Lindsey Galvez | 6 Reasons to Visit the Smoky Mountains in the Winter
Date: February 1, 2017
You might think that the summer months are THE time to visit the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. That's the exact reason a trip to the mountains should be on your agenda in the cool, winter months of a new year. You'll find smaller crowds, great deals, and even more reasons to fall in love with the mountains and all that the Pigeon Forge area has to offer. Here’s my 6 reasons why January through March is a great time to plan a trip to the Smoky Mountains!
Most schools are back in session and summer attractions are closed for the season. That's one reason you'll find lower numbers in the first few months of the year. Don't let that deter you. If you have the ability to travel in the early months, it's a great time because you'll find less traffic and fewer crowds at your favorite stores and shows.
Be sure to check ahead on show times of some of your favorites. Although the crowds aren’t as big, dinner attractions like Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede and Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure have limited seating and can still sell out! You'll also be able to visit area attractions such as Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and the Titanic Museum without long lines and wait times.
Snow-capped mountain vistas
The sights of budding flowers in the spring are lovely. The changing colors of the leaves in the fall are fantastic. But when you get a glimpse of snow-covered trees and mountains, you'll understand why mountain-winterscapes are my favorite.
With hundreds of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are countless chances to see the beauty of the mountains in its coldest element. You can find a comprehensive list of hiking trails and their difficulty here. While the national park is open through the winter months, there are times when the park needs to close because of dangerous road and weather conditions, which you can check here. There's nothing more beautiful than a hike in the woods with a blanket of light snow on the ground. I highly recommend a trek up Clingman's Dome for the view.
Great rates on hotel stays
With less demand comes great hotel rates. My family will either extend our visit another night or upgrade our accommodations because of the value we can find. You should check into this, too!
This brings me to my next reason why winter is a great time to visit the Smokies: for obvious reasons, we tend to be inside more than other seasons. Choose wisely!
Warm, luxurious home base
Choosing the right hotel is important for any time of the year, but especially in the winter months. Just like there's nothing like coming inside from a day playing in the snow, there's nothing like having a comfortable hotel that feels like a home away from home when you're visiting Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in the wintertime. Dollywood's DreamMore Resort offers guests luxury, relaxation, and comfort. Whether you're pulling a chair up by the fireplace in one of the beautifully decorated living rooms or enjoying some much-needed relaxation in The Spa at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort, this resort has something to make everyone feel at home in the winter.
If you're looking for larger group accommodations, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins are the perfect choice. Located throughout Pigeon Forge, the cabins are all close to the Dollywood parks and all the area attractions; but yet, you feel like you're up in the mountains away from everything.
Shopping opportunities abound
The amount of shopping opportunities are numerous when it comes to the cities surrounding the Smoky Mountains. Sevierville boasts Tanger Outlets where you can find dozens of name brands at outlet prices. The newly built shopping district, The Island, located behind Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure is full of fun, one-of-a-kind stores with something for everyone. The winter months are a great time for shopping as the deals are plentiful and (remember!) the crowds are smaller.
While most outdoor activities in the Smoky Mountains take place in the warmer months of the year, skiing is one that is prime time for winter. Ober Gatlinburg is a Smoky Mountain MUST. Plus, in addition to skiing, Ober offers snow tubing, ice skating and even an alpine coaster!
As I see it, there's no shortage of reasons to visit the Smoky Mountains in the winter. There are lots of attractions, shops, and restaurants to keep visitors happy and busy throughout the season. I encourage you to think outside the box and give the Smoky Mountains a try in the “off-season.”
Morgan Crutchfield | Dollywood’s Dreammore Resort: Luxury in the Details
Date: February 15, 2017
I’ve been a guest in a great many theme park hotels. So many, in fact, that I don’t even take the collectible shampoos anymore. So when I first discovered Dollywood's DreamMore Resort, I was a little skeptical about its ability to measure up to some of my favorites. Now? I’m a big believer. Dollywood’s resort has become one of my favorite places to stay in a very short span of time. Service, comfort, a little luxury - they're all here. But at this resort, the difference is in the details.
Striking the balance between making guests feel they're at home and making guests feel special is a difficult thing for resorts to get right. Dollywood’s DreamMore is at the top of my A-list for acing this particular balancing act. The lobby is grand but cozy, the building and property are expertly maintained, and the rooms are posh without being fussy. Staff members (hosts, as they call them) always have a friendly greeting, but aren't pushy or hurried. It's as natural to relax on a cushy lobby sofa as it is to set up shop in a wingback to answer those e-mails. I regularly do both.
You'll find everything you need in the hotel shop and eateries, and while Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville are a stone's throw away from the resort, I guarantee you won't miss them if you become a hotel homebody.
Resort Rooms: Made for Families
Theme park hotels are big on calling rooms "family-friendly", but most miss the mark on the follow-through. Dollywood has several different categories of rooms labeled "family-friendly" that actually are. From really comfy built-in bunk beds, to sinks and mini fridges in family rooms and suites, to that few extra feet of floor space that accommodate the 4 p.m. sillies, Dollywood's hotel rooms go the extra mile to house your bunch comfortably. There are plenty of outlets for charging devices, the bunk linens are made for comfort and for staying on the mattress and the kids, and family suites even have an extra television for the kiddos by the bunks.
Eating and Playing at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort
You only get the "resort" title in my mind if I can walk through your doors for a weekend and eat, shop, and play without having to leave property. While this resort is a smaller property (300 rooms on 20 acres) compared to some theme park resorts, I never run out of things to do. I’m a huge fan of the hotel's market — DM Pantry — a cute little shop that packs a lot of mealtime punch. You can get Starbucks coffee, fantastic pizza, some really amazing baked goods, hand-scooped ice cream, and sandwiches and salads that are tasty and fresh. Don't forget to pick up a refillable mug (kid and adult sizes available) that gets you discounted refills whenever you use it at DM Pantry.
When you're done snacking, make use of the hotel's indoor and outdoor pools, excellent fitness facilities, rocker-adorned porches overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains, Kids' Camp activities, poolside fire pits, and full-service spa. I like to fill my day at Dollywood’s resort with a pedicure, a resort-sponsored activity like crafting or cookie decorating, a fantastic cocktail and a DIY S'more before turning in for the night.
Check the resort activity guide in your room packet or ask a friendly staff member for details on the events and activities at the resort. Or, if you're looking for peace and quiet, curl up in a book nook on the first floor and take in the special touches there.
Guests of Dollywood's DreamMore Resort who also have Dollywood tickets receive a fantastic set of perks including an exclusive resort-to-theme-park shuttle with special Dollywood park entrance, complimentary TimeSaver passes for each guest on the resort reservation, Early Saturday Entry, and complimentary in-room package delivery of merchandise purchased in the park. And if you're not planning a park visit, you'll still receive free Wi-Fi, complimentary parking, and so much more.
There are so many more wonderful details at Dollywood’s DreamMore that make each of our visits special. But we won't spoil them for you here. Instead, I’ll let you discover them on your own. Say hello if you pass me by on your visit. I hope to see you soon!