous backdrop of the Smoky Mountains.